Former President Barack Obama joins NBA Africa as strategic planner and minority owner

·2 min read

Former President Barack Obama has joined NBA Africa as a strategic planner and minority owner, the league announced Tuesday.

NBA Africa conducts the league’s business in Africa, including the Basketball Africa League (BAL), which held its inaugural season in May, Jr. NBA, Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Africa and NBA Academy Africa.

Obama's role will help advance the league's social responsibility efforts across the continent, including programs dedicated to supporting gender equality and economic inclusion.

“The NBA has always been a great ambassador for the United States – using the game to create deeper connections around the world, and in Africa, basketball has the power to promote opportunity, wellness, equality, and empowerment across the continent,” Obama said. “By investing in communities, promoting gender equality, and cultivating the love of the game of basketball, I believe that NBA Africa can make a difference for so many of Africa’s young people.

More: Rapper J. Cole makes professional basketball debut in new Basketball Africa League

"I’ve been impressed by the league’s commitment to Africa, including the leadership shown by so many African players who want to give back to their own countries and communities. That’s why I’m proud to join the team at NBA Africa and look forward to a partnership that benefits the youth of so many countries.”

Obama will have a minority equity stake in the new venture, which over time he intends to use to fund Obama Foundation youth and leadership programs across Africa.

NBA Africa has also launched several social responsibility initiatives this year aimed at raising awareness of gender-based violence, supporting girls’ education, and improving the livelihoods of African youth and families.

“We are honored that President Obama has become a strategic partner in NBA Africa and will support our wide-ranging efforts to grow the game of basketball on the continent,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “In addition to his well-documented love for basketball, President Obama has a firm belief in Africa’s potential and the enormous growth opportunities that exist through sports. NBA Africa will benefit tremendously from his engagement.”

“We have ambitious growth plans for NBA Africa and having President Obama join our efforts is a recognition that through sport, Africa can take its rightful place on the world stage,” said NBA Africa CEO Victor Williams. “We look forward to working with President Obama and our strategic investors to use basketball as an economic growth engine across the continent and as a platform to improve the health and wellness of one of the world’s youngest and fastest-growing populations.”

Contact Analis Bailey at aabailey@usatoday.com or on Twitter @analisbailey.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NBA Africa brings former President Barack Obama on board