Knowles Attends Gates’ Lecture

July 17, 2016:  Sherry Knowles, Founder of The Kectil Program, attends the 14th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture presented by Bill Gates.

Ms. Knowles had the honor of joining the celebration of the life of Nelson Mandela at the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture presented by Bill Gates at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. Ms. Knowles attended the event with Advisory Board member McLean Sibanda, the CEO of the Innovation Hub of Gauteng Provincial Government, located in Johannesburg.

The full text of Bill Gates’ talk can be accessed at

Bill Gates highlighted the four pillars of the challenges to raise the quality of life in Africa (and which can also apply to other developing countries): health and nutrition, education, economic opportunity and good governance.

The goals of The Kectil Program align directly with Bill Gates’ challenge to improve education to stimulate the ability of youth to lead, innovate and become entrepreneurs.

Mr. Gates pointed specifically to the power of youth, saying “The most important thing about young people is the way their minds work. Young people are better than old people at driving innovation, because they are not locked in by the limits of the past.” He reminded us that he was 19 when he started Microsoft, Steve Jobs was 21 when he started Apple and Mark Zuckerberg was 19 when he started Facebook.

Mr. Gates also emphasized that we have to ensure that we have high-quality public universities that will launch the next generation of scientists, entrepreneurship, educators and government leaders. Maintaining the quality of Africa’s higher-education system, while expanding access to more students will not be easy, but it is critical to the future.

Bill predicted that the real returns will come if we can multiply this talent for innovation by the whole of Africa’s growing youth population. To make it a reality, all of Africa’s young people must have the opportunity to thrive.