Africa’s Leaders Should Be Prepared To Say No

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Africa’s leaders should be prepared to say no, Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi told business and political leaders in Addis Ababa at the World Economic Forum on Africa 2012 yesterday.

Speaking in a panel on leadership, Zenawi said African leaders must be “able and prepared to say no when that leadership is required to act in a manner that is not consistent with the long term plans of each country, and the continent as a whole.”

“We cannot please everyone,” said Zenawi, whose country was hosting the annual business gathering for the first time.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan told the forum that leaders should not see themselves as being above their states, nor change the constitution to stay in power longer than their mandate.

“He doesn’t have to be the best brain to be the president or the leader of any country,” said Jonathan, describing the quality of a good leader.

“You don’t have to be the strongest man. You must have the capacity to look at your citizens and identify the competent people and use them properly.”

Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote told the forum that in the next decade, Africa needed “leaders who will run government like a business, but with a human face.”

“We need somebody who is very very fearless, somebody who has a vision and mission.” He added that leaders needed to dismantle the blockages to the system of government caused by civil servants to “make sure they can do their work without stopping the water from running.”

Earlier in the day, co-chair of the World Economic Forum for Africa, Kofi Annan, said African leaders “have lessons to learn from North Africa and the Middle East where frustrated citizens want to have a say on how they governed.”

“We cannot talk of growth when millions of people are left behind or are marginalized,” said Annan.

The Africa Report

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