Frequently Asked Questions

What is Africa Brand Leadership Academy (ABLA)?

ABLA is an Africa-focused post-graduate academy of Brand Leadership. Its aim is to sharpen the leadership capability of individuals and organisations to create meaningful brands that will transform Africa and inspire the world.

Why has ABLA been established?

Throughout history, brands have proven to be a powerful vector of the image, identity and competitiveness of people, products and nations.

A 10 years survey and ranking of brands in Africa initiated and led by ABLA founder, Thebe Ikalafeng and published annually around Africa Day by African Business has established that on average, African brands account only for only 20% of the brands that Africans admire. The research, conducted independently by Geopoll, Kantar and Brand Leadership across over 25 countries, across all regions in Africa, which collectively account for 80% of the GDP and population of the continent, highlights the key challenge of building a resilient private sector and consequently, competitive made in Africa brands.

Further, the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which has created the largest single market in the world of 1,3bn consumers, and aims to grow intra-African trade from 18% to 50% by 2030 underlines the urgency to accelerate Africa’s industrialization agenda.

Recognizing these imminent continental challenges, ABLA aims to sharpen the minds that build the brands that build Africa.

Who is the target for ABLA?

ABLA is tailored for executives, entrepreneurs and the next generation of leaders and individuals building brands, businesses and organisations in the private and public sector in Africa.

What is the core curriculum of ABLA?

ABLA has a multi-disciplinary curriculum that blends brand leadership, intellectual property management and content inspired by African culture, heritage and creativity to inspire authentic and relevant Africa outcomes.

The curricula is anchored around five (5) targets groups: executives who are leading and managing African and non-African brands in Africa and want to adapt and respond to challenges of the rapidly changing and diverse African environment; the next generation of leaders who want to accelerate their careers with relevant skills; entrepreneurs who want to leverage the power of branding to distinguish, build, and grow their businesses; organisations who want customized Africa-focused brand learning solutions and Short Learning Programs for individuals who want to sharpen their skills with brand focused insights.

The curriculum has a holistic approach for building and growing a brand from conception to delivery and locates branding as an integral strategy for building sustainable businesses.

What makes ABLA different among higher education providers in Africa?

First, ABLA is a specialist academy with a singular goal to inspire Africa-focused brand leadership.

Second, ABLA recognizes that to compete, brands in Africa must reflect and respond to African conditions. ABLA blends global branding thought leadership with primarily African case studies of emerging and established brands which showcase Africa’s diversity, entrepreneurial ingenuity and innovative solutions inspired by an authentic and deep insight into the diverse African consumers, cultures and conditions.

Third, our network of partnerships across Africa and the world with other Africa-focused institutions and organizations enable us to design, deliver and exchange programs grounded on a real understanding of the challenges and opportunities of building world-class African and other brands in Africa.

ABLA has established partnerships with, inter alia, Henley Africa and Africa Leadership University (ALU), the leading Africa-focused global and African academic institutions, African Business, the most influential pan-African publication since 1966, Marketing Africa magazine, East Africa’s leading marketing journal and with other leading publishers and authors of Africa focused literature.

What are the core ABLA programmes?

ABLA delivers core ready-to-learn and custom cross-disciplinary programs that blend practical and academic principles to address the most urgent challenges of building sustainable brands and businesses in Africa.


A 12-18 months Post Graduate Diploma in Brand Leadership (PGDBL) focused on the next generation of brand builders who want to accelerate their career with practical skills and deep immersion in the continental context to build the capacity to build sustainable, meaningful and profitable brands in Africa.


Africa Brand Leadership Executive Programme (ABLE) to immerse, inspire and empower executives leading brands in Africa in the challenges, opportunities and trends that will take their organizations to higher levels of growth in a dynamic African marketplace.

Brand Leadership for Entrepreneurs to empower entrepreneurs to navigate challenges other than funding and scaling, on how to transform their commodities into world-class competitive brands; how to differentiate and leverage their personal, product and business brands, and finally how to protect and take their ideas to the marketplace profitably.

Short Learning Programmes to meet specific needs of individuals who need short-term learning intervention to sharpen their skills for building brands in dynamic and evolving environment.

  • Responsible Branding
  • Brands, Boards and the Bottom-Line
  • Personal Branding
  • Public Sector Branding
  • Brand Leadership for the Creative Economy
  • Brand Leadership for Entrepreneurs

Custom Programs to meet specific needs of organizations that reflect an understanding of their particular challenges with learning interventions to ignite individual and organisational performance and drive the bottom-line.

How are ABLA lectures delivered?

The pandemic has inspired and transformed the world of work and learning and accelerated the role of technology as a key driver of learning. Consequently, ABLA lectures are delivered synchronously virtually through live, real-time online sessions by ABLA specialist faculty and guest lectures, thought leaders and practitioners, and supported asynchronously through videos, literature, relevant case studies and assessments – and forums where learners can interact with each other and faculty on the ABLA Learning Management System (LMS) e-learning platform. Where possible, lectures are delivered in a hybrid format seamlessly providing a dynamic mix of online and on-site modes at key economic capitals in Africa.

Who delivers ABLA programmes?

ABLA programs are developed and/or delivered by a global African network of universally respected specialist practitioners, thought leaders and academics who collectively bring a rich blend of proven and lived insights on the continent and/or experience building brands in Africa.

Are ABLA programmes accredited?

ABLA is formally undergoing a rigorous institutional and program accreditation process with the Council for Higher Education and the South Africa Qualifications Authority.

ABLA was launched with several non-accredited Short Learning Programmes while the Post Graduate Diploma in Brand Leadership (PGDBL) will be accredited program.

What is the governance structure of ABLA and its leadership?

ABLA leadership and governance is based on sound and best practice principle for organizing and managing a higher education institution with a pan-Africa focus and reach.

ABLA is led by respected and experienced global Africans. Renowned Ethiopian thought leader and business woman, Dr. Eleni Zaude Gabre-Madhin who founded the highly acclaimed Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX) is the founding Chancellor/President, retired Namibian academic, Professor Tjama Tjivikua, the founding principal of the Namibia University of Science and Technology, is the founding Council chairman and ABLA founder, Thebe Ikalafeng, is the founding Principal.

This team is led by a Council of diverse and respected Africans and diaspora who are responsible for the good order and overall governance of ABLA.

How will ABLA success be measured?

Success will not be measured by the number of learners, but ABLA’s influence on the growth in admiration, demand and competitiveness of African brands.