Kigali, 09 February 2011

“Pride, self belief and striving towards being the best we can be should be central to all our work,” President Kagame told the audience attending the panel of prominent African leaders hosted by the African Capacity Building Forum. The ACBF African Heads of State Forum was moderated by Rahel Kassahun and brought together President Paul Kagame, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Prime Minister Gilbert Houngbo, the Managing Director of the World Bank, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and the African Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka. The theme addressed by this panel was not simply capacity as a technical term but sustainable human capacity at the individual and institutional level. Each speaker spoke of the need for the focus of capacity to extend beyond political and economic elites and beyond technical skills to allow for the kind of development where accountability is central and citizens are participating in the successful planning and implementation of transformational policies.

Panelists’ vision for Africa’s capacity building went further than today as they expressed the need to prepare for where Africa will be in the next twenty years. Citing examples such as the MDGs or the negotiation of natural resources contract, it was clear that every leader was confident that the 21st century is Africa’s time. As Dr. Donald Kaberuka explained, the resilience that countries have shown in the face of the financial and energy crisis leave no doubt that “Africa is on the run.” Citing the Seoul Consensus, he added that today African nations are in the driving seat – it is no longer about following blueprints of development for African nations because they have said: “We know where we are, where we want to go and it is time to follow our own path.” Prime Minister Raila Odinga added that with the encouragement of youth entrepreneurship, Africa will take its rightful place on the globe.

Answering the recurring question of why so much goes wrong in Africa, Dr. Ngozi said that the focus has to change from enumerating the negative aspects of Africa to learning from what has been done right. She also stressed the importance of a delivery-oriented mindset, adding that African nations should not only speak of lack or resources but also ask themselves: “What have we delivered for what we have?”