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AIF 2020 Youth Panel on Leadership vs Systems

The Youth Panel on Leadership vs Systems brought in new energy into the plenary sessions, with provocative ideas and new narratives from the panellists. Expertly moderated by one of Ghana’s leading journalists, Bernard Avle, the conversation sought to surface how these young people were seeing the tension between leadership and systems in their respective areas of work and their thoughts on how Africans can strengthen both their leadership and systems in their respective fields. 

Laud Anthony Basing, who leads Incas Diagnostic Services, is focused on improving access to high-quality routine and specialised medical and industrial laboratory services. His work has put test kits for a range of diseases in the hands of patients, giving power back to rural and disenfranchised people, who would go undiagnosed for lack of access to healthcare services. Laud argued that systems were perhaps the most important requirement for their work to be effective, although political leadership was critical of putting test kits in the hands of more Africans. 

Nozipho Mbanjwa is a global conversation strategist, working with governments, international organisations, and business leaders to apply the science and art of conversation to unlock strategy and policy. Her work empowers her clients to translate aspiration into action. Nozipho shared that in her work, both systems and leadership were critical. She argued that conversational leadership, the ability to create the space for and sustain difficult but strategic conversation, was only one side of the equation with the other being the ability to have consequential conversations that are designed with intent and supported by organisational systems to take root, thrive and lead to the desired action. 

Henry Anumudu is the founder and executive director of Sharing Life Africa, an ecosystem that supports quality education, creates economic opportunities for women in low-income communities, and directly supports underserved schools. Henry called for systemic approaches to policies that support the teaching profession, attract young talent into classrooms and equip young teachers with the resources to deliver an effective teaching and learning experience. 

Khalila Mbowe is a Tanzanian choreographer, creative performance director, and social entrepreneur. She leads Unleashed Africa, a company that trains gifted young people in the performing arts. Khalila’s contribution spoke to the absence of young and old people working together to find systemic solutions to the continent’s problems through reverse mentoring and young people being included in strategic engagements. 

Rorisang Tshabalala is the chief executive of Chapter One Innovation, a business model research and development company that builds businesses that disrupt unjust social and economic systems. Rorisang argued that the framing of leadership vs systems is a false dichotomy and that Africa requires leaders that build systems that last, and the continent needs to become more effective at ensuring that both systems and leadership work better together.  

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