23
Oct

The fourth generation of leaders

Third generation African leaders with US President Barack Obama.

Third generation African leaders with US President Barack Obama.

Post-colonial Africa is in its fourth generation. Over the past few decades, each generation has had a specific role to play: the first generation fought for, and gained, independence from their colonizers. The second generation, marked by greed and corruption, largely destroyed all that the first had fought for. The third—including leaders like Annual Gathering speaker President Paul Kagame of Rwanda—was tasked with cleaning up the mess made by the second.

As the leaders of Africa’s fourth post-independence generation, is up to ALN members to build large-scale prosperity for Africa for the first time in its post-colonial history. Although much remains to be done, Africa is the most stable it has been in decades, thanks to the efforts of Generation 3. Inter- and intra-state conflict is declining, trade is booming, and economies are growing rapidly. In many African countries, reliance on foreign aid is declining while foreign investment is pouring in. Across the continent, people are healthier, better educated, and more connected with each other and the rest of the world than ever.

As the fourth generation of leaders to emerge in post-independence Africa, we will be defined by what we do. When we look at the work that needs to be done in Africa, we believe that the major task still left unfulfilled is the eradication of poverty. This is what none of the previous generations have managed to achieve. We believe that it is up to ALN members to build large-scale prosperity for Africa for the first time in its post-colonial history. This work cannot be done alone: It is not enough for ambitious leaders to come up with grand plans for ways to improve the continent. Collaboration, unity, and mutual respect are essential tools for effecting long-term change, especially in the African context. This is why ALN focuses so strongly on the idea that relationships are key to achieving the goal of African prosperity.

As ALN, we have full faith in this fourth generation: a brilliant and diverse community of innovators, leaders and visionaries. Every day, we as a community are coming up with original and impactful ways of realizing our shared purpose of unlocking Africa’s full potential. It is up to ALN members to continue this progress and move the continent forward. If we don’t do it, who will?

ALN co-founder Fred Swaniker recently gave a TED talk describing these different generations of African leadership. The example he gives of a fourth generation leader — Erick Rajaonary (“Batman”) of Guanomad in Madagascar — is an ALN member and 2013 Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship winner. View the talk here.

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