At the 2023 Ibrahim Governance Weekend (IGW), which took place from 28-30 April in Nairobi, African leaders, politicians and thought leaders convened to discuss the theme of Global Africa, critically examining Africa’s weight in the current world, the world’s presence in Africa, as well as the continent’s place within the multilateral architecture.
Here are the key takeaways from this significant gathering.
Takeaway 1: Africa’s narrative
There is a need for a narrative shift which truly accounts for Africa's assets and potential. We must move away from the narrow perspective that views the continent as a problem to be solved. Instead, we should recognise Africa's strengths and possibilities. Today's global challenges, such as climate change, pandemics, terrorism, and conflicts, require collaborative solutions in which Africa can play a pivotal role. It is crucial to avoid oversimplifying Africa as a homogeneous entity, as it is a complex and diverse continent with unique nations, geographies, and histories.
If the world is going to solve the existential threats it is facing, Africa has to be part of the solution.
~Zein Abdalla, Chair of the Mastercard Foundation
Takeaway 2: Partnership
Embracing equity and collaboration, true partnership goes beyond mere assistance or care: it requires relationships based on shared interests and mutually beneficial agreements. Africa should not become a battleground in the 'new cold war', but rather a place where diverse coalitions work together to address pressing issues. Partnerships should extend beyond state-to-state relationships and actively engage the private sector, civil society, and youth. Accountability plays a vital role in these partnerships, requiring monitoring commitments, resource utilisation, and the delivery of results.
African governments can do a lot more to coordinate the activities of non-state actors and to coordinate the resources to work much more efficiently in terms of what the government actually wants.
~William Asiko, Managing Director of the Africa Region Office, Rockefeller Foundation
Takeaway 3: Multilateralism
The current multilateral system requires modernisation, as decision-making is still largely determined by global power balances established after World War II. To accurately reflect today's world, this system must be democratised. A reformed multilateral system should be responsive to everyone’s needs, especially regarding financial resources for African countries' development. The current resources are inadequate and must be improved to ensure fairness. Additionally, the global financial architecture should cease penalising African countries with inadequate risk assessments and burdensome interest rates. It should provide finance on fairer terms and establish financial mechanisms to respond swiftly to climate disasters and pandemics.
The current international financial architecture is, to put it bluntly, rigged against those of us in the Global South, because we cannot meaningfully address our development needs using the financial resources from this architecture.
~H.E. William Ruto, President of Kenya
Takeaway 4: Africa’s potential
Africa has significant untapped potential for economic development. It can be harnessed through investments in education and youth training, the development of local value chains for natural resources, support for entrepreneurship via venture capital and incubation systems, and the support of soft power industries like sports and entertainment. Moreover, the continent should increase domestic financial resources by strengthening taxation capacities, addressing illicit financial flows, and leveraging sovereign wealth and pension funds.
This is a time to think through the educational curriculum and to decide how this educational curriculum will be relevant.
~H.E. Yemi Osinbajo, Vice-President of Nigeria
Takeaway 5: Africa’s voice
African governments must establish clear positions articulating a unified voice. Pan-African summits and meetings prior to global events such as COP will allow to agree on common priorities. Institutional reforms are necessary to empower the African Union, while economic integration is crucial in fostering political union.
Let us ensure that we harmonise our policies, and then our voices in the world will be amplified. That voice, we must work for it. We must earn it, by keeping our continent stable, peaceful, integrated.
~Donald Kaberuka, Managing Partner at Southbridge Group
The 2023 IGW provided a platform for African stakeholders to challenge the prevailing narrative and showcase Africa's potential. By recognising Africa's strengths, fostering genuine partnerships, advocating for multilateral reform, leveraging untapped potential, and articulating a unified voice, Africa can redefine its narrative and position itself as a prominent player in global affairs.