Thursday, September 30, 2010

The first African Leadership Network gathering

Earlier this year, my friend Shirley shared some info with me about the African Leadership Network, specifically the ALN Gathering in Addis Ababa, November 3rd-6th, 2010. Turns out the African Leadership Network (ALN) is the premier network of Africa’s next-generation of leaders – those individuals who are poised to assume the most significant roles in African corporations, governments and society at large over the next 10-15 years. The aim of the network is to Power Africa’s Prosperity. This first gathering in Addis Ababa is invitation only. So, yeah, I am not going. Those going are at another level koraa compared to me. If you see some of the names, you'll understand.

African Leadership Network sounds like African Leadership Academy right? Yes, it involves the usual suspects. ALN was founded by Acha Leke (Senior Partner, McKinsey & Co.), and Fred Swaniker (Founder and CEO, African Leadership Academy), both of whom are recognized and established next-generation African leaders in their own right, the Network is founded on the principles of collaboration and leadership.

The website reads:
As the name implies, the African Leadership Network (ALN) is an exclusive, invitation-only network of influential and dynamic leaders who are poised to shape the future of Africa over the next few decades. ALN provides multiple benefits to its members throughout the year, it is not merely a conference that takes place once a year.
I don't know I have an issue with invitation-only events, maybe it sounds elitist to me. But hey, we all can't participate in everything abi? Besides, these folks have worked hard to get the reputation they have to merit being invited to such events. So, I am not going to do anything other than celebrate them. Won't be getting an invitation? All is not lost. You can still register and attend for a cool $3,950. Trust me, it will be worth it. You'll be networking with some of Africa's brightest and you can't really put a value on that.

The website also reads:
A new generation of young, dynamic leaders who have more exciting and forward-thinking ideas for transforming Africa over the next few decades is emerging. This younger, dynamic group of leaders is what we felt compelled to bring together. We call this group the African Leadership Network (ALN). The ALN, in short, is the premier gathering of the most dynamic young leaders shaping Africa’s future. Think ‘Davos’ meets ‘TED’ meets the ‘Young President’s Organisation’ meets Africa.

The ALN gathering will be co-chaired by three leaders that embody the network: Sim Tshabalala, CEO of Standard Bank South Africa, Dr. Eleni Gabre-Madhin, Founder and CEO of the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange and Bill Egbe, President of Coca-Cola South Africa. You can check out the agenda for the event here (PDF). The attendees are all supposed to be under 45 years. Not exactly the 'cheetah' age, when I think young Africans, I think even younger, but you can say that age group is the next generation after the generation ruling Africa now. Nelson Mandela did say "Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation".

Invited and confirmed attendees include Dikembe Mutombo, Tsega Gebreyes, Kassoum Fadika, Monhla Hlahla, Amara Konneh, Hannah Tetteh, Deji Akinyanju, etc. Also attending are Asa (yes, the one who sang 'Jailer and Fire on the mountain) who I've met personally, in fact she is the only one I have met other than the ALN founders, Acha and Fred. No, I am not rubbing shoulders with these folks. I am some small fish like that. One confirmed invitee I wanna meet is the lovely, beautiful, gorgeous Lira. Sigh. What do I have to do to get invited next time?

The event is happening in the historic city of Addis Ababa. Addis has been the site of many great conferences about Africa. Kwame Nkrumah will attest to this. Haile Gebreselassie, the icon of the Rastafarian movement, is from there. Ethiopia is very important in the African Diaspora. I also hear Addis may have the widest selection of working African professionals. I can't see how it is not Johannesburg, but this says something good about Addis. I am not sure why Addis Ababa was chosen, especially when Acha and Fred are both based in South Africa. Is the Addis' choice a nostalgic one? Africa unite!

I am excited about this gathering. I hope those of you who can't attend can watch a live stream (for free). It seems the attendees are a mix of folks from the political arena, business, arts & literature, sports, academia, etc. That's a great mix. A friend once said, the best way to predict the future is to create it. I strongly believe these ALN attendees are amongst those who will be creating Africa's future. Amandla! Twende! Vim!
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