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For more than ten years, the African Leadership Institute has been working with young leaders to empower them, create a network of ethical, like-minded servant-leaders that can support one another as they seek to create positive change across Africa. The Tutu Fellowship, which comprises Fellows who have completed the Tutu Leadership Programme, are steadily making changes that are positively changing the trajectory of Africa. The Fellowship, however, is a relatively small group of people. Project Pakati seeks to broaden the scope and impact of young leaders in Africa beyond that of the Fellowship.

This initiative seeks to harness the collective influence of Africa’s young leaders by building a networking platform and a commmunity in greater numbers that affords young leaders the ability of reaching a critical mass to impact the issues that Africa faces. AFLI will be working with leadership organisations across Africa to build this networking platform and community to be able to collectively have a greater impact for good.  "Pakati" is a Bantu word – Shona, Ndebele and Zulu - which means the 'centre' and aptly captures the objective of the project which is to make young leaders more visible in this journey.

FordLogoSquareFunding for this AFLI initiative and platform is provided by the Ford Foundation. 


The Project Pakati Youth Advisory Board played an important role in the governance of the project. The board was intentionally constituted at the start of the grant project to provide strategic inputs and provide overall guidance of the project and its implementation. 

Two ex officio members sat on the board in addition to the eminent young Africans. They were AFLI staff member and Project Manager Monique Atouguia; the other was a member of the African Union Commission’s Youth Division.

The Advisory board members also served on various project committees, depending on where their expertise lay.  The board provided guidance to the small staff that implemented Project Pakati.

The African Leadership Institute partnered with a range of organisations in a structured manner to advance young people so that they are able to take a seat at the table and effect positive change across the continent.  The grant provided by the Ford Foundation provides funding for capacity to AFLI to build partnerships with other leadership organisations so that collectively young leaders and leadership organisation alumni can reach critical mass in key areas to change the course of the development of the continent.

This structured interaction with organisations falls into two groups - partners and curating organisations.  AFLI held talks with a wide range of organisations to establish common ground for strategic progress. 

AFLI’s Project Pakati has partnered with the African Union Office of the Youth Envoy on the Joint Youth Inclusion Project. The African Union Youth Envoy, Aya Chebbi, was appointed by the Chairperson of the African Union Commission in 2018, with a mandate to serve as a representative of and advocate for the voices and interests of African youth to relevant AU decision-making bodies. Aya Chebbi is an award-winning Pan-African feminist and the youngest diplomat in the African Union Commission Chairperson’s Cabinet.

This partnership will advocate for best practices in terms of policies and actioning youth inclusivity in African governance and build on the AU African Plan of Action for Youth Empowerment (APAYE) and Status of Africa Youth Report.

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. 

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