The 2019 Ibrahim Governance Weekend organized by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation came off successfully at Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire over the Weekend from April 5-7, 2019. This was a three-day event that convened prominent African political and business leaders, representatives from civil society, multilateral and regional institutions as well as Africa’s major international partners to debate issues of critical importance to Africa.
I attended the programme at the invitation of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. With my immense role with the Global Advocacy and Development Initiative (GADI), Ghana which I Co-Founded with, Richard Kweitsu, a Mo Ibrahim Fellow, my invitation was not in doubt. GADI-Ghana is an NGO which serves as a Hub for mentoring, training, skills development, funding and empowering young people as well as advocating for youth-oriented policies that seek to include the African youth in the development and democratic process.
The invitation was also a global recognition of our work in promoting local governance and development not only in the Mafi Zongo Electoral Area of the Central Tongu District of, the Volta Region, Ghana where I served as the Elected Local Assembly Member but Africa and the world. I believe we have contributed immensely to unleashing the potentials of the African Youth for the economic and social transformation of the continent.
While at the programme, I joined current and former Heads of States such as Alassane Dramane Ouattara, President of Cote d’Ivoire, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia, Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, Pedro de Verona Rodrigues Pires, former President of Cape Verde, Business Tycoons such as Aliko Dangote, Governance Experts such as Mo Ibrahim, Deputy General Secretary of the UN, Amina Mohammed, Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) representatives of governments, young leaders and other global experts from the United Nations (UN), European Union (EU), the African Union (AU), the One Young World (OYW), AfDB, NEPAD, and all over the world in discussing issues of migration and youth unemployment in Africa.
The Forum started with a celebration of the life of Kofi Annan as one of the greatest individuals to have lived in the 21st century. As a young leader who has attended few programmes both nationally and internationally, you cannot hide but get elated as an African and most importantly as a Ghanaian, anytime the world is talking about Kofi Annan. The honesty and integrity exhibited by Kofi Annan in his professional, leadership and personal life were worthy of emulation. Just as many believe, I am also convinced strongly that, Kofi Annan was the leader of all the leaders the world ever produced. He was a great humanitarian and the most peace-loving personality to have passed through the shores of the world. His efforts in advancing world peace, tackling poverty and hunger and advancing the overall growth and development of the world made him (to me) the best leader of the 21st century.
While at the programme, I had the opportunity to interact with current and former Head of States, governance experts, policymakers, CEOs and other young leaders across the world. I was given a 2-minutes opportunity in a session moderated by H.E Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to contribute to discussions on migration and youth unemployment in Africa. I used the opportunity to throw more lights on challenges facing young people in rural communities in the world especially Africa. I called for a holistic investment in rural communities using our collective achievements in the Mafi Zongo Electoral Area of Ghana as a test case.
I later joined about 20 former Presidents, Electoral Commissioners, policy makers and governance experts to discuss issues of elections and democracy in the digital age at the invitation of the Kofi Annan Foundation. I also met with officials of One Young World (OYW). We shared memories of the 2018 OYW Summit in The Hague where I was declared by Sir John Major, former UK Prime Minister as one of the of 5 winners of the One Young World Politician of the Year and also had the opportunity to address over 1800 delegates from the over 196 countries. We also discussed our projects in the communities here in Africa and plans for the future.
As a young leader, I believe sincerely that, the openness and frankness exhibited in discussing issues facing Africa and the world makes the Ibrahim Governance Weekend, one of the best governance programmes in the world. The discussions at the programme were purely geared towards fostering good governance and leadership in Africa.
But to achieve this beyond the Governance Weekend, I believe there is the absolute need for our governments, Civil Society Organizations, development partners, head of states, the African Union and we young people to take concrete steps to addressing new technology and its potential threat to employment, promoting quality education across the African continent, fostering innovations, enabling entrepreneurship and stimulating job creation as well as skills transfer and technological flows.
There is also the need to stimulate equal and cross-border growth and development by mainstreaming the development of rural communities into our individual and collective national and international development processes. The African Union and other Economic Blocks on the continent must work on realizing free trade and faster movements of goods and service as well as human and vehicular movements within the continent for economic growth and development.
On the economic fronts, governments must ensure that growth is sustainable and continues to improve the lives of many through aggressive economic transformation agenda. Currently, the growth of most African countries including Ghana (my home country) has simply come from macroeconomic reforms, better business environment and higher commodity prices. This growth in itself is not enough to ensure development and improved wellbeing of the people.
But I believe, African countries must target economic transformation through diversification of production and exports, becoming more competitive in the global markets, increasing the productivity of factors of production especially labour, creating more sustainable, healthy and productive jobs, reducing corruption and wastage of public funds among others. This is the only way, the growth of the continent can improve the well- being of the citizenry, create higher income and ensure an equal share in the prosperity of the continent.
The African Union must rise up and redefine its objective of achieving greater unity, cohesion and solidarity between the African countries and African nations by truly ensuring there is absolute peace on the African continent. This is the only way to drive trade and investment and galvanize citizens both home and abroad for the growth and development of the African continent. Africa must turn her large youth population into global competitiveness.
Our role as young leaders is not only to continue complaining about the state of governance in our countries but to continuously participate and get involved in developing the continent starting from our local communities. This we can do by either running for elections or taking centre stage and forming partnerships in designing and implementing social impact solutions and youth-led innovations in addressing sustainable development challenges facing our communities and countries.
We need African solution to African problems.
I believe, these are the ways, the objectives of the Ibrahim Governance Weekend by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation could be achieved.
The writer is a participant of the 2019 Ibrahim Governance Weekend by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation at Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire. He is the youngest elected Local Assembly Member in Ghana, Africa representing a population of over 7000 people of the Mafi Zongo Electoral Area of the Volta Region and the Co-Founder of the Global Advocacy and Development Initiative, GADI-Ghana.