The NBA is set to promote its offer to the African continent via the Basketball Africa League, a new partnership forged between the NBA and the sport’s global governing body FIBA. With the backing and involvement of former US President Barack Obama, the new 12-team league is anticipated to be up and running by January 2020.

Qualification tournaments will be held later this year to determine which teams from Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia will make it to the field of play. But only two teams maximum can represent any one nation.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver stated: “As we’ve been talking about this concept over the last several months, there’s been a tremendous reception from several of our NBA team owners. Several of our partners have also expressed an interest to work with us in Africa.”

Obama Tweeted a response to the announcement, saying: “I’ve always loved basketball because it’s about building a team that’s equal to more than the sum of its parts. Glad to see this expansion into Africa because for a rising continent, this can be about a lot more than what happens on the court.”

“We’re excited to work closely with the NBA to develop and put in a place a professional league like none that we have ever seen in our region before,” said FIBA Africa Executive Director Alphonse Bile. “Through the Basketball Africa League, we can provide the many great clubs and players with the best possible environment to compete for the highest stakes.”