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African Leadership Academy

The African Leadership Academy (ALA) is a residential, secondary institution located in the outskirts of Johannesburg, South Africa. It is dedicated to 16 to 19-year-olds from Africa and the rest of the world, with alumni from 46 countries currently.

Founded in 2004 by Fred Swaniker, Chris Bradford, Peter Mombaur, and Acha Leke,[1] ALA officially opened in September 2008 with an inaugural class of 97 students.[2] ALA seeks to transform Africa by identifying, developing, and connecting the next generation of African leaders. To achieve this goal, ALA teaches a two-year curriculum in African Studies and Entrepreneurial Leadership, as well as the usual academic core subjects.



The founders of ALA, around 2004 launched Global Leadership Adventures, a summer program that would be a precursor to ALA.

In 2006, Swaniker and Bradford were recognized, by Echoing Green, who described them as two of the 15 best emerging social entrepreneurs in the world.[3] In 2007 the initial campus was confirmed, and Christopher Khaemba was announced as the inaugural Dean of the School while the current dean is Hatim Eltayeb.

ALA campusEdit

The campus is located in Honeydew, on the outskirts of Johannesburg. Students share a dormitory, and there are modern facilities including a sports field, 350 seater auditorium, classrooms and dining hall. In 2014, construction began on new dormitories that will allow ALA to increase new student numbers to 120 in 2016.

Admission processEdit

Campus of the academy

The African Leadership Academy receives several thousand applications during the first round, where approximately 400 are selected to attend Finalist events held across the continent. The finalists then write entrance exams, participate in group activities and are interviewed as 120 students will be selected to attend the Academy. Admissions status is usually finalized by mid-April.

Selection criteriaEdit

The African Leadership Academy uses five criteria for admission:[4]


Two Year Pre-University ProgramEdit

The academic core combines a two-year pre-university program based on the Cambridge A Levels and ALA’s unique curricula in Entrepreneurial Leadership, African Studies and Writing and Rhetoric. A Level.[5]

Entrepreneurial Leadership and African StudiesEdit

ALA's Entrepreneurial Leadership curriculum is a cornerstone of the student experience that creates opportunities to practice leadership and entrepreneurship skills through simulation and project-based learning. Students are encouraged to work on team building and original thinking. In the interdisciplinary African studies curriculum, students study hunger eradication, health care provision, economic growth, and conflict resolution.

Academic successEdit


Dean of African Leadership AcademyEdit

Inaugural Dean Christopher Situma Khaemba was previously Principal of Alliance High School on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya. Khaemba received his MBA from Kenyatta University in Nairobi.

Current Dean Uzo Agyare-Kumi is an educator and social activist with a passion for helping young people develop the skills they need to flourish as confident, productive members of society. She is a dual Nigerian/British citizen.

Faculty membersEdit

Faculty members go through a process that includes multiple interviews, academic background checks, and verification of personal and professional references. After the first round of interviews, the prospective teacher conducts a mock lesson in the presence of students and two faculty members. This is followed by a final round of interviews.

All faculty members are graduates from universities and have previously taught at leading institutions.

Student lifeEdit


Students are encouraged to participate in a fitness activity. However sport is not a strong part of the Academy, neither is it done competitively nor invested in as other aspects of ALA. Current competitive sports include soccer, basketball and volleyball.

Student clubs and organizationsEdit

Students participate in a variety of clubs, and each student is expected to create or run either a "Student Enterprise", an "Original idea for Development" or a "Community Service Project".

Student Enterprise Programmes (SEPs)Edit

The student-run businesses only operate on campus, and include:

  • Affordable Housing for Africa - This enterprise aims to research and develop prototypes for affordable housing for lower-middle-class families
  • Agrinovation - This is an organic community farm that sells produce to the ALA community, and further supports the ecosystem by further innovating around recycling organic refuse on campus.
  • Artribution - This enterprise will work on creating an online connection platform for African artists and their stakeholders
  • BEAM - This enterprise will be incubated to research and develop eco battery power
  • Greenlink - This enterprise will focus on creating environment based innovations, projects, campaigns and/or clubs at ALA
  • Footprints - merchandising - T-shirts, coffee mugs, etc.
  • Duka Bora - This enterprise runs the ALA for-profit tuck shop which seeks to provide high-quality consumable goods such as snacks, drinks, airtime to the ALA community at an affordable price.
  • EdTech - This is a hub for our tech students who wish to explore this new exciting space in 21st century education. EdTech works with other student enterprises and ALA departments to develop applications and bring education to existing technologies.
  • ALAiansMedia - The enterprise is a high quality media platform for writing, video and photography that showcases the experiences, thoughts and talents of ALA students to the rest of the world.[6]
  • Bezosscholars - This enterprise is restricted to students selected for the Bezos Scholars programme in Aspen. They host the annual South African Ideas Festival (SAIF). Its goal is to create spaces where young South Africans can incubate impactful, innovative and sustainable ideas that will transform our schools and communities.[7]
  • SAFCorp - This enterprises offers consultancy services to the ALA SEP economy. Services include auditing and financial literacy support in order to ensure the sophistication, transparency and accountability of all student enterprises. In 2015-2016, SAFCorp will handle basic functions such as the issuance of bank statements and registering authorised enterprises on the Cashless System

Original Ideas for DevelopmentEdit

Original Ideas for Development (OIDs), are projects that have a wide scope and run beyond the students' time at ALA. Current OIDs include:

  • GSIE [8] - Global Strategy on Inclusive Education - helping children with disabilities gain access to education
  • HACA - cancer awareness campaign
  • Baobab - capturing oral histories online to preserve and facilitate cross-cultural understanding
  • Greendorm - environmentally friendly living on campus (internal)
  • Almas (formerly Nique) - using a beauty creme to fund the creation and distribution of an anti-malarial creme
  • MathmaHelp - production of educational math DVDs
  • Oyama - A crowd-sourcing platform for young African entrepreneurs
  • African Baccalaureate - Africa's own curriculum design
  • Cyca - A social networking platform to alleviate misleading preconceptions about the African continent
  • Radio Skika- A radio station geared towards sparking intellectual inquiry amongst African youth by exploring some of the continent's most pressing issues
  • A4Ge All For Girls Empowerment - A community service project that seeks to equip young girls with 21st century skills to allow them develop into young, vibrant women.

Supervised tripsEdit

Students explore the local community, Africa, and the world,[9] by participating in an excursion program. Outdoors enthusiasts participate in weekend hiking trips in the Drakensberg mountains and longer excursions during holiday periods, while scientists may apply to attend the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in the United States.

Global Scholars Program (GSP)Edit

Global Scholars Program (GSP)is a three-week, global leadership summer program for teens aged 13–19. Students from other countries around the world get the chance to come to ALA and they learn more about the continent as well as skills related to leadership and entrepreneurship.

Catalyst TermEdit

A study abroad experience for secondary students from around the world to develop as social innovators. Students can choose to take a trimester or a full year at ALA where they can take the core subjects and engage in deferent activities on campus.

Model African UnionEdit

MAU is a four-day conference where participants from secondary schools around the world debate and discuss some of the most complicated issues on the continent. Participants also attend presentations by African Union officials and foreign policy experts.

Anzisha PrizeEdit

Africa's premier award for young entrepreneurs aged 15–22, who have started and are actively running innovative social ventures or for-profit businesses with potential.

Africa Careers NetworkEdit

Africa Careers Network (ACN) is a platform that connects young African talent from ALA and the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program to high-impact internship and job opportunities across the African continent.

Global Advisory CouncilEdit

As well as the Board of Trustees, the Academy’s Global Advisory Council is composed of African and global luminaries in business, leadership development, secondary education, and social entrepreneurship. The Global Advisory Council provides strategic input and guidance to the ALA management team.

African Leadership FoundationEdit

The African Leadership Foundation is a USA 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation that supports the African Leadership Academy and the next generation of African leaders.


Additional sourcesEdit