He said looking back at the fight for independence, Africa was led by a vibrant young generation, like Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and other Pan Africanists who had a dream that the continent was not only ripe enough to rule itself, but also that its greatest asset was their determination and vision of a comparable world with that of their colonial masters.
Dr. Abboud went on that despite huge human and natural resources, progress as a continent was curtailed by political and economic mismanagement, conflicts, poor governance, corruption and lack of infrastructural development, poverty and leadership deficit among others.
“The mundane and multi-facetted problems of Africa which left most of the countries in a mess cannot be over-emphasized in view of their complexity. No doubt, the rotten leadership and equally calamitous followership ensured a stagnation that left the continent as the most backward in the global scheme of things” Dr. Abboud noted, adding; “The issue is well-documented. What is not and which I intend to focus on instead, is how a new generation of African youths, are breaking out of the challenges and creating the continent as a new rising star.”
He recalled that just a few days ago at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in Massachusetts, Boston, USA President Julius Maada Bio said: “I want to steer away from the many Sierra Leones imagined, constructed and contested. I want to talk about the Sierra Leone where there has been democratic elections and three peaceful and seamless transfers of power over the last 23 years. I want to talk about the peaceful Sierra Leone that has continuously been a pluralistic democracy for the last 23 years.”
The president he said added: “I want to talk about the Sierra Leone with great potential – a youthful population, rich seas, breath-taking touristic beaches and landscape, vast arable land crisscrossed by more than 12 major rivers, very significant and diverse mineral deposits, and with neighbors at peace with themselves and at peace with one another. I want to talk about the Sierra Leone providing leadership in the sub-region. I want to talk about the new Sierra Leone that provides every Sierra Leonean with security, access, and the opportunity to prosper in a well-governed Sierra Leone.”
Dr. Abboud said there is a strong and irreversible shift in focus from a Sierra Leone that does not define itself in terms of distant past and imagined or real pathologies of politics but in terms of a new direction and that is why according to him; “I was impressed by this year’s theme because I can tell you emphatically that Africa is in haste to make up for lost time and change its image.”
He said African youth are no longer waiting for a ship at the airport and that the new pocket of shining stars and largely untapped resource is now ready to be the agent of change and fill the special space reserved for them on the pages of the new history of Africa that is now being written.
Dr. Abboud ended up saying, “the youths are the greatest resource of any country but for long, the love of Philistinism by their leaders, had succeeded in damaging their destiny and lives; as they found it extremely difficult to find people with the courage to set examples by deed and word which will give them the latitude to question the status quo, enlarge their minds and challenge archaic philosophy that condemned them to being seen and never heard. Today, before our very eyes, the sterling efforts of these un-mined goldmines are attracting the attention of Global icons and multinationals to the realities of the new Africa. The best time to have started all these was a generation ago. But we missed that. The next best time to start is today; now! And this is why several young men and women from Freetown to Lagos, Accra to Nairobi; Rabat to Johannesburg and several other cities across the continent, are taking the bull by the horn to drag the continent on to the global map in positive light, irrespective of government intervention and in recognition of Kennedy’s dictum: Think of what you can do for your country.”
The sumit also discussed the Africa’s strategy to harnessing the economic benefit of sport, how to build our sport industry to become competitive and lucrative and help drive holistic growth and most importantly, how to ensure transparency in the sport industry.