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Opinions of Monday, 17 May 2021

Columnist: Eric Quegah

Leadership is all that Africa needs

Africa as a continent has depended largely on foreign aid from the Western world Africa as a continent has depended largely on foreign aid from the Western world

One of the most devastating and unfortunate things that society, the nation and as a matter of fact a whole continent can suffer from is to be without leadership be it good or bad.

At least there must be some sort or level of leadership before diving into the various aspects of it.

Leadership is one of the broadest topics for discussion and it has always been gleaned from many perspectives and all angles that, everything rises and falls on it. In fact, without leadership, the whole world would be plunged into unimaginable chaos making it very impossible to control, manage, take responsibility and give utilitarian account for the things that happen around us.

There will be total anarchy in the system whereby no one would be able to control the affairs within the geographical location in which a group of people may find themselves.

In order to fully grasp and understand leadership, let's take a look at the dictionary definition of leadership so we can liaise it to suit the context in which we are about to delve deeper into.

The New Oxford Dictionary of English defines leadership as: 'the action of leading a group of people or an organization; or 'the state or position of being a leader (NODE, 2001).

From the above definition, the New Oxford Dictionary clearly states that leadership is the act of leading a group of people or an organization. Now let’s narrow it down to the main topic of discussion that is; Africa lacking the pre-requisite leadership approach to manage its affairs on the continent hence we saying that, it is all that Africa needs to come out of the long-overdue phase of mismanagement, corruption and bribery, siphoning of taxpayers’ money into one person’s account, embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds. These are the characteristics of most African leaders. In fact, the list is just endless. Let’s all try and take a look at one of the areas where the ‘African type’ of leadership has woefully failed us and until we the youths rise up against it and halt it, we are going nowhere.

Africa as a continent has depended largely on foreign aid from the Western world. There is an ongoing debate on the effectiveness of this foreign aid in helping the economic development of Africa. One thing is obvious: the results are not exactly what the Western world leaders who are Africa’s development partners expected and believe you me the reasons are not far-fetched at all. Most prolific African writers and global economists who have authored many books, journals and numerous articles propagating the real truth behind these foreign aids that come in the guise of charity, are always advising our African leaders to desist from accepting and going after foreign aid from the Western world.

One such person is Dambisa Moyo, an author and economist who stated emphatically in her book titled, Dead Aid that while foreign aid that addresses humanitarian needs caused by drought and conflict is helpful, most of the aid given to African countries is rather harmful. She further went on to list numerous problems enhanced by aid to include corruption, civil conflict, shrinking of the middle class, and the instilling of a culture of dependency on the continent of Africa. All of these combine to make Africa very unattractive to global investors and all these fall on the leadership mechanisms being utilized or applied by our leaders who are in the helm of affairs.

It has become obvious that it is politics that drives the economies of nations. The major difference between developed countries and developing countries is in their political evolution. Developed countries have political and economic systems that are inclusive and offer opportunities for most people to create wealth.

However, most developing economies have political and economic systems that are extractive. Those in the ruling class have a stronghold on political power and use it to channel economic resources to benefit themselves and those close to them. Foreign aid, when channelled through such extractive systems, almost never reaches the most vulnerable in society. We need to rethink the form of aid Africa needs and the platforms for distributing or offering it.

Also, globalization is the reality of our day and age. There is increasing economic, social, technical, cultural and political interdependence between nations. People are more interconnected now than ever before. The availability of worldwide communication systems through rapid improvements in communication technology and the internet has led to more international trade and cultural exchange. But globalization does not appear to be hastening Africa’s development. The problem is also rooted in the political structure and the leadership culture prevalent in Africa.

The question now is, what is the problem or what does Africa really need to surge forward in order to catch up with the rest of the world?

The problem of Africa is leadership. The cultivation of leaders with exceptional character and skills is critical to Africa’s development. Africa’s development partners should recognize that it is too late to teach someone who occupies a high position in government how to lead during side talks at global events. They should also bear in mind that there has to be alignment between the sense of identity of the leader and that of the followers for leadership to work.

Incompetence in leadership in most African countries is not only the problem of people who occupy positions in government; it is a reflection of the leadership culture. We’ve had different leaders with the same results for decades. The power distance that exists between leaders in government and citizens is also reflected in organizations and families. In such a structure, leaders don’t serve; they are served because occupying leadership positions make leaders superior and unaccountable to the people they lead. Africa needs leadership development systems, and it is incumbent on development partners and global leaders to understand how cultural differences affect these.

In the next episode of this series on Leadership in Africa, we shall take a look at what we really need in place in order for us to make progress as a continent like the others are doing every day.

But let us all come together and kick against, stump out and take out these bad leaders who have only supervised the wreck, havoc and mass destruction of the continent with their bad methodologies, corruption and bribery, lies and deception, oppression and all the evils that you can think of. There is hope for Africa because you and I are going to make sure that the right things will be done.

To be continued.

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