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  • I experienced my first coup d'état at the age of four.

  • Because of the coup d'état,

  • my family had to leave my native home of Ghana

  • and move to the Gambia.

  • As luck would have it,

  • six months after we arrived,

  • they too had a military coup.

  • I vividly remember being woken up in the middle of the night

  • and gathering the few belongings we could

  • and walking for about two hours

  • to a safe house.

  • For a week, we slept under our beds

  • because we were worried that bullets might fly through the window.

  • Then, at the age of eight,

  • we moved to Botswana.

  • This time, it was different.

  • There were no coups.

  • Everything worked. Great education.

  • They had such good infrastructure that even at the time they had

  • a fiber-optic telephone system,

  • long before it had reached Western countries.

  • The only thing they didn't have

  • is that they didn't have

  • their own national television station,

  • and so I remember watching

  • TV from neighboring South Africa,

  • and watching Nelson Mandela in jail

  • being offered a chance to come out

  • if he would give up the apartheid struggle.

  • But he didn't. He refused to do that

  • until he actually achieved his objective

  • of freeing South Africa from apartheid.

  • And I remember feeling how just one good leader

  • could make such a big difference in Africa.

  • Then at the age of 12,

  • my family sent me to high school in Zimbabwe.

  • Initially, this too was amazing:

  • growing economy, excellent infrastructure,

  • and it seemed like it was a model

  • for economic development in Africa.

  • I graduated from high school in Zimbabwe

  • and I went off to college.

  • Six years later, I returned to the country.

  • Everything was different.

  • It had shattered into pieces.

  • Millions of people had emigrated,

  • the economy was in a shambles,

  • and it seemed all of a sudden that 30 years

  • of development had been wiped out.

  • How could a country go so bad so fast?

  • Most people would agree

  • that it's all because of leadership.

  • One man, President Robert Mugabe,

  • is almost single-handedly responsible

  • for having destroyed this country.

  • Now, all these experiences of living in different

  • parts of Africa growing up

  • did two things to me.

  • The first is it made me fall in love with Africa.

  • Everywhere I went,

  • I experienced the wonderful beauty of our continent

  • and saw the resilience and the spirit of our people,

  • and at the time, I realized that I wanted to dedicate

  • the rest of my life to making this continent great.

  • But I also realized that making Africa great

  • would require addressing this issue of leadership.

  • You see, all these countries I lived in,

  • the coups d'état

  • and the corruption I'd seen in Ghana and Gambia

  • and in Zimbabwe,

  • contrasted with the wonderful examples I had seen

  • in Botswana and in South Africa of good leadership.

  • It made me realize that Africa would rise or fall

  • because of the quality of our leaders.

  • Now, one might think, of course,

  • leadership matters everywhere.

  • But if there's one thing you take away from my talk today, it is this:

  • In Africa, more than anywhere else in the world,

  • the difference that just one good leader can make

  • is much greater than anywhere else, and here's why.

  • It's because in Africa, we have weak institutions,

  • like the judiciary, the constitution,

  • civil society and so forth.

  • So here's a general rule of thumb that I believe in:

  • When societies have strong institutions,

  • the difference that one good leader can make is limited,

  • but when you have weak institutions,

  • then just one good leader

  • can make or break that country.

  • Let me make it a bit more concrete.

  • You become the president of the United States.

  • You think, "Wow, I've arrived.

  • I'm the most powerful man in the world."

  • So you decide, perhaps let me pass a law.

  • All of a sudden, Congress taps you on the shoulder

  • and says, "No, no, no, no, no, you can't do that."

  • You say, "Let me try this way."

  • The Senate comes and says, "Uh-uh,

  • we don't think you can do that."

  • You say, perhaps, "Let me print some money.

  • I think the economy needs a stimulus."

  • The central bank governor will think you're crazy.

  • You might get impeached for that.

  • But if you become the president of Zimbabwe,

  • and you say, "You know, I really like this job.

  • I think I'd like to stay in it forever." (Laughter)

  • Well, you just can.

  • You decide you want to print money.

  • You call the central bank governor and you say,

  • "Please double the money supply."

  • He'll say, "Okay, yes, sir,

  • is there anything else I can do for you?"

  • This is the power that African leaders have,

  • and this is why they make the most difference

  • on the continent.

  • The good news is that

  • the quality of leadership in Africa has been improving.

  • We've had three generations of leaders, in my mind.

  • Generation one are those who appeared

  • in the '50s and '60s.

  • These are people like Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana

  • and Julius Nyerere of Tanzania.

  • The legacy they left is that they brought independence to Africa.

  • They freed us from colonialism,

  • and let's give them credit for that.

  • They were followed by generation two.

  • These are people that brought nothing

  • but havoc to Africa.

  • Think warfare, corruption, human rights abuses.

  • This is the stereotype of the typical African leader

  • that we typically think of:

  • Mobutu Sese Seko from Zaire,

  • Sani Abacha from Nigeria.

  • The good news is that most of these leaders have moved on,

  • and they were replaced by generation three.

  • These are people like the late Nelson Mandela

  • and most of the leaders that we see in Africa today,

  • like Paul Kagame and so forth.

  • Now these leaders are by no means perfect,

  • but the one thing they have done is that they have

  • cleaned up much of the mess of generation two.

  • They've stopped the fighting,

  • and I call them the stabilizer generation.

  • They're much more accountable to their people,

  • they've improved macroeconomic policies,

  • and we are seeing for the first time

  • Africa's growing, and in fact it's the second fastest

  • growing economic region in the world.

  • So these leaders are by no means perfect,

  • but they are by and large

  • the best leaders we've seen in the last 50 years.

  • So where to from here?

  • I believe that the next generation

  • to come after this, generation four,

  • has a unique opportunity

  • to transform the continent.

  • Specifically, they can do two things

  • that previous generations have not done.

  • The first thing they need to do

  • is they need to create prosperity for the continent.

  • Why is prosperity so important?

  • Because none of the previous generations

  • have been able to tackle this issue of poverty.

  • Africa today

  • has the fastest growing population in the world,

  • but also is the poorest.

  • By 2030, Africa will have a larger workforce than China,

  • and by 2050, it will have the largest workforce in the world.

  • One billion people will need jobs in Africa,

  • so if we don't grow our economies fast enough,

  • we're sitting on a ticking time bomb,

  • not just for Africa but for the entire world.

  • Let me show you an example

  • of one person who is living up to this legacy

  • of creating prosperity: Laetitia.

  • Laetitia's a young woman from Kenya

  • who at the age of 13 had to drop out of school

  • because her family couldn't afford to pay fees for her.

  • So she started her own business rearing rabbits,

  • which happen to be a delicacy in this part of Kenya

  • that she's from.

  • This business did so well that within a year,

  • she was employing 15 women

  • and was able to generate enough income

  • that she was able to send herself to school,

  • and through these women

  • fund another 65 children to go to school.

  • The profits that she generated,

  • she used that to build a school,

  • and today she educates

  • 400 children in her community.

  • And she's just turned 18.

  • (Applause)

  • Another example is Erick Rajaonary.

  • Erick comes from the island of Madagascar.

  • Now, Erick realized that agriculture

  • would be the key to creating jobs

  • in the rural areas of Madagascar,

  • but he also realized that fertilizer was a very

  • expensive input for most farmers in Madagascar.

  • Madagascar has these very special bats

  • that produce these droppings

  • that are very high in nutrients.

  • In 2006, Erick quit his job as a chartered accountant

  • and started a company to manufacture

  • fertilizer from the bat droppings.

  • Today, Erick has built a business

  • that generates several million dollars of revenue,

  • and he employs 70 people full time

  • and another 800 people during the season

  • when the bats drop their droppings the most.

  • Now, what I like about this story

  • is that it shows that opportunities to create prosperity

  • can be found almost anywhere.

  • Erick is known as the Batman.

  • (Laughter)

  • And who would have thought that you would have

  • been able to build a multimillion-dollar business

  • employing so many people just from bat poo?

  • The second thing that this generation needs to do

  • is to create our institutions.

  • They need to build these institutions such that we

  • are never held to ransom again

  • by a few individuals like Robert Mugabe.

  • Now, all of this sounds great,

  • but where are we going to get this generation four from?

  • Do we just sit and hope that they emerge

  • by chance, or that God gives them to us?

  • No, I don't think so.

  • It's too important an issue for us to leave it to chance.

  • I believe that we need to create African institutions,

  • home-grown, that will identify and develop

  • these leaders in a systematic, practical way.

  • We've been doing this for the last 10 years

  • through the African Leadership Academy.

  • Laetitia is one of our young leaders.

  • Today, we have 700 of them that are being groomed

  • for the African continent,

  • and over the next 50 years,

  • we expect to create 6,000 of them.

  • But one thing has been troubling me.

  • We would get about 4,000 applications a year

  • for 100 young leaders that we could take

  • into this academy,

  • and so I saw the tremendous hunger that existed

  • for this leadership training that we're offering.

  • But we couldn't satisfy it.

  • So today, I'm announcing for the first time in public

  • an extension to this vision for the African Leadership Academy.

  • We're building 25 brand new universities in Africa

  • that are going to cultivate this next generation

  • of African leaders.

  • Each campus will have 10,000 leaders at a time

  • so we'll be educating and developing

  • 250,000 leaders at