In 2017, the Ford Foundation awarded the African Leadership Institute $800 thousand over three years in a grant titled: To harness the collective strengths and influence of youth leaders to advocate for accountability with respect to Pan-African development agendas and build a community of practice on youth leadership.
Africa’s leadership deficit has negatively impacted its development. This is evident in its governance, education, health, infrastructure, trade & investment, and a range of other areas. Whilst there are pockets of excellence, Africa’s economic, democratic and political progress has on the whole, been slow. All of these factors can be attributed to a lack of effective leadership.
Africa's population is growing rapidly is disproportionately young. By 2030 nearly one in four young people in the world will be African. Given the complexities and challenges the continent faces, there is a need to harness ideas from across the population divide – men, women and youth – to take Africa forward. Whilst inclusion and diversity policies have largely focused on gender, there have not been similar concerted efforts focused on the youth and age.
The Ford Foundation grant will help the African Leadership Institute build a platform to support young leaders so they are better able to mobilise themselves to get their voices heard. A goal of the grant is also to collectively enable young leaders to be able to use their zeal and expertise to drive action to solve some of the socio-economic challenges faced by the continent.
Leadership programmes have sought to address the leadership deficit on the continent by raising a new generation of African leaders. The past decade has seen the emergence of a plethora of programmes and initiatives that have not appeared to have yielded the anticipated outcomes. This initiative seeks to harness the individual efforts of these programmes and together build a critical mass. It has two key objectives in relation to the leadership landscape for young Africans:
- To create space to leverage opportunities to harness the collective influence of African youth so they can network, exchange ideas, develop, and collaborate on shared agendas and, in so doing, contribute to the success of national and regional agendas and also further develop their leadership potentials.
- To build a Community of Practice for the curators of various African youth leadership programmes where collaboration can be explored and experiences and best practices documented and shared. In this way, learning across and between programmes can be enhanced and made more effective.
By building a network of young leaders from these various leadership programmes across the continent and enabling them to network and collaborate more effectively, it should give young leaders a stronger voice to demand accountability from governments and other stakeholders that will improve the lives of Africans broadly.