As the best way to end his successful two-five year term at the helm of the African Development Bank, Dr Donald Kaberuka brought its 49th annual meetings to his home country Rwanda. This is also an acknowledgement by the largest African development institution of Rwanda`s social and economic development it has achieved over the last two decades.
A high level event dubbed “Leadership for the Africa we want” took place during the 2014 African Development Bank Group Annual Meetings Kigali, May 19-23. A number of dignitaries were part of panelists at the event including President Paul Kagame, Dr Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini-Zuma the African Union chairperson, William Ruto the Vice president of Kenya, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo and Mo Ibrahim.
Participants to this event were discussing how Africa can finally come to terms with regimes that drag its feet towards good governance that is considered as one of the prerequisites to Africa`s social and economic development. The majority of African countries have recently been celebrating their half century freedom from colonialism but their citizens feel that more still need to be done to free them from bad governance.
The panelists were tasked to describe what kind of Africa they want to see over the next 50 years. The former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo said that he envisions a democratic Africa that will give an equal opportunity to its citizens. He noted that Africa needs a critical mass of leaders that has a vision to transform the status-quo that has long been prevailing for half a century.
Mo Ibrahim pointed out that while the African continent is mostly populated by youth the average age of leaders is over 60 years old. He said that this is one of Africa`s hindrance to good governance and development as young people are not given a chance in leadership position. He questions why Africa don`t follow example of western countries that empower their youth into leadership position.
The chairman of the African Union supported the idea of a leadership that invests in young people. She referred to China that produces over 700000 engineers a year and questioned how many Africa produce a year. “We need a leadership in academia that can use technology in training our young people”, underlined Ms Zuma. In addition to giving a chance to young people the chair of African Union said that women should also be empowered in African leadership.
Countless meetings on how Africa should be governed have been held much time without concrete results on the way forward. President Paul Kagame said that main efforts have been in theoretical part of leadership and urged Africans to do what they ought to. “We know the problem but we fail to deliver what we should to our people”, pointed out President Kagame. He explained that leaders whether young or old require some kind of upbringing so that they can be able to deliver results that meets Africans citizens expectations.
“The issue is that problems and solutions are known”, said William Ruto the vice-president of Kenya. He urged Africa leaders to match what they say with what they do. He gave an example of recent decisions taken by heads of states to develop infrastructure in the East African community which had taken a century. He concluded that sitting African leaders should be able to hand over the next generation a kind of leadership that has a lasting impact on the lives of people.
“The African continent is rich in natural resources unfortunately they are being exploited to enrich foreign interests and by corrupting morals of its leaders”, said Benjamin Mkapa former Tanzanian president. He noted that the problem of leadership in Africa has been that of leaders themselves that are reluctant to allow a smooth transition of leadership. President Mkapa advised that Africa need leaders who can impact positive values to their citizens in order to loot vices such as corruption that is a stumbling blog to Africa economic and social development.
Both panelists seemed to agree that Africa needs some sorts of mechanisms to ensure that the continent move forwards in the right direction. But President Kagame cautioned the issue of succession that is considered as an end in itself. “We have had places where succession had been successful but lives of people did not change”, pointed out President Kagame. He concluded that leaders Africa deserves should be the ones who can implement institutions that outlive them and can serve the interests of Africans.
As a young man who happens to take part in this event, I hope that many goods words that were uttered by our leaders in the “Leadership for the Africa we want” should be put into action. Africa has lost a lot of time in its development journey and the masses of youth and women who constitute the majority of its population would like to see positive change over the next 50 years dubbed “ agenda 2063”.