Tucked away in the middle of the Indian Ocean, on the beautiful island of Mauritius, is ALU’s inaugural campus, an institution that is training the next generation of African leaders. ALU is a network of world-class tertiary education institutions that is developing Africa’s future leaders. ALU aims to build campuses in twenty-five African cities, and train three million innovative, entrepreneurial leaders over the next fifty years.
The university was founded by Fred Swaniker, a Ghanaian serial entrepreneur and educationist who is deeply passionate about Africa and believes that good leadership is key to the continent’s development.
“In Africa, more than anywhere else in the world, the difference that just one good leader can make is much greater than anywhere else,” he said when he officially announced the launch of ALU at the 2014 TED conference.
He has founded four pan-African organizations that aim at developing leaders: African Leadership Academy, a secondary school with the goal to train 6,000 transformative young leaders for Africa over a fifty-year period, African Leadership Network, Africa Advisory Group, and more recently, ALU.
ALU’s Mauritian campus, known as African Leadership College (ALC), opened its doors in October to welcome its inaugural class of students from more than thirty countries across Africa.
“ALU is like a lighted coal in a coal pot. One coal can light up the whole pot. ALU makes you a torchbearer. It gives you the knowledge and skills needed and equips you to go back to your country and teach people to make your country better,” said Lawrenda Adzomani, a student from Ghana, during orientation.
ALU is reimagining education and “building the university of the future” as Swaniker described in a recent presentation at the PopTech conference in October. In the first year, all ALU students, regardless of their major, have to do a Foundation Core course that covers seven high-level skills that ALU believes every leader should master. These include leading self, leading others, entrepreneurial thinking, critical thinking, quantitative reasoning, communication for impact, and complex task management.
For Swaniker, university should be a place where people can develop their passions and spend time curating knowledge on their interests, no matter how interdisciplinary they may be. Students should therefore not be confined to strict fields of study when selecting what to specialise or major in.
“Declare a mission, not major. Don’t be forced to pick just one major. Too often in life we submit to the tyranny of choice. We believe that we need to choose one path or another. But I really believe that at the intersection of ideas, creativity that comes from bringing together people, passions, and cultures, you can really change the world so let’s go hybrid,” he said during his PopTech presentation.
ALU students will spend four months of each academic year in an internship with a top organization across the continent so as to develop the skills necessary for becoming an effective and ethically grounded leader in the public sector, business, or civil society, or in their own enterprises.
Students have already begun to show leadership by taking ownership of their experience at ALU through starting their own clubs and businesses. Just a month into the academic year, three students started an on-campus convenience shop to cater to the everyday needs of students. They have also started a barbering and hair salon venture, student-run magazine, debate club, and many more things that they are pioneering.
Applications for the September 2016 class are now open.
Learn more at www.alueducation.com.