The 5th African Leadership Forum (ALF) in Kigali, Rwanda marked a massive call for African countries to reclaim their finances in an ethical manner and to support themselves internally with the rich resources they hold. Strangely, however, considering the number of major participants of African leaders, both from the international community and business alike, the western world was silent. The lack of participation, for whatever reason, is not our point of focus.
The editorial staff is excited to launch by way of LLM Law Review and MBA Insights, a multi-part series that demonstrates our linkages to the rich diversity that make up our international community. The LLM Law Review will devote a great deal of time and effort to not only cover Africa’s 54 countries, but interview diverse sectors of the continent: law firms, scholars, entrepreneurs, civil servants, NGOs, creatives, psychologists, linguists, etc. Too often media coverage is negative, non-existent, limited in scope and examined through the lens of non-participants. We hope to contribute stories and voices that inspire, provoke intellectual discussion and shift the common narrative here in the Western world.
We begin this journey by covering the African Leadership Forum this past August in Rwanda.
Kigali, Rwanda (August 2018)
The ALF offered great motivational gems. The theme of the forum was “Financing Africa’s Transformation for Sustainable Development.” Representing a number of countries and sectors, attracting some of the most influential leaders of the African continent, the forum should be a must-attend event for anybody in the west that wants to learn about Africa in a meaningful way.
The Tanzanian government’s Uongozi Institute, hosted by the former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, H.E. Benjamin William Mkapa, initiated the meeting, which was “attended by over 100 distinguished leaders from Africa’s public sector, the private sector, academia and civil society.”
“Among the former heads of state who attended the event include Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, Armando Guebuza of Mozambique, and Moncef Marzouki of Tunisia.”
Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who gave the keynote speech, highlighted the importance of ethical financial actions. “Citing some of the leakages and losses of resources that could have otherwise funded development, he said that the value of illicit financial flows, evaded taxes and commodities extracted exceed foreign aid, which the continent often relies on…. Among the corrective measures to sustainably finance the continent’s development, Kagame said, include accountability, regional integration and fostering the growth of African enterprises.”
He emphasized the importance of utilizing the variety of resources already abundant in African countries, as opposed to importing foreign products.
Rwanda’s The New Times reported the following excerpts made by various leaders. These remarks deserve extended coverage and we offer them in their entirety, including a video of the panel discussion among former and current African presidents. We thank The New Times of Rwanda for the coverage, as it was probably the only major media outlet that bothered to treat this forum with seriousness.
Excerpts from The African Leadership Forum
The former President of Tanzania, Benjamin William Mkapa, who offered the welcoming address, promoted the idea of businesses having dependable tax receipts.
Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the former Somalian President, advocated for “increased political will that would foster cooperation between the public and private sectors for increased efficiency in financing development.”
The Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, emphasized trade as a means of reducing dependency on foreign aid.
In addition to these recommendations, the conference included various other important statements.
Former Somalian President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud:
“I would like to add one dimension, which is, well much has been said that Africa is interlinked; no country can be isolated. At the same time, Africa is not at the same level in terms of development, in terms of the transformation factor. What I would like to say is emphasizing that link and connectivity…. Let me take one example: maybe some people assume that sovereign, independent, separate countries, they have minimum, minimal link or affect each other, but I would like to say the assumption is questionable. In Somalia, for example, which has a difficult era at the moment and in recent history, we have… facts that the fighting, the terrorists fighting going on in Nigeria, which is the western part of the continent Boko Haram, there are facts that shows that elements within the Boko Haram has been trained in al-Shabaab training camps inside Somalia. And from there, they traveled all the way to the west, from east to the west of the continent, to create the problems that they are creating. So, similarly, … we infect each other when it comes to the development…. There are a lot of African boys and girls who lost their life in Somalia without having any other interest other than seeing stable functioning state in place in Somalia. So, I would have liked it when we Africans discussing about the development, sustainable development, transformation, financing, the everything, to include as a cross-cutting issue the realities that are existing in the most conflict or in the fragile states, and as said fragility does not mean always conflict…. ”
Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi:
“The informal sector – we have not mentioned it here. You know, many countries have made conditions so difficult that domestic business is almost criminalized, so it refuses to have a fixed address; it remains informal in booking-office or 75 percent of enterprises, informal sector…. In our countries, we tell a private, informal sector we want to register them so that they pay tax. We don’t tell them you want to register them so as to avail services…. So, you make small enterprises grow horizontally to create a multiplicity of small enterprises for fear of the pain of becoming formal. I think the political decision to facilitate small enterprise is phenomenal in how much revenue it can generate for this debt.”
Former President of Tanzania, Benjamin William Mkapa:
“You must have a program of formalization of the informals. Disabuse them of the notion that you want them to formalize them because you want their taxes. No, educate them that by formalization, they have access to more capital, yes, recognition in law, and no one can divest them of any of their properties.”
Rwandan President Paul Kagame:
“These enemies of ours do not get stronger…. We got weaker than they are. Because we never got strong at all. And, in fact, it is a problem, the problem of talking, the problem of analyzing problems and getting the analysis right and not acting is something that has been passed from one generation to another. We are culpable, all of us, from the beginning up to the present… we can…only become independent, not at the mercy of these people who were not letting us free…. So, we knew there was a struggle to be carried out, and the struggle is not something that comes through prayer, or just allowing the other one who is out there pressing you to decide whether he lets go or not, right? So, the story of talking about so much that is right, I am not behaving the way we should behave to do the things we ought to, is something that has been passed on from one generation to another until this present day. So, we need to find a cut-off point and say enough is enough, absolutely.”
President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria:
“Well, the problem of Africa – we cannot blame it on anybody outside Africa. The problem of Africa must be blamed on us. And, please, we can get together like this, and interminably, and we can talk, and we will not move unless we act together. Now let’s go not too far away – what we achieved in decolonization should not be underrated…. but we were able to do that because we walk together…. And we, in Nigeria, we then look for people outside Africa who will be with us…. When they were ready to go with us, and we carried them along with us, and that was how we were able to get what we got, when we got it. Now, I believe that, and I was saying this morning that maybe, when we finish here tomorrow, we should also let Africa Leadership Forum have some action. Take the illicit transfer report we were told that no action had been taken on the recommendations of that report. Let us take two or three aspects of the recommendation and get our leaders. If they either want to take action to pull, to press them, to pressurize them to make them take action, and wherever we have taken action we have seen the difference. We talk about our colonizers, our so-called development partners, and we say they are our enemies. They’re not our enemies; they love themselves more than they love us…. And until we love ourselves as we should love ourselves and walk together, we will see enemy outside. And we, in fact, are our own enemy inside. That is the truth….”
Greatness, Diversity & Strength in Africa
The African Leadership Forum 2018 was, in the end, a call to action through togetherness. In President Obasanjo’s words: “We should be the architect of our own fortune, and we have to work together. And if we do not work together and we are working separately, we will drown piecemeal. If we work together, we will swim together.”
On behalf of the LLM Law Review editorial staff, we look forward to meeting with, interviewing and offering critical perspectives that will promote thoughtful conversation. Leveraging primarily video, our legal and business publishing platform will deliver content that reaches a global audience by way of video, podcasts and research.
- Mwai, Collins. “Africa Needs the Right Mindsets, Rather than More Funding – Kagame.” The New Times, The New Times Rwanda, 3 Aug. 2018, www.newtimes.co.rw/news/africa-funding-kagame.