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LSE graduate pledges £10m for new centre dedicated to Africa

Programme for African Leadership Lalji
Thanks to a generous pledge of £10m from alumnus Firoz Lalji, through the Lalji Family Foundation, the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) has endowed a new academic centre dedicated to teaching, research and engagement with Africa and Africa scholars.

The Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa further strengthens LSE’s commitment to placing Africa at the heart of debates about global issues. The centre is named in recognition of the Lalji Family Foundation that includes wife Najma’s and daughters Farah’s and Natasha’s transformative gifts of £13million to LSE.

From its foundation in 1895, the School has been deeply involved with Africa and African issues, and has provided education and training to many prominent African leaders and thinkers. Leaders who studied at the School include Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya; Kwame Nkrumah, Hilla Limann and John Atta Mills of Ghana; Sylvanus Olympio of Togo and Veerasamy Ringadoo of Mauritius.

Firoz Lalji is a successful businessman, philanthropist and LSE economics graduate, and has worked closely with LSE for a number of years to promote Africa engagement and scholarship.

A donation from Firoz and Najma Lalji through their foundation led to the creation of the landmark Programme for African Leadership (PfAL) at LSE in 2012. The programme has dramatically raised the profile of African scholarship and provides around 20 philanthropic scholarships each year for sub-Saharan African students to pursue master’s degrees at the School.

The new Centre will incorporate PfAL and will be led by Tim Allen, Professor in Development Anthropology, and Head of the Department of International Development at LSE.

Commenting on the announcement, Firoz Lalji said:

Firoz Lalji

“LSE is the perfect setting for a centre dedicated to Africa and the ongoing education of future generations of African leaders. From the inspirational African LSE alumni who were integral to the first wave of post-independence African leadership, to leading academics and current LSE students from Africa and all over the world, the School has long held a meaningful connection with the continent. We are delighted to endow the Centre for Africa to further advance this invaluable relationship, and are excited at the role it will play in promoting excellent scholarship, teaching, research and engagement with and for Africa and Africans on a global scale.”

Director of LSE, Professor Craig Calhoun added:

“LSE has a longstanding commitment to ensuring that Africa and African issues have a place at the heart of global debates. This is demonstrated by the world-leading research produced by the School’s faculty. Thanks to the generosity of Firoz Lalji, the new centre will amplify further the African continent in the School’s teaching, research and policy engagement.”

Currently there are over 130 scholars based at LSE whose work involves Africa, coming from a wide range of social science disciplines including anthropology, economics, geography, health, international relations, politics, and social psychology.

The Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa will focus on disseminating this expertise, as well as working with policy-makers around the world. Another key priority for the Centre will be to enhance the quality and availability of evidence on issues relating to the continent. In particular, it will look to promote work from African scholars, both in Africa and at other research institutions outside the continent.

The Centre builds on LSE’s established Africa Initiative, which has promoted greater links between the continent and LSE.  These links have included an official partnership with the University of Cape Town and the founding of the first LSE Chair in African Development, taken up by economist and development expert Professor Thandika Mkandawire in 2009. 

The Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa is part of the Institute of Global Affairs at LSE.


For further information

Danny O’Connor, LSE head of media relations, 44 (0)20 7955 7417 or oconnord@lse.ac.uk.


Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa

More information about the Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa is available at: lse.ac.uk/africa

For the information on the latest research and engagement relating to Africa please also visit the Africa at LSE blog.


Firoz Lalji

Firoz Lalji is president, CEO, and owner of Zones, Inc., a global IT solutions provider. Lalji also owns the Fana Group of Companies, a real estate investment holding company operating in the U.S. and Canada.

Prior to his tenure at Zones, Lalji was the founder, president and CEO of Kits Cameras, Inc., which he built into a 225-store chain located in the U.S. and Canada. He sold Kits Cameras in 1997. Lalji then became CEO of Zones, a company that he co-founded.

Lalji was born in Uganda and obtained his BSc (Econ) from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 1969. He attended Harvard Business School from 1991 to 1993. He is active on several boards, including US Bank of Washington, the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington, LSE, and the Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Published: Monday 11 July 2016

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