“Africa is the second largest continent on earth and has immense resources, yet African people are poor. The question is “why are we poor” if we have all this wonderful land, sea, shores? We are poor because of misrule, because we are badly governed. I don’t subscribe to the narrative that Africa is backward because of colonialism. Africa has been independent for 50 years now. Let’s forget the past, we need to get up and dust-off ourselves and get on with life.”
What actually happened in the last 50 to 60 years is that we missed a lot of opportunities. At the moment of independence, many African countries like Ghana and Egypt had higher income per capita than China, India or Singapore. Where are we now? And where are those guys?
I think the blame should rest squarely on the way we have governed ourselves. Not any amount of aid is going to move Africa forward. The only way for us to move forward is to ensure good governance – the way we manage our economy, our social life, our legal structures and institutions – that is the basis for development. We cannot rely on people to come and feed our poor or treat our sick. This is the responsibility of our governments.
Governance is not just about corruption or transparency or human rights or democracy or roads etc., it is about all of this. There is no compromise. All this is a basket of deliverables which governments must deliver to their citizens. If it is about deliverables then it is measureable. What we need to do is look at numbers and not wonderful leaders’ speeches. I want to know what leaders did in the last 12 months. We need to measure this every year and we need to produce a scorecard. This is how the Ibrahim Index of African Governance came about.
Leadership is also important. It became obvious to us that we need leaders that understand that they are running their country for the benefit of every single individual. Every child in this country is his responsibility; we need people who really believe in that, who cannot go to sleep because some people cannot eat or cannot find medicine. This is the kind of leadership that we need in Africa – an enlightened and dedicated sort of leadership. With this in mind, we came to the decision that we really need to go out searching for these heroes. We need role models that are important.”
Dr. Mohamed “Mo” Ibrahim is a Sudanese-British mobile communications entrepreneur and billionaire. He is the Founder and Chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation which he established in 2006 to support good governance and exceptional leadership on the African continent.