It's been a meteoric rise for Carl Manlan, who a scant six years ago was a teaching assistant on the International Trade Bargaining course in the School of Economics in the Faculty of Commerce at the University of Cape Town and has now been appointed as a Mo Ibrahim Fellow at the United Nations in Addis Ababa.
As he wrote in his fellowship application letter, "I look forward to the opportunity to working together to make the dream of our forefathers sealed on 25 May 1963, an African reality in our lifetime."
He was referring, of course, to the dream of African Unity which was signed by the leaders of 30 African States more than 50 years ago, and which will be celebrated at UCT as Africa month during the course of May.
Manlan's rise has been stellar, since 2002 when he graduated from UCT with a BCom in Politics, Philosophy and Economics, followed by a BCom in Financial Analysis and Portfolio Management the following year.
It was during a communication class that he met his wife-to-be, Lelani, whom he married in 2009 and with whom he has a one-year-old daughter.
The lure of international study was in his sights and first he undertook a Diploma in Management of Social Institutions at the University of Geneva before a Masters in Public Administration at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. He also holds a Project Finance qualification from the London Business School.
With these impeccable academic credentials are matched by his commitment to fighting disease in Africa, a passion that has spanned a decade.
As he puts it: "I have worked with different stakeholders across Africa in order to increase access to health in the area of HIV/Aids, tuberculosis and malaria. I have had the opportunity to listen and contribute where I could add value.
"I see this new role of technical advisor to the Office of the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa as an expansion of my responsibilities of the Fund Portfolio Manager of the Global Fund, as it will allow me to broaden my contribution to Africa's economic development. My experience in health within the Global Fund has been focused on addressing complex issues.
"I was involved in the design of the performance based funding model and its application thereof. In the subsequent years, I have provided technical and advisory support to government, civil society and international organisations. In doing so, I have maintained respect for the integrity of the process in order to advance the countries' agenda for its people.
"Over the years, I have acquired transferable skills through my honest interaction with high ranking officials, civil society members and people living with diseases. The latter has been a constant reminder of the privilege that I have had of being of service to others. The role, will allow me to leverage on my academic experience in order to apply my skills in finance, negotiation, diplomacy, strategy and implementation. I will bring to the role, an enquiring mind with a positive attitude based on strong values.
"In addition, Addis Ababa has been a unique location for African matters. I want to contribute further to the changes that are happening in Africa. Cape Verde has lessons for Africa that require a translation into each country's situation. The role of the African diaspora and its financial and intellectual network has a role to play in the future of the continent. This is one of the reasons why I want to make the transition through the Fellowship.
"As a fellow, I intend to strengthen my expertise in regional integration and governance. The objectives for the year ahead have been laid out in the annual report 2013. My intention is to support the Office of Executive Secretary in ensuring adequate mechanism to make inclusive growth a reality," he said.
African leaders of the future
Carl, who hails from Cote d'Ivoire, is one of three fellows to benefit this year from the vision of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. Established in 2010, the Ibrahim Leadership Fellowships is a highly- prized programme whose purpose is to unearth potential African leaders of the future. The Ibrahim Leadership Fellows receive mentoring from the current leaders of key multilateral institutions including the United Nationals Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the African Development Bank and the International Trade Centre.
Candidates for the fellowship need to be African mid-career professionals, with 7 to 10 years of relevant work experience, a Master's Degree and be under the age of 40 (for men) or 45 (for women with children).
Expressing his congratulations, the Dean of Commerce, Prof Don Ross had this to say: "Carl Manlan has been building an international presence that is second to none among the Commerce Faculty's recent alumni. He was selected for the Mo Ibrahim Fellowship over thousands of applicants who represented the leading cadre of young African professionals.
"I'm proud to have personally interacted with Carl for over a decade, and to have been a close observer at each of his career steps, through Cape Town, Kinshasa, Geneva, Harvard, and now Addis. His integrity is rocklike, his devotion to Africa's advancement unwavering, and his confidence in his capacities both fully earned and fully affirmed by experience. And amidst all that he remains a loyal and proud ambassador for our faculty and our university. It is a privilege to be his friend."
Story by Carolyn McGibbon. Image supplied by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.
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