It is taken that one of the biggest problems of the continent today is corruption. How are you looking at this in ensuring that your products can uphold the highest standards of integrity?
Our leadership curriculum focuses on the importance of ethical leadership to the overall success and prosperity of the continent and highlights the extraordinary damage that is caused by corruption and mismanagement. These lessons are further reinforced by guest speakers who inspire our young leaders with stories of achieving extraordinary social impact in the face of overwhelming institutional corruption. When our students see tangible examples of how ethical leadership can truly transform countries and communities, they are motivated to combat the endemic corruption which has plagued the continent for so long.
I am curious to know why this academy is not cited in Nigeria, being the most populous country on the continent. Is there any special attraction in South Africa, or rather, is there something that makes it difficult for Nigeria to host this academy?
We decided to found the Academy in South Africa because it serves as the economic and transportation hub of sub-Saharan Africa. Johannesburg’s highly developed transportation infrastructure – combined with its highly diverse and truly pan-African population – made it the ideal city in which to locate our Academy.
I understand that the students who go through your academy on a scholarship are expected to return and work in the continent for at least ten years after their studies abroad. Is this bonding necessary given that this is the era of globalization and your students should be able to give back to their societies and also humanity no matter the country they decide to reside?
Our mission is simple: to transform the continent by developing future generations of African leaders. In our view, the most effective way to achieve this mission is by ensuring that the young leaders we develop are fully committed to the continent, and that they are not using ALA as a “ticket out”.
For this reason, we make it very clear to all our applicants that any scholarship aid they may receive is contingent on living and working on the continent for a period of 10 years following their 25th birthday. This policy serves two important purposes: (1) It ensures that those young people who choose to attend the Academy are genuinely and wholeheartedly committed to Africa and its development; and (2) it ensures that the 6,000 leaders we are developing and supporting will be located in Africa, where they are best positioned to devise innovative solutions to the continent’s most pressing social and economic challenges. While we acknowledge that those living outside the continent can contribute to its empowerment, we believe those living on the continent can effect change in a more compelling and impactful fashion.
So would you like us to believe that you are doing this as a service, but I am curious, is this venture profitable? Do you make lots of money? How much?
ALA is a non-profit organisation. All the money we raise goes towards providing scholarships for our students and covering the operating costs of the Academy. Employees, including myself, receive salaries, but most of us could earn far more if we were to work in the corporate sector. We are doing this because of our passion for Africa and desire to see it prosper.
Are we likely to see ALA set up in other countries?
At this point, we are focused on fully institutionalizing the Academy in South Africa, and we do not have immediate plans to open other branches in other countries.