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The leadership for Africa we want

  • “The leadership for the Africa we want.” Where do I even begin? Africa as a whole is lacking in many things and most if not all of its issues can be tied to not having good leadership. To understand or to even begin to understand what kind of leadership we as a continent need, I believe it is fundamental to understand what the root of our problems is. Why are we as a continent lacking when compared to other continents? Why is it that with all the resources we have, we are unable to support ourselves?

    Let’s go back to colonial times. During this period, our European colonizers laid claim to our countries to govern and benefit from our resources. That event could be seen as the first domino in the domino effect that was to come. We became naturally divided with close regions establishing distinct languages, religions, and traditions. This can be seen as both our strength and what might cause our conflicts. The good side is that with the establishment of different regions comes different ideas which can lead to competition, innovation, and further development of the country when governed correctly. The negative aspects of this however is that with division comes the establishment of different standards of living and worst case scenario, without good governance can lead to civil wars because of the clash of conflicting ideals. An example of this can be seen in the Nigerian Biafran war that took place in 1967-1970. The colonial times were crucial to our dilemma as we became heavily dependent on our colonizers. Of course, as time went on and we began to modernize, we started to stand up to our colonizers, and one by one we each attained our independence. Unfortunately, even that happened differently for everyone, at least for most French colonies.

    Even though most countries technically gained independence, former French colonies were a different story. France made a bargain with its colonies which gave each colony a stable currency to work with but in return, they gave most of their foreign money reserves to the french treasury. In essence, France still governs their colonies. As a matter of fact, no former French colony is allowed to sell their resources on the international market without the approval of France first. This also meant that France got first to pick on whatever resource they wanted at exponentially undervalued prices. Former French president, Jacques Chirac once said, “We have to be honest and acknowledge that a big part of the money in our banks comes precisely from the exploitation of the African continent. Without Africa, France would slide down into the rank of a third world power.” What is so sad is that this fact remains today and nothing is being done to reverse it. The fact of the matter is that we still suffer from the effects of colonization even today.

    It is so easy to blame others and not realize your faults sometimes. That is why it is also important to realize that our colonizers are not the only problem here. We have our issues as well. Corruption is another key factor in our downfall. The saying goes, “the quickest way to become a millionaire in Africa is to be a politician.” Business and Politics are intertwined in Africa and most people that are in politics are there just to make a quick buck. In Africa, a man with no money cannot make a difference. Not investing in ourselves is a problem that we Africans have. Our leaders are repeating the same mistakes that our colonizers made. Our leaders collect the riches and resources of the country and transfer them outside the country.

    Corruption does not only affect our leaders however, it affects almost all aspects of the government. Let’s take law enforcement for example. Many Africans experience law enforcement corruption every day. In Nigeria, for example when traveling you must go through many checkpoints with many law enforcement agents meant to provide security, but who often ask you to provide some fee before you are allowed to move on and you must comply with these requests otherwise you will be detained for no reason other than not giving an incentive. Corruption has become a daily thing and is now seen as the norm.

    One of the ways we can solve the issue of corruption is by increasing awareness via education. If you are raised and are aware of all the negative side effects of corruption, you will most likely not partake in it. Of course, this is easier said than done because corruption has become such a common occurrence that it will take generations to fix with education.

    Another way in which we can fix corruption is by automating government services. What this means is that we use machines in place of people to reduce the rates of extortion and bribery. It is easy for a person to take a bribe but because a machine’s actions are already set in stone, they are limited to what they are only programmed to do. This should be another adequate solution to the problem of extortion and bribery that is experienced. Some countries are already implementing this method but we need to implement it at an even higher rate. This solution will also take quite some time before it will be 100% effective.

    It is important to understand that our society as a whole is driven by incentives. That is why foreign aid is another big problem we have. Aid is given to help out countries but a lot of the time this money is being stolen by government officials. Aid is something we Africa should not need because of the sheer amount of resources we have. We should be able to stand on our own and support ourselves. Essentially aid is free money. Aid is something that you don’t have to pay back so it’s easy for any government official with the right access to steal said money with no fear of any repercussions to his/her actions. With these kinds of incentives everywhere, it is quite easy for a good government to become bad and a bad government to become even worse.

    Of course, the concept of aid is not the problem here but what we do with the aid that is. So I believe it is important for the government to regulate every penny that is donated to the country and put in place proper measures that will ensure that anyone caught stealing this money will be dealt with accordingly.

    I believe good leadership for Africa is a leadership that can access and understand each one of these problems. This leadership should also be able to give all the proper solutions to each problem we have as a nation. But of course, actions speak louder than words that is why I believe good leadership should be able to implement the solutions and show progress as it is being done.

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