Dar es Salaam,31 July 2014 African continent needs leaders who are strategic, inclusive and capable of managing diversities so as to realize the challenges of transformation.
That was said by participants of the inaugural African Leadership Forum that was held today in Dar es Salaam, convened by former President Benjamin Mkapa of the United Republic of Tanzania and Uongozi Institute under the theme “Meeting the challenges of Africa’s Transformation”.
The forum generally agreed that there is no lack of visions or ideas in Africa but lack of particular kind of leadership that is not satisfied with what is in place and keen to make a difference.
“We have to do things differently, we do same things over and over again and expect different results, this is insanity,” said Former President Olusegen Obasanjo of Nigeria, adding that African leaders need to work together and strategically and put continent interests first.
Speaking on the challenges of the diversity in the continent the UN Under Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa Dr. Carlos Lopes said managing diversity is the number one governance problem in the continent. He said Africa need to embrace its diversity and not see it as a curse. “We need leaders who are capable of managing diversity and practice social cohesion,” Dr Lopes said adding that issues of governance in Africa needs to be addressed in details.
Despite challenges that Africa faces, Dr Lopes said the continent has performed well in the past decade including doubling its GDP, reversing HIV/AIDS infections and cutting mortality rates by half among many other achievements. “We are in a better position than Latin America and even Asia…,”he said adding, “ we tend to see ourselves too negative sometimes and this very much influences the way we receive the possibilities of change.”
Dr Lopes added that with the largest young population in the world, Africa needs to run like cheetahs to meet the aspirations of its people. “Our people want things to happen now, not in the future,” he said.
On his part, Former President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa said AU need to include an element of assessing performance of leaders within its Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) as a way of addressing leadership gap. “We need to strengthen capacities of our leaders so as they are able to meet the expectations of our people,” he added.
On his side, President Mkapa said the forum was not a platform for blame game rather to discuss practical individual and collective responsibility to ensure the continent moves forward.
“My hope is this forum can analyze issues differently, recommend differently and monitor progress differently” President Mkapa said, and challenged the audience by asking them” How can we shock our leaders to do things differently and effectively?” The forum was attended by politicians, academicians, private sector, members of the diplomatic corps, representatives of international organizations, government officials and media.