Obama appoints UNISA to drive Leadership Initiative in South Africa

AUGUST 1, 2014

The University of South Africa (Unisa) has been appointed the leader of an education alliance tasked with running the South African centre of US President Barack Obama’s Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI). Unisa’s roles in this regard will be to provide quality expertise in governance and leadership training and entrepreneurship support.

President Obama announced the expansion of the Young African Leadership Initiative at a summit with 500 young African leaders this week. The YALI initiative was launched in 2010 with the objective of supporting an emerging generation of African leaders as they work to drive economic growth, enhance democratic governance and strengthen the civil society structures that will help the continent to grow and prosper.

The signature aspects of this expansion entail:

  • The creation of four regional leadership centres in South Africa, Ghana, Kenya and, Senegal.
  • The renaming of the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders to the Nelson Mandela Fellowship for Young African Leaders, including a commitment to double  its current number to 1000 participants by 2016
  • The creation of new virtual resources and vibrant physical spaces for the YALI Network
  • The provision of hundreds of new entrepreneurship grants and mobile incubators, with a Global Entrepreneurship Summit scheduled to be held in Morocco in 2015.

Prof Mandla Makhanya, Principal and Vice Chancellor of Unisa, says the appointment reaffirms the stature and leadership excellence of the University and the significant role that the institution will be playing in the economic, social and political reshaping of the African continent.

“We have excellent partners in this venture. USAID, the Innovation Hub and the University of Pretoria will assist and support us in the execution of this exciting task.

“As one of the leading institutions of higher learning on the Continent, we will play our part in shaping future African leaders. The task that we have been appointed to do, resonates fully with our mission to be the African university in the service of Humanity,” says Prof Makhanya.

During his official visit to South Africa in 2013, President Obama announced the creation of the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI). Through this initiative, which is an integral part of the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, young African leaders are connected to leadership training opportunities at some of the US’s top universities to expand their leadership skills and knowledge

The YALI-summit, where President Obama made the announcements, serves as the lead-up to the US-African Leaders Summit to be held next week, the largest gathering any US President has held with African Heads of State and governments, which will strengthen the ties between the US and Africa, one of the world’s most dynamic and fastest growing regions. With 60 per cent of Africa’s population under the age of 35, the future success of African nations will depend on the leadership, skills and ingenuity of this emerging generation of leaders.