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Leadership – The only Way to Africa's Industrialization [?]
In most organizations in the world, and from time immemorial, it is known that ‘a fish rots from the head down’. In other words, leaders or those who are at the top are responsible for the wellbeing of the organizations or societies that decided to trust their leadership skills. And in general, leaders are results-driven. This is because they usually have a clear vision of what they expect to see and work hard to set sound or pragmatic goals that the ‘group’ will strive to achieve without being brutalized, but through genuine support. Positive results can only be achieved if the leader is surrounded by ‘competent people’.

A ruler, on the other hand, will generally dictate his vision which might not necessarily be in line with an organization’s expectations. He might simply be somebody who will execute a plan or orders from another more powerful group above him! He is often egocentric and narcissistic. And because he tends to dictate, instead of persuading people to share his ideas, he becomes a ‘dictator’. He does not like contradiction and will, as a consequence, surround himself with people he deems “less competent” than himself or people who are subservient.

Leaders or rulers, at the end of the day, are the ones who make decisions – good or bad decisions. They are at the top of the pyramid and they are … powerful. By power, we should normally mean the power to change things for the better, not the worse. Because a leader has a vision, he tends to federate the best ideas and minds to achieve his goals. He looks at what society will benefit from the vision. On the contrary, the ruler tends to federate around himself people and ideas that will enable him to confiscate power. And in general, within this kind of ‘rulership’, mediocrity is erected as the norm! The immediate consequence of mediocrity is … lack of synergies and positive results.

Why is it that some countries, in Asia for instance, that were as underdeveloped as African countries in the 1950’s and 1960’s have succeeded to develop, through industrialization? In some of these countries, power is also confiscated by an elite – or by ‘rulers’. However, this elite has a “vision” and works at materializing the vision for the benefit of the entire country. At the end of the day, people want to see positive changes (even if they can emanate from a ruler – as long as he has a good vision). This is probably the reason why China has now industrialized and has become one of the most powerful nations in the world!

Now, are there more rulers or more leaders in Africa? I assuredly don’t know the answer! However, what we all know for certain is that African countries are underdeveloped and unindustrialized. It is aberrant to have a continent endowed with abundant natural resources that cannot even extract and transform them locally! A continent that keeps on importing its food, its cars, its trains, etc. A continent that depends on the rest of the world for its ‘survival’! The point is: there can’t be a rigorous industrialization plan at the continental level if ‘decision-makers’ do not lead accordingly! In other words, an industrial ecosystem at the continental level can only materialize if those who are at the top fully commit to the [vision]!

In a rapidly changing world, with technological breakthroughs occurring almost every day, what has Africa really achieved? What is the contribution of Africans in science and technology worldwide? The answer should obviously be: not much (if not nothing). Yet, the reality is more complex than it appears in the first place. Indeed, there are lots of Africans who have migrated to the Western World and Asia who have had an immense impact in science and technology.

Cyprian Emeka Uzoh and Kunle Olukotun are, for instance, examples of Africans who have played a major role in electronics and computer science! They are both based in the United States of America. Why aren’t they based in Africa or in Nigeria – their country of origin? May be in Nigeria they would have not had the opportunities offered by the United States of America!

Thus, the vision should be to have Africans trained in modern schools and universities in Africa so that they are “positively trapped” in the industrial ecosystem. This means trusting Africans because they are competent and have talent. Most leaders (and only a few rulers) can really trust and value the genius of their peers. And this is one of the key attitudes to foster massive and high quality “made in Africa” products/equipment by Africans. Leadership is, therefore, a state of mind at the highest level that transpires in the leader’s daily attitude; a leader who has the ability to foresee, if not to see, the future almost ahead of his contemporaries.

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Lenda Rudy Massamba
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