African economies face a number of critical challenges (e.g. limited employment opportunities, low quality of education), but also offer many opportunities (e.g. a young and motivate workforce, high entrepreneurial activities). How Africa and Europe can move forward together by developing jointly solutions was the main focus of the conference 'Africa and Europe Moving Forward Together – Evidence-based Solutions for African Development' organised by Leuphana University and the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA) from 24 to 26 January 2019.
African and European experts from academia and practice (civil society, science, private sector and politics) came together during three days to discuss current approaches, policies and interventions for African development. The conference had the exceptional participation of the Honorary Professor of Stellenbosch University in South Africa, Dr Zenda Ofir, and lead economist of the World Bank, Dr Markus P. Goldstein, as keynote speakers and the former President of Germany and former head of the International Monetary Fund, Dr Horst Köhler, who also gave a speech. Globethics.net Director, Dr Obiora Ike, was one of the experts invited to give a speech on 'Good leadership as factor for economic growth – the challenge of corruption'.
Dr Ike opened his speech by looking to the past, analysing how colonialism is affecting the current situation in Africa. He remembered how the Berlin Conference of 1884 was the first moment when Europeans gathered in Berlin to share peoples' inheritance and to divide what belonged to the African continent - its lands and territories, peoples and resources.
'Despite the recent rise in attention and interest on the present and future situation of Africa, we must bring the Africans to these conversations which impacts their policies or livelihoods', Dr Ike thanked organisers for taking this initiative to stop the monologue and to offer a dialogue between Europe and Africa to move forward.
The importance of a good ethical leadership was the main focus of Dr Ike's presentation at the conference. He focussed on five key areas that demonstrate that good leadership is a factor for economic growth. Within these five areas he placed special attention on corruption and how it is one of the greatest threats to human progress and specially in Africa. He flagged corruption as an issue of grave concern and a serious obstacle to economic growth, democratic culture, national and international stability, good governance and effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the various constitutions, laws and statutes that guide nations and peoples. He showed the ugly face of corruption in Africa and how the first victims are the young and women, eroding the quality and standards of life for the majority of people.
'African solutions to African problems' this was the motto that Dr Ike used to conclude his presentation. He expressed the importance of this motto for driving the agenda for the new collaborations between Africa and Europe. This demands a new paradigm shift on both sides: where both listen to each other. African has something to offer and to receive from the world, just as Europe does.