As many of the continent’s leaders start to wind down for the holiday season, we should take time to reflect upon a turbulent year which has really challenged the continent’s leaders in all spheres of activity. The euphoria of the bullish “Africa Rising” scenario was shattered by collapsing energy and commodity prices, sluggish global growth, and unresolved terrorist activities. Leaders who failed to utilise the good times to build a broader-based economy more resilient to adverse forces, but rather wasted the opportunities through inefficiency, corruption and short-term thinking, now find their countries and organisations facing difficult times and a public increasingly vocal against bad leadership.
In Nigeria and South Africa - the two power-houses of the continent - the people are becoming increasingly vocal in their rejection of poor leadership. In Nigeria, President Buhari was elected to clean up a notoriously corrupt system, whilst in South Africa there is growing anger both to the left and the right of the ruling party against endemic corruption and nepotism which is stifling growth and job creation, with the under-privileged seeing little improvement in their quality of life in the 20 years since independence. Elsewhere in this newsletter, Archbishop Tutu delivers a stern warning to South Africa’s political leaders to listen to the concerns of the people.
Overall, however, Africa still offers a positive future, and is seen to be the area of the world with highest growth potential. Realisation of that potential will depend on the quality of leadership. We are already seeing that where there is good leadership, those areas, sectors or businesses are flourishing. Good leadership is vital for the future success of the continent, and the responsibility for transforming the quality of leadership will increasingly fall to Africa’s young emerging leaders. We know from our programmes that Africa is blessed with outstanding young leaders, who understand the need to change the leadership paradigm of the continent. As 2016 approaches, we look forward to a new year where responsible young leaders increasingly begin to influence the future direction of the continent to ensure a better life for all its citizens.
In this vein, I wish everyone a very enjoyable holiday season, and a new year where every citizen of the continent wakes up each morning to feel that life is just a little bit better than it was yesterday.