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News Release

World Economic Forum Announces Young Global Leaders for 2012

Maxwell Hall, Senior Media Manager, Tel.: +41 (0)79 329 3500 – maxwell.hall@weforum.org

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  • The Forum has honoured 192 young leaders from 59 countries for their outstanding leadership, professional accomplishments and commitment to society
  • Of the selected young leaders, 18 are from sub-Saharan Africa
  • Young Global Leaders are selected from a variety of sectors such as business, government, academia, media, non-profit organizations and arts and culture, and from all regions of the world
  • Young Global Leaders engage in initiatives that address specific challenges of public interest with the objective of shaping a better future

Geneva, Switzerland, 6 March 2012 – The World Economic Forum has announced its Young Global Leaders (YGLs) for 2012.

The honour, bestowed each year by the Forum, recognizes up to 200 outstanding young leaders from around the world for their professional accomplishments, commitment to society and potential to contribute to shaping the future of the world. Past YGLs include Maria Bartiromo, Anchor, Closing Bell, and Anchor and Managing Editor, Wall Street Journal Report, CNBC, USA; David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; Esther Duflo, Professor of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA; Larry Page, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Google, USA; Zhang Xin, Chief Executive Officer, SOHO China, People's Republic of China.

For 2012, the Forum has selected 192 YGLs from 59 countries and all sectors of society (including business, civil society, social entrepreneurs, politics and government, arts and culture, and opinion and media). The new class originates from East Asia (38), South Asia (19), Europe (46), Middle East and North Africa (15), sub-Saharan Africa (18), North America (37) and Latin America (19).

“In the last few years, the world has seen the biggest recession in almost a century and we now face daunting global challenges,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum. “Recovery and innovation will require new, unique ideas and an environment where the best minds, ideas and leadership can thrive. The most important determinant of this will be how we use human talent. Within the World Economic Forum community, the Young Global Leaders represent the voice for the future and the hopes of the next generation. I am particularly proud of this year's honourees, who I believe will address the challenges we face in a meaningful way through fresh thinking and true multistakeholder engagement.”

Drawn from a pool of several thousand candidates, the 2012 YGLs were chosen by a selection committee, chaired by H.M. Queen Rania Al Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and comprise respected international leaders from business, government and media.

The 2012 YGLs reflect different types of leadership in different parts of the world and society. Those from sub-Saharan Africa include: Jasandra Nyker, Chief Executive Officer, BioTherm Energy, South Africa; Amadou Hott (from Senegal), Chief Executive Officer, Dangote Capital, Nigeria; Clare Akamanzi, Chief Operating Officer, Rwanda Development Board (RDB), Rwanda; Cina Lawson, Minister of Posts and Telecommunications of the Republic of Togo; Emmanuel Jal, Hip-hop Artist and Writer, Sudan; Fred Swaniker, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, African Leadership Academy, South Africa; Ashish Thakkar, Managing Director, Mara Group, Uganda and Simon Kolawole, Editor, ThisDay, Nigeria

“It’s an honour to be recognized as a Young Global Leader both at a personal level, but more importantly, in terms of what it means for Africa. It’s exciting to see the extent to which a new generation of young people from this continent is making a global impact and has global influence. We’re truly a new force,” said Sisonke Msimang, Executive Director, Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), South Africa.

Another recently selected YGL from Nigeria, Amadou Hott, Chief Executive Officer, Dangote Capital, commented: “I am truly honoured for having been welcomed to the forum of YGLs which will offer me this rare privilege to effectively interact with exceptional decision-makers from around the world to address key challenges at the heart of the global agenda, especially the eradication of poverty, an issue that has so many ramifications.”

The 2012 honourees will become part of the broader Forum of Young Global Leaders community that currently comprises 713 outstanding individuals. The YGLs convene at an Annual Summit, which will be held this year in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, on 14-18 April. YGLs are actively engaged in the community, are integrated into events organized by the World Economic Forum, and organize events of their own, as well as launch and lead their own innovative initiatives and task forces. These activities enable YGLs to learn from and with each other; build knowledge and engender a better understanding of global challenges and trends, risks and opportunities; and further enhance their unique role as leaders within their own organizations, the World Economic Forum and the broader global community.

“As a YGL, my life has changed both on a personal and professional level. The YGL community not only provided me with exposure and an opportunity to network with other like-minded individuals, but also with a platform to bring about sustainable changes at a global level through various YGL task forces,” said Susan Mashibe (YGL 2011), Executive Director, Tanzanite Jet Centre, Tanzania.

Six YGLs from the non-business sector of the new class of 2012 will also have the opportunity to benefit from the Dangote fellowship, a programme created in collaboration with Aliko Dangote, President and Chief Executive Officer, Dangote Group. The fellowship aims to increase the engagement of non-business African YGLs, for whom the cost of travel and accommodation prohibits their full participation, in the YGL Community of the World Economic Forum. Through this programme, it will be possible to fund YGLs from Africa to attend the Annual Meeting in Davos, the YGL Annual Summit and two regional meetings (one being the Africa Economic Summit). This is the first time that such an innovative collaboration has been established. The move is part of Mr Dangote’s philathrophic activities, aiming to increase the quality and quantity of young African leaders across the continent.

“As Young Global Leaders from different backgrounds, such as civil society groups, academia, arts and culture and the media, I challenge you to see yourselves as the future leaders of Africa who will emancipate the continent from the shackles of poverty that have for so long impeded her progress. You can achieve this by drawing upon diversity as your strength, for jointly solving our common societal problems,” said Aliko Dangote, President and Chief Executive Officer, Dangote Group.

“One of the unique aspects of the YGL Community is that it is the first generation of leaders who are truly global citizens: they have all lived, studied and worked in different countries throughout their careers,” said David Aikman, Head of The Forum of Young Global Leaders. “They see themselves as being fundamentally interconnected and have the cross-cultural leadership skills to be successful in a globalized world. Thanks to the incredible diversity of the group, they are able to collaborate across complex systems and build informal coalitions to facilitate action on the biggest challenges facing the world today. This entrepreneurial approach to public good is the best way to move the world forward. We look forward to integrating the 2012 YGLs into our discussions and initiatives.”

Notes to Editors

More information about the Forum of Young Global Leaders at http://www.younggloballeaders.org/
List of YGLs honoured in 2012
List of the YGL community
Visit our YGL YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/yglvoices
Follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/YGLvoices
Nominate a potential Young Global Leader through our website


The World Economic Forum is an international institution committed to improving the state of the world through public-private cooperation in the spirit of global citizenship. It engages with business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.

Incorporated as a not-for-profit foundation in 1971 and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the Forum is independent, impartial and not tied to any interests. It cooperates closely with all leading international organizations (www.weforum.org).