Africa’s fu­ture: The lead­er­ship im­per­a­tive

Democ­racy of­fers a great op­por­tu­nity for an im­proved process of lead­er­ship se­lec­tion. This brings to mind the role of the cit­i­zen.

Financial Nigeria Magazine - - Contents - Kings­ley Moghalu

This be­ing the full text of the Key­note Speech By Pro­fes­sor Kings­ley C. Moghalu, Chair­man & CEO, Sogato Strate­gies LLC; for­mer Deputy Gov­er­nor, Cen­tral Bank of Nige­ria; Pro­fes­sor of Prac­tice in In­ter­na­tional Busi­ness & Pub­lic Pol­icy; The Fletcher School of Law & Diplo­macy, Tufts Univer­sity, at The Africa Lead­er­ship Con­fer­ence “Re­think­ing Africa: Lead­er­ship for Pos­si­bil­i­ties,” or­ga­nized by Guardians of the Na­tion In­ter­na­tional (GOTNI) USA, Wash­ing­ton, DC. July 9, 2017.

Lead­er­ship Is Un­der Threat World­wide

Around the world to­day, the very idea of lead­er­ship con­fronts big chal­lenges, big op­por­tu­ni­ties, and big pos­si­bil­i­ties. From cor­po­rate lead­ers in ad­vanced in­dus­trial coun­tries who have to worry about the implications of dis­rup­tive in­no­va­tion, the de­mands of cor­po­rate cit­i­zen­ship on busi­ness mod­els, and the ris­ing po­lit­i­cal risk to bot­tom lines from the surge in pop­ulism in western democ­ra­cies, to en­trepreneurs in Africa faced with un­sta­ble macroe­co­nomic en­vi­ron­ments, ab­sent in­fras­truc­ture, pol­icy in­con­sis­tency, and weak in­sti­tu­tions, lead­er­ship is stressed and chal­lenged.

From the po­lit­i­cal fer­ment in the United States in the era of Don­ald Trump to the stun­ning vic­tory of Em­manuel Macron in re­sponse to the yearn­ings of French cit­i­zens for bold, new lead­er­ship. From the elec­toral shifts in the re­cent elec­tions in the United King­dom in the era of Brexit to the po­lit­i­cal cri­sis in Brazil over al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion against its elected lead­ers, lead­er­ship is the big is­sue. For good or ill, we live in its shadow.

We can un­der­stand why: in all its man­i­fes­ta­tions – po­lit­i­cal, cor­po­rate and en­tre­pre­neur­ial, sci­ence and in­no­va­tion, academia, healthcare and pub­lic pol­icy, lead­er­ship is the main de­ter­mi­nant of so­cial and eco­nomic progress.

Al­though our fo­cus here is on lead­er­ship in Africa, we must un­der­stand that the lead­er­ship chal­lenge in the world to­day is univer­sal. That should help us keep things in per­spec­tive. As Mark Bee­son, Pro­fes­sor of In­ter­na­tional Pol­i­tics at the Univer­sity of Western Aus­tralia has ob­served: “If we scan the in­ter­na­tional po­lit­i­cal hori­zon, it is dif­fi­cult to spot any­one that might be de­scribed as an un­am­bigu­ously great leader. Per­haps the last per­son to fit this bill was Nel­son Man­dela.”

Now, it should be clear that the con­se­quences of lead­er­ship fail­ure, while not good for any so­ci­ety, de­vel­oped or de­vel­op­ing, are far more pro­found for de­vel­op­ing coun­tries such as those in Africa. De­vel­oped coun­tries have strong in­sti­tu­tions that can mit­i­gate the ef­fects of bad or weak po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship. But many African coun­tries, sad­dled as they are with fledg­ling or un­de­vel­oped in­sti­tu­tions, can­not achieve trans­for­ma­tional progress with­out ef­fec­tive do­mes­tic po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship.

What Real Lead­er­ship in Africa Should Mean

For our con­ti­nent, then, lead­er­ship is the crit­i­cal chal­lenge we must con­front and over­come. We must, if democ­racy is to yield good gov­er­nance, if the en­tre­pre­neur­ial ta­lent ex­pressed in the nar­ra­tive of an Emerg­ing Africa is to yield true eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion, and if Africa's rich his­tor­i­cal sci­en­tific her­itage is to trans­late into an ex­plo­sion of in­no­va­tion that can make us com­pet­i­tive in a glob­al­ized world.

How do we get lead­er­ship to make Africa pros­per and mat­ter? (For­give the pun on my book Emerg­ing Africa: How the Global Econ­omy's 'Last Fron­tier' Can Pros­per and Mat­ter.) In the area of busi­ness and en­trepreneur­ship we have seen im­pres­sive lead­er­ship by African en­trepreneurs. These busi­ness­men and women are al­ter­ing Africa's nar­ra­tive from one of poverty and for­eign aid to one of cre­ativ­ity and wealth cre­ation. From Nige­ria's Nol­ly­wood movie in­dus­try to Aliko Dan­gote and his Africa wide in­dus­trial em­pire, Tony Elumelu and his Heirs Hold­ings in­vest­ment group, and the blog­ger and en­tre­pre­neur Linda Ikeji; from Tan­za­nia's Ali Mu­fu­ruki and his In­fotech In­vest­ment Group and Kenya's Michael Macharia and his Seven Seas Tech­nolo­gies to Ethiopia's Beth­le­hem Ti­lahum Alemu whose firm, Sole Rebels, man­u­fac­tures and ex­ports en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly footwear that's “hot” in the western world; and from Ghana's Pa­trick Awuah, founder of the 21st

cen­tury non-profit Ash­esi Univer­sity, Ken Of­fori-At­tah and his Data­bank Cor­po­ra­tion, and the young Har­vard-ed­u­cated in­vestor Sangu Delle to Cameroon's Yaya Moussa, the for­mer In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund econ­o­mist that founded Africa To­day TV in the United States, Africa's en­trepreneurs are mak­ing progress against all odds.

Our con­ti­nent's lead­er­ship prob­lem is lo­cated mainly in our in­ter­nal po­lit­i­cal spa­ces. But it is pre­cisely these spa­ces that de­ter­mine what kind of so­ci­eties, economies, ed­u­ca­tion and health sys­tems that we have.

The first or­der of busi­ness, as I have ar­gued con­sis­tently, is that of our minds. We must rein­vent the African mind. Our minds de­ter­mine whether or how we un­der­stand what lead­er­ship means or doesn't. Our minds de­ter­mine what kind of mind­set or world­view we bring to the task and re­spon­si­bil­ity of lead­er­ship. And our minds de­ter­mine whether we have, or can ac­quire, the char­ac­ter and com­pe­tence of lead­er­ship.

My per­sonal un­der­stand­ing of lead­er­ship, es­pe­cially in the con­text of coun­tries like those in Africa, is that great lead­er­ship must be trans­for­ma­tional. And I al­ways ap­proach the sub­ject with the end in mind: what, for ex­am­ple, would be said about my ser­vice af­ter I have com­pleted a spe­cific lead­er­ship task or re­spon­si­bil­ity? In­deed, to en­vi­sion more rad­i­cally, what will be said at my funeral? (One should hope that that event will hold some­where north of my 100th birth­day!)

I have sought to ap­ply this un­der­stand­ing to ev­ery lead­er­ship role in which I have had the priv­i­lege to serve – from na­tional rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and na­tion-build­ing work by the United Na­tions in New York, Cam­bo­dia, Croa­tia and Rwanda to in­sti­tu­tional and man­age­ment re­form in the UN, from build­ing global part­ner­ships and rais­ing bil­lions of dol­lars for so­cial in­vest­ments in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries by The Global Fund in Geneva to struc­tur­ing and fa­cil­i­tat­ing in­vest­ments in emerg­ing mar­kets, from lead­er­ship roles in mon­e­tary pol­i­cy­mak­ing and bank­ing sec­tor re­form in Nige­ria in the wake of the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis to serv­ing as a pro­fes­sor in one of Amer­ica's pre­mier uni­ver­si­ties, my vi­sion has al­ways been to leave the sit­u­a­tion, in­sti­tu­tion or as­sign­ment I was tasked to han­dle much trans­formed from where I met it.

Lead­er­ship is about uti­liz­ing ap­pointive, elec­tive or sit­u­a­tional au­thor­ity to en­vi­sion. To in­spire. To take cal­cu­lated risk. All in or­der to take so­ci­eties, fam­ily units, or­ga­ni­za­tions or in­sti­tu­tions from A to Z or what­ever point in the 26 al­pha­bets is rel­e­vant, nec­es­sary, and pos­si­ble. It is not, as we of­ten mis­un­der­stand it in Africa, about merely hold­ing po­si­tions of power or de­ploy­ing au­thor­ity mainly for self-serv­ing purposes. This is why many ca­reer politi­cians in Africa that con­sider them­selves “lead­ers” are in fact – and de­spite the ve­neer of demo­cratic pro­cesses – more ac­cu­rately “rulers”, or min­ions and ac­com­plices of despotic power.

Lead­er­ship re­quires a cer­tain kind of char­ac­ter that em­pha­sizes and up­holds core val­ues, a sense of ab­ne­ga­tion to con­sciously forgo op­por­tu­ni­ties to ad­vance self or other nar­row in­ter­ests, and the com­pe­tence to bring these val­ues to bear in a man­ner that cre­ates change and sus­tains so­cial progress.

In an il­lu­mi­nat­ing ar­ti­cle by Sun­nie Giles that was pub­lished in the Har­vard Busi­ness Re­view (“The Most Im­por­tant Lead­er­ship Com­pe­ten­cies, Ac­cord­ing to Lead­ers around the World, HBR, March 15, 2016), the au­thor's re­search found that the top 10 lead­er­ship com­pe­tences, based on the per­cent­age of re­spon­dents from 200 global lead­ers asked to rate 74 qual­i­ties, were:

1. Has high eth­i­cal and moral stan­dards (67%);

2. Pro­vides goals and ob­jec­tives with loose

guide­lines/di­rec­tion (59%);

3. Clearly com­mu­ni­cates ex­pec­ta­tions


4. Has the flex­i­bil­ity to change opin­ions


5. Is com­mit­ted to my on­go­ing train­ing


6. Com­mu­ni­cates of­ten and openly (42%); 7. Is open to new ideas and ap­proaches (39%); 8. Cre­ates a feel­ing of suc­ceed­ing or fail­ing

to­gether (38%);

9. Helps me grow into a next-gen­er­a­tion

leader (38%);

10. Pro­vides safety for trial and er­ror (37%).

As Giles ex­plained, neu­ro­science con­firms that a leader hav­ing high stan­dards based on core val­ues and act­ing

The lead­ers of our coun­tries must build real na­tion-states out of what Count Cle­mens von Met­ter­nich, Europe's lead­ing states­man in the early 19th cen­tury, re­fer­ring to Italy, called “a mere ge­o­graph­i­cal ex­pres­sion” – in other words, coun­tries that are ar­ti­fi­cially formed and are not na­tions in a real sense.

con­sis­tent with it, when com­bined with the abil­ity to com­mu­ni­cate ex­pec­ta­tions clearly, cre­ates a safe and trust­ing en­vi­ron­ment and height­ens brain ac­tiv­ity re­lated to cre­ativ­ity, so­cial en­gage­ment, and a drive to ex­cel­lence.

Lead­er­ship in African coun­tries re­quires a world­view that can build real na­tion-states from the hodge-podge of eth­nic na­tion­al­i­ties lumped to­gether by the Berlin Con­fer­ence of 1884-85 that carved up the con­ti­nent be­tween im­pe­rial global pow­ers at the time. That world­view must un­der­stand the dy­nam­ics and me­chan­ics of glob­al­iza­tion. It must grasp the truth that be­ing a mar­ket for glob­al­iza­tion is not what is ben­e­fi­cial. Find­ing a niche in the pro­duc­tion val­uechain of eco­nomic glob­al­iza­tion is what re­ally mat­ters.

That world­view should be able to cre­ate a com­mon goal and des­tiny around which cit­i­zens in our coun­tries can unite and strive to­gether for progress. This is dif­fer­ent from the nar­row views that fuel the eth­nic and religious-iden­tity ir­re­den­tism that has dom­i­nated the do­mes­tic po­lit­i­cal space in many African coun­tries. We are trapped in these eth­nic ten­sions and strife be­cause our rulers have ex­ploited these di­vi­sions in­stead of lib­er­at­ing and educating their cit­i­zens. But in or­der to lib­er­ate and ed­u­cate your cit­i­zens, you, the leader, must have the sub­stance with which to ed­u­cate and lib­er­ate. As the le­gal maxim puts it, nemo dat quad non habeat (you can­not give what you don't have). Fela Aniku­lapo-Kuti, the late Nige­rian mu­si­cal mae­stro, had lit­tle time for el­e­gant Latin max­ims. He puts it bluntly in one of his songs: “Teacher, don't teach me non­sense”!!

The Role of Nige­ria and South Africa

In the quest for good lead­er­ship and gov­er­nance in Africa, few if any coun­tries are more im­por­tant than Nige­ria, Africa's largest econ­omy and most pop­u­lous coun­try with 180 mil­lion peo­ple, and South Africa, the con­ti­nent's most ad­vanced and in­dus­tri­al­ized econ­omy. Both coun­tries can and should set wor­thy ex­am­ples of in­ter­nal do­mes­tic lead­er­ship that are wor­thy of em­u­la­tion. But over the past sev­eral years, this ex­pec­ta­tion of both coun­tries has been ob­served more in the breach. South Africa has been caught in the throes of a de­bil­i­tat­ing lead­er­ship cri­sis in­volv­ing its cur­rent Pres­i­dent, Ja­cob Zuma since he as­sumed of­fice in 2009. One of the very few coun­tries in Africa with in­de­pen­dent in­sti­tu­tions, ef­forts by Zuma and his al­lies to whit­tle down or block the ef­fec­tive­ness of the coun­try's Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor, which in­dicted

Pres­i­dent Zuma with charges of cor­rup­tion and state cap­ture by Zuma's cronies and busi­ness al­lies, have cre­ated ex­is­ten­tial threats to Zuma's govern­ment, the po­lit­i­cal dom­i­nance of the rul­ing African Na­tional Congress (ANC) party, and the po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity of South Africa.

Nige­ria, like many African coun­tries, has made some progress, but is a far dis­tance in its stage of de­vel­op­ment from where it could have been af­ter 57 years of in­de­pen­dence. Nige­ria's case is es­pe­cially dis­ap­point­ing when we con­sider the coun­try's vast reservoir of hu­man cap­i­tal and the dy­namic na­ture of its en­ter­pris­ing peo­ple.

Noth­ing il­lus­trates Nige­ria's chal­lenge bet­ter than three sta­tis­tics: the coun­try pro­duces only 4,000 megawatts of elec­tric­ity when South Africa, with 50 mil­lion peo­ple, pro­duces 40,000; de­spite be­ing the largest econ­omy with a GDP of about $345 bil­lion (the fig­ure was $568 bil­lion in 2014 but has been dec­i­mated by the coun­try's worst re­ces­sion in 25 years), its 2016 per capita GDP is $2,260 and the av­er­age fig­ure from 1960, when we be­came an in­de­pen­dent coun­try, up to 2016, is $1,648. This means that there has been very lit­tle real progress in av­er­age in­di­vid­ual in­come and hu­man well-be­ing. Malaysia's GDP per capita is $9,360, Brazil's is $8,727, and South Africa's $7,504. And the third statis­tic is that Nige­ria is ranked at 187 out of 189 by the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion rank­ing of health sys­tems around the world.

As the great African writer Chinua Achebe wrote, “Nige­ria's prob­lem is sim­ply and squarely that of lead­er­ship”. This lead­er­ship fail­ure has led to slow progress (and many out­right re­ver­sals) in the quest to build a united na­tion, and a de­pen­dence on raw min­eral and com­mod­ity ex­ports (crude oil) for for­eign ex­change earn­ings that has pre­vented real eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion.


How can African coun­tries over­come their lead­er­ship cap­i­tal deficit?

For­tu­nately, democ­racy of­fers a great op­por­tu­nity for an im­proved process of lead­er­ship se­lec­tion. This brings to mind the role of the cit­i­zen. In a nor­mal scheme of things, it is lead­ers that shape the des­tinies of na­tions, but in func­tion­ing democ­ra­cies the cit­i­zens act as a check on lead­er­ship per­for­mance. In those coun­tries where con­tem­po­rary African lead­ers have per­formed poorly, then, it is time for cit­i­zens to stand up for their own fu­ture.

Our cit­i­zens must ex­er­cise their demo­cratic rights more ef­fec­tively and make choices in­formed by ob­jec­tive lead­er­ship se­lec­tion cri­te­ria. That cri­te­ria needs to in­clude char­ac­ter, com­pe­tence, and rel­e­vant ex­pe­ri­ence, as well as the track record of per­sons seek­ing po­si­tions of lead­er­ship. To do so, vot­ers must un­der­stand what re­ally is in their best in­ter­est. That “what” is fre­quently dif­fer­ent from the pri­mor­dial af­fil­i­a­tions and the pa­tron­age sys­tems that politi­cians ex­ploit and build to con­tinue rul­ing us in­stead of lead­ing us. When cit­i­zens in our coun­tries in Africa, in­clud­ing my own coun­try Nige­ria, fo­cus on sub­jec­tive fac­tors in­stead of ob­jec­tive lead­er­ship com­pe­tence in lead­er­ship se­lec­tion, they be­come very ac­tive ac­com­plices in their own poverty.

A par­a­digm shift in lead­er­ship se­lec­tion will re­quire voter ed­u­ca­tion by civil so­ci­ety or­ga­ni­za­tions. It calls for in­creased de­mands for demo­cratic ac­count­abil­ity by cit­i­zens and civil so­ci­ety, the in­sti­tu­tion of a real so­cial con­tract be­tween states and cit­i­zens as de­manded by the lat­ter, and an all-im­por­tant em­pha­sis on lead­er­ship train­ing for the up and com­ing gen­er­a­tion of youth who we should want to be real lead­ers, not rulers, of to­mor­row. GOTNI is blaz­ing a trail in this re­gard.

The African Di­as­pora have a role and his­toric re­spon­si­bil­ity here, and they have much to con­trib­ute the de­vel­op­ment of their home coun­tries. But few, if any African coun­tries have been able to po­si­tion their di­as­pora as a core com­po­nent and driver of de­vel­op­ment strat­egy in the man­ner that Is­rael, In­dia and China have done.

First, the di­as­pora must de­mand and se­cure the abil­ity to vote abroad in elec­tions at home, and thereby par­tic­i­pate in lead­er­ship se­lec­tion. Se­cond, they must de­mand a more in­sti­tu­tion­al­ized frame­work for di­as­pora en­gage­ment and con­tri­bu­tions to gov­er­nance and eco­nomic life. Here, I note with keen in­ter­est the re­cent is­suance of a Di­as­pora Bond by the Fed­eral Govern­ment of Nige­ria. The spirit be­hind this ini­tia­tive is a com­mend­able one. But the devil is in the ex­e­cu­tion. We need more trans­parency on the bond­holder base and the sub­scrip­tion process for the bonds. These bonds pro­vide an im­por­tant win­dow of op­por­tu­nity for di­as­pora to en­gage with eco­nomic gov­er­nance at home by check­ing to en­sure that the bond raised is uti­lized for ap­pro­pri­ate purposes. It is not enough sim­ply to get your fi­nan­cial re­turns.


The eco­nomic, so­cial and po­lit­i­cal con­di­tions in African coun­tries is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of African lead­ers. It is not that of Don­ald Trump. In­deed, one of the ul­ti­mately ben­e­fi­cial out­comes of the rise of pop­ulism in the West for African coun­tries is that it will en­able our coun­tries look in­wards and take re­spon­si­bil­ity for driv­ing their own des­tiny; even in a world of glob­al­iza­tion, sovereignty and the au­thor­ity and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties that go with it have not gone away.

Our des­tiny is not the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the for­eign aid agen­cies. And we can­not con­tinue to blame the colo­nial pow­ers. The lead­ers of our coun­tries must build real na­tion-states out of what Count Cle­mens von Met­ter­nich, Europe's lead­ing states­man in the early 19th cen­tury, re­fer­ring to Italy, called “a mere ge­o­graph­i­cal ex­pres­sion” – in other words, coun­tries that are ar­ti­fi­cially formed and are not na­tions in a real sense. Our lead­ers have the re­spon­si­bil­ity of build­ing in­sti­tu­tions that can cre­ate a level play­ing field for ev­ery­one and shield cit­i­zens from tyranny, to achieve eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion, and to re­claim our coun­tries' place in the world.

Cit­i­zens, for their part, have the re­spon­si­bil­ity to de­cide who has re­spon­si­bil­ity for their wel­fare. In many African coun­tries, they have not taken this duty as se­ri­ously as they should. Pro­fes­sor Ameena Gurib-Fakim, the com­pe­tent and eru­dite Pres­i­dent of Mau­ri­tius -- one of Africa's most suc­cess­ful coun­tries -- put it so pithily: “But the onus is also on all Africans. Peo­ple have to start ask­ing the right ques­tions. Politi­cians, lead­ers, pol­i­cy­mak­ers in nor­mal democ­ra­cies are all ac­count­able to the peo­ple. But, and I am sorry for say­ing this bru­tally, we get the govern­ment we de­serve. The one we vote in. It's your vote”.

Kings­ley Moghalu

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