Our final day of #ALN2014 reconfirmed what brings us together: our shared dedication to making this continent great through relationships, collaboration, and action. We were honored to be joined by the President of Rwanda, His Excellency Paul Kagame, for lunch and a discussion moderated by ALN co-founder Acha Leke. President Kagame spoke of his personal path to leadership, explaining how nature and nurture have both impacted his leadership style. He also offered his take on how Rwanda has transformed itself in the past two decades and his thoughts on current events in Africa, like the protests in Burkina Faso and the Ebola outbreak, as well as the need for Africans to abandon the temptation of corruption for the benefit of all. His Excellency spent nearly 3 hours at #ALN2014 and even Tweeted about his afternoon with us! Read his Tweet here.
In the morning, we had two concurrent sessions: one on innovation in education and one on the Legatum Institute’s Africa Prosperity Index. Our education panel was moderated by Alim Ladha, who shared statistics about the state of higher education in Africa and offered alternate solutions for innovative education in the continent. He was followed by Adesuwa Ifedi of Bridge International Academies and Nicola Galombik of Harambee4Work. ALN co-founder Fred Swaniker then spoke about African Leadership Unleashed’s work to revolutionize higher education in Africa. All are doing their part to provide quality education for African youth and provide employment opportunities. The Legatum Institute discussed their Africa Prosperity Index Report, which ranked Botswana first, followed by South Africa, Morocco, Namibia and Tunisia. Members discussed the index, how their individual countries performed, and why.
We followed our sessions with more Needs and Leads presentations. Those looking for support included an online platform for African history, an African travel show, a private equity firm focused on real estate, a “Travelocity” for Africans, African tequila, an NGO dedicated to women in engineering, a fashion line, an agricultural investment fund in West Africa, and a maternal health center in Burundi. There are many exciting projects brewing, and we’re excited to help them find support!
Our last session was perhaps the best way to conclude #ALN2014, with a look forward to our future political leadership. We heard from Paulo Gomes and January Makamba, two young Africans who are in politics. Paulo Gomes ran in Guinea-Bissau’s presidential election and January Makamba is an MP in Tanzania running for president; both cited how networks like ALN have helped their campaigns. In fact, Paulo announced his campaign during a Needs and Leads session at an ALN Gathering! Both panelists agreed that ALN members and all African youth should consider a career in public service. While they understood it is not an easy path, good people need to be in politics to confront the struggles we see today.
Friday marked the end of #ALN2014, but it’s just the beginning for our members new and old. Thank you to all who participated—we hope that you took away from it strengthened relationships, new connections, and a renewed motivation to strive for a prosperous Africa. It can be done—and it will be done by you and your fellow ALN members. Cheers to the next five years!