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Rethinking African Leadership: Right resources, wrong leaders

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African Leaders at the African Union building (Source: AU)

How possible is it that the continent with the most of the world’s natural resources, hardworking labour force and favourable climate conditions could have earned the title of being labeled poor and be reduced to beggars than those that have less resources? The scenario that Africa has created of being rich but not prosperous has presented a paradox whose puzzle needs a careful consideration to spot the missing link to enable Africa retain its rightful title, “The prosperous land of opportunity.”

Since the management of resources and the driving of the development agenda falls mainly on leaders, the attainment of real meaningful development can best be achieved when there is in place the right leaders who are selfless and put the interests of their countries and continent above their own. With many African countries having attained independence decades ago, what type of leaders should be put in place to change the African Narrative?

Development focused leaders

Over 20% of current African leaders have been in power for over 20 years and seem to have run out of ideas of what to do differently. They instead usually maintain the status quo of running affairs despite shifts in various development fundamentals. This trend has resulted in rampant corruption, political instability and economic stagnation because the leaders become preoccupied with how retain power and silence challengers at the expense of development. Most African countries are engulfed in discussing political issues and other non-development essential matters that have painted their countries black, thus affecting local investor confidence. For a country to be able to produce enough for exports, it must be able to focus on producing more than local demand and create a suitable environment for the each sector to thrive.

However, African countries have focused their efforts on political issues and planning how to win the next election instead of what milestone to achieve. This derails efforts to work towards real development. African countries have nicely drawn up development plans with well elaborated visions and objectives but the challenge has been implementation. Therefore, Africa needs leaders who are focused and determined to develop it.

Local solution believers

Speaking at the UN general Assembly in 1984, former president of Burkina Faso, Thomas Sankara argued that „it was time for men of Africa to come to their senses and turn to their societies to develop solutions that will be credible even at the international level. Leaders must carry out profound changes so that they free themselves from the foreign domination and exploitation that lead only to failure of the countries.‟ Africa needs leaders who believe in local solutions and will advocate advancing these solutions. Not leaders who always parade problems before advanced countries, seeking for aid and solutions like beggars who are helpless.

Statistics have shown that, while Africa receives help in various sectors, it loses more. The Health Poverty Action report research found that while about $134 billion flows in Africa in each year largely in form of loans, foreign investment and aid, over $192 billion is taken out in profits made by foreign companies, tax evasion and in costs of adapting to climate change which results into a net loss of about $58 billion annually. For how long will African leaders seek foreign help when they can believe and try local solutions suggested by their people? It is interesting to note that while it is the responsibility of leaders to improve the living conditions of their people and provide better health facilities, a number of African leaders would rather seek medical care from advanced countries.

Unsurprisingly, a number of African leaders have died in foreign countries while seeking treatment and this point to the fact that they do not believe in their medical facilities. Africa needs leaders who will eat, drink, work, rejoice and face problems together with their people and make a difference together. It is not enough to build hospitals that leaders themselves fail to go to or have schools which they cannot send their children. Therefore, Africa needs leaders who will inspire confidence in their people and be open to listen and support local solutions.

Accommodative leaders

The leaders that Africa needed at the time of independence achieved their aspirations and gained the freedom that they sought. But times and challenges have since changed and African problems are no longer about seeking independence and therefore, Africa needs leaders that can read the time and accommodate change. The problem of having long serving leaders has been that they want to use the development mechanisms that worked decades ago and apply it in today’s world. Knowledge and technology have advanced; populations have grown and therefore needs have increased and changed. Africa needs leaders who will collaborate to develop it.

The ideal African leader is one that will upscale the interests of Africa first and work with others to maximise the African potential in trade, resources and prosperity. What is worrying about Africa is the fact that it trades more with countries outside the continent than among member countries. The share of exports from Africa with the rest of the world ranged from 80 – 90% for the period 2000 to 2017 (Economic Development in Africa Report, 2019) while intra Africa exports averaged only 16.6%. To boost economic fortunes, leaders must support the Africa Continental Free Trade Area with a view of working together in solving local problems.

Africa also needs leaders who accommodate the views of the youths who are creative, energetic, and innovative and not view them as a threat. Youths are usually updated with latest changes that should be incorporated in the development matrix of today’s world and therefore, they should not be side-lined with an out-dated proverb “youths are the leaders of tomorrow” when the future and tomorrow is now.

Indeed, despite the abundant availability of needed resources for development, Africa’s current situation can largely be blamed on leaders it has had. Leadership mindset change is therefore needed now than ever before.

Written by: Nchimunya Muvwende, an Economist

 

 

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Africa speaks

Unstoppable Africa 2023: Shaping a Future of Prosperity and Innovation

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Unstoppable Africa 2023 has concluded, leaving a profound mark on the African continent. The two-day Global Africa Business Initiative (GABI) event aims to boost Africa’s standing in the global economy and establish the continent as the foremost destination for business, trade, and investment. This transformative gathering on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly has not only chartered the course for economic growth but has also solidified GABI’s pivotal role as a catalyst for change and progress.

On the second day of the event, Caroline Wanga, CEO of Essence Ventures, emphasized the importance of authentically portraying African narratives. She highlighted that the continent’s rich heritage has traditionally been expressed through its unique storytelling methods. Wanga stated, “In discussing Africa, it’s vital to engage in genuine dialogue. We’ve celebrated our heritage through our distinct method of storytelling, which the world is longing for now more than ever. As the overseer of Essence Ventures and other platforms, I am committed to ensuring our tales are told from a position of strength and authenticity.”

The final day of the Unstoppable Africa 2023 featured a chorus of leading private sector voices. Notably, leaders from the business and media world such as Jeff Wong, EY Global Chief Innovation Officer; Niraj Varia, CEO of iProcure Ventures; Lakeshia Ford, Founder of Ford Communications; Claudia Kwarteng–Lumor, Founder of Kollage Media, producers of GLITZ AFRICA Magazine and Somachi Chris-Asoluka, CEO of The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF). 

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Complementing these luminaries were esteemed figures from government and international organizations, including President Masisi, H.E. Felix Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Adebayo Olawale Edun, Minister of Finance and the Coordinating Minister of the Economy for Nigeria, Joy Basu, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs at the US Department of State.

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Unstoppable Africa: Igniting Transformation and Bold Collaborations

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Unstoppable Africa Conference: Dr. Akinwuni Adesina and H.E. William Ruto (Image: Supplied)

Leaders from global business, investment, government, sports, and the arts gathered in New York on Thursday, 21st September to mark the commencement of “Unstoppable Africa”. The event by the Global Africa Business Initiative (GABI) seeks to elevate Africa’s prominence in the global economy and position the continent as the premier destination for business, trade, and investment.

The two-day event is co-convened by the United Nations Deputy Secretary General, Amina J. Mohamed and the Chairperson of the African Union H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. GABI, coordinated by the UN Global Compact, serves as a pivotal forum for Heads of State and Government, CEOs, investors, policymakers, industry experts, and U.N. leaders to discuss and strategize the way forward for Africa’s dynamic business landscape. “Unstoppable Africa” is a powerful affirmation of GABI’s unwavering commitment to redefining Africa’s economic narrative.

On day one, the flagship event attracted an impressive array of speakers and participants, including the Presidents of Ghana, H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Kenya, H.E. William Samoe Ruto, Senegal, H.E Macky Sall Poland H.E Andrzej Duda and H.E Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados. In addition to government ministers, “Unstoppable Africa” welcomed a who’s who of renowned business titans such as Mo Ibrahim, the Sudanese-British businessman and philanthropist, Phumzile Langeni, Deputy Chairman of Imperial Logistics; Non-Executive Director of DP World Group, James Manyika, Senior Vice-President of Research, Technology and Society at Google-Alphabet, and Brad Smith, President of Microsoft among others. Senegalese artist Baaba Maal set the tone for the event with a captivating performance calling for peace and prosperity in Africa while actor Arsema Thomas engaged in an insightful interview conducted by the event’s host Folly Bah Thibault from Al Jazeera English.

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UN Secretary-General António Guterres opened the two-day forum making a compelling call for the “delivery of justice” – a theme central to the continent’s sustainable development. The UN Secretary-General stated that “justice means reforming outdated, unfair and dysfunctional global financial systems and ensuring African representation at every multilateral table”.

H.E. Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados emphasized the difference between ambition and meaningful action, in the context of Africa. Recognizing the emerging unity and collaborative efforts across the continent, she highlighted the imperative for accelerated progress in Africa. Her message underscored the urgency for nations to move from plans to concrete actions that catalyze transformative change on the continent.

During a major event announcement, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), announced a transformative partnership with Google, creating a Centre of Excellence for coding in Africa.

Other announcements on the day included The Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) commitment to positioning the country high-up in the batteries and electric vehicles value chains, unveiling a new 1,000-hectare space in Kolwezi, with special economic zone status. DRC’s Minister of Industry, H.E. Julien Paluku, appealed to global investors to join these initiatives in addressing climate change while advancing economic growth. the launch of Ghana’s Energy Blue Zone Initiative, heralding a major stride in the country’s energy transition and investment plans.

The “Unstoppable Africa” event promises to continue its momentum into the second day, where further thought-provoking discussions, innovative solutions, and collaborative endeavors are set to shape Africa’s role in the global economy. Leaders from various sectors, including business, government, and civil society, will come together to exchange ideas, forge partnerships, and chart a course toward a more prosperous and sustainable future for Africa and the world.

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Nigerian-Born Ayomide Idogun On Creating Impact

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Ayomide Idogun is the co-founder at the New African Movement, an initiative aimed at ensuring Africa is conducive for Africans. Ayomide is a development strategist, policy analyst, and military historian with a major flair for transformative change through strategic thought, leadership, and empowerment.

Recently, he had the opportunity to be a delegate at the Arab Youth International Model United Nations Conference, now known as the Best Diplomats Conference, held in Dubai. Beyond the piquancy that came with meeting over 150 people from about 80 countries, and the experience of learning different cultures, the delegates were largely charged with proffering solutions to solving the global food crisis.  Ayomide represented the great people of Guatemala, who sadly are no strangers to this phenomenon, with 4.6 million people at the least, facing the hunger crisis, and suffering hugely from food insecurity.

This led him to come up with prospective solutions, to ensure farmer empowerment, and the mitigation of factors hindering food supply minimized to the barest minimum, so as to ensure Guatemala does not just become self-sustaining, but grows to the point of exporting food produce to other Nations. His efforts did not go unrewarded as he bagged the Outstanding Diplomat Award, in recognition of his outstanding negotiation, leadership, and overall performance during the course of the conference.

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He is a trainer and speaker with core area in leadership, capacity building and development. Some of his engagements amongst others, includes, training members of the African community in the United Arab Emirates, on capacity building and maximizing potentials, to ensure their time and resources are utilized to maximal effect. And at the maiden edition of DisruptHR Lagos, organized by OutsideinHR, where he spoke on the role COVID-19 played on priorities for humanity, and the ever-changing landscape of work.

Ayomide Idogun holds a degree in Policy and Strategic Studies from Covenant University, a second degree in History and Strategic Studies from the University of Lagos, and he is currently enrolled in the School of Politics, Policy and Governance, where he is undergoing the Public Leadership and Policy Programme.

 

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