Africa: Leadership and Africa's Youth Bulge - Rosa Whitaker, CEO of the Whitaker Group

6 February 2019
interview

AllAfrica will be looking at the issue of 'leadership' during 2019 - what it is, who has it, and what is needed for Africa to develop and prosper. Most of the voices will be African. Some, like today's, will be long-time friends of Africa. Rosa Whitaker, CEO of the Whitaker Group, was the first U.S. trade representative for Africa and is one of the foremost experts on U.S./Africa trade and investment. She shared a series of thoughts on what leadership can accomplish. First up - how can Africa's youthful population become an asset rather than a threat?

Will it be a demographic dividend or will it be a demographic disaster?  Whether this youth bulge, will it benefit Africa, will it contribute to global growth or will it just be a cauldron of instability and insecurity?  And all of that will be determined by the quality of leadership, that's the current leadership and the decisions they have to make today and the kind of leaderships that the continent can produce for the future.

There’s this age-old argument about whether or not leadership is birthed by nurture or nature.  Well, I believe that there are people who are born with innate leadership qualities.  But the realization of leadership in my view is by nurture.  So, we have to have conducive environments across the continent to birth this kind of leadership.  

And what is that environment?

There has to be investment in education, there has to be a priority on skill development, even beyond just your foundation of education.  You have to have a kind of visionary leadership that can look towards the kind of jobs and entrepreneurial activity and competitiveness of the economy and the future, and train people very intentionally for those opportunities, as laborers, as entrepreneurs, as innovators.  It doesn’t just happen.

And so, we know, for example that Africa has the potential to be pole of global growth.  Where’s that growth happening?  Are we training people to cease those opportunities because it’s not automatic?  And also, you cannot have full strength of leadership manifest without the conditions of security, without a recognition of the importance of leadership, without strong institutions most of all.  I think that weak institutions are a major threat to the birth of future leadership instability across the continent.

Watch the video

See What Everyone is Watching

More From: allAfrica

Don't Miss

AllAfrica publishes around 600 reports a day from more than 150 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.