Association for Free Research and International Cooperation

Leadership Challenges in Africa

Leadership in Africa comes with some challenges that are quite different from the common challenges that leaders generally face. The African society functions in such a way that many leaders find it difficult to instil good practices. Some leaders take office with good intentions, but because of the systems in place, they begin to pick up bad practices, and with time, they become worse than their predecessors.

The primary goal of a leader is to set goals, initiate action, coordinate, motivate and direct those he is leading towards achieving these goals. While some African leaders strive to be goal oriented, many get distracted by the many challenges they have to overcome to be able to achieve their goals.



Whether in business or politics, dictatorship remains a major challenge for African leaders. While leadership is about guiding and directing people towards achieving set gaols, many leaders tend to use arbitrary measures to do so without worrying about the opinion or feelings of the people under them. A leader who listens to his subordinates and collaborators make his leadership easy and increases his chances of success because of the full cooperation of those he is leading.


This is one of the biggest challenge faced by leaders in Africa. Corruption has become a way of life in many African societies, especially among leaders. Most African leaders collect bribes for the littles favours they do for individuals on a daily basis.  This has become so common that it seems like a normal thing to do. The most unfortunate thing is that Africans have adapted to this way of life, and believe that the only way to get to a leader is through the “brown envelop”


This is a very serious issue that affect leaders in Africa especially politicians who find themselves in the civil service. Such leaders give preference to their family members, friends and village or tribal people. It is very common to see people of the same village or family working in a particular service because the man at the top is their relative. The most unfortunate thing is most of these people are not qualified for the posts they occupy. Those who are qualified remain unemployed because they do not have “good fathers”.

Mystifying accumulation of wealth

Leadership in Africa is a symbol of power, be it in the political or economic milieu. To prove their prowess, African leaders feel the need to show off the things they have achieved as leaders, such as building big mansions, riding in expensive cars and sending their children to the most expensive schools and having huge and numerous bank accounts in foreign countries. Unfortunately for most leaders, they end up using funds set aside for public use to do personal things with because their normal salaries cannot permit them to live such extravagant lifestyles.

Humility after success

This is a challenge that many African leaders have to deal with. It is not easy for many people to remain humble after they succeed, talk less of leader, especially in the African context. Many leaders in Africa are treated like gods especially in their communities or in their families, especially when there are the only prominent people in their communities. Some leaders get carried away by these praises which impair their sense of judgment in relation to their work and the people around them.

Rewarding supporters and punishing opponents

Many African leaders love the idea of being greeted as “boss”, “patron”, “chief” and many others. Africans take advantage of this to shower them with praises, and in return the leaders give them money and other favours. This situation is a very bad one for leaders because instead of having devoted and honest followers, they have hand-clappers who sing their praises so as to obtain favours. Those who oppose leaders risk being dismissed from their jobs or being killed if seen as a major threat.

African leaders need to learn how to differentiate between their professional and personal lives so as to be better leaders. A leader who knows that it is not right to use funds meant for public use to buy a car or sponsor a family vacation will not get caught up in the net of bribery and corruption, which turns out to be the most difficult challenge that most African leaders have to deal with during their mandates.

AFRIC Editorial Article.

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