On 24 November, Foundation board member Hosh Ibrahim was joined by members of our Now Generation Network (NGN) to discuss what young Africans think about the continent’s diverging governance landscape. The Ibrahim Index of African Governance shows that Africa’s governance progress over the last decade has been unbalanced. On the one hand, economic opportunities and human development have been improving; but this has happened at the same time as alarming declines in areas such as rights, participation and rule of law.
The conversation began by exploring whether there is a trade-off between political and social rights and job opportunities.
It is not viable to take one at the expense of the other. We need to look at the contextual needs of individual countries and prioritise accordingly. For example, in Sudan, when the uprising started in 2019, it was inspired by economic distress, the country was running out of bread. If you compare that to this year, a lot of people are coming out because they want the restoration of constitutional order, they want to see a civilian government leading the transition. This clearly demonstrates that the two are interlinked and have to be pursued jointly.
-Patrick Godi, South Sudan, Now Generation Network member
NGN members expressed concern about Africa’s current economic growth model, noting that COVID-19 has exposed an over-dependency on exporting natural resources and trading with countries outside the continent. Trading partners should be selected with more consideration, they noted.
Are African countries pursuing economic progress at any cost, ignoring human rights issues because their trading partners do not pay attention to that or do not hold them accountable? We need to take a step back and ask what economic progress looks like. It should be beyond just financial gain and be holistic, including ensuring that people are treated with dignity.
-Gerald Chirinda, Zimbabwe, Now Generation Network member
NGN members argued passionately for African-owned plans to tackle the continent’s current challenges and for young people to be at the heart of these efforts.
We need to demystify politics as it is perceived as a dirty game. Unfortunately, most of our leaders study in Europe and see systems, institutions and infrastructure that work, but then go back home and continue with ‘business as usual’. We need to make it ‘business unusual’. We can contribute to this change by having a critical mass of people who are committed to the betterment of Africa.
-Richard Adu-Gyamfi, Ghana, Ibrahim Fellow
This conversation is part of the Foundation’s In conversation with… series, which is connecting young Africans and the Foundation’s leadership around issues that matter most to the continent’s youth.
Watch the conversation: