Not too long ago, Tony Blair, Bob Geldof and the Commission for Africa launched a bold report laying out what it will take to create broad-based economic growth and stability across the Continent. The report, calling for a doubling and possibly tripling of foreign aid, was comprehensive. But it neglected one glaring fact: There is a crisis of leadership in Africa. And, unless this crisis is addressed, millions of men, women and children are condemned to a life of poverty, strife and disease.
Admittedly, there has been some progress in Africa in recent years. Old political regimes have been discredited and removed from office – often through multi-party elections. New businesses are springing up in a range of industries that can free Africa from “the commodity trap” it has lived in for centuries. And civil society organizations are on the upswing, many of them well managed and able to leverage the talents of the private sector to the advantage of their beneficiaries and members. But the pace of change is slow.
The good news is that there is hope. For the first time in recent memory, Africa is seeing the beginnings of a reverse flow of talent. A new wave of young men and women are returning to their home countries after studying and working abroad at some of world’s best schools and companies. And among those who never left, there is a marked rise in entrepreneurial spirit, civic engagement and the desire to build countries capable of participating in – and benefiting from – the global economy.
The Africa Leadership Initiative (ALI) is designed to capture the energy, the talent and the resolve of an emerging generation of leaders in Africa — leaders who have already realized a certain level of success — and to inspire them to move from success to significance by engaging in the foremost challenges of their countries and their times.