YALI at a glance

The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) was launched by President of the United States Barack Obama as a signature effort to invest in the next generation of African leaders. The need to invest in grooming strong, results-oriented leaders comes out of the statistics: nearly 1 in 3 Africans are between the ages of 10 and 24, and approximately 60% of Africa’s total population is below the age of 35.

Who will empower and lead these young Africans? Who will shape the future of business and entrepreneurship, civic leadership, and public management? In order to answer these questions, YALI promotes three models designed to identify and empower young leaders: the YALI Mandela Washington FellowshipYALI Network, and now the establishment of Regional Leadership Centers across Africa.

What are YALI Regional Leadership Centers?

There are four Regional Leadership Centers in Africa (Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, and Southern Africa). These centres will serve as regional hubs across the continent to encourage transformational learning and enhance leadership skills. The YALI Regional Leadership Centers are a project of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in close partnership with The MasterCard Foundation. Each Regional Leadership Center is managed under a public/private partnership.

What is the YALI Regional Leadership Center Southern Africa?

The conceptualisation, development and curriculum content of the Regional Leadership Center Southern Africa (RLC SA) as led by the University of Southern Africa (Unisa) were heavily influenced by the developmental, political and economic dynamics of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.

The RLC SA will develop the young African leaders in Business and Entrepreneurship Development; Civic Leadership; and Public Management and Governance through a hybrid of innovative and complimentary approaches that include contact sessions; online mentoring; online self-paced tuition; industry placements and experiential learning.

The centre will have year-long access to the state-of-the-art facilities at the Unisa School of Business Leadership in Midrand, Southern Africa for the English speaking participants. The same program will be replicated in Mozambique for Portuguese speaking participants as a way of reaching and opening access to the disadvantaged lusophone communities. Contemporary African issues such as HIV/AIDS, gender, responsible leadership and technology will also be infused into the program to develop young and transformative African leaders. The productive partnership with the local and USA universities; private sector partners as well as the regional bodies such as SADC and the African Union will contribute to the improved quality of the program as well as the access, reach and delivery mechanisms.

The RLC SA will, in collaboration with its partners, develop the 21st century skills that are the indispensable currency for participation, achievement and competitiveness in the global economy.

In pursuit of these ideals, the RLC SA aims to:

  • Create critical thinkers
  • Solve complex and multidisciplinary problems
  • Foster entrepreneurial thinking
  • Innovative use of information, knowledge and opportunities
  • Encourage communication and multicultural collaboration
  • Create awareness of contemporary African issues

Objectives of the RLC SA

  • To provide the platform and tools to empower dynamic young Africans
  • To awaken their innate leadership potential for the benefit of Africa and its global partners.

Program structure

A graduate of the RLC SA is expected to be well rounded because they will be exposed to a multi-disciplinary approach to training. They will be exposed to high level theory, application and practice from experienced professors. At the same time, they will be offered an opportunity for industry placement and experiential learning in different RLC partner organisations.

The program offers quality leadership training across the public, private and civil sectors.

Foundational electives

In line with program requirements, participants will be required to select a foundational elective based on areas of practice and interest.

  1. Public Management and Governance
    The objective of this course is to prepare the next generation of Southern Africa’s public service professionals with the knowledge, skills and abilities to successfully address problems of democratic governance in public administration at the local, provincial, and national levels. There will also be a focus on the development of leadership in the public sector, including a clear understanding of the role and purpose of the state to enhance good governance and service delivery; a clear and workable knowledge of management principles in the implementation of programs and projects; public finance; and the management of human resources.
    Implementing partners: The University of Pretoria
  2. Business and Entrepreneurship Development
    The objective of the course is for participants to gain the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to apply the principles, tools and systems of innovation and entrepreneurship in pursuing their career and business goals.Implementing partners: The Innovation Hub, Unisa Centre for Business Management and LifeCo UnLtd
  3. Civic Leadership
    The civic leadership course will expose participants to the practical knowledge of the administrative, financial, and organizational aspects of non-profit organizations and civil society projects. The course is aimed at graduates, professionals and participants working in or interested in community-based NGOs, projects including interest groups, youth groups and development agencies who want to be effective leaders and agents of change.Implementing partners: The Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute  and the Southern Africa Trust.

Cross cutting themes

The following cross cutting themes are compulsory for all participants:

  1. Responsible Leadership
    The purpose of the leadership and accountability modules is to equip participants with theoretical grounding and practical experience in various aspects of leadership and how effective leadership can be applied in their areas of work.
  2. Mainstreaming Gender and HIV into Transformative Leadership
    The module will equip participants with the necessary knowledge and skills to mainstream gender and HIV/AIDS into their work as young leaders and promote transformation within Southern Africa and their own countries. HIV/AIDS will be seen from a combined prevention understanding as a development issue which must be addressed through transformation processes in societies and organizations.
  3. Africa and the Technology Revolution
    This course will provide participants with the opportunity to discuss some of these innovations, technologies and potential solutions to problems that will enable Africa to benefit from some of the latest developments.

Programme duration

The selected participants will be required to participate in a two weeks introductory online program prior to attending the contact session.

The in-person program will be four weeks long, offered concurrently with a mirroring online program for participants that are unable to attend in person. The evaluation and assessment methodology will differ and support will be provided through web-based technology for those enrolled in the online program.

The curriculum delivery will be based on 30% theory with lectures, including individual work and readings, 30% theory in application – group work, including multimedia interaction, and guest lecturers and 40% practical and experiential learning – developing hands-on experiences such as pitching business plans, site visits and policy conceptualisation where applicable. This multi-faceted approach will ensure that participants are able to apply and sustain their learning beyond the program.

Innovative use of technology at the RLC SA

Due to the multi-country nature of the programme, technology will be an integral part of the training and it will also be employed to allow different experts and the participants to collaborate. There is a crucial relationship between technology, education and economic development when strategically applied to issues of sustainable development.

Technology will be appropriately deployed in this project so that it can serve as a great medium for diverse communities to collaborate and to reach the rural communities of the SADC region. ICT will also be utilised as a means of scaling up the numbers for the participants that the RLC SA will reach and develop.

RLC SA Code of Conduct

All RLC SA participants are expected to abide by the following Code of Conduct

  • RLC SA expects all participants to commit to creating a safe, caring and positive experience for every person involved in the program.
  • ‏Participants are expected to be active in the program at all times.
  • Participants must be considerate and respectful towards other participants including the management of the programs at all times.
  • Participants must strive to create and maintain the spirit of collaboration and collegiality at all times.
  • Participants must refrain from demeaning, discriminatory or harassing behaviours. These include any actions related to gender, sexual orientation, unwelcome sexual attention towards other participants, race, religion, disability; inappropriate use of nudity and/or sexual images in public spaces; deliberate intimidation, stalking or following; harassing photography or recording; sustained disruption of talks or other events; inappropriate physical contact, and
  • Or violate the Code of Conduct in any way.
  • The management of the RLC SA program reserves the right to take appropriate action for unacceptable behavior.

Participants will not be discriminated against on the basis of race, ethnicity, color, gender, religion, socio-economic status, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.