Barack Obama has backed plans for a new basketball league in Africa and is set to take up a role with the project.

The former US president shared his support for the collaboration between the NBA and the basketball's global governing body FIBA to create an elite competition involving several African countries.

He is expected to be “directly involved” with Basketball Africa League, although quite what role he will take remains unclear.

“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,” he tweeted.

The initial plan is for the 12-team league to begin playing in January 2020, but it yet to be determined which existing club teams will be part of the league.

Qualification tournaments will be held later this year to decicde those clubs, with teams from Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia expected to be among those taking part.

No nation will be allowed to have more than two teams in the league.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said he was excited that Mr Obama wanted to have a role in the initiative, and said talks between the NBA and the former president are ongoing.