Event Review: The Rise of Africa

The Rise of Africa: An International Conference on New Strategies and Approaches to Governance and Sustainable Development in Africa
(Berlin, 21st – 23rd January 2010)

Forum Report

The three-day Conference »Rise of Africa: A Forum for Young Leaders’ took place in Berlin from the 21st to 23rd of January 2010. The forum focused on the following topics: Africa's challenges and opportunities in meeting the Millennium Development Goals, with a particular focus on climate change, political and economic stability, and sustainable development; African markets as a target for foreign investment, and the impact of such investment on African development. Cameroon will be considered as a case study. The involvement of international organizations and corporations in Africa and their influence on the continent's development and economy; and the importance of cultural diplomacy and soft power in strengthening relations between African nations and within the nations themselves. Forum speakers included leading figures in current European and African political circles, members of academia, individuals from the non-profit sector, and members.

Forum Speakers

Ambassador Abdulkadir Bin Rimdap (Ambassador of Nigeria to Germany)
Prof. Dr. Berit Sandberg (Professor, Public and Nonprofit Management  Hochschule für Tecnik und Wirtschaft Berlin)
Burkhard Hinz (Regional Director East Africa for the KfW Development Bank)
Eshete Tilahum (Political Counsellor Embassy of Ethiopia in Germany)
Heiko Schwiederowski (Head of the Africa and Development Policy Department of the DIHK - Deutscher Industrie und Handelskammertag e. V)
Prince Immanuel Ben Yehuda (African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem)
Sir James R. Mancham (Founding President of the Republic of Seychelles)
Ambassador Dr. Makase Nyaphisi (Ambassador of Lesotho to Germany)
Dr. Patrick Hart (Director of the British Council Germany)
Dr. Peter Eigen (Chairman of Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, founder and Chair of the Advisory Council of Transparency International)


  • ICD House of Arts and Culture
  • East Side Gallery
  • Potsdamer Platz

Summary of Events

Thursday, 21 January 2010: The conference started with lectures introducing the topic of cultural diplomacy and New Strategies and Approaches to Governance and Sustainable Development in Africa, and the costs and benefits of aid versus the development strategies of trade on the African continent. The participants also took insight from Ambassador Nyaphisi on how cultural diplomacy can aid in the development of Lesotho and the Southern African community in general.

Friday, 22 January 2010: The second day of the Rise of Africa focused specifically on internal African Issues, such as corruption and Foreign Direct Investment. A highlight of the day was Transparency International founder Dr. Peter Eigen’s speech; it focused on the need for good governance in order to spur development in Africa.

Saturday, 23 January 2010: The final speeches of the conference solidified the importance of cultural diplomacy as a tool to enable trust between nations and peoples, often bringing them together in development. A Leadership Initiative Workshop followed the closing speeches, where the young leaders were given the opportunity to present their ideas for future initiatives to foster sustainable development in Africa. The lasting effect of this workshop was to create a network of young leaders to inspire inter-cultural dialogue.

Thursday 21st of January 2010

"An International Conference on New Strategies and Approaches to Governance and Sustainable Development in Africa"

Sir James R. Mancham
  • Africa is a great continent, with a rich and varied history. However the continent is facing many challenges, such as religious contention, crime, piracy, failed states, and the wave of militarisation after independence.
  • When European nations gave away part of their national sovereignty in order to create a common market and later the European community, African countries realised that they too must get together to counteract the power of the common market, and face the rest of the world on a more equal footing.
  • However the charter of the Organisation of the African Union had many clauses which were not in the best interest of Africa. The principals of sovereignty and non-interferance in internal affairs were not respected by the powerful countries while it was respected in the case of civil unrest in weaker states, which needed assistance.
  • After independence, many African nations instead of progressing went backward. Although the continent has made tremendous achievements, Africa must aspire to responsible and informed leadership to consolidate these changes. Many countries are experiencing sustained economic growth and development, economic reforms, industry development, but inequality of economic growth persists.
  • Africa needs trade, not aid. The perpetuation of the notion that Africa needs aid is not working. However, the young people of Africa are rising up to the challenge. The continent must be wise and must be respected by the international community. These changes can occur if nations get rid of corruption.

"Aid vs Trade? Sustainable Development in Africa"

Burkhardt Hinz
  • Africa has made progress in terms of social development, such as with the number of people involved in education and the rarer occurrence of coup d’etat. Generally, its development status has improved. However other indicators such as child mortality and corruption in the democratic process are still important challenges.
  • Africa is very rich in resources, but its products remain oriented towards exports, for example cotton. The conditions for investment in the diversification of production an industry must be met: such as peace, security, stability, freedom and rights. Only then can Africa’s potential be mobilized towards social and economic development through the optimisation of its competitive advantage in the framework of globalisation and free trade.
  • Foreign investment must be directed towards reducing crime, improving the political system and ensuring qualified staff in the civil service. For example, China is a great investor in Africa, but the question of whether the benefits are efficiently used.
  • Several tasks remain to be undertaken, such as the stimulation of the African private and financial sectors, investment in infrastructure and human capital, with the poorest as the primary target.
  • The main objectives are the reduction of dependency on foreign capital, and the increase in national public funds.  Africa has already made good progress in political and economic integration, as well as the development of regional projects for transport and communication.

"Nigeria’s Role in Building a United and Sustainable African Continent"

Ambassador Abdulkadir Bin Rimdap
  • Poverty, disease, injustice, violence, forced migration, corruption, wars, a lack of governance, human rights violations and a lack of accountability are ongoing barriers to Africa’s development.
  • Nigeria has the same structure as the U.S., with local level governments, which allow for the people to have a sense of belonging. This structure also fosters grass roots governance. Resources are redistributed between the local constituencies so that the whole country develops equally.
  • Nigeria also has a large number of universities and colleges, and has become a highly educated country despite its pockets of poverty. Since 1999, it also has a democratic government which carries out policies for the fiscal management of resources through democratic means.
  • There is a longstanding impression that Africa has failed to attract foreign investment. The Nigerian government has set in place investment promotion measures in order to create a safe and attractive environment for foreign businesses. There are also many schemes to engage foreign companies to respect principles of corporate social responsibility, notably in terms of environmental degradation.
  • It seems as though there is a new scramble for Africa, in terms of its markets and resources. Africa has risen but it needs effective collaboration with the rest of the world, notably in the sharing of knowledge and information.  Europe should not lag behind in the scramble for Africa, while China must positively engage further in the continent’s social development.

"The Potential of Cultural Diplomacy to Assist in the Development of Lesotho, SADC, and Beyond"

Ambassador Dr. Makase Nyaphisi
  • SADC’s aim is to create a consensus on how its member countries should approach their common challenges. African countries must group together in order to understand each other and discuss common strategies.
  • Governments have a major role to play, but communities and individuals also play a tremendous part in elaborating a common vision and integrated solutions.
  • Even though SADC’s countries are different, they share five challenges that are paramount to improving the quality of life of their people: governmental, economic and corporate good governance, integration and development, the fight against H.I.V./aids, women empowerment and private sector development.
  • The exchange of views and opinions towards finding global solutions is the essence of cultural diplomacy. It is a good vehicle to break the ice and overcome the causes that have in the past led to the deterioration of relations between countries. 
  • Diplomacy is a powerful tool and offers a mechanism for dialogue. It helps to solve differences peacefully and builds up trust, respect and tolerance on a win-win basis.

"Africa in the Middle: The New Scramble Africa" (Panel Discussion)

Ambassador Dr. Makase Nyaphisi, Ambassador Abdulkadir Bin Rimdap, Sir James R. Mancham, Burkhardt Hinz
  • After the fall of the Berlin wall, there was a shift in the political outlook in Europe but also in Africa. Africa came to realise that socialism and communism were just a façade for the SSR. This represented a tremendous shock for African countries that had been using these social and economic systems for their development goals. Their strategies were bound to fail. They were left alone and had to make a choice of whether to abandon the system, and consider alternatives and different systems altogether.
  • The end of the Cold War also meant the shift from a bipolar to a multipolar world, with many implications for Africa. Capitalism now prevails and the United States tends to act unilaterally in the continent. It has marginalised the bargaining position of African nations in the international arena.
  • The impact and legacy of colonisation must also be borne in mind when we consider Africa’s rise. The issue of ownership of African resources for example has tremendous implications for the economic development of African nations.
  • Africa is rich in resources, which has brought about a scramble between the world’s biggest economic powers. This scramble has brought about many challenges but also opportunities. If Africa takes control of its development, it should soon become a major international  economic player.
  • However, Africa is faced with a dilemma: what is the main development priority, the prevalence of democracy or the eradication of poverty?
  • The different African organisations and communities can learn many lessons from the creation and development of the European Union. Each and every country is unique and important. Every member’s rights and national laws must be respected, and this is what will make an union strong.
  • If Africa organises itself into an inclusive union, the different resources and expertise of all the countries put together will help bridge the gaps between different cultures.
  •  Europe was built thanks to the leadership of France and Germany. Indeed, leadership and statesmanship are pivotal in order for a union to rise above the level of pure politics. All countries must be ready to make sacrifices and compromise.
  • Africa can gain from assessing and comparing its efforts to the experiences of other countries. However it must establish its own system, and elaborate common standards built on its own cultures and histories. No hidden agendas must come in the way of a cooperative and effective regional organisation.
  • Africa is moving forward and is on the right track. There is strong potential and determination throughout the continent. It is experiencing a new awaking, finally settling down after having gone backward following the era of independence.

Friday 22nd of January 2010

»Non-Profit Management and Public Governance in Africa’

Prof. Dr. Berit Sandberg
  • Since the 1980s, the “new public management concept” has been embraced in theory and practice internationally.
  • With increasing pressure from shrinking budgets, international competitiveness and the public’s hostility towards the government apparatus, this concept became very attractive.
  • New public management is a set of administrative doctrines borrowed from the private sector. It represents a new paradigm, which sees the public sector managed as much like the private sector as possible., Emphasising efficiency, it uses the market as a model for political and administrative strategies. It is based on competition and aims to create an environment that encourages civil society and private sector activity.
  • In the 1990s, the lack of transparency and the consequences of corruption led to the adoption of these strategies which focused on decentralisation and privatisation. However, these reforms have failed in most countries in Africa.
  • Unstable countries remain due to factors such as corruption, lack of efficiency, accountability, and market failures. Capacity building of the institutions is the first step required for these measures to be successful. Also, different administrative cultures and legacies must be taken into account so that each country can develop a strategy adapted to its needs and circumstances.

"The Next Generation of Africa"

Dr. Patrick Hart
  • Most stories about Africa today are negative, highlighting trade and financial dependencies, pandemics and ineffective bureaucracy. Can we really talk about the rise of Africa? However we can also identify many positive developments, full of potential and possibilities. For example, the emergence of new power relationships which are in the process of breaking away from historical tendencies towards inequality and asymmetry.
  • Actors around the world and in Africa are no longer just nation states or governments. New entities such as private businesses, the media, NGOs, formal and informal international institutions, shape the actions of states that can no longer act outside of this new context.
  • The British Council has been working with young and older African leaders through a “interaction transformation leadership program” and youth leadership initiatives to promote responsible and good governance. The aim is to develop appropriate approaches to Africa’s development by learning from past mistakes.
  • Africa has seen the rise of the use of mobile phones, internet, social networking sites, and entrepreneurial/start up internet sites. This encourages peer learning, support and exposure of Africa’s young population, rather than engaging the elite only. The identity of the younger generation is increasingly shaped by digital media.
  • As most of Africa’s population is under thirty, these new technologies matter greatly as they offer a way for the “now” generations to be heard and taken into account, as well as be active themselves, in Africa’s development.

"Transparency, Trade, and Global Governance in Africa"

Dr. Peter Eigen
  • Governance is the key to Africa’s development. The lack of transparency and systematic corruption, not only in Africa but for Africa by the West, is the cause of Africa’s underdevelopment, social unrest and generations of misery.
  • Global governance seems to have failed for Africa. For example, the World Bank has also suffered from corruption and has put in place many biased and unsuccessful projects.
  • Transparency International’s main objective is to fix the issue of corruption, bribery and institutionalised corruption, which have perverted economic decision-making and led to the failure of many development initiatives.
  • Africa has put in place several initiatives for its countries to monitor each other and learn from each other’s experiences and expertise, such as NEPAD and the APRM.
  • Private companies  increasingly need to be monitored and take responsibility in their activities on the African continent. African civil society also faces many challenges: the must become more independent financially and need to mobilise their people, they must not be modeled on the flawed examples of northern civil society organisation and focus on grassroots strategies. Finally, they must work towards becoming more competent and professional and have to have proper governance themselves.

"Good Governance, Aid vs. Trade and the Role of the Private Sector in Securing Africa’s Future Success" (Panel Discussion)

Dr. Peter Eigen, Heiko Schwiederowski, Dr. Patrick Hart, Sir James R. Mancham, Eshete Tilahum
  • The competence and integrity of the civil service are essential in African countries. High payment of workers in the civil service is important as it will avoid corruption and the brain drain of competent people to the private sector. However they must remain highly monitored, and must not be over-paid, as generally it is the richest that are the most corrupt.
  • An emphasis on good morality, values and standards, is essential. Leaders must be identified, those with potential and the capacity to advance the development vision and surround themselves with competent people to implement it.
  • The issues of health, the empowerment of women, education are also an integral part of Africa’s development. These objectives must not be ignored in the face of too much focus on corruption and are integrated in a serious agenda within the Africa Union.
  • Developed countries of the West have used the democratic paradigm and framework to impose their values, culture and institutions on Africa, ignoring its history and internal structures. Many African leaders are not ready to hand over power through democratic elections. Due to the repercussions their past activities might have and the advantages of being a leader, they are likely to use resources to stay in power rather than to bring social progress for their people.  A strong effort towards universal education and pressure of the international political playground will hopefully change these pervasive cycles.
  • The African diaspora is frustrated by the negative image that the media paints of their home continent. The media must equally report on positive developments in order to encourage pride and hope for Africa’s future and engage the diasporic community in its efforts.
  • This negative image is really hurting Africa, not least in terms of foreign investment and its reputation in the international sphere. African nations have great potential for investment and industrial/economic activities that must be recognised and utilized for the purpose of development.
  • Regional integration within the continent is on the rise. Goods and people start to move within Africa, which will also enhance the betterment of the standard of living. Human capital is also improving and Africa has a lot to contribute to the world.
  • We can identify several positive developments in Africa, and many areas of integrity and leadership that can inspire the African youth and engage the diaspora. We must not resign from Africa but fight for a better Africa. There have recently been more democratic elections as well as internal efforts to fight corruption through agreements that have been drafted, signed and ratified by the members of the African union.
  • Transnational corporations and the Western private sector must also be more systematically monitored. In Germany for example, private corruption is now prosecuted which is a tremendous advantage for Africa, as now German businesses have responsibilities for the resources they invest in the continent.
  • The interference of Western powers in Africa’s internal affairs is not helping African citizens and will be unproductive in terms of development. The NGO network is now an industry, which also offers possibilities for corruption. New frameworks have been put in place to monitor their sources of funding and governance structures.

Saturday 23rd of January 2010

"Building Africa Together: The Role of the Diaspora in the Development of Africa"

Prince Immanuel Ben Yehuda
  • The African Hebrew Development Initiative aims to develop an inclusive framework to create sustainable development projects built on harmony between human communities and their environment.
  • Their development projects also focus greatly on water, as it is the centre of human life and is one of the biggest issues for the African continent.
  • Life style diseases, such as obesity and high blood pressure, are proliferating at alarming rate around the globe. Bad health is a great hindrance to Africa’s development so the AHDI has elaborated codes of conduct for its community to ensure regular activity and healthy daily lives.
  • Organic agriculture is also essential. Although it is less profitable than the way agribusiness and intensive agriculture go about producing food, it is of pivotal importance to provide access to food of the highest quality for the African people. Ultimately, a healthy population will be more productive and be able to participate in the development process actively.
  • These projects are an example of how small scale communities can establish sustainable strategies to combat climate change, prevent disease and enable people to take agency and change their surroundings towards Africa’s rebirth.