Building Africa, one young person at a time
fred Swaniker is a man with big dreams. The serial entrepreneur, best known for his role in establishing and running the African Leadership Academy (ALA), an elite school based in Roodepoort west of Johannesburg, which aims to develop some of the continent’s most talented teens into the leaders of the future, is now hoping to transform university education on the continent.
“Africa will not be able to stand on its own feet unless we develop our own people and develop better leaders,” says Swaniker.
Living in numerous African countries, where he saw the after-effects of bad leadership, instilled in him a determination not just to tackle the symptoms such leadership caused, but to address the problem at the roots. “Instead of just sitting back and hoping that good leaders drop from the sky for Africa, let’s find a certain way of developing better leaders for the continent,” he says.
From one school…
The ALA, which officially opened in 2008, receives as many as 4 000 applications a year from across the continent, but can only accommodate 250 students at a time. At the academy, leadership qualities are instilled in these youths by means of a two-year programme that prepares them for university entrance and also gives them a good grounding in entrepreneurial leadership, African studies, writing and rhetoric.
The vision of the school is to “transform