“Africa is at a crossroads,” former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf declared during the 2021 African Transformation Forum convened by the African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET). This year’s Forum celebrated the launch of ACET’s African Transformation Report, which highlights the need for African countries to work collaboratively, harnessing regional opportunities to accelerate the continent’s economic transformation.
Speaking as Chair of the ACET Transformation Leadership Panel during a discussion on ‘Integrating to Transform,’ Madam Sirleaf acknowledged that “the pandemic exposed inequities and injustices with disastrous effects on economies.” Now, as African countries look towards continued development beyond the pandemic, “multilateral and global collective action” must be prioritized.
A key part of building back better will be promoting gender equality, Madam Sirleaf said. Women need to be included at all levels of leadership:
“Change the laws, change policies, change constitutions when necessary, change attitudes. Women themselves on the frontlines, demanding change and setting the examples promoting leadership.”
According to Madam Sirleaf, now is the time for transformational change, particularly in light of the UK recently reducing its overseas aid budget and leaving many less-wealthy countries—including some in Africa—without support. Madam Sirleaf noted that other wealthy countries may follow the UK’s lead, making it crucial to strengthen African economies: “As we respond to the pandemic, we must make sure that there are national budgetary allocations so we don’t .”
Madam Sirleaf also stressed that the pandemic has presented an opportunity for Africa to evaluate how it will proceed in its next chapter.
“What path does Africa follow at this crossroads? Continue with the status quo, trying to be strong advocates for the continuation of support? do we move towards more self-reliance with regional cooperation and integration?”
You can watch a full recording of the event here.