Amujae Leader Malado Kaba recently appeared on the Brenthurst Foundation Podcast, sharing insights from her career in government and international development, and urging greater inclusion of women in leadership to help transform the continent of Africa.
One of the inaugural 2020 Amujae Leaders, Ms. Kaba spoke of her experience as Guinea’s first woman Minister of the Economy and Finance, a role she served in from 2016 to 2018. During her time as a minister, Ms. Kaba was instrumental in introducing measures to increase fiscal transparency, fight corruption, and promote good governance.
“It’s a huge responsibility. You are there to serve,” said Ms. Kaba of her time in the role, “it was incredibly rewarding but also incredibly challenging, because of the context but also the fact the department was never led by a woman before.”
Ms. Kaba explained that the job demanded a strong will and, above all, a commitment to service: “you need to look at the bigger picture, and you need to pick your battles in order to win the war.” She would remind her staff, “we are here to serve our citizens and our economy. We are not here to serve our pockets.” Following this path in the journey of leadership is “not easy,” according to Ms. Kaba, “but we are not called upon to do easy things.”
Ms. Kaba also emphasized the critical role of women in helping to lead the continent of Africa towards a brighter future because it makes economic sense. She said:
“We cannot be serious when we talk about transforming the continent if we keep excluding women. I’m not saying that because I’m an African woman, I’m saying that because it makes absolute economic sense. We know that by boosting gender parity on the continent, this could help boost our GDP by 12% by 2025. It’s essential to work on these issues. To empower women and have more women in decision-making roles.”
Ms. Kaba was asked to share her advice for those aspiring to follow in her footsteps. Citing her involvement with the EJS Center, Ms. Kaba said that “having that network of sisters… to protect me but also share views about the challenges we face and the ideas that we have. I wish I had that, especially when I was a minister. But it’s not too late. I have it now, and my journey continues.”
Finally, Ms. Kaba offered some advice for anyone pursuing a career in international development:
“It’s important to know your subject… it’s important to master your craft. It’s key to understand the social and cultural fabric of your country. It’s important to own your narrative. Tell your story. You need to be fierce, you need to be proud of yourself, and you need to work very hard. Stamina is important… and common sense is key. Diplomas will never make up for your character.”