AfDB must continue to be the leading investor in human capital in Africa: Paulo Gomes

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In comments during the African Development Bank’s Annual Meetings in Kigali, Paulo Gomes, the former World Bank Executive Director who is a now a leading figure in Africa’s private sector, discussed the issues linked to investing in human capital, political leadership, regional integration in Africa and the AfDB’s role in these challenges. He warned that Bank must not be blind to the potential for Africa to become fractured rather than unified because this could slow the continent’s progress.

For Gomes, Africa is emerging and, if left unresolved, the issue of political leadership could risk setting the continent back many years. The ability to mobilise and construct political leadership is still relative. “How can we populate our political environment with capable leaders aware of the need to protect the continent against the dangers it faces in the absence of visionary leadership?” he asked.

Echoing panellists in the high-level discussion on African leadership for the next 50 years at this year’s Annual Meetings, Gomes emphasised the need to include a programme on leadership in school texts. As he sees it, this basic education would help African youth to develop its own vision of leadership in the classroom “so that they can take the reins in coming decades,” he said.

“I would like to encourage young people to actively strengthen political capital. I’m calling young people to action,” he said, while mentioning the prominent role that AfDB has played for decades in developing an efficient political leadership in Africa. “I think that our pan-African institution can use its unifying ability [at Annual Meetings, for example] to facilitate dialogue focused on this training. It can also create platforms for debate.”

Gomes added: “The Bank must not be blind to Africa breaking up. It must continue to play its role in promoting the regional integration process through the free movement of people and goods. To hit these development targets in coming decades, the Bank must also especially continue to be the leading investor in human capital.”

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