Leaders Forum emphasises action and delivery
Posted Thu, 03 Mar 2005
After two days of deliberations at the Sandton Sun Intercontinental Hotel in Johannesburg, South Africa, delegates attending the second annual African Leaders Forum from 13-15 October, 2004, identified the urgent need for a new, committed and visionary leadership to confront the vexing challenges facing the African continent The Forum, convened by Business in Africa Magazine, and co-sponsored by Eskom, Honeywell Solutions, National Ports Authority of South Africa, MTN and the South African Broadcasting Corporation Africa (SABC-Africa), took its cue from this year’s theme, “Leadership for Prosperity” in calling for leadership that is proactive, rather than reactive, if the continent is to reverse the growing tide of socio-economic disintegration that has plagued its people for far too long. Delegates resolved that there is a need to develop a concrete program of action, with service delivery to the African people as the fundamental preoccupation of public and private sector actors. While it is important to diagnose and analyse the continent’s woes, the focus should shift towards attaining deliverables that have meaningful and practical impact on the lives of ordinary Africans. In taking stock of recent developments on the continent, delegates acknowledged the gradual emergence of a “visionary” African leadership, particularly in the past decade. This crop of leaders, have worked tirelessly to shape a “new” developmental paradigm in which the continent and its people play a central role in their own affairs. The adoption of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) framework and the inauguration of the Africa Union (AU) in 2001 and 2002 respectively, are excellent examples of the new and visionary leadership that has engendered hope and determination amongst Africa’s peoples. This, it was acknowledged, has created a momentum that the continent is indeed on the path of transforming itself into a mosaic of political economies that would work collectively for the commongood, thereby by shedding the image of Africa as a “continent in fragments.” However, to translate this ‘hope’ and ‘determination’ into practically deliverable outcomes that would benefit ordinary Africans, delegates emphasised that African leadership should encompass the following characteristics: • As the cradle of human civilisation, Africans and African leaders in particular, must develop a sense of self confidence, pride and efficacy in their ability to overcome adversity. As a corollary to that, African leaders must do everything humanly possible to ensure that the locus of control over the continent’s affairs is African. • Integrity and ethical conduct are key to enhancing good leadership and Africa needs that now, more than ever before. • Good leadership is all about stewardship. Good leaders are those who listen well, have a sense of humanism and go the extra mile to strengthen the relationship between the rulers and the ruled. • Good leadership must have the ability and willingness to enforce the rule of law, which is anchored in the process of democratisation and good governance. Delegates acknowledged that in the past decade, there has been some positive shifts towards the institutionalisation of democratic values and principles in the continent, and this needs to be built on. In addition to these challenges, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, exacerbated by endemic poverty are two key problems identified by delegates at the 2004 Forum. Given the above, the 2004 Forum therefore focused on coming up with practical solutions geared toward tackling the problems head on. There is a need to quickly develop a plan of action with specific deadlines - short, medium and long-term - to deal with these problems. Among the pressing challenges identified are the following: • Endemic poverty remains a major obstacle to Africa’s developmental aspirations. The need to close the widening gap between ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ couldn’t be more urgent in today’s African socio-economic landscape. • Unemployment among Africa’s majority population calls for urgent attention and begs the question whether enough is being done to develop the necessary skills required for the continent to maximise its full potential in a highly competitive global environment. • The unavailability of electricity and power in the vast majority of African countries is counterproductive to the continent’s development aspirations and hence must be tackled. • Global forces beyond the continent’s control are a serious cause for concern. This is particularly crucial for issues such as trade and debt relief, which have tremendous implications for the continent and its people. • The HIV/AIDS pandemic continues to pose grave challenges for socio-economic progress in Africa. As a ‘moving target’ this disease must be tackled head-on and defeated. proposed by delegates, including the following: • African countries need to promote intra-Africa trade as a panacea for overcoming its many challenges. In this regard, NEPAD is seen as vehicle to achieve this. • To change the negative image of Africa portrayed by the international media, African political and business leaders must establish a credible medium through which the continent can be effectively marketed. An authentic African news gathering and disseminating organisation, controlled by Africans telling their own stories, would be an effective means of countering the negatives stereotypes of the continent, dished out on a daily basis by the international media. The way forward The organisers now have a responsibility and duty now to engage well meaning partners in business, politics, academia, civil society both in the continent and beyond so that the two days of hard work dedicated by delegates is translated into practically deliverable policy outcomes. The NEPAD Business Group and other African institutions will be invited by the organisers to work as partners in this endeavor.
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