Thursday, October 22, 2009

Attention all Africa - Good Governance wanted!

In his recent interview with the BBC, Mo Ibrahim explains why no ex-leader has won the award for good governance this year. You can see the interview here

Mo Ibrahim interview on BBC

This comes with no surprise to me, the state of global leadership much more in Africa, has over the years been in limbo, till the advent of Barack Obama. In the last era, most Africans could name a few prominent continental leaders, the likes of Nelson Mandela but now that he is no longer active politically there is none standing up to his statue.
In the book Prince by Machiavelli, he states there are two ways a prince or leader is made- by preparation or good fortune.
Those that have been prepared over a life span by mentors, education and experiences are most likely to posses the ability to lead and be successful. However those that find themselves installed as leader by the good fortune of benefactors, soon find themselves without ability to govern the masses and are left prone to the whims of their installers.

This sadly is the state of most leaders in Africa today, they have been installed by external influences to cater to outside interests rather than the needs of those they govern. In Egypt President Mubarak is retained to preserve geo-political stability, while the west ponders a peace deal for the Israeli -Palestinian conflict.
In Nigeria a corrupt political regime is tolerated to keep the oil flowing, while in Kenya Kibaki a tyrant by all measures rules as we all hold our nose under the pretense of avoiding civil war, this also applies in Zimbabwe.
In DRC as in Zambia, accidents of death by design in one case and fate in the other have installed ill equipped novices, to govern masses with severe needs.

As I listened to Mo Ibrahim make the case for want of good leadership in Africa, I couldn't imagine but wonder how long it will take for Africans to get their act together. How long before we realize, we can not put up with cronies any longer?

Another critical factor, highlight in the interview, was the absence of relevant statistical data for most African states. What is known of measurements of important elements like poverty, education health etc are crude estimations of western visitors that do not bear the remotest semblance to the conditions or state of so many Africans.

It is essential, that Africans know and understand for themselves their immediate estate, rather than continue to validate western perceptions.
As Sun Tzu writes in the art of war, one must posses the knowledge of one's strength and know that of one's adversaries, in order to succeed in any endeavor . In this regard, it is not always external influences that impose adverse conditions of poverty and under development upon so many Africans. Cultural adherence and often a lack of personal drive for self improvement are as much to blame, especially in parts where violent conflict has been absent.

Africans must demand more from our current system of governance, we must ensure basic systems exist to collect social indicators; a basic structure to track life from the cradle to the grave.
Inadequate clinics, schools, roads even insufficient legislative representation stem not so much from a lack of resources as from the lack of useful data to match population needs to infrastructure capacity. This can not be allowed to persists at a time, that a goat herder on slopes of a remote hill in Kenya, can receive a money transfer to his cell phone from any part of the world.

It is only when more Africans begin to take a keen interest in creating and maintaining an accountable system of governance that more Africans will begin to seize the opportunities that exist to exploit African resources for our own benefit rather than external interests.
Just as, Mo Ibrahim was able to envision an opportunity to sell more than 25 millions phones across Africa, more African entrepreneurs may begin to envision other opportunities to exploit.