Considering nearly one in three Africans are between the ages of 10 and 24 and approximately 60% of Africa’s total population is below the age of 35, empowering the youth is non-negotiable for the future growth and development of the continent.

The Young African Leaders Initiative (Yali) is a signature effort to invest in the next generation of African leaders.

Yali’s three-tier programme entails the Yali Mandela Washington Fellowship (academic training and training in the US), Yali Network (online courses and engagement platforms) and Regional Leadership Centres in Ghana, Kenya, Senegal and South Africa.

The University of South Africa’s School of Business Leadership is the proud host of the Regional Leadership Centre Southern Africa (RLC SA).

The RLC SA offers leadership training across the public, private and civil sectors.

SANRAL’s Central Operations Centre has become a regular feature on the Yali public management and governance programme. Since last year, the centre has hosted more than seven groups, comprised of participants in the Yali public sector programme.

Yali alumnus Fortune Mlalazi says: “SANRAL operations offer a prime model on how public infrastructure should be managed.”

“While our visits to the centre are successful in gaining a deeper understanding in the work behind e-tolls, the whole project highlights important aspects of public service.

The most significant is alternative revenue generation as governments throughout Africa are faced with diminishing budgets; the importance and process in collecting monies due to the state and prudent expenditure.”

Francka Rajoelina from Madagascar was one of 43 youth who visited the centre in May. She says: “I have learnt a lot from this visit. I hope to work in a public-sector role in my country. Although Madagascar is not as big and advanced as SA, our people also deserve decent infrastructure such as roads.

“Even in our small country we experience congestion and the e-toll project provides useful lessons that can be replicated in other countries like ours.”

Hosting up to six groups a year, SANRAL is proud to be associated with this bold project.

Participants in the programme are selected from 14 SADC (Southern African Development Community) countries: Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

When participants complete the six-week course – two-week online introduction and four-week in-person coursework at the University of Pretoria – it is believed that they will be better poised to serve as the next generation of Southern Africa’s public service professionals at the local, provincial, and national levels.