Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Horn of Africa- the New Perspective (in the eyes of IGAD Chief)

HORN OF AFRICA: IGAD chief interviewed on humanitarian, political challenges

Photo: IGAD
Mahboub M. Maalim, executive secretary of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development
DJIBOUTI, 1 February 2011 (IRIN) - The Horn of Africa is facing huge humanitarian and political challenges, but according to Mahboub M. Maalim, executive secretary of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the region is coping. He spoke to IRIN in Djibouti. 

Q: A severe drought is ravaging the region. What is IGAD doing to help member states mitigate humanitarian suffering? 

A: Member states like to do drought management and response on their own. This time we are teaming up with the UN to have a UN-and-IGAD-led regional process. There is a new UN resident coordinator here, and we will take the central role in trying to have a regional outlook to the drought response mechanism. 


Q: With the just concluded referendum in Southern Sudan likely to lead to an independent new African state, what will this mean for the organization? 

A: It means looking after an extra member. We hope that because of the work we have done on the Sudan peace process, the Southern Sudanese would-be government would recognize the importance of becoming part of the IGAD fraternity. Secondly, [it is important] to give capacity-building backing to the new government. This includes civil servants that could be seconded from member states, developing strategic plans for them, looking at infrastructure systems and sensitizing the international community to work with the new state. 

Q: What are your concerns about the post-referendum period? We have already seen hostilities in Abyei; are you confident that successful negotiations can be held on the key issues? 

A: Successful negotiations will be held on key issues. President Hassan Omar Al Bashir has been very categorical and consistent; he respects preliminary results of the southern referendum. He [Bashir] wants to see this process through. I foresee no problems whatsoever if further negotiation [is] required to dispose of items remaining on the agenda. 

Q: Eritrea has suspended its membership of IGAD. What is the current state of play with the Eritrea-Djibouti and Eritrea-Ethiopia border issues? 

A: Eritrea has renewed its membership of the African Union (AU) and posted an ambassador. An ambassador accredited to the AU is also accredited to all the regional economic communities. These, including IGAD, work under the umbrella of the AU. I see renewed hope that I could probably engage Eritrea through the new ambassador. 

The Djibouti-Eritrea issue is being handled through the Qatari government. The Emir of Qatar has brought the two parties together [and] most probably it is going to end in a fruitful way. 

There has not been any progress regarding the Ethiopia-Eritrea conflict. This [is a] fairly straightforward issue that requires the two principals to sit and discuss. Everybody is talking about what they think is the way forward, but the key is discussion. I call upon the Eritrean leadership to open a window of opportunity to discuss this. 

Q: Eritrea’s position is that the boundary commission ruling was final and binding, and the sides agreed beforehand that they will abide by it, so there is nothing to discuss except to implement the ruling. Should Ethiopia first implement the ruling? 

A: Ethiopia respects the ruling. But the parties must get together and say - yes this the ruling, how do we implement it? Even when a divorce has been granted, you go back to the house to agree what belongs to whom. 

Q: Is there a concern that next year’s election could produce a repeat of the 2008 violence? How important is the ICC (International Criminal Court) process? If those mentioned evade ICC or local trial, what would be the repercussions for security? 

A: We have made a lot of progress since 2008 [when the violence erupted]. However, I think the ICC issue in Kenya, where some very notable personalities have been mentioned and referred to pretrial chambers, if not handled carefully, could lead to panic and further misunderstanding between communities. These are senior leaders in their communities and not everybody accepts or believes their role as is being alleged. 

Some of the names, many Kenyans believe, were basically thrown in. For example, the name of the head of public service, Ambassador Francis Muthaura. Around the time of the violence, I was a permanent secretary and I know the role that Ambassador Muthura played. The sudden appearance of his name has created suspicion that this is more political than judicial. If the ICC and the international community are really concerned about peace and stability in Africa, they must be careful how they use international jurisdiction, so we don’t cause more harm than good. 

Photo: Siegfried Modola/IRIN 
AMISOM troops work under a very difficult situation in Somalia, according to IGAD executive secretary Maalim
Q: A number of IGAD countries have been accused of interfering in Somalia. Does this interfere with peace efforts in Somalia and how does IGAD overcome such a conflict of interest? 

A: There is a very thin line between contributing positively and interfering. When you are a person of good intention and working in the area of your mandate, it is very easy for detractors to say, “Look, you are interfering.” We cannot talk about membership in IGAD and talk about interference by members of IGAD in the Somali affair. 

If it was not for IGAD, the name of Somalia would have disappeared from the international radar by now. It is in the interest of Somalia and the Somali people that IGAD as an organization, and its member states, exist and follow up the issues. There is no interference by member states. 

Q: Are you saying that there is no conflict of interest between member states regarding Somalia? 

A: Every member state has its own national interest. This happens in international and diplomatic discussions. However, this is not visible when we make decisions at the summit level. I have not heard of intrigues or skewed decisions that have been made for the Somali people as a result of a specific interest of another member state. 

Q: IGAD has been involved in efforts to find peace in Somalia since 2002, but seems to have taken a low profile lately. What is IGAD’s role now? 

A: I don’t agree [because] IGAD is quite active. We have stepped up the international nature of the peace process in Somalia. That is why the UN Security Council has approved the scaling up of troops in Somalia and why there is high level UN representation in Nairobi. When you have many high level actors who have come as a result of your invitation, you work alongside them. 

Q: How would you rate the effectiveness of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the mission's prospects for 2011? 

A: Excellent. They work under a very difficult situation, where collaboration is not possible and the command structure between themselves and Somali government forces is not harmonized. But [it has] managed to keep its core mandate to protect and defend the TFG [Transitional Federal Government] and major installations. 

Their mandate is limited. They have been deployed there on a peacekeeping mandate. We have recommended to the UN that it change the mandate to peace enforcement. Until that is allowed, we cannot talk about whether they can seize ground [from the opposition]. 

On the prospects for 2011, the transitional charter is ending in August. Everybody is concerned. There has been a lot of apportioning of blame within the transitional institutions [parliament and the executive]. They have not been best of friends. We think that has adversely affected the desired output. 

Q: What should the UN and the international community do to find a lasting solution to the Somalia crisis? 

A: Listen to IGAD [because] member states are neighbours of Somalia. It is in the interest of IGAD members that there is a permanent settlement in Somalia. Therefore, they should listen to pronouncements of IGAD and give some weight to that. That has not been the case. 

There are several pronouncements we have made that have not even found themselves on the agenda of the Security Council. I would like the international community to meet their pledges to Somalia. There is no point sitting in international conferences halls making a pledge which does not translate into assistance. 

The UN groups who are holed up in Nairobi [should] decentralize and hold their officials accountable in terms of moneys being used, and be convinced that some of the resources are being translated into tangible deliverables on the ground. I would like the international community to compare the huge sums of money they are using to keep these ships on the high seas off Somalia in the name of fighting piracy, and the little money required to start on land [anti-] piracy programmes. 

Q: Somalia is affected by the drought. Given the fact that most of the country is under the control of the opposition Al-Shabab group, what can IGAD do to secure greater humanitarian access to the vulnerable communities? 

A: The humanitarian issue in Somalia is a serious problem. Unfortunately, it is not number one on the agenda. What we find in the international headlines are the number of people killed, the bombs, booby traps and all the other issues with political dimensions. 

It is unfortunate that a number of humanitarian agencies that have been doing good work, even before the drought, have been chased away and are not operational. IGAD would want to pursue this with Somali defence forces and AMISOM to see how the military capacity on the ground, including friendly forces like those from Ahlu Suna Wal Jama, can create a humanitarian corridor. 

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

Friday, December 24, 2010

Wise people learn from the mistakes of others, clever ones from the own and fools continue to repeat the same mistakes, and live in abject poverty and misery.

This is the time of Christmas, family get together and the season when the desire to make progress towards peace on earth at individual and collective level. Takes a special meaning.
Peace is not the mere absence of war, distress and terror but the desire to work towards creating an environment for responding to the challenges and opportunities for peace, security and prosperity.
At the outset, I would like to declare that  I am for sustainable security, good governance, and progressive prosperity for all.

All our activities,  be it at spiritual, emotional, psychological, social, physical and intellectual level, should have the deliberations and  integrity for sustainable security, good governance and progressive prosperity.  That means deliberations and consultations and effective scientific and spiritual decision-making process,  worthy of a  wise people, stable nation  and the oldest civilization on earth.
When short cuts or activities emerge that do not match or respect our multicultural, diverse history, potential,  and sense of justice and integrity,  we need to speak up.

The issue is about the integrity of the process of dialogue, the agenda, the mechanism for seeking the truth, facts and the proportional response be it remorse, penance, reparations, forgiveness and eventual reconciliation, etc.

It does not matter if that the threatening proposal comes from a military junta, peasant rebels or so called latent spiritual or religious leadership or well meaning spiritual fathers, etc .  We need to deliberate, take our time and challenge it with dignity, intelligence that is supported  with qualitative and quantitative analysis of its impact in the immediate, short and long term of our individual and collective sustainable security, good governance and progressive prosperity.

Remember: We had forty years so far, what is the rush for now?
I  believe the nations’ security, health and well being is not just  the mere absence of sickness , crime or disease, spiritual and temporal chaos,  but the positive deliberative promotion of our spiritual, psychological, social and physical wellbeing and individual at collective level.

The recent call for action or rather campaign for the forgiveness of the Derg Criminals has created a series of stress, concern and frustrations among the Ethiopian people at home and Diaspora.
Why deliberate in secret for two years and now rush for a 30 days marathon of forgiveness and new assumed renaissance?
We need to be deliberative, consultative in studying the past, analyzing the present and chartering a better future.

We are all spiritual, emotional, psychological, social and   physical beings who need to have a holistic and integrated approach to all our activities and decisions.  Especially after some forty years of chaos and terror.

Wise people forgive but do not forget, yes, they remember to trust but ensure to verify similar errors will not be repeated again in the future too! At the end of the day, it is balance of trust, security and verification of the due process is in place so that similar errors do not recur.
Some of us will be fast to forgive, others deliberative looking for assurances of integrity, honesty and most of all planned positive outcomes.

We need to take every one together and not be judgmental in our deliberations! We need to respect those who question motives and process!
The recent spiritual call, social campaign and declarations of renaissance based on forgiving the military junta that killed a generations is worth examining carefully regardless of its good intentions its ramifications and potential short and long term implications.

We just managed to show the world, that we are capable of recovering from such genocide by holding the fifth conference on the forum of federalism based on the unique balance of multi-culturalism, devolution of power to states and respecting the diversity in unity of our people. We did not ask for the permission of the perpetrators of the most heinous crime to succeed and why should they demand our immediate forgiveness for their assumed renaissance they could not bring when they were in power.

Our religious leaders need to verify that they will not abandon their responsibilities as they did for the past almost 40 years of chaos!

There was no religious leader to be found to stand up to these same  criminals and now how did they get the courage is my question!  Is this part of the same role they played for the past 17 years acceding to all the demands of the revolutionaries when they cut of the conscious of the nation or a serious attempt to catch up with the fever of renaissance that is being unleashed on  our nation by our gallant sons and daughters!

Are they responding to the Derg (perpetrators) request alone or there are serious request from the victims save the pronouncements of my dear friend Mulugeta Asrate Kassa whose opinion I respect !  Yes, let us forget, but let us get some atonement, penance, reparation and commitment that the past will not be repeated in the future too!

Just imagine if the new set of lieutenants plan another set of genocide like the Generals of Guinbot & tried just a year ago.  Nigeria is the best example of a series of military coup d’├ętats that paralyzed the moral and civil consciousness of the people for decades.
Where are the transparency and accountability and responsiveness to the needs of the victims first?

The legal process of justice for the past 20 years and all the documentation my research has shown does not reveal any has remorse from the criminals!

In fact, their outlets like Ethiomedia, Ethiopian Review have been hosting Mengistu’s memoires and upcoming book that shows no remorse at all.  Forget the then Serto-Ader editors and modern VoA and Netsanet spokespersons of the Derg who continue to sing the old revolutionary songs none stop for the past 20 years in Diaspora.

We have these groups demanding sanction on Ethiopia, and HR2003 is still pending in the Senate and their new recruits of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, American Chronicle and now the new buffoon Thomas Mountain of Iranian Press Review are at it all the time!

It is in  this environment that this Pardon, cum Forgiveness without Justice, Remorse, and atonement is coming our way with 30 days deadline!  Whose program and design is this?  Is this the deliberate will of our people or that of the old military junta leaders who failed in their appeals and court hearings!
I want pardon and forgiveness based on penance and remorse!  Where is the remorse, the truth and acceptance of guilt? Why it took so long and why is it so  secreative and urgent  now?

Let us reason and dialogue with honesty and integrity! 
Most importantly this is not wise!
The issue at hand is our ability to differentiate between justice, pardon, mercy , atonement, reparation, penance, and forgiveness and reconciliation.  Each of these words have a series of events and sequences attached to them.
The most critical issue is who is initiating them, under what conditions and who are involved and who are the active participants and eventual stakeholders.

The plan, process, outcome and result need to be owned by all of us!
The military junta in the person of Mengistu Haile Mariam, unilaterally, without any deliberation and consultation with the stakeholders,  suspended our individual and collective consciousness and took a series of heinous criminal activities for over seventeen years without consulting the legal and moral authorities of our civilization.  Now,  we should not repeat the same.

The current set of proposal seem to be responding to the criminals demand for rehabilitation, rather than the deliberate will of the individual ad collective social, moral and legal authorities of the nation, both at home and in Diaspora.

The process is highly flowed, as it was being deliberated by few people for over two years and these so called leaders did not consult their constituencies in a transparent and accountable and responsive manner for over two years.  It caught every one by surprises, except few people in the know. 

The problem is not only in the content of the message which is a mixture of pleas and campaign and even some form of spiritual and messianic order of things to come.

Every body or the selected few  have barely one month to respond to this and any ways, there are 500 people selected to represent the 500,000 who perished and the reconciliation will go ahead with the declaration of renaissance any way by the end of December 2010.

We have taken almost forty years to come to this why are we in a hurry now?
The process sucks to say the least.  No consultation, preparation and no responsiveness to the feelings of all concerned.  It is not SMART (Specific, Measurable, Appropriate, Realistic and Time Sensitive).

Jesus said…lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil, just after he said, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.   I am for forgiveness but I am concerned about what follows, the temptation to repeat the same mistakes and the lack of delivery from the evil one!......

So, what about sustainable Security, Good Governance and Progressive Prosperity!

These issues need to be addressed at individual, collective level as well as at state and social governance level.  Good governance is about transparency, accountability and responsiveness to the stake holders.

The church, mosque, synagogues, eretchas, abadirs, etetes, etc  need to be deliberative and consultative in all its dealings when it tries to breach the issue of church and state.  The constitution is very clear about the respective role of religion and governance.
The church, mosque and synagogues of Ethiopia have first to apologize themselves as they failed in their spiritual leadership for over 40 years both during the Derg and EPRDF years by not standing up for the truth and for justice.

Now after almost 40 years lapse of leadership they want to exercise their moral and spiritual  authority, and they miss the larger part of consulting with God and their constituencies.

What do the Scriptures say about Pardon, Mercy, atonement, forgiveness and reconciliation.

The most critical ingredient is truth, penance and the insurance or security that our society will never repeat the madness that was initiated by the Derg criminals.
Yes, I want to inherit both the earth and heavens but not in a short cut or via flowed assumptions, but through deliberations, dialogue and reasoning that honors the very God who asks us to forgive so that we are forgiven!

Please do not insult our intelligence that is part of our individual and collective spirituality, morality, and consciousness that demands for transparency, accountability and responsiveness to all our stakeholders.
Spiritual leaders have to be transparent and accountable as well as responsive to their consciousness and faith.
Remember:  Jesus said, Our father who are in heaven, hollowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who tress pass against, lead us not into temptation, deliver us from evil….

I am concerned that we should not be led into the temptation and will loose the ability to be delivered from evil, if he do not deliberate, reason and most of all seek the will of our people, friends and our Divine Universal Connection.
We  have to study the past, understand the present to charter a better future for us all.  That process starts with deliberations, reasoning and collective decision making that takes the interests and future of us all!
Remember: It is worth consulting and deliberating all our citizens, especially those victims who continue to suffer dearly!
In the end, forgiveness, pardon and salvation is a person thing and individual issue, yet it has the ability to bless us all collectively, if done in a way that is transparent, accountable and responsive to our common sense of justice and fairness.
I look forward to learn from your alternative perspective and perceptions.
Thank you

Belai Habte-Jesus , MD, MPH
Global Strategic Enterprises, Inc
703.933.8737; 571.225.5736; efx:202.3188277

We must live for the future, and not for the past or in the past.

Mulugeta Aserate Kassa
15th December 2010

The news that former Derg officials – those who are currently serving life in prison and those in death row - have requested leaders of Ethiopia’s main religions to act as intermediaries in their quest to say sorry to the people of Ethiopia, has been greeted with mixed feelings in Europe and America where thousands of victims of Derg’s nightmarish rule reside, ironically, side by side with those former Derg henchmen who had hunted and hounded Ethiopians. Accordingly, Tehasas 16th (Gregorian Christmas Day) has been pencilled in for the Group of Religious Leaders to make a nation-wide appeal with the hope of securing a consensual agreement to forgive perpetrators of unprecedented heinous crimes. 

It takes a wise Derg to say sorry, and even a wiser Ethiopian to forgive
As a people, seldom have we been confronted with such an emotive issue as this one; primarily because it demands from us a willingness to let go our pent-up feelings of hate, anger and resentment, consent to let bygones be bygones and, most crucially, to give in to a national consensus where the common good is best served. The whole world would be watching how we handle this sensitive issue: are we going to act like responsible citizens of a nation which is at peace with itself and out-South-Africa-South-Africa by forgiving those who committed untold acts of criminality? Or are we going to condemn our nation and people to wallow in an endless cycle of bouts of revenge? Allow me, if you will, therefore, to share you my own experience in forgiveness, so that those who may be shilly-shallying on whether or not to forgive the former Derg members will at least be able to err on the side of caution. I had followed the fate of the former Derg members with rapt attention, and had been present at their major court hearings. I did so because I had filial obligation to witness the outcome of those who had ordered the summary execution of my dear father. Not only that, my mother, myself, my two brothers and two sisters were also made victims of Derg’s misrule as we were imprisoned for 15 years and 9 years respectively. It was during the course of my incarceration, then, that I came to realise the need to forgive – however trying an experience it may be – those who robbed me of a wonderful dad and my invaluable freedom. Forgiveness must be apolitical, as it is not expected to be found in party political manifestoes. It is one of the pillars of one’s faith. 

And it was through my Christian faith that I discovered that my reconciliation with my creator and redeemer was entirely dependent on my willingness to forgive others. It is true that when the former Derg members were sentenced to only life in prison in 2007, I did tell Radio Fana, “This sentence is a mockery of justice and called for the death penalty.” I was not stupefied by a longing for a vendetta when I said what I said at the time, but rather was expressing my desire to see the former Derg members receive the maximum penalty available in Ethiopia’s Penal Code. Besides, I never lost sight of the fact, then, that the mere fact that a death sentence was passed did not necessarily mean that they would be killed, as the President has the prerogative to commute the death sentence. It is also true that I have had run-ins with former ‘kakitocrats’ in London in 2004/2005. This, as I have repeatedly stated at the time, had nothing to do with harbouring grudge, but had everything to do with refusing to kow-tow to the exiled Derg. 

Blessed are the peace makers, for the shall be called the children of God
In July 2007, I had the good fortune and ‘honour’ of being consulted on this particular issue by H.H. Abune Paulos I, Patriarch of Ethiopia. I humbly told His Holiness that firstly I can only speak for myself as I don’t represent anyone else, and secondly I echoed the answer I gave to the BBC’s Addis Ababa correspondent minutes after the life in prison sentence was passed in 2007: “As a Christian I forgive, but as an Ethiopian I don’t forget.” To some – who know not that a gulf exists between to forgive and to forget – this statement of mine may appear conflicting; but the truth remains that it is not an oxymoron. Basically, what our respective religious leaders are asking us now is not – and can not be – to forget our trials and tribulations, as well as to forget our “blood, sweat and tears,” but to forgive for the sake of the common good, for peace and reconciliation. We owe it to Ethiopians who are rearing up to secure growth and transformation. 

Do it, too, for Ethiopia and proclaim to the world “We did it our way!” God Bless Ethiopia

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Good Governance is about changing our individual and collective behavior for good!

Dear Patriotic Global Citizens & Friends of African Union and Greater Ethiopia Without Borders:

Re:  Tony Blair and his Government Work.

I found this interesting story about Tony who wants to preach good governance to Africa and he did not do it while in office as British PM. 

Yes, we honor great ideas and tools for empowering the local population at all cost.

However, AIDs has not had a positive result.  Most Global AID to Africa is not about business, growth and transformation.  It is about keeping new dependencies, that kept Africa in the Dark when Europe utilized Africa's resources to come out of its 1855 Economic Crisis and now the 2010 Economic Crisis is looking to Africa for solutions.

So, we need to critically appraise what the African Governance Interpretative is doing and check if it has access to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other Counter-Intelligence outfits that are seeking to distabilize Africa for a new revolution where millions of our youth will die in the name of new governance initiatives, revolutions and all sorts of Mujahedeens that were unleashed on the Middle East and Africa just some 20 years ago by Jimmy Carter and his polish national Security Advisor.

Africa remembers the 1960s where Mobutu, a millitary thug was encouraged to massacre the bright African leaders and created the African mess for over 50 years.  What is the African Governance Initiative trying to do in Africa.

Our memory of Tony and his intelligent service is not that heartwarming.  The Niger case is in point here.

 Remember the Niger Uranium Story and Sadam Husein and "She is Game" move about the US spy outed by Dick Cheynie Aid, etc that started the new holocaust in the Middle East?

Remember the Africa Initiative that tried to get the crippling debt of Highly indebted African governments?  Just compare that with what is happening at Goldman Sachs, Bernie Madoff and lack of governance at Wall Street, that is sinking the global economy.

Who is responsible for all these malfunctioning governments in Europe (The PIGS) Portugal, Ireland, Greek and Spain: and the good old IMF churning out its conditionalities that sacked the treauries of Latin America, Tiger Countries and Great Old Russia.  Now, the Wall Treat is sinking trillions by the day and Africa cannot afford to be part of this great deregulations!

Africa is the only continent that survived the Financial Meltdown, but who sending all these sufosticated arms and the new religions of "My Prophet is the best vehicle of God" and without him all of you should die business and gives the equipment for the suicides of so many vulnerable poor, perhaps delinquent and mentally ill young boys?

Imagine, if we can treat all these delinquent and rather distrubed young people with some social therpay, instead of giving them guns, bombs and all sorts of suicidal weapons of mass destruction.

Just imagine where the Governance of the Globe and especially Africa will be if Africa is left alone to its Growth and Transformation Agenda.

I believe, Tony should focus on Britain, whose youth will not have a chance to go to university, and then the unemployed masses of Europe.  No more 1855 type Berlin Conference to recolonize Africa with the mantra of Africa needs a new governance!

Yes, Africa needs business, growth and development and not new revolutions like Ivory Coast and Sudan, who will be explotied by all the Gun & Drug Dealers of the world at the expense of our vulnerable children.

Yet, our task to honor Tony for his good will and share our perspective.  This time, Tony, Europe and Britain need you more.  Leave Africa alone to the Growth and Tansformation Agenda!

We need to have an African Agenda developed by Africans and implemented by Africans.  Will the African Governance Imitative allow to do this.  That is at the heart of this comment!

How did Tony succeed at the Quartet in the Middle East.  The recent story from Jerusalem is not that heart warming either.  So, at last what is the qualitative and quantitative advantage of such initiatives? Who is the judge and what is the methodology for transparency and accountability and responsiveness of such initiatives.  Does the African Union evaluate these enterprises?  Who is supervising such great efforts?

Will that happen  ever?  That is the question, please read on.


Tony Blair

Tony Blair

Posted: December 16, 2010 08:46 AM

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As British Prime Minister I trebled aid to Africa. At the 2005 G8 summit we took far-reaching steps in debt cancellation worth more than $100 billion to the poorest African nations. I am immensely proud of what we achieved at Gleneagles: Every day since, the aid given to developing countries has been saving thousands of lives. But I came to recognize that aid alone is not the answer.
The truth is that ultimately Africa's future prosperity lies with the decisions of Africa's leaders. We need leadership that is democratic, accountable and transparent. But in addition, we need leadership that is effective, that can shape plans and deliver policies that will make a difference on the ground.
The problem for many African countries is not the absence of the right vision or the right intentions. It is the simple lack of capacity to achieve them. Government today, even in the West, has often far less to do with ideology, but to do with delivery. The techniques for this are not that different from the private sector -- the right mix of focus; prioritization; capable people and machinery to deliver; performance management and innovative ideas.
This is hard enough for developed nations. It is a vast challenge for African leaders, whose governments very often lack the most basic levers of delivery, the expertise and the know-how.
In the last three years, the charity I set up, the Africa Governance Initiative, has focused on these issues. We bring in dedicated teams of international staff who have worked in government or for leading private sector organizations. They work alongside the leader's office and key government ministries, building capacity to prioritize and get things done. Because the only long-term route out of poverty is economic growth, we make a big thing of helping the governments we work with to attract quality private-sector investment to create jobs and livelihoods. Our staff -- with expertise gained working in the international financial sector -- sit alongside the government and coach them to bargain on equal terms with big multinationals.
Over the past three years, we have been working in three countries -- Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Liberia. In each case, of course, the prime movers are the leaders and their teams. And in each country the results are both deeply impressive and offer real hope for the future. Rwanda was the fastest riser in the World Bank place to do business rankings last year. Sierra Leone has seen Freetown with the lights on, and a 90 percent cut in deaths of children from malaria. Liberia has seen astonishing progress, not least in attracting major private investment, with $16 billion committed in the past four years.
This is all part of the change now happening in Africa. There is still a long way to go. But the feeling of optimism is palpable.
For its part, the international development community needs to find new ways to support, not just exhort, leaders in Africa to do the right thing. The democracy and accountability revolution that has swept across Africa over the last 20 years has done immeasurable good. No leader deserves a blank check. But it is not enough for us to just say that Africa needs more Mandelas and fewer Mobutus.
Instead, the goal must be to create a dynamic where current African leaders can deliver real improvements in the lives of their citizens and where the next generation of leaders -- in some countries the first to grow up under stable, democratic rule -- have models of true public service they can aspire to follow.
What these leaders need is practical support in articulating and delivering on their priorities, so that the donors can align their assistance behind them. That is how we give real substance, not just symbolism, to the idea of "country ownership." Here, the World Bank, USAID and others have been breaking new ground in making the new partnership with Africa, which Barack Obama articulated on his visit to Ghana, a reality.
The development community already invests a great deal in keeping Africa's leaders honest. The question is whether it invests enough in supporting them to succeed. Good leadership is about capacity, not just character.
LIVE WEBCAST: Watch Tony Blair's keynote speech to the Center for Global Development at 10:00 a.m. EST.
Tony Blair was UK Prime Minister from 1997 to 2007, and is Patron of the Africa Governance Initiative (AGI). 'Not Just Aid: How Making Government Work Can Transform Africa' is published by the Center for Global Development.