The major paradigm shift implicit in global governance has introduced the need for reconsideration of the nature of the mechanisms through which the human factor in Africa can be deployed and used to maximise its benefit to Africa and its peoples. For many years already, the region has tried to break free of the vicious circle engendered by absolute poverty, with all that it entails. Breaking this vicious circle calls for pragmatic leaders. This chapter addresses the nature and several dimensions of the leadership required, in the framework of an overall effort to upgrade the human factor and human resources management in public service reform.
The chapter forcefully argues that only sustainable leadership can be effective, in Africa or elsewhere. Such leadership is borne of respect for continuity, constitutional propriety and respect for the rule of law. It is also the type of leadership which corresponds most closely to the African context and cultures. Perhaps more than all else, it is leadership that creates and sustains legitimacy on the operational level by bringing to light, forcefully, the close interdependencies between the several layers of governance: local, district, national, regional and inter-regional.
Today, the structures and processes of governance foster and sustain strong linkages and networks among these various levels, as well as between the public and private sectors and civil society agencies. These call for knowledge, skills, capacities, values and attitudes, which greatly add to the role, the meaning and importance of the human factor. They bring into sharp relief values like accountability, transparency, integrity, respect for diversity, public service professionalism and self-denial. Observable shortfalls in these overarching values have greatly complicated the needed task of building social capital in Africa, as well as making Africa a significant player, with a voice in the international counsels.
The transformation needed to make up for lost time and bridge the development gap with much of the rest of the world calls for special leadership qualities, which this chapter analyses. They include integrative ability, entrepreneurial ability, administrative ability and operative ability. Examples may be found in the persons of Nelson Mandela and Julius Nyerere. They show the virtue and need of well-balanced individuals with the appropriate mix of qualities and skills, but all wrapped in a sound character and honest personality.
Without forgetting the past, we need to look to the future and look to pragmatic solutions in addressing the problems at hand. Though braindrain is a problem for most developing countries, a lot more can be accomplished by sharpening the focus, upgrading the capacities and reinforcing networks among the African institutes, which have been tasked with building future leaders and with generally raising the quality of the human resources in Africa. The chapter makes the point that public sector reform in Africa has suffered from three historic faults. One is the failure to upgrade the role of human resources management and turn it into a strategic partner in public service reform. The second is the failure to make much better use of Institutes and Universities, whose task has been the training and development of future leaders. Last but not least, is the failure to move with the times. Still too few of the programmes of training of public servants encompass global concerns or look to building capacities on issues of global governance and leadership. The challenges of globalisation make new and greater demands on the human factor globally. It is a fitting subject for further exchanges and study under IIAS auspices.