“Our passion is bigger than our problem…” || 7 takeaways from Adebola Williams’ speech at the ECRG Africa Summit

Adebola Williams, the chief executive officer of RED, on Wednesday, 9 January, 2019 delivered a rousing speech at the  European Conservatives and Reformists Group Africa Summit 2019 where he highlighted the impact of youth culture on socio-economic development and the work of Statecraft Inc., the nation-building company under RED, in advocating for democracy and good governance in Africa.

Speaking on the topic, “Youth Culture as Driver for Democracy and Good Governance,” Williams called out aid and development corruption while urging the European Union and other Western nations to re-examine their approach towards engaging with Africa. He advocated for their support in helping young Africans play active roles in the continent’s democratic experiment.

“Minorities and silent majorities all across Africa are eschewing the white saviour mentality,” Williams said. “For too long, Africans have been victims of their fate and incompetent leaders. Time is up. The crux between good governance and democracy is active citizenship.”

Adebola Williams who was named by the United Nations as one of the Most Influential People of African Descent, spoke alongside Africa’s richest woman and Chairperson, Unitel, Isabel Dos Santos; European Parliament President, Antonio TajaniDomenico Rosa, Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, European Commission; and Rt. Honourable Mark Simmons.

We’ve taken his paper at the Summit apart, and below are 7 critical points to note from it:

1. The marriage of culture and development is a veritable tool to take Africa forward. 

“The marriage of culture and development is a veritable tool to take Africa forward. In fact, it might be the most effective tool considering the zeitgeist.
In other countries like Senegal, South Africa, and Uganda, we continue to see young Africans leverage the power of culture using digital and other technological tools as media to bring about change and speak to power in ways that have never before been experienced.”

2. Young Africans are more better positioned to change the political dynamics they are faced with.

“Minorities, the silent majorities and disadvantaged groups world over are eschewing the (white) saviour mentality and its associated failings; and rightly so. However well-intentioned, others’ efforts will never save us. With the right tools and the required encouragement from allies, Africans are proving daily that locally developed solutions and advocacy inspired by and targeted to those directly affected is a more effective way of ensuring sustainable changes. Africans understand the nuances of navigating African issues.

Young Africans are more better positioned to change the political dynamics they are faced with. Empowering them with the necessary infrastructural tools to maximise their existing potentials can influence the power dynamics of the continent towards sustainable democracy.This is what our company StateCraft Inc., which is the nation-building company Of our group RED clearly understands.”

3. Africa needs a citizen-driven, culture-based approach to governance.

“Africa needs a citizen-driven, culture-based approach to governance, and not the top-bottom, imported one that has been propagated for years without desired results. With this understanding and using media as a tool, StateCraft Inc. has captured the imagination of young people and government across Africa and beyond by mobilising young people to vote for credible candidates, designing effective policies, driving qualitative governance, and promoting citizen action and engagement.

The key, as we have enunciated in our 2018 flagship book, How to Win Elections in Africa, is messaging. A well-thought out approach to designing messaging and channels for any campaign – so that it creates deep connections between the people and the intended movement – is extremely important. Its role has been understated in previous approaches led by our foreign allies and now, we at StateCraft, more than anyone else, know this.”

4.  The importance of citizen education and engagements in improving nation-building is grossly underestimated in Africa.

“Foreign actors, and sadly, African leaders even, have underestimated the importance of citizen education and engagements in bringing about desired improvements to nation-building. Most educational or awareness programmes are designed and implemented around election calendars in various countries but our experiences show this at best creates short term excitement for issues that require persistent dedication. If citizens do not examine the impact of government activities – this includes world governments – on their daily life, overwhelming movements started and concluded within the 12 months preceding election years in any country will hardly move the needle.”

5. An active collaboration involving foot soldiers of democratic growth is needed to change the fortunes of the continent.

“The European Union, more than ever in its history, needs to collaborate actively with these foot soldiers of democratic growth in Africa to promote good governance and demographic dividend. It must focus on developing a new crop of young, talented Africans with the wherewithal to create value and change the fortunes of the continent.

There is a willing, already active community of doers whose track records guarantee a return on such investments.”

6. Accountability is key to driving democratic growth in Nigeria.

“For democracy to flourish there needs to be accountability, but in Nigeria for example the education allocation is barely 7% of the budget when it should be minimum 25. How do you demand for account if you are not enlightened. If you are hopeless, if you feel helpless.”

7. The passion of the African youth is bigger than the problem of the African continent.

“If the EU really wants to help Africa, it must assist those with their feet on the ground to make change. If the EU cannot achieve this, the youth of Africa will, because our passion is bigger than our problem.”

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