KFC Africa & Serge Ibaka to Empower Youth through Basketball & investing in Africa’s community courts

By Thandisizwe Mgudlwa

The average age in Africa is 19 and sport, specifically basketball, is a passion point for more than 100 million fans across the continent. In recent years we have seen the number of African players rising on the international circuit, providing inspiration and impetus for many young people dreaming of becoming the next global basketball all-star, so says Emmanuel Kasambala, KFC Marketing Director, Rest of Sub-Saharan Africa.“For us it’s about developing our home continent’s youth – giving them the facilities and safe spaces to use their talents and grow their skills. It is for this reason that we are refurbishing and buildingbasketball courts within communities in key markets.”KFC Africa, the most loved fast-food brand in 23 markets across the continent, is partnering with Serge Ibaka, of the Milwaukee Bucks, to enable and uplift the continent’s youth and communities, whilst growing grass-roots basketball.Following on from KFC Africa’s announcement about its partnership with NBA Africa, the brand has even bigger plans for the game.The first of these basketball courts was recently built and donated in Kenya, as a result of a partnership between KFC and the Jonathan Jackson Foundation (JJF).Moreover, this was initiated under the Bakee Mtaani (‘basketball in the hood’) initiative, at the Humama Public Grounds in Kayole Community, and also sees youth within the community benefitting from basketball equipment and coaching programmes at the new court.In addition to this, a significantly positive spin-off was that the construction of the court resulted in jobs for more than 50 skilled and unskilled youths.And with regards to the courts initiative specifically, this is just the beginning – ambitious plans are underway for another 11 courts in Kenya in coming months, as well as additional projects in othermarkets including Botswana, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal and Tanzania among others.“We are also extremely excited about our epic collab with Serge Ibaka – an African basketball legend – to further highlight the strength and potential of the game. It goes without saying that Serge is a true inspiration to our youth, and by joining forces, we accelerate growth and development for the stars of the future.”Born in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo, Serge is a three-time NBA All-Defensive First Team selection and has twice led the league in blocks. In 2019, he won his first NBA championship as a key member of the Toronto Raptors.Adding to these impressive basketball credentials, Serge is also personally invested in uplifting and developing the youth, through his own Serge Ibaka Foundation, that focuses on issues of children’shealth and education, and the Serge Ibaka Dreams Academy, that focuses on giving back through basketball.In adding his perspective, Serge Ibaka says, “The talent that Africa is producing is just amazing and my goal is to inspire them and to contribute to ensure that the next generation is given everyopportunity to shine in the game I love. I am very proud to be able to partner with KFC Africa to give more back to my home continent. Having basketball courts in their local communities, close to young players, is a huge advantage in helping them to develop their basketball and life skills.”KFC Africa believes in fueling the passion-points of the young, and young at heart, by connecting at the touch-points that mean something across its markets.Kasambala concluded, “With Serge being such an icon in the game, it made perfect sense for us to take up the opportunity to partner with him to bring our brand’s support of basketball to life. Additionally, it is through initiatives like this that KFC Africa aims to see more young players from Africa level up both on and off the court, whilst creating a lasting legacy for generations to come.”

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