The African Leadership Forum, an initiative by H.E Excellency Benjamin William Mkapa, former President of Tanzania, supported by UONGOZI Institute, was held on July 30th, 2015 in Dar es Salaam.
The event was graced by Uganda’s President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and was also attended by former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, Jerry Rawlings of Ghana, Bakili Muluzi of Malawi, Festus Mogae of Botswana and Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia, with the overarching theme of “Moving Towards an Integrated Africa: What needs to be done?”
An integrated continent has been the goal of African countries since the attainment of independence more than 50 years ago. Arguments for speeding up the integration process have been advanced by many, and it is generally agreed that integration would be politically and economically beneficial for Africa – the key challenge is to find a way to make this vision a reality.
In his address, President Museveni illustrated the similarities and linkages between African countries, an essential ingredient for integration, and emphasized the importance of integration for Africa’s prosperity.
“If Africa does not integrate, there is no way we can sustainably ensure our prosperity,” said President Museveni.
He went on to state that economic integration alone is not enough, as strategic security is as much of a priority for Africa as is prosperity, and political integration is key to guaranteeing strategic security – where possible.
Both H.E. Yoweri Museveni’s address and deliberations during the forum highlighted areas that need to be addressed in order to accelerate the integration process. Regional institutions need to be strengthened and empowered; investments in infrastructure need to be made; African resources need to be mobilized to finance the integration agenda; integration should be people centered, and free movement of people within the region should take place; and leaders need to support integration and ensure that the purpose of integration is clearly communicated to their people.
The African Leadership Forum was organized across three major themes: (i) diversity and inequality and how these can pose significant challenges (and opportunities) to integration efforts; (ii) identifying, strengthening, coordinating, and establishing institutions that advance or obstruct African integration and; (iii) global partnerships as Africa undertakes integration measures.