Though not the largest continent in the world, Africa is arguably the most diverse. Data published in a 2002 paper for the Harvard Institute of Economic Research titled, ‘Fractionalization‘, indicated that “the 13 most ethnically diverse countries are all in Sub-Saharan Africa, followed by Yogoslavia and then 7 more Sub-Saharan African countries” (p 8). The authors of African Languages: An Introduction cite a source that estimates 2,035 African languages but makes it clear that the “number is not fixed” (p. 2).

In the PfAL Network alone, the 130 current members represent 23 African countries, and we anticipate that number to grow over the coming years. Many lively conversations and debates have resulted from the varied perspectives and life experiences of members from across the Continent as well as from different parts of each represented country; however, the diversity has been a valued aspect of the Network from the start. As indicated in the PfAL Leadership Code, one of the principles and values PfAL alumni pledge to uphold is:

Diversity–We embrace differences in heritage, cultures, backgrounds, ideas and perspectives, harnessing this in the pursuit of excellence.

But what are the implications of such ethnic heterogeneity on political governance across the Continent? On Thursday 10 December 2015, PfAL@LSE students explored the question in a debate, opened by four volunteer speakers and chaired by Professor Teddy Brett, Visiting Professor at LSE’s Department of International Development. Click through the slideshow to catch a glimpse of the spirit and passion the issue sparked in the room!

(If the slideshow does not appear below, click here to go to our Flickr page)

PfAL@LSE - 10.12.15

Photos by Owen Billcliffe Photography (

The very first PfAL@LSE 2015/16 event kicked off on the evening of Thursday 12th November. 53 LSE graduate students from sub-Saharan Africa came together first to hear a talk from Firoz Lalji, Chairman of PfAL Foundation and CEO and Chairman of Zones, Inc. The evening then transitioned to a student-led debate on corruption in Africa, which was started by four volunteers from the group. A lively debate ensued, bringing up questions around the definitely of corruption, success, and even where the roots of corruption could be found. Flick through the photos below to get a glimpse of a very dynamic evening!

Photos by Owen Billcliffe Photography (

PfAL@LSE - 12.11.2015

Fiona Mungai addresses the audience

My new path has led me to realize that the vision of a new society in Africa will need to be developed in Africa, born out of the Africa historical experience and the sense of continuity of African history. The African is not yet the master of his own fate, but neither is he completely at the mercy of fate. As you leave LSE, my wish for you is that we keep looking for Africa’s solutions. Don’t settle!

With these words Fiona Mungai, a PfAL4 scholar from Kenya, gave a smile to the applause of the PfAL4 group and headed back to her seat. Isabelle Umugwaneza, from Rwanda, took the podium.

Good afternoon. Distinguished guests, Mr & Mrs Lalji, Fellow Colleagues, it has been a pleasure spending the day with you all, yet again hours spent receiving much needed food for thought, and encouragement…

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LSE-AS-logoWe are delighted to announce our partnership with the 2015 LSE Africa Summit. A student-led initiative launched in April 2014, the annual Africa Summit seeks to address relevant issues facing Africa today and in the future. The inaugural summit in 2014 focused on entrepreneurship and featured several high-level speakers including President John Mahama of Ghana. The theme for 2015 is “Innovative Governance” in a wide range of industries and disciplines including health, technology, security, justice, education and politics.

Learn more about the programme at Registration has now closed, but you can still participate by tuning in to the live stream on YouTube or following and tweeting #LSEAfrica.

If you will be attending the Summit and would like to speak to a PfAL representative, please stop by our stand outside the Sheikh Zayed Theatre in LSE’s New Academic Building. We are happy to answer any questions or add you to our mailing list.

On Thursday 19th March, we had the pleasure of welcoming Dr Mo Ibrahim to speak to the PfAL@LSE group in a talk chaired by Professor Thandika Mkandawire, Professor of African Development at LSE. Dr Ibrahim gave the group a little of his own history in setting up his business and some of the challenges. Under the rapt attention of the group, Dr Ibrahim then spent time talking about good governance and the importance of celebrating good leaders.

Some of the PfAL@LSE group with Dr Mo Ibrahim after his talk
A group from PfAL@LSE with Dr Mo Ibrahim after his talk (Photo by Owen Billcliffe Photography
(From left to right): Jeff Koinange, Agnes Gitau and Salim Amin talk to the PfAL@LSE group about Africa and the media

Writer Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote in White Nights and Other Stories, ‘But how could you live and have no story to tell?‘ At PfAL, we are constantly challenging our members to dig deep, examine their lives and identify how they can contribute to the progression, or even reshaping, of Africa’s future.

On Thursday 26th February 2015, PfAL@LSE addressed the field of media in a discussion with three established African media professionals, chaired by Dr Wendy Willems, Assistant Professor in LSE’s Department of Media and Communications. On the panel were Jeff Koinange, a Peabody- and Emmy-award-winning broadcast journalist; Agnes Gitau, Director for the London-based East Africa Business Network; and Salim Amin, Chairman of Camerapix and Co-Founder/Chairman of A24 Media.

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H.E. Macharia Kamau and Professor Robert Wade in the PfAL@LSE January session
H.E. Macharia Kamau and Professor Robert Wade in the PfAL@LSE January session

On Thursday, January 29, 2015, PfAL welcomed H.E. Macharia Kamau, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Kenya to the United Nations, to speak to the PfAL@LSE group. Ambassador Macharia Kamau has served at the United Nations for over 25 years, mostly in senior management positions, and has extensive international experience. In addition, he was co-chair of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, established in January 2013.  Continue reading

PfAL welcomes students from across the London School of Economics and Political Science to join the network.
PfAL welcomes students from across the London School of Economics and Political Science to join the network.

Monday, December 15, 2014 saw the launch of PfAL@LSE, an additional component of PfAL that draws in graduate scholars from sub-Saharan Africa studying taught MSc programs from  across The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). The extension not only expands the current PfAL network, it also brings in diversity of subject background and nationality.

The first PfAL@LSE event had nearly 50 students in attendance and was officially launched with a welcome speech from Professor Paul Kelly, LSE Pro-Director of Teaching and Learning. Following the welcome, Dr Connson Locke from the Department of Management (LSE) led a session about Leadership Presence, during which she presented research about how effective, influential leaders are perceived based on several communication channels. Continue reading

The fighting that broke out in South Sudan this past December sparked much discussion among 2013-14 PfAL scholars.  To bring the situation into the spotlight, our scholars organised a series of talks, hosted by LSE’s Department of International Development (ID) and supported by PfAL, focusing on the reasons for South Sudan’s current situation and what its future holds.

The series kicked off on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at the Wolfson Theatre on LSE’s campus with “What went wrong and what can be done about it? A South Sudanese perspective for post-war state building in South Sudan.”  The audience filled the entire theatre for talks by Foreign Minister of South Sudan Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin and Dr. Edward Thomas of the Rift Valley Institute for the public. Continue reading