Africa is a continent of 54 independent countries, with people of different cultures and race. It accounts to 20% of landmass, home to 16% of the world’s population and holds 3% of world’s economic Gross domestic product (GDP).
Despite Africa being rich in minerals and resources such as gold, cooper, diamonds, geothermal, indigenous trees, oil and many others, its people are still languishing in poverty. Most of the communities where these minerals were discovered and mined have not yet seen the benefits. An example is in my country Kenya where oil was discovered in Turkana County, but since the discovery and the start of extraction of the oil, not much has been done to elevate the lives of Turkana people, a marginalized pastoralist group in semi-arid northwestern Kenya.
With good leadership and governance, Africa can grow and empower its people. When we talk of leadership, in most cases we refer to governance, the governments that are in power. Those people holding power should maintain a sense of integrity and discipline to ensure that resources reach the common people in villages.
Poverty has divided people in to classes of the haves and have-nots. Those in power are corrupt leading to losses of public funds to few individuals. Although measures have been put in place to curb corruption, it is still a thorn in the flesh. Here in Kenya, we have had countless of corruption cases that end up in court but the culprits are never punished, nether is the money recovered. This is a replica to many African Countries.
I believe that corruption is the source of poverty in the African Countries, and if strict measures are adhered to, then we can stop the theft and use the funds appropriately. This starts with the voters to pick a visionary leader when they cast their ballots. Those who can sell good policies and not buy them with money. Unfortunately, voters in Africa choose that person who will offer them money than show them what he or she can do. It is necessary for establishment of institutions that can equip young voters on good governance and run parallel campaigns during political rallies.
The courts should also be allowed to be an independent entity, where they can work freely away from the interference of the executive. Youths should also be given platforms to talk about these issues especially in mainstream media, put up a petition and demand for accountability.
The leadership that we want in Africa should be that which thinks of creating opportunities for young people. The largest population in Africa consists of young people who are optimistic, talented and innovative. Unfortunately, most of the young people are jobless. The growth of infrastructure and industries should be an initiative to create jobs. Young people should also be funded to establish businesses and innovations.
Have a better planning system, and work with professions who are best in their fields. Some funds are allocated to projects that even anybody can see that it is not necessary or the project is not good for the country.
The Countries should support internal borrowing for the economic growth of the continent. Each country should borrow more from their financial banks/ institutions or the content rather than borrowing from foreign lenders. This will increase job creation and the money will be circulating inside the country and its own people.
Maintaining peace to stop civil or tribal wars. Some African Countries are experiencing civil or wars between tribes. According to history most of these wars are caused by fight for resources or power. The Late former President for South Africa, Nelson Mandela was one of the best role model of leadership that leaders should emulate.
He was a peace negotiator and governed for a term, with the message of forgiveness and living in peace among each other despite of culture, race and tradition. Some African leaders never want to hand over power and it will take war for them to leave power. Laws should be drafted to list down the maximum term limit that one can be in power. Also diplomacy is the best way to use in negotiating peace rather than force and war.
A good leader should allow criticism from their subjects. This will give them a clear picture of what is happening and what they need to do or change. Unfortunately some African leaders have persecuted those who have questioned their leadership style and way.
It is important for African young leaders to move away from tribal or divisive politics such as mudslinging and name calling and work for the betterment of the continent and empowering their countries to economic, political and social greatness.