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Annan says Africa's economic growth depends on it's leadership

posted 6 May 2011, 12:44 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 6 May 2011, 12:46 ]

Former U.N Secretary General Kofi Annan warns rapid economic growth on the African continent may be squandered away due to poor governance and African leaders clinging onto power instead of developing their economies.

Former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Thursday (May 05) Africa needs strong leadership for the region's economic growth to benefit it's people.

He said creating employment needed to get more attention from governments.

Annan was discussing the Africa Progress Report at the second day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Cape Town, South Africa.

"We need to be concerned about the issue of growth and development but the development side of the equation and also employment. I think governments not just in Africa but generally, when they are looking at economic plans tend to focus on GDP, interest rates and inflation rates but I don't think they often sit back and ask themselves what is it going to do for employment, how many jobs are we going to create for young people and I think that issue should be part of every governmental discussion and plans, otherwise we are going to have very serious problems and I hope governments will bear that in mind," he said.

Annan also said that without democracy the continent would not grow to its potential and that Africans should hold their leaders to that.

"Democratic rotation of leadership must work and if it doesn't the people are going to maintain the heat on the leaders. I've always said that leaders have to lead and when they fail to lead the people can make them follow and the people are beginning to understand this and they realise that the power evolves from them," he said.

"I do not understand how certain individuals believe that they can go on forever, twenty, thirty, forty years. If you are a monarch, it's something else but to think you can go on like that without need for everybody, in a way it's extreme arrogance for one to think ... he or she and its usually he, is the only one who can do it, who can lead the country and its nobody else and if I leave, what happens, they'll be surprised. Incredible dramatic, positive things happen when they leave," said Annan.

Annan said he is confident Africa's recovery is positive with a continental growth of 5.5 percent in 2011, but conflict will delay the development of some of the most promising economies.

"But there is no doubt that as a continent we need to do everything we can to stop the civil conflicts, the wars that has defaced this continent, that has distracted us from the serious efforts of economic and social development," said Annan.

Annan leads the Africa Progress Report panel with Sir Bob Geldof and the wife of Nelson Mandela, Graca Machel.

The report measures the progress made by African countries in economic and political governance.