The Mo Ibrahim Foundation’s 2017 Governance Weekend brought together many business and political leaders, multilateral and regional institutions, and major international partners. The aim was to discuss how to strengthen governance and leadership in the continent.

Leadership and African governance were put under a microscope at the flagship event of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, which is organized each year in a different African country to discuss the challenges of leadership and governance in Africa. This year’s edition is a special one, as the foundation celebrates ten years of efforts to place governance and leadership at the center of development debates.

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation chose the ocher city of Marrakech for this year’s edition. “A choice which is not fortuitous but which meets the criteria of enlightened leadership of its state bodies and the progress of its democratic bodies,” said Abdoulie Janneh, Executive Director of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, responsible for relations with African governments and institutions. The choice of Morocco was also determined by the context of the return of the kingdom to the African Union and the dynamics initiated by the king of Morocco, in particular with a view to expanding regional integration and cooperation with African countries.

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation’s guests included organizations and personalities to debate frankly and freely how to strengthen governance and leadership in the continent. “Discussions on leadership values are particularly important in the current global context of political figures,” said Nathalie Delapalme, Executive Director of Research and Public Policy within the foundation.

The continental event opened Friday evening, under the high patronage of HM Mohammed VI, king of Morocco. The evening ceremony began with a conversation on leadership in the 21st century, a debate that included prominent leaders, such as Horst Koehler, former President of Germany and Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations. The evening featured live music from renowned African artists Youssour NDour, Angelique Kidjo, Hindi Zahra and Hugh Masekela.

The opening ceremony was also marked by a message by His Majesty King Mohammed VI to the participants and read by Mr. André Azoulay, Counselor to HM the King. The Sovereign affirmed that an organized, united Africa and supported by efficient governance is able to offer the political, economic and social goods legitimately aspired by its inhabitants. HM King Mohammed VI also stressed that optimal governance of the continent should result from a successful and coherent combination of suitable external experiences, renewed internal operating procedures and innovative practices on a continental scale.

Nevertheless, the models of governance established elsewhere cannot, in the present state, be imported or imposed because they emanate from a specific historical accumulation and particular routes,” said HM the King, noting that these models could, on the other hand, be usefully adopted and adapted to the African context in order to ensure their operational relevance and collective appropriation.

The second day was dedicated to the Mo Ibrahim Foundation Forum, a high-level discussion forum that was organized in three main sessions tackling various topics related to Africa. The forum began with a conversation with the former General- Secretary of the United Nations Kofi Annan, a rich debate that was followed by the first session which was moderated by Jendayi Frazer, President and  CEO of 50 Ventures LLC. It discussed the appeal of violent extremism and migrations, with the participation of Youssef Amrani, a member of the Royal Cabinet in Morocco, Jean-Marie Guehenno, president of the International Crisis Group, Martin Kobler, special representative and head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya and Lamido Sanusi, Emir of Kano.

The second session which was chaired by BBC presenter Zaineb Badawi , looked at the risk of a democratic recession. It included the participation of Abdoulaye Bathily, head of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa, Sello Hatang, Chief Executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Mark Malloch-Brown, Chair of the Business and Sustainable Development Commission, and Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy secretary-General of the United Nations.

The last session of the forum discussed the need for inclusive economic growth and jobs for Africa’s youth. This session which was moderated by Abdelmalek Alaoui, author and founder of Guepard Group, included the participation of Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Moulay Hafid El Alamy, Moroccan Minister of Industry, Investment, Trade and Digital Economy and CEO of Saham Group, Aliko Dangote, President and Chief Executive of the Dangote Group, and Finally Ngozi Okonjo-lweala, Chair of the Board of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization.

The event was marked by the presentation of the second edition of the Africa Report Debate, an initiative launched in 2016 during the “Governance weekend” in Accra, which oriented this year’s debate towards the theme “Is African development An illusion?” The event was also an occasion to present the findings of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation’s report: “A Tipping Point for Africa” which studied the role of youth in the economic and political development of the continent. The report stresses that, despite indisputable progress, the African continent is currently facing a real risk of retreat. Its future depends above all on its capacity to provide an adequate response to the expectations of a youth that has become a majority.

The forum ended Sunday with a friendly football match to win the “Governance Cup” between the five-time CAF Champions League Winners TP Mazembe and the local Kawkab Marrakech Club. The cup went to the Congolese team after beating the Kawkab 1-0. The attendees at the Grand Stade of Marrakech were invited then to a huge free concert gathering a host of stars from Morocco and across the African continent, including Youssou NDour, Angelique Kidjo, Hoba Hoba Spirit,  Hindi Zahra, Hamid El kasri and Dj -Van.

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Jalal Bounouar
Jalal Bounouar is a Moroccan teacher, researcher and writer. Jalal has always been interested in journalism and writing since he was a student. He earned a Masters Degree in Applied Language Studies and Research with an MA thesis on the language of media and journalism. He has contributed to different writing projects for a variety of international magazines and news websites. Jalal writes about politics, trade, education, culture, sports and more.