Despite half a century of political independence, Africa remains the continent facing some of the most complex economic, political, and social challenges in the globalized world. Notwithstanding some notable economic progress, success stories, and variations of results from one country to another, citizens’ expectations are broadly unfulfilled. The results from consecutive Afrobarometer surveys are telling: In particular, there is high dissatisfaction of citizens towards their leadership. Numerous national development strategies (such as export-led growth, import-substitution industrialization, state-led development, market-oriented development), but also regional ones (such as the Lagos Plan of Action for the Economic Development of Africa, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, and Agenda 2030 of the African Union), have thus far not improved the continent’s competitiveness in a globalized world to a satisfactory level. During the anti-colonial struggle, self-determination and indigenous leadership were presented as the solutions to Africa’s challenges. Unfortunately, Africa’s “leadership” has far too often become a tool of disservice to the majority of Africans.
This essay addresses the “leadership” challenge, presents possible solutions, and discusses the role of young leaders in transformational leadership accountability for an economically, politically, and socially more competitive continent. Accountable leadership can positively transform Africa into an economically, politically, and socially competitive region in the globalized economy while fulfilling citizens’ expectations. Accountability is explored in this essay in five dimensions: personal, horizontal, peer, vertical, and diagonal.