‘We cannot develop Africa without developing our young people’
By Stanley Oronsaye
The African Leadership Academy, based in South Africa, is a world class school committed to grooming a new generation of leaders in South Africa that would be catalysts for transformation change on the continent. In this interview, the founder, Fred Swaniker from Ghana, talks on the challenges of development and training in South Africa and the rest of Africa and how the academy is contributing to bring change to the continent.
The interview was conducted via email.
Fred, 34, had the idea of the academy while on internship in Lagos. Since 2007, the African Leadership Academy has been at the forefront of changing the fate of the continent by training young Africans who are passionate about making a difference in the community
What are the criteria for eligibility and your process for recruitment?
Recruitment begins with a number of Admissions officers working throughout Africa to advertise ALA and encourage young people between the ages of 16 and 19 with leadership potential to apply. The preliminary application form asks them to write essays describing themselves and how they have changed or influenced their communities. Our dedicated admissions team reads every application and narrows around 3,000 initial applicants to a shortlist of roughly 400 finalists.
We then invite these finalists to participate in “finalist weekends”, which we hold in a variety of countries across the continent. During these weekends we interview each applicant, test their academic readiness, and take them through their paces with various group activities that give us a sense of how they lead in group settings. Finalists then submit several more essays and letters of recommendation. After this, we select approximately 100 young leaders who are invited to attend the Academy. We are looking for leadership potential, entrepreneurial spirit, passion for Africa, dedication to service, and academic potential.