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African Leaders Need to Do More, Says NEPAD Chief


The chief executive officer of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) says there is need for Africa to improve its leadership capacity.

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Ibrahim Assane Mayaki said the failure of any former African head of state to win the $5-million Mo Ibrahim Award is a wakeup call to leaders across the continent.

Sudanese businessman Mo Ibrahim announced Monday that his foundation's committee couldn't find a winner for good governance in Africa this year.

South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki, Nigeria's ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, and former Ghanaian President John Kufuor were thought to be frontrunners for this year's award.

Mayaki said that NEPAD is determined to do more to improve the qualities of African leadership.

"The Mo Ibrahim Award is an award given by a private foundation, and that private foundation (has) very strict and quality criteria to let them choose in the most suitable manner a candidate," Mayaki said.

He said there are positive signs in the Mo Ibrahim Foundation's report.

"When you look at the report, which was made by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation on the global issues of governance, I think there are good signs which are mentioned in that report," he said.

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Mayaki said the realization that no former African leader was able to win this year's award is cause for unease.

"The fact that the award has not been given to a specific candidate, I think is just an alert which is given to the community of the African leadership so that we improve on our leadership capacities. This is how I see it very personally," Mayaki said.

He reckons that NEPAD should do more to improve Africa's leadership qualities.

"Absolutely I think we should do more to strengthen the leadership capacities and capabilities which (are) existing at the level of the continent," he said.

Mayaki said there is need for a strong citizenry across the continent.

"In our democratization process, I think we need to give to the citizens a much higher importance so that citizenship can save future African institutions. And in that dimension, NEPAD has a capacity development strategy framework which gives high importance to the building of citizenship," Mayaki said.

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He says he takes seriously suggestions that many Africans are unaware of the effectiveness of NEPAD.

"That is absolutely true. When I go at the level of countries, the first question I am asked is what is NEPAD doing? NEPAD is a program of the African Union, is a development framework, which has been accepted on a consensus basis by all the African heads of state," he said.

NEPAD was formed in 2001 to tackle the challenges facing Africa. Those deficiencies include: i) persistent political conflicts; ii) weak states that need strengthening of democratic, political and economic governance systems and institutions; iii) high levels of poverty; iv) underdeveloped infrastructure; and v) savings and investment levels that have been declining for more than 25 years.

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