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“I have to say that when I think about the causes of the problems facing Africa, I come to the conclusion that at heart, the common denominator is a lack of effective leadershipAmbassador Paul Arkwright.

There are increasing claims that Africa is the new frontier for growth—news headings describe Africa as, “the hopeful continent”, “Africa rising”, “the hottest frontier”. Data from the World Bank further supports that Africa is becoming an important partner in the global economy. The region’s average gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to rise between 4% to 5% in 2018 and 2019. Similarly, Africa is surpassing other regions with respect to foreign direct investment (FDI).

Nevertheless, African countries continue to be dependent on commodities, making them vulnerable to global market declines. There are also risks of political instability, conflict, and the underlying challenge of corruption. At the same time, Africa’s untapped reserves of natural resources attract interest from investors looking to fuel-hungry economic engines and also invites the possibility of exploitation. Despite its favourable working-age demographics, there are critical shortages of technical and managerial talent due to poor educational institutions.

Doctor Tunde Idowu, a lecturer from the University of Ghana said, “without effective leadership, Africa will never be able to overcome its challenges, achieve its full potential, and protect itself from environmental and human exploitation. We can’t deny both human and natural exploitation going on right now in Africa. It is like modern slavery and it is so pathetic and sad with assumed leaders busy snoring and selling away the future of this great continent. How could we so dump selling our great fortune for a piece of morsel? It is just like our fore-fathers who sold their able men into slavery just for a piece of glass. It is worrisome!”

The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ambassador Paul Arkwright, once said: “African countries have great potential but lack good leadership system to achieve greatness”. He believed that true leadership must be viewed from the perception of rendering services to the people rather than placing the citizens in servitude as seen in most African countries.

Discussing with Sam Adeyemi, a popular leadership coach over the weekend attested that, “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 have had different leaders with the same results for decades and the power distance that exists between leaders in government and citizens is as a reflection of organizations and families where leaders don’t serve; but are served, because occupying leadership positions make leaders superior and unaccountable to the people they lead”. He said.

This is an ominous sign that Africa needs a cultural change and rebirth that will leverage both business and non-profit platforms to offer leadership development training to a large proportion of the population. The idea of such training should have a profound background or foundation on leadership as a service and not servitude. Not only that leadership courses should be infused into the curriculum right from primary school up to the University level. This is done in many climes, where you can study leading up to PhD level. This should be a new focus for Africa as it is a great opportunity to advance a better world.

Olakunle Agboola

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