Fred Swaniker Distinguished Lecture on African Leadership and ALU-Carnegie Mellon University Africa - Carnegie Mellon University

Fred Swaniker Distinguished Lecture on African Leadership and ALU

Fred Swaniker speaks to CMU-R students about leadership, entrepreneurship and his newest venture: African Leadership University

Swaniker's African Leadership Group (ALG) is an ecosystem of institutions  that aim to transform Africa by developing and connecting a new generation of ethical and entrepreneurial leaders. Building on the successes with education and leadership development at secondary level in the African Leadership Academy, Fred Swaniker has now opened the first African Leadership College in Mauritius.

The African Leadership University (ALU) received over 5,000 applications from all over Africa and the inaugural class will comprise of 180 undergraduate students. Around 60 of them will start in September and the ALG team have found corporate sponsorship for this first class. The fully residential campus will be run using the principles of student directed learning and and  ALU’s unique peer-learning methodology, project-based curriculum, and real-world application. All students will study a core curriculum in the first year before choosing their specialties and in this innovative approach studies will be interspersed with yearly work experience programs with the corporate sponsors.

ALU aims to build highimpact, low-cost universities of the future that will prepare young Africans to lead rapid, positive change on the continent over the next few decades. In the region of $180M USD in funding as been secured for the initiative to open 25 universities across Africa, educating 10,000 students in each campus. Plans are underway for the next campus and possible future locations include Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda and Morocco.

Highlights from the Q&A Session

Why do you emphasize leadership?

"Every 4 years of my life when I was young, I moved to a different African country. Moving around a lot got me to think about challenges in Africa, one of the recurring themes was leadership. 

In Africa, our leaders have too much power and too much influence because our institutions are weak. We need to build leadership to build institutions because African leaders make a big difference to Africa."


How can those who are already graduates contribute to your ALU project?

"We plan to have 250,000 students come through ALU over the next 15- 20 years.

The students are from all over Africa they live together, there is a lot of self directed learning and group learning. We welcome master graduates to be facilitators for these student learning groups.

Also you can help us spread the word to get exceptional young people into our university. Or work with our graduates or help them to become entrepreneurs."


Why do you think everyone should be an entrepreneur?

"The average age of an African is 18… Japan it is 44! 

We are the youngest people in the world but also the most unemployed. So we need to create jobs. 

Graduates should get professional experience but use this as training to become an entrepreneur or be part of an entrepreneurial team…because we need to create employment for others. 

One of the biggest problems for the continent is that the people who are best placed to start companies and create jobs are busy working for other people! So we need to embed entrepreneurial thinking into everything we do."

Fred Swaniker is the Founder and Chairman of the African Leadership Group, a group of organizations which collectively identify, groom and connect the most influential leaders in Africa, with the ultimate aim of catalyzing dramatic and positive change on the continent.

In recognition of his work, Fred has been honored as a TED Fellow, an Aspen Institute Fellow, a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and as one of fifteen “best emerging social entrepreneurs in the world” according to Echoing Green (2006). He was also listed by Forbes among the top ten young ‘power men’ in Africa (2011). A former McKinsey consultant, Fred has an MBA from Stanford Business School and a BA from Macalester College.


Related Links

Degrees Programs in Rwanda

African Leadership University

Fred Swaniker