"There is a new generation of leadership in Africa, pushing the continent forward."
Writing on WEForum.org, Mr. Blair said that the digital revolution offers a chance for the developing world to leap forward, but that it needs partners for this to happen. In particular, this is needed to help increase the power supply across Africa, with only one in four Africans currently having access to electricity.
Through the Africa Governance Initiative, Mr. Blair works in eight African countries – Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Kenya and Mozambique – providing pro bono advice to the Presidents of those countries to help them deliver change programmes. The foundation is also working with President Obama’s Power Africa initiative to help increase access to electricity across the continent.
As part of this work, Mr. Blair was in East Africa this week visiting a number of projects. In Ethiopia he met with the Prime Minister and AGI’s counterparts to discuss the government’s development priorities, while in Kenya, he met with the President and other officials to discuss Vision 2030, which aims to make Kenya a middle-income country providing a high quality of life to all its citizens by 2030.
While in Nairobi, he also visited a Starkey Hearing Foundation clinic to see the work they are doing to provide hearing aids to hearing-impaired children and adults. While there he met with a young boy, Jesse Felix Harel, and witnessed the work of the foundation.
“I was privileged to meet Jesse and witness the extraordinary, life-changing work at the Starkey Hearing Foundation’s health care mission in Nairobi,” he said. “It was there that I saw an amazing thing happen, the ability to give someone hearing. A simple idea with a momentous impact for every person they have helped in Africa and around the world.”
On Wednesday, Mr. Blair went on to Rwanda for the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa, which is being held in Kigali. While there he visited the K-lab, which supports young digital entrepreneurs to develop new smartphone apps and Fablab, which provides a start-up role for the fabrication of new ICT hardware.
He also spoke on a WEF panel alongside President Kagame and Howard Buffett about partnerships in Africa. During this session he highlighted that, through his work with the AGI, his obsession was on “shifting the conversation about aid and development from what is a short-term palliative set of measures, to actually building the institutional resilience of countries to be able to be successful.” The ultimate objective being that a country has the capacity to stand “on its own feet” and can “wave the aid community goodbye.”
He added that “the whole point about governance and government is we kind of know what works and what doesn’t. That’s what’s kind of fascinating about it. You go around the world and you can see that governance makes a difference. And sometimes it makes the biggest difference.”
In Kigali, Mr. Blair bowled a few balls at Rwanda’s national team captain, Eric Dusingizimana, broke a world record by batting for 51 hours non-stop. Eric is aiming to raise awareness for Rwandan cricket and fundraise for the construction of Rwanda’s first international cricket stadium – a project being run by the Rwanda Cricket Stadium Foundation.
"The last time I bowled was most likely at school, so it was great to have a bowl against Eric," Mr. Blair said. "What he did is an incredible feat: batting for 51 hours non-stop and breaking the world record, and, in doing so, helping raise money for Rwanda’s first cricket stadium. So I offer my congratulations and wish him and the Rwanda Cricket Stadium Foundation all the best as they look to build a better future for cricket in the country."
The work described here was carried out by the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative, it is now being continued by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.