The 2020 AIF was the 2nd edition of the forum where Africa Leadership Initiative (ALI) Fellows from across the African continent gathered to deeply connect, engage and recommit on matters of significance to the continent. The Forum aimed to deepen the pool of influential, effective and ethical leaders across Africa, who assume personal and collective accountability for the “Good Society”, by challenging members to look to building long-term trajectories that build foundations today for thriving societies across Africa and beyond our time as custodians.
The President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, represented by Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, senior minister, in the keynote address spoke extensively on the theme, BUILDING TO LAST: LEADERSHIP VS. SYSTEMS, with emphasis on the Africa we want from a leader’s perspective. While recognising that both leadership and systems are challenged in Africa, the senior minister commended Fellows’ impact in politics, the public and private sectors and especially their contribution to building a good society through diverse social interventions and ventures. Modelled after the annual Resnick Aspen Action Forum of the Aspen Institute, Washington DC, the 4-day Africa Impact Forum touched on special interest areas pertaining to the African continent including AfCFTA and intra-African trade, education, technology, gender, health and the youth bulge with its attendant implications and the responsibility it portends for African leaders. A prominent feature of this year’s forum was a dynamic youth panel represented by intelligent and passionate young men and women from Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa, doing innovative work in media/broadcasting, health, education and creative arts.
Ken Ofori-Atta, a Henry Crown Fellow, the Founder of ALI West Africa and the current Minister of Finance of Ghana, remarked that “this is a call to arms, there is no better time than now for ALI Fellows to rise up to the challenges facing the continent. There are shining lights coming from the activities of Fellows, however, a critical mass needs to be attained, as well as the pan African reach, with a sense of urgency. The AIF gives an opportunity to reboot and receive strength for the work before us.”
Olara Otunnu, a Ugandan diplomat and Aspen Institute Trustee, charged the Fellows to create a more equitable Africa where the child in the village can aspire to contribute to the continent. He concluded with the following powerful parting words: “There are mechanisms within your companies that have been very successful. You owe it to Africa to do the same at the national and continental level because God knows we so desperately need systems, processes and institutions that function. Without that, a good deal of the ambition we are discussing for Africa will come to naught. You have a responsibility to translate what you have done in the private sector into the broader realm because leaders, however able and good, and without institutions, will falter, become corrupt and will fail.”
Following the tributes made by ALI co-founders Ken Ofori-Atta of ALI West Africa, Isaac Shongwe of ALI South Africa and Romeo Rodrigues of ALI Mozambique, AIF 2020 saw the launch of the Inaugural Ali Mufuruki Dialogue Series in honour of the late Ali Mufuruki, the founder of ALI East Africa who passed in December 2019, for his sterling contribution to the Fellowship and to the continent.
In her closing statement, Amina Oyagbola, Fellow and ALI West Africa Chair, urged ALI Fellows not to be complacent but to continually rise up to the “challenge of leadership” and use the forum to re-think, re-fuel, re-strategise and re-align to the vision of ALI while always leveraging on the powerful network of the fellowship.
Overall adjudged a successful convening, ALI acknowledges the support of the MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth, the Ghanaian Ministry of Finance & Economic Planning, Coronation Merchant Bank Nigeria, McNulty Foundation NY, Aspen Global Leadership Network Washington DC, NCA Ghana and ALI West Africa partners, Databank Foundation Ghana and LEAP Africa. The baton for the next edition of the Africa Impact Forum was officially handed over to the ALI East Africa Fellowship to be hosted in Kigali, Rwanda come 2022.
Africa Leadership Initiative West Africa.