Good leadership can transform Africa By IBRAHIM MWATHANE | Tuesday, November 6  2012 at  11:38

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
Ms Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chairperson of the AU Commission.  FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

I found myself at the United Nations Complex at Addis Ababa recently. Political leaders, government bureaucrats, sectoral experts, private sector investors, civil society bigwigs along with Africa’s development partners were here for the Eighth African Development Forum.

I felt humbled as I witnessed Botswana’s retired President Festus Mogae sit through one session after another.

He chaired a session on large-scale land-based investments in Africa.

Try and figure a retired African President patiently sitting out a whole two hours to co-ordinate presentations and plenary discussions in a packed hall.
It’s the epitome of humility!

It made me reflect upon Africa’s strong men who have had to flee their countries or die from violent internal revolutions as they played political hard ball.

Yet here was their peer who served his term and passed on leadership to retire honourably. He now mingles freely and happily in international forums. And as the current Chairperson to the Coalition for Dialogue on Africa, he continues to richly inform Africa’s development agenda.

To transform Africa, such exemplary leadership will be necessary. I was happy too to hear the new Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, address Africa during the forum. She did so with confidence.

Dr Dlamini-Zuma has divergent voices and interests within Africa to converge during her tenure. I hope the Commission will count great gains under her stewardship.

Female leadership

As the first ever female to drive the AU Commission, Dr Dlamini-Zuma should try and chart a legacy that will grow more female leaders for Africa.

Her tenure heralds a good future for Africa’s women who have now come of age to demand equitable space at both national and continental level. More female leadership is good for the continent.

Effective reporting and information sharing by the media in Africa would incentivise development. African countries will therefore need to do more to grow free and vibrant media within their jurisdictions.

It is a free and vibrant media that will effectively communicate local development agenda and routinely call leaders to account; free and vibrant media will ensure the responsible exploitation of resources within the continent.

Thanks to the organisers for foresight in inviting media to this Pan African forum.

The following evening the land policy unit organised some dinner for some of its partners during which Permanent Secretary Dorothy Angote had the opportunity to share her experiences coordinating the land policy formulation process in Kenya.

And she made a very good point. That no African country, none at all in her view, will get far in trying to effectively manage their land and natural resources without a comprehensive national land policy.

I totally agree.

Dr Joan Kagwanja, head of the Land Policy Unit at the Economic Commission for Africa, and her team must have been happy that Angote made such a powerful case for the formulation and implementation of land policies by African countries.

It’s a message that the land policy unit is trying to promote within Africa.

To transform Africa’s economy through the exploitation of land and natural resources in the 21st century, countries must take this path.
mwathane@landsca.co.ke