Africans, Let Down by Their Leaders

Jun 22 , 2019
By Eden Sahle

Even in the 21st century, poverty, massive human rights abuse, political unrest, nepotism, conflict, internal displacement and migration are highly associated with Africa. Leaders in Africa have failed to create equal opportunities for their citizens. The lack of sustainable order is making Africa a dysfunctional continent in so many ways.

Risking lives in search of better options has become the norm for many young Africans. Illegal entry, bogus marriages, overstaying temporary visas to abuse of asylum systems have become synonymous with Africans. Many get involved in fraudulent actions just to be able to live in a developed nation with hopes of making a decent living and a promising future. This is because they have given up on getting any of that in their own countries.

Although the nature and intensity of the problems vary in each country, the crisis is generally characterised by gross human rights abuses, unaccountability of leaders, lingering conflicts and persistently poor economic progress. These leave many no option but to flee.

Unfortunately, African lives have been reduced to death while trying to get the most basic things in life. Hearing about illegal African migrants has become so common that we all have come to believe it is a normal part of African life. Nonetheless, the damage is massive.

No one has crafted a successful way out of this madness where people perish in the deserts and oceans. Even in countries with comparatively better economies such as South Africa, migrants from poor African countries get abused.

In a park in a European city a while back, I met a charming older lady. She was very friendly and asked me many things about my personal life. When I mentioned that I live in Ethiopia, her face suddenly changed. She was unapologetic when she spoke her heart out saying Africa is a place where there is no value to human life. Although she has never been to Africa, sadly, she has a point identifying one of our core problems. One of the biggest crises we face on a daily basis living in Africa is the lack of respect for human life.

Lack of respect for human dignity and no valid strategies for economic development are being reflected in the increasing number of African migrants. The migration is not just across borders either. Due to extremely limited options, stagnant economic progress and vague prospects in their own villages, many rural people migrate to urban areas.

This deepening problem of internal migration is evident in Addis Abeba. A staggeringly large number of rural people are coming in droves to the capital where job opportunities and better living standards are non-existent, especially for those who travel a long way in search of options. Rather, they are met by a city whose infrastructure is overburdened beyond its limits.

Urban populations abuse those who come from rural areas as they have to share limited resources and opportunities. This horrible relationship is exacerbated by unstable economic conditions and ethnic rivalries. It is these situations that drag Africa away from any kind of economic and social development.

What is unchanging in African countries is the tremendous letdown by leaders who do not know how to bring economic development that can be felt by the entire public. This is the tragedy that made the rich continent to remain poor mainly due to the endless leadership problems and corruption.

The dissatisfaction of the public by African leadership and high level of poverty is simply the failure of governments to initiate and drive economic development. African governments' lack of ideas and dependence on aid continues to disappoint everyone who is living in Africa and observing the continent from afar. African governments reliance on foreign assistance and their inability to bring sustainable economic development have crippled the society and Africa’s hope for prosperity.

It has become an awful pattern for African governments to neglect their responsibility to serve their communities by failing to create opportunities that allow their people to thrive and build their country.

Effective and practical good governance is crucial, as it will encourage progress and trust by the public. Having effective development policies and executing them can revive the continent. But ignoring problems could have deeply troubling implications, keeping the continent in an endless cycle of poverty.

Nation building is a consistent and deliberate initiative that requires active engagement and inclusivity of all citizens. The continent must wake up and harness its demographic dividend to build a strong and prosperous Africa.

In a globalised world, it's about time for Africa to be connected and allow for a free flow of commodities and currency across national boundaries. African leaders must think out of the box and give up their heavy reliance on remittance and come up with other options such as improving the quality of production and value of exports.

The continent’s people deserve leaders with a remarkable vision, courage, integrity, humility and focus, along with the ability to plan strategically and catalyse economic development to solve the continent’s immense problems. They need leaders who live up to their promise and are accountable for the office.

PUBLISHED ON Jun 22,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 999]

Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied law with a focus on international economic law. She can be reached at

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