Thursday, 4 December 2014

Moving Africa Forward: Understanding The Challenges From Within.

The 21st century has been touted as the century in which the continent of Africa is expected to register resounding and tangible growth in several facets which include the political aspect, social aspect and most importantly the economic aspect. The progress of Africa, in general, depends on how well growth and development of these various aspects will be stimulated and sustained effectively in order to register substantive development in the continent. In moving Africa forward, there is need to re-visit the opportunities available in the continent, review the  present challenges and the available and/ or possible threats.

Africa is undoubtedly well-endowed with natural resources. These resources range from the wildlife comprising of the varied species of the flora and fauna, the different types of minerals, agricultural land among several others. The various African governments have always talked and continue to do so about the diversity of the natural resources that are available. Little, however, has been done to ensure that utility is derived from such resources.

It is also worthy to note that as a continent we have not maximized the cultural diversity that is visible from north to south and east to the west of Africa. Instead, most Africans have used the cultural diversity to fuel negative thoughts, beliefs and attitudes and this has created a negative base that has propagated divisions and animosity among the African people. A good example of this is the negative ethnicity that is common among many African nations and states.

All the problems and challenges that eclipse Africa at the present moment are as a result of either having wrong institutions or weak institutions in place. There is urgent need to review the existing institutions and either phase them out or to strengthen them in order to establish institutions that are strategic. The various problems and challenges that we experience as a continent are varied and they range from famine, hunger, diseases, negative ethnicity, poor governance, poor infrastructure and many others.

In as much as significant progress has been achieved in promotion of good governance in Africa, it is certain that more needs to be done if at all we are to realize the renaissance of our beloved continent. It therefore the responsibility of every citizen to fully aware of the principles of good governance. But awareness will not aid much if such principles are not upheld and put into practice by the leaders and the led in general. The principles of good governance include:
·         Public participation especially in decision-making.
·         Application of the rule of law.
·         Transparency in governance processes and institutions.
·         Responsiveness whereby the existing institutions are supposed to serve people within a reasonable timeframe.
·         Consensus orientation.
·         Equity.
·         Effectiveness and efficiency in realization of results by the institutions.
·         Accountability.
·          A strategic vision on promotion of good governance and human development.
The application of the above principles in the existing institutions and processes would act as a springboard towards pushing Africa into following a growth and development trajectory that is efficient as well as effective.
It is imperative that in moving Africa forward, the governments need to hugely invest in both physical and social infrastructure. We need to have very good roads, airports that are well constructed, efficient sea ports, electricity generation and distribution that is good, proper built and well equipped health facilities, a reliable education sector among others. Infrastructure is the most fundamental aspect towards the realization of notable development. The African governments should be aware that failing to heavily invest in infrastructure is failing to spur growth and development.

Cases of famine and hunger simply imply that we are still faced with the challenge of food insecurity. A country that cannot adequately feed its people cannot effectively develop. It is high time most of  the rigid governments to allow the Genetically Modified Crops which mature within a short span of time and which can be specifically engineered to suit the climatic conditions of Africa. Assurance of food security will help to cut off the reliance on food aid which has often times jeopardized the running of the affairs of most African governments.

Nevertheless, terrorist groups in some parts of Africa are a major hindrance in realization of notable development. In West Africa, especially in Nigeria and now Cameroon, the Boko Haram threat is evident. In the Horn of Africa, the Al Shabaab threat is still present. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the dangers posed by the several rebel groups can clearly be seen. To move Africa forward such groups need to be decapitated to allow for normalcy and stability to set in. a continental comprehensive security approach ought to be put in place to address the  security threats occasioned by the terrorist and rebel groups.

In conclusion, the bottlenecks that are limiting Africa to consistently move forward are basically poor governance, security threats, low infrastructural investments and food insecurity. The time that efforts will be synergized and all aspects systematized to deal with the aforementioned challenges then positive progress will be inevitable. To move Africa forward, understanding the problems and the challenges from within is very crucial so as to institutionalize effective mitigation measures.

Leadership: A General Perspective.

We often talk and think about leadership in our daily lives because it is an important aspect that cannot be ignored at all costs. But most people’s thinking is that they associate leadership with politics. From my own viewpoint, leadership entails a number of facets beginning at a personal level to more complex levels such as the military and sophisticated levels like managing tech firms that are in involved in constant and continuous innovation.

Leadership should be first exhibited at a personal level. If we desire to attain all the success and accomplish all the goals that we set at a personal level, then we undoubtedly need to refocus on how well we are in charge of ourselves. To be properly organized at a personal level then an aura of leadership should surround us. Personal organization is depicted in the manner in which we effectively manage our time, how we manage our finances, how we dress, how we communicate, how we relate with others and so on. In any case, if you desire to hold a very senior leadership position sooner or in the near future, then carry out an audit of how you are fairing on at a personal level. The bitter truth is that if you are incapable of leading your own self, then you should have dim if not dimmer hopes of leading others.

At the family level, leadership is imperative as the family is the tit bit of all forms of social organization. The father or husband in a household needs to give direction to his family. The children usually look up to their fathers and mothers to provide leadership at any given time. Lack of effective leadership  at the family level is the root cause for broken homes. Nevertheless, the spiraling number of single women can be attributed to some men who have failed to take up on their responsibilities. Irresponsibility is a clear indication and manifestation of the lack of leadership. There is no leadership if there is no responsibility period! Having successful relationships and marriages is an absolute function of strong and effective leadership and responsibility amidst all the challenges that exist.

That weak leadership translates to weak results is a factual statement that cannot otherwise be subjected to debate. Countries, entities and other organizational forms that have once been victims of weak leadership have at one point of time paid for the incompetence of the leadership. Uganda under the rule of Idi Amin had to bear the consequences of poor leadership. South Sudan I believe is grappling with weak leadership that has consequentially led to the re-emergence of civil and tribal wars. Weak leadership at the Interior and Coordination of National Government Ministry formerly led by Joseph ole Lenku could be largely blamed for the spate of insecurity attacks in Kenya.

For corporates that are in constant competition, innovation is the bottomline of leadership. Corporates that fail to carry out innovation in whatever business segment they operate in risk having low sales and eventually exit the business environment. In general, lack of innovation by corporates signals a lack of leadership. This is the main reason why electronic firms like Panasonic and Phillips have arguably struggled to maintain and cut out a market niche for themselves. Innovation is what the late CEO of Apples, Steve Jobs used to propel his firm to be a leader in the production of electronic devices. Lack of innovation is what forced Eveready to close one of its branches in Nakuru, Kenya. Profit-based firms’ leadership is judged on how well they carry out innovation to have diversified goods and services in order to maintain relatively higher profit margins. Safaricom Company is a good example of this as they resorted to have several services other than just relying on voice call revenues for their profits. This is the main reason why it is the leading communications entity in Kenya.

On a general scale, one does not need an office, a title or a position to be a leader. Note that once a leader, always a leader. This is a philosophical statement that I strongly agree with. However, when in charge of a certain group, organization, entity or even oneself, remember that leadership comes with a great sense of RESPONSIBILITY. Therefore, any aspect of life at a personal, family, organizational or national level demands that we exercise leadership at its fullest.