Cultivating ‘Home-Grown’ Security and Development Expertise is Aim of African Leadership Centre

Nairobi, Kenya, June 24, 2010—The African Leadership Centre (ALC), inaugurated today in Nairobi, Kenya, will contribute to Africa’s long-term social, political and economic development by mentoring and training the next generation of leaders. 

Supported in part by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York, ALC will offer young and mid-career professionals a program of study and practical experience tailored to the African context and built around the themes of peace, security, and development.  Upon completion of their ALC fellowships, women and men will be equipped with the know-how to address important policy issues on the continent at national, sub-regional and regional levels.

Commenting on the new Centre, Tade Akin Aina who directs Carnegie Corporation’s grantmaking in Africa, said, “The ALC delivers one of the most inspiring and enriching leadership programs for peace, security, conflict and development in Africa.  It brings together the best of international training with local knowledge and is well positioned to play a leading role in developing African voices, leadership and knowledge in the field.”

The African-led Centre will help address a series of challenges to developing the next generation of leaders, including:

* The perennial problem of brain drain with large numbers of talented young people leaving their home countries due to limited opportunities for growth.

* Absence of a sound, local knowledge base on critical issues affecting African security and development.

* Limited channels and opportunities to cultivate talented young leaders or to facilitate their participation in decision-making processes.

The Centre, which will operate as a partnership between King's College London and the University of Nairobi, places particular emphasis on developing the potential of young African women and offers a special Fellowship program for women in an effort to give them more opportunities to develop their skills in the field of peace and security.

“The program will help create a pool of leaders able to reflect on the dilemmas facing their communities and seek new ways to understand and improve responses to the critical security and development issues facing Africa,” said Stephen J. Del Rosso, Carnegie Corporation’s Program Director for International Peace and Security.

The program will offer intensive course work, professional placements and mentoring provided by African leaders, as well as experts and scholars from all over the world.

Dr Funmi Olonisakin, Director of the Conflict Security and Development Group at King's College London and leader of ALC, said, “Africa needs its talented, creative young people to become the next generation of leaders and bring real change to their communities. The African Leadership Centre is there to help them develop the skills they will need to take on that responsibility and shape the future of their continent, while embracing values of excellence, integrity and respect for diversity.”

ALC Fellows will complete master's courses in 'Conflict, Security and Development', or 'International Peace and Security' at King's College in London. The scholars will benefit from institutional visits and exchanges with other scholars working in this field, and receive supervision to undertake specified research as part of an attachment to a core number of African universities and policy institutions.  The ALC will also develop a network of select African universities to develop and sustain programs on peace, security and development.

Upon completion of their fellowship, cohorts of men and women are expected to serve as mentors to the next generations of Fellows contributing, over time, to a critical mass of security and development experts.

About King's College London

King's College London has had a long-standing commitment to Africa and a strong core of African experts and Africanists, many of whom have made significant contributions to African-led processes, such as Desmond Tutu, an alumnus of King's and more recently Visiting Professor at the College.

Members of staff have participated actively in the drafting of a security policy framework for Liberia; supported the creation of a Child Protection Unit in ECOWAS; supported the Defense Review in Uganda; conducted a threat assessment for post-Genocide Rwanda; and contributed to the Common African Defense Policy for the African Union. King's also facilitated the establishment of the Kofi Annan Institute for Conflict Transformation at the University of Liberia.

 This wide range of expertise will be used by the African Leadership Centre to inform, train and mentor African Fellows in areas key to Africa's peace, security and development. In addition, the resources of the Conflict, Security and Development Group and the War Studies Department, which has a network of more than 100 academics, will be available to support the ALC, which will maintain a small unit at King's until about 2015.

About Carnegie Corporation of New York

Carnegie Corporation of New York is a philanthropic foundation created by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to do "real and permanent good in this world."  The foundation’s grantmaking in Africa focuses on strengthening the next generation of academics and university leaders.