“Africa Connections” will bring you weekly news and events on the many ways our African Alumni Project university partners are staying connected to the African Continent and the African Diaspora.

YALI Program (Young African Leader’s Initiative Program)

July 14th, 2015

For this week on Africa Connections we feature YALI – Young African Leader’s Initiative (launched in 2014 by the Obama Administration), held at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley this summer for the second year. Michael Omeka, MasterCard Foundation Scholar from Nigeria, and Berkeley “rising” sophomore, is interning with the YALI program. Michael says, “It’s been amazing so far working with these extremely talented group of young Africans transforming lives on the continent.”

This year, the theme for the YALI program is on developing skills in civic leadership. Many of the 25 Fellows are grassroots leaders in their communities and innovators in their fields, some holding advanced degrees. A number of Fellows are social entrepreneurs and founders of companies and organizations engaged in civic engagement and empowerment. To find out more about these Mandela Fellows, click here for short bios.

The following was taken from the Goldman Public School of Policy’s Website:

About the Mandela Fellowship

The Goldman School of Public Policy and the University of California, Berkeley are excited and energized by the Young African Leaders Initiative’s Mandela Fellowship Program and its focus on civic leadership. Throughout UC Berkeley’s history civic leadership and engagement has played a significant role in the campus’ evolution. From the peace strikes in the 1930s, to the Free Speech Movement of 1964, to today’s student body that is active in volunteerism and community service, civic participation and leadership are integral to the Berkeley experience. In summer, 2014 the Goldman School hosted 25 emerging leaders from sub-Saharan Africa. We are looking forward to welcoming our second cohort this year.

The Mandela Fellowship for Young African Leaders was announced on June 29, 2013 in South Africa by President Obama when he stated,

“We’re launching a new program that’s going to give thousands of promising young Africans like you the opportunity to come to the United States and develop your skills at some of our best colleges and universities.”

The new Mandela Fellowship is personally supported by the President of the United States and the US Department of State. We at the Goldman School believe strongly that President Obama’s vision and mission for this Fellowship and the mission of UC Berkeley for its students are exactly the same – Let there be Light. Our domestic students are grappling with global issues and hunger for more intimate opportunities to understand and be change agents. By hosting this program at the Goldman School, our students will get front row opportunities to interact with these future African leaders, understand the context of global issues, and take part in developing global solutions.

The Goldman School is developing a cohesive civic leadership program that will focus on the skills that young African leaders need to run better ministries and serve their communities. The program will include developing the skills to identify, analyze, and solve crucial issues found within a community and allow these civically engaged leaders to empower and motivate others to become involved change agents. The program will also include enrichment activities such as visiting the California State Capitol in Sacramento to view a legislative session, taking a trip to Muir Woods to see conservation in action, and a host of cultural and social activities taking advantage of the museums and sights the San Francisco-Bay Area has to offer.

To find out more about the Mandela Washington Fellowship, click here .

Patricie Uwase M.: MasterCard Foundation Scholar

June 5th, 2015

“Also as a MasterCard Foundation Scholar, an Open A Door Scholar and a former Generation Rwanda scholar, I have and continue to acquire skills I need to live my dream to see transportation infrastructure improved.”

-Patricie Uwase M.


This week on Africa Connections we are featuring Patricie Uwase, graduate student at UC Berkeley, also a MasterCard Foundation Scholar who came a long way in her career with her passion for transportation infrastructure development. One of her biggest dreams is to contribute her knowledge in building/planning sustainable transport infrastructures.

As Founder & Director of 100 Women Who Will Impact Rwanda, Patricie was winner of the Davis Project for Peace grant, and was awarded a $10,000 grant administered by the Davis Foundation. She also held positions as an engineer intern for NPD-COTRACO (located in Kigali), and a transportation modeling intern position at the SF Bay area. Her professional and personal experience has equipped her with leadership abilities, strategic and analytical thinking to excel in her field, as well as the ability to adapt to different challenging work environments.

Other Awards
Open A Door Scholar: by Open A Door Foundation
2011 MiLEAD Fellow for Rwanda
Generation Rwanda Scholar
Generation Rwanda Ambassador to USA & Canada

Patrick Awuah: Recipient of the 2015 Elise and Walter A. Haas International Award at UC Berkeley

May 18th, 2015

“Africa will be transformed under the leadership of bright young Africans who are educated in Africa, taught to think critically, to question, to solve problems, and above all, to care. I founded Ashesi to be a spark of a revitalized Africa. Ashesi is catalyst for new enterprises and new solutions, and offers a new model for other universities in Africa.”

Patrick Awuah, MBA 1999

Who Is Patrick Awuah?

Patrick_Awuah_smFor this week on Africa Connections we are featuring our very own Cal Alumnus, Dr. Patrick Awuah, founder and president of Ashesi University in 2000, a private, non-profit university outside of Accra, Ghana. Ashesi quickly gained a reputation for its innovative and quality education and has now graduated ten classes. Ashesi is also an early partner with the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program, and will graduate its first class of MCF Scholars in 2016. Patrick has been instrumental in contributing to an educational renaissance in Africa by working together with talented entrepreneurial leaders, who are using their critical thinking skills and ethical courage to transform their continent. In 2012, Patrick Awuah was named the 4th Most Respected CEO in Ghana.

Patrick supports the African Alumni Project and will be interviewed at Ashesi University in September, along with a half dozen fellow Cal alums living and working in Ghana. He looks forward to seeing the findings of the study on the career and life choices of African Cal alums, particularly their connections with their home countries over time.

Personal Life

Patrick worked as a program manager for Microsoft before founding Ashesi University, where he led the development of dial-up internet technologies, eventually earning his reputation of “bringing difficult projects to completion.” Patrick took his education very seriously, holding a bachelor’s degree in engineering and economics from Swarthmore College and an M.B.A. from UC Berkeley’s School of Haas. He is also a member of the U.S. Tau Beta Pi honor society for his achievements as an engineer and also received honorary doctorates from both Swarthmore and Babson College. Patrick received membership in the Order of the Volta by His Excellency, President J.A. Kufuor and has been nominated as a Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.

Other Awards/Achievements

Microsoft Alumni Foundation Integral Fellow Award

John P. McNulty Prize of the Aspen Institute

Learning Through Innovation Award for UC Berkeley, Haas Business School.

Fortune Magazine World’s 50 Greatest Leaders

Outlet for Change: Renewable Microgrid for Rural Uganda

May 7th, 2015


This spring California – Renewable and Adaptive Energy (CAL-RAE) will pilot their solar microgrid design, bringing low-carbon, round-the-clock power to 15-20 entrepreneurs and families on Kitobo, a fishing island in Lake Victoria.

Your contribution will help CAL-RAE double the capacity of the system this summer and provide the momentum needed to extend this sustainable design to thousands of people in Uganda and beyond.

Globally more than a billion people have no access to electricity and find it difficult to study for school, safely store certain medications, and power machines for business. Many make their living from the land or sea, their livelihood dependent on a healthy climate.  They need electricity to expand opportunity, and it must be clean.

In Uganda about 93% of the rural population has no access to the electric grid.  These communities are not, however, sitting in the dark, resigned to their fate.

Local entrepreneurs and households invent creative solutions to make do with a few hours of electricity every day from inefficient, dirty, and noisy diesel generators.  Many have no power at all.

The lack of reliability and high costs of these systems constrain business, health care, and education–all of which can improve quality of life in a sustainable way.

CAL-RAE breaks this cycle through innovative technical and financial models for affordable solar power systems in off-grid communities.


CAL-RAE is a UC Berkeley-based interdisciplinary group that researches and implements off-grid energy access in the developing world.  The group won a United Nations SEED Initiative Award in 2013 for their design of an off grid system for rural Vietnam.

CAL-RAE is affiliated with Berkeley’s Energy and Resources Group (ERG) as well as BERC.  Its members come from not only engineering, but also the natural and social sciences, encouraging socially sustainable perspectives and durable systems.

The common bond is a committment to renewable electricity access as a tool for promoting community welfare.  CAL-RAE believes that only ecologically and economically viable solutions will create lasting change, and focuses its efforts on removing barriers through technology transfer and alternative business models.


Kitobo Island, on Lake Victoria, Uganda has no electricity grid. Currently, a patchwork of diesel generators supply sporadic, dirty, and expensive power. Businesses rely on this to light their store fronts, refrigerate their products, and run equipment for the local fishing industry. Homes are lit by kerosene lanterns that cause toxic indoor air pollution and pose burn risks, especially among woman and children.



To find out more about the story, click here!

EARTH University: The MasterCard Foundation Scholar Program

April 25th, 2015







For this week I’ve decided to feature MasterCard Foundation Scholar Program’s partnership with EARTH University, both partners of the African Alumni Project. Through hearing the stories of many of the Cal alumni, I saw how much the MasterCard Foundation Scholar Program had an impact on many of the young African scholars coming to study in the states. The following is a brief history of EARTH’s partnership with The MasterCard Foundation. Enjoy!

(The following information was taken from their website which you can find here):

Program: Youth Learning
Purpose: Provide scholarships to financially disadvantaged students to complete university education
Amount: $19.5 million
Term: Seven years
Start date: November 2011
Location: Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean

Why We Partnered

EARTH University was founded in Costa Rica in 1986 as a new higher education model to promote sustainable rural development in the tropics of Latin America and the Caribbean. It aims to address environmental and social challenges through cutting-edge, relevant education with strong values, leadership, and a lifelong commitment to social and environmental service. In recent years, the University has expanded its focus to include tropical Africa as well.

The EARTH model develops, in addition to a solid technical and scientific formation, three attributes in each student: entrepreneurship, concern for the community, and a strong environmental ethos. Students collaboratively design and execute agricultural enterprises on EARTH’s 8,500 acre campus and complete internships as part of graduation requirements. EARTH employs best practices in teaching and learning, emphasizing experiential learning and hands-on public service. EARTH is a model for African higher education in agriculture.

The partnership with EARTH University and The MasterCard Foundation is part of The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program, which works with partner institutions to provide scholarships to disadvantaged students to complete university education. The partnership aligns with EARTH’s vision to share its model with African institutions and students. The Foundation will provide 120 scholarships to EARTH students; 40 scholars will come from Africa and the rest from Latin America and the Caribbean.

Anticipated Impact

This program identifies, educates and networks future leaders by:

  • Enabling qualified yet financially disadvantaged students from developing countries to complete an accredited university degree program in an area relevant to needs and growth opportunities in the students’ home communities.
  • Providing mentoring, career counseling and internships.
  • Integrating a give-back component in the program to transition scholars from beneficiaries to benefactors.
  • Establishing a network of scholars to leverage peer support, youth engagement and social media opportunities.

Where We Are Now

  • The first cohort of 39 Scholars, and second cohort of 40 Scholars, successfully completed the 2013 academic year.  Three cohorts of Scholars have now been recruited –  50 percent of whom are female.
  • Expansion of EARTH’s network for recruiting in Africa is ongoing: the admissions office is now managing approximately 150 contacts in 15 African countries. These contacts are helping to support the EARTH admissions process.

Africa Business Forum
Africa: The Next Frontier for Mobile Technology

April 16th, 2015

The rapid adoption of mobile technology in Africa has given birth to new business models and innovative solutions to previously unsolvable problems. What will the continent look like in 10 years? How will the adoption of the Internet transform how business is done?

We invite you to join us for BerkeleyHaas’ first annual Africa Business Forum, which will focus on entrepreneurs and visionaries that will help shape the business outlook for Africa. The forum will comprise of keynote speakers, panels and a hands-on business model design with start-ups.

When: Saturday May 2nd, 2015 9:00am – 3:30pm
More information can be accessed here our website; Be sure to also follow-us on Twitter @HaasAfrica

“The Conference informed several key debates on the value of higher education in North America for sub-Saharan African scholars and for development on the African continent as a whole. One was the issue of whether “return” to countries of origin in Africa is the most effective way for African graduates to contribute the knowledge, experience and networking gained during their education years. There was a consensus that career and life trajectories are not linear so that concepts of “return” need to reflect these variations in time and space. What is most important is to instill and encourage values of social justice and good citizenship during the education experience. Scholars also need role models to inspire them to overcome serious challenges faced both at their international universities, and when they do return home to “give back.”
-Robin Marsh

Published: 10 March 2015 @ McGill University

Since at least the 1960s, a number of programs have enabled promising students from developing countries to attend institutions of higher education in the global North. In many cases, these programs have sought to equip students to contribute more effectively to development in their own countries. The expectation, if not the formal requirement attached to such funding, was that alumni of these programs would return to their home countries for a minimum period of time. Their return was seen as the surest way to contribute to building needed human resources within developing countries while minimizing real and perceived “brain drain”. In the context of the Cold War, these returning students were seen as ideal ambassadors for the merits of competing lifestyles and political systems, which in turn helped legitimize large government expenditures for these programs, in both the East and West.

Today, the world is markedly different, and arguably more complex. Globalization has integrated national economies in unprecedented ways, through free trade agreements and largely unfettered capital flows, as well as more integrated global labour markets for highly educated people. It is no longer a given that Africans should study in the North, and funders increasingly are focusing their resources on enabling students to study in Africa. Regardless of where they study, the options available to highly educated Africans have grown, contributing to the emergence of “multi-directional brain flows” between the global North and South, including a growing number of students from developing countries who are able to fund their own education. The educational and career paths for African students are more fluid than ever before. Their ability to contribute to development in their home countries similarly reflects new options. These include the influence they may exercise from abroad through remittances, to the ways globalization has contributed to the ability of immigrants to rise to positions of power and influence in the North: roles that can have profound impact on the development prospects of their countries of origin.

Yet despite these trends, fundamental issues relating to the scarcity of skilled labor remain as true today as they were in the 1960s for many developing countries, as the Ebola epidemic reminds us. Indeed, there is an ambiguous mix of change and continuity which suggests that now is an ideal time to reconsider the basic assumptions undergirding past and current donor policies regarding how highly educated people from the global South might best contribute to the development prospects of their home countries. While both funders and scholarship recipients generally share the same goals, it is important to learn more about the factors that determine access to scholarships, the opportunities available to scholars to give back to their communities, and the role that funders, program implementers and educators can play in helping scholars to do so.

March 16th, 2015

For this week we are featuring Michigan State University’s Asian American and African Studies program (AAAS).

To visit their page to find out about upcoming events, click here:

AAAS is devoted to a mission that offers educational programs. Our curriculum fosters advanced exploration and analysis of the social, cultural, economic, and political experiences of African descendants in the United States, in the Caribbean, and elsewhere in the African Diaspora; as well as of the diverse peoples and nations of Africa in the Continent. We are dedicated to the production and creation of knowledge and the cultivation of scholars committed to academic excellence and social responsibility in local, national, and global community.

Our curricular and supportive curricular initiatives embrace genuinely diverse intellectual and ideological approaches to researching, teaching and civic engagement required for vibrant, complex and comprehensive study within the Black Studies discipline. In addition to our Black Studies Core Curriculum; we collaborate with a range of disciplinary majors and minors in the colleges of Arts and Letters, Social Science, Education, and Natural and Medical Sciences.

Though anchored by the experience in the United States, our deeply comparative, cross-national and cross-cultural curriculum is committed to researching a broad geographical spatial context that includes the Africana experience elsewhere in the Diaspora and in the diverse nations of Africa. Our curriculum features required Africana language study, required domestic and international internship courses, including study abroad in South Africa, as well as opportunities to participate in extra-curricular educational opportunities that offer our students a trans-disciplinary, local, national, and global experience in Black Studies.