The TRUE Africa 100 is our list of innovators, opinion-formers, game-changers, pioneers, dreamers and mavericks who we feel are shaping the Africa of today and tomorrow. We’re featuring them over 100 days and we’ve asked each of them three questions.
In 2010, Alpha Condé was sworn into office as the president of Guinea. He was the first freely elected president in Guinea’s post-independence history.
What advice would you give to the new generation of leaders?
The new leaders who will help shape the future of Africa must, first and foremost, inspire the youth of Africa and help them to gain in self-confidence.
Africa is the future of the world.
We have plenty of human resources, mining resources, agricultural resources, and a lot of know-how that most people don’t know about. That is why the youth of Africa must understand that they now need to take control of their own destinies, and become more patriotic, while striving for a new kind of African solidarity.
Too often, I meet young people who are into instant gratification; they talk about get-rich-quick schemes. That has to stop. All of our African problems are poverty-related but with the right kind of leadership I can see a new path to prosperity.
It’s really up to the youth to be more entrepreneurial, to create new opportunities for future success.
I truly believe in leapfrogging and situations where we can do in a couple of years what others did over a 30-year period. But this cannot happen without the best and brightest young minds from the diaspora.
Those in the diaspora who were able to access higher education must now come back to their home countries, and help to grow our African nations.
We all know it won’t be easy.
That’s why I see the state as an enabler; our role is to create the best conditions for the private sector to thrive. That’s why we are putting so much emphasis on new technologies, to stimulate the activity of the private sector. That’s why we need more incubators, more small businesses, more youth-driven initiatives that are future-looking.
Which initiatives are you most excited about in Guinea and why?
The most important initiative is sustainable energy. Without energy, we just cannot move forward. That is where my focus is at the moment, because that is how we will create conditions for new jobs for young people. But it’s really up to the youth to be more entrepreneurial, to create new opportunities for future success.
The year is not over yet, but in my opinion the front-runner for African of the year would have to be President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria.
Our young people are so talented, but all too often they just don’t have the right training. And of those who have been able to receive some sort of training, vocational or otherwise, we find that they haven’t been trained well enough. So my team has been approaching these development challenges on a sectorial basis.
Look at our agricultural sector for instance, where many farmers were held back for so long. When I came into office in 2010, farmers were consuming less than 10,000 tonnes of fertiliser across the entire country. Now it’s more than 100,000 tonnes every year. But with new technical support we are also teaching them how to rethink farming, and traditional methods like irrigation, and how to produce not once but twice a year, perhaps through new cooperatives. It’s about building up a real value chain.
And we are working hard in the cities as well, on all fronts. I am excited that we are working with partners to install 4,000 kilometres of fibre-optic cable so that our people can have access to the high-speed internet, as well as basic services and utilities they never had access to before.
Who’s your African of the year and why?
The year is not over yet, but in my opinion the front-runner would have to be President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria. Few people expected him to actually win the election, but he prevailed and I personally believe he will succeed in defeating Boko Haram, in fighting corruption in his country, in dealing with the big challenges. And that’s really important, because if he succeeds in the areas he campaigned on, Nigeria can become the engine country for all of Africa.
Find the president on Twitter @PresAlphaConde
Come back tomorrow for the next TRUE Africa 100 and keep up to date using the hashtag #TRUEAfrica