Sidi Ifni, Morocco, Founded in 2004 by Fred Swaniker, Chris Bradford, Peter Mombaur and Acha Leke, the African Leadership Academy (ALA) is a prestigious, educational institution in Johannesburg, South Africa that aims at creating, training and developing an African generation of tomorrow's leaders.
Sidi Ifni, Morocco, Founded in 2004 by Fred Swaniker, Chris Bradford, Peter Mombaur and Acha Leke, the African Leadership Academy (ALA) is a prestigious, educational institution in Johannesburg, South Africa that aims at creating, training and developing an African generation of tomorrow’s leaders.
The purpose behind the initiative is to create around 6,000 leaders in the coming 50 years and bring to life the talents and prevent brain drain. ALA is expected to educate talented African students and provide them with all they need to realize their aspirations, goals and dreams in their favorite disciplines.
Among the budding, successful Africans recognized so far are: a teenager who has decided to teach children in a refugee camp; William Kamkwamba, a self-taught young who built a windmill out of simple materials to equip his community with power and; a 17-year-old, HIV-infected who set up a charity to give a hand to others with the same health problem. These three larger-than-life Africans have managed to attend the African Leadership Academy.
Bringing the initiative into existence, Fred Swaniker, a Ghanaian entrepreneur, aspires to equip a new African generation of leaders with the tools they need to make Africa move forward and achieve prosperity.
The African Leadership Academy received some inspiration from Margret Mead’s words, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Swaniker who has contributed considerably to the success of the Academy said in this regard, “They get young people from all across the continent, bring them here initially for two years [and] give them this hands-on leadership practice.”
Attending ALA, William Kamkwamba, a Malawian teenager, shares his success story and experience with his fellow future leaders. Having a created a windmill out of his efforts, ambition and tenacity, Kamkwamba is very honored to benefit his poverty-stricken community by using his ‘invention’ to generate power and pump water. After overcoming so many stumbling blocks, such as the apathy shown by the authorities, Kamkwamba sets out to work a ‘miracle’, defy the looming and threatening hunger and serve as a future leader.
In an interview with the BBC News website, Mr. Kamkwamba said that he was very interested when he saw the windmill could make electricity and pump water. “That could be a defense against hunger. Maybe I should build one for myself’,” he told himself.
Mr. Kamkwamba’s story spread fast across the world when the Daily Times newspaper first introduced his achievement to readers. “I want to help my country and apply the knowledge I’ve learned,” he was quoted by the newspaper as saying.
In the same vein, Swaniker stresses the importance of ALA in spurring the likes of Kamkwamba to start their own business and take part in politics and industry to best serve their local communities, in particular, and their home countries. Like many other members of ALA in other headquarters, Swaniker makes it clear that preparing these budding geniuses for the future must be the society’s priority.
“We really need leaders from all walks of life to solve the diverse challenges that we have in Africa,” Swankiker said.
Leadership, which has, for instance, made Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Nelson Mandela and Richard Branson what they are today, is undoubtedly the key to helping such young Africans follow the same path. ALA, Swaniker hopes, he will soon adopt nearly the same policy of bringing to life new leaders who can take the helm of this neglected and impoverished continent, Africa.
With the world facing new challenges, Africa’s turn to meet them is in the hand of young Africans who are now encouraged to attend ALA. “We’re trying to create leaders in all segments of society,” Swaniker remarked.
While serving and receiving training at ALA, African students and self-taught, talented youths are expected to take classes of Leadership, Entrepreneurial Studies, and African Studies so as to compete in the Model United Nations at Harvard University and set up projects on different disciplines, which they later have to lead.
Al Gore, the 45th Vice President of the United States (1993–2001), admitted the skills and the latent of so many African youths in their ability to lead businesses, projects, and industries, saying, “William Kamkwamba’s achievements with wind energy show what one person, with an inspired idea, can do to tackle the crisis we face.”
The African Leadership Academy, which will bring together thousands of young leaders in the coming 50 years, has demonstrated many success stories, signs of commitment, and the interest of so many celebrities. Meanwhile, each year, it identifies 100 of the most promising young African leaders. All people from different backgrounds are invited to contribute to Africa’s leadership, particularly through dedication and a constant, lifelong connection to leadership development of our young Africans. It is high time Africans stopped living and dying undiscovered.
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