CAPE TOWN — Sudanese-born billionaire Mo Ibrahim on Saturday castigated Africa’s ageing leaders for crowding out young blood.
The philanthropist said the average age of leaders on the African continent was around 60 years, yet half of the population was under the age of 19.
Speaking at a lecture in honour of South Arica’s first black President Nelson Mandela, the businessman drew comparisons between African and American leaders.
“(Barack) Obama became President when he was 47 years old, actually Bill Clinton beat him, he became President when he was 46 years old.
“People in their 40s are being elected to run a country which is not only the greatest superpower, but has a GDP . . . of $15 trillion a year — 15 times the total economy of Africa.
“And here we have somebody in a neighbouring country, at 90, about to start a new term.
“What’s wrong with us?” Ibrahim said, alluding to Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, who at 89 was last month re-elected in disputed polls that extended his 33-year rule by a fresh five-year term.
Ibrahim said that had Obama’s father taken him back to Kenya when he was still a boy, “where would he be today? My guess, he would never (have) been president of Kenya”.
He urged Africa to create space for young people to help in running and developing the continent.
“That is the challenge we need to think of,” said Ibrahim, who is in his 60s.
Ibrahim also said South Africa should show the quality of leadership befitting the continent’s weathiest economy.