The questions from the crop of Africa Caucus, a group of senior Masters Students at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Boston, USA were engaging, challenging and very pertinent.
They ranged from comments and probing queries on how NEPAD can work with African Governments and financial institutions to support the involvement of the Diaspora in national development; how NEPAD measures its impact; why NEPAD is less visible than other donor entities like GIZ, DFID and OXFAM, and many more.
These arose from a robust and highly motivated conversation with students by the NEPAD CEO Dr Ibrahim Mayaki. The theme of the lecture was “How Africa will reinvent the Concept of Leadership.
Dr Mayaki’s discussion tackled the role of the Africa state and how it has evolved in the last fifty years, cautioning that the current equation of Africa being the most unequal and yet youngest continent in the world could result into an explosive situation.
“Tunisia and Mali which were once models of development are no longer that. With new means of communication and the new generational change, youth are seizing power and expect immediate answers and results thus putting a lot of pressure. Our systems of government today need a bold change,” said Dr Mayaki
Dr Mayaki interacting with Africa Caucus students
The NEPAD CEO gave an analysis of the social-political transformation of Africa from the 1960’s when countries inherited from colonial rule, a public administration which was mainly fuelled by development aid, describing it as an Aid-Centred and Schizophrenic.
He said in the 80’s and 90’s, there were austere yet necessary Structural Adjustments Processes which weakened the States capacities to think strategically and thus had direct impact on the natural de-structualisation of the African state. A drive to remedy this gave birth to NEPAD.
Dr Mayaki said some of the solutions lay in the mainstreaming of social inequality to reduce the chance of a chaotic situation as has been seen in the Arab Spring; rural transformation agricultural development which would imply the review of governance systems so that there is a less top-down approach.
“Rwanda can be considered a good model of how it has transformed after the genocide. This is because there has been not a top-down and bottom-up inclusive approach” he said.
The CEO concluded his lecture on an upbeat note, saying a lot of positive developments had taken place in Africa in the last twenty years. He cited more women in positions of power; the six fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa; regional co-operation and integration which is providing answers to some of Africa’s challenges which do not have optimal national solutions; advancements in agriculture and infrastructure development, with a new drive to fund growth with Africa’s own resources