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Leadership, not aid will lift Africa out of poverty

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Sir: Twenty six African presidents and prime ministers are in Japan, hoping to get some aid or like the new word being used, ‘partnership investment’ to boost their respective economies. The sad truth is that the results of this aid will be the same as always, more money and yet, no visible development.

There is no short cut to nation building and Africans need to understand that we are the only ones who can build our countries.

I was a mentor at the 11th African Youth Governance and Convergence in Accra, Ghana, where the discussion was on ‘Partnerships for Youth Development: Key to Building Africa Beyond Aid.’ One major conclusion the young leaders agreed on is that Africa has to look beyond aid for growth and sustainable development.

At the recently completed G7 summit, millions of dollars were committed to causes in Africa that in my humble opinion can be solved with the resources in the continent. Aids are a great way to lift people out of a desperate situation, and there are still some phenomenal aid packages especially in the health and agricultural industries but beyond that, we must realise that times have changed.

Africa has been on aid packages for decades and the continent is beginning to rely on them as a lifeline, which is becoming a security threat amongst other things. Here’s why I’m saying this. The aid packages often leave African countries in serious debt because most times, they are mismanaged. Let’s not also forget that no aid is free, and many countries give these aids to fulfill their selfish agendas. The growth of the continent will be adversely hindered if it continuously has to wait for handouts for development. According to the World Economic Forum, the top 10 most populated countries in the world in the next 80 years will be mostly African countries and one major consequence of this will be a reduction in aids because it will become unsustainable for the donor countries.

It is time for Africa to start developing leadership structures to properly manage the aids given to it, and then to build capacity enough to stop needing these aids. The world will be a better place when Africa can use its resources to lift its people out of poverty. To achieve this, we need leaders who can lead their countries from positions of strength. African leaders need to start thinking about visionary leadership and understand their place in the global scheme of things. Our leaders will need training and cultural exchanges to learn how to build capacity from a global perspective.

I also believe that we must understand that leadership and followership have a unique relationship. For too long, African leaders have bossed their followers around, but this method will not yield any sustainable results. A leadership framework that addresses the functions of the citizens and aims to get everyone involved in the process is ideal.

Once we achieve this, leaders will emerge from all areas, fostering progressive development in their communities and together, we can lift Africa out of poverty.

Adebayo Adeleke wrote from Lagos.


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