Ruto said good leaders are those who ensure their economies are vibrant to feed, clothe and secure their people.
He said: “When all is said and done, the greatest threat to African take-off is leadership.”
Ruto was speaking at an economic forum in Kigali, Rwanda organised by the African Development Bank dubbed “Leadership For Africa We Want”.
The Deputy President joined Rwandan President Paul Kagame, former Presidents Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, African Union chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Mo Ibrahim.
The leaders gave varying reasons why Africa was under developed and differed on whether the generation can deliver Africa’s much needed development.
Ruto said: “As leaders of nations and institutions, it falls on all of us to lay the foundation for our economies and peoples to harvest the promise at hand. We must drive our economies to take that leap.”
He said although there were plenty of resources in the continent, the leadership had not taken advantage of modern technology to exploit the same. Instead, endowed countries were grappling with war on who takes charge of the resources.
Even though, the deputy president said, Africa is on the cusp of cataclysmic transformation because the evolution of the global economy has placed it as the lynchpin, enabling it, with the right leadership, to eradicate poverty and generate wealth and opportunity on a vast scale within one generation.
Ruto said the change of leadership being experienced in the continent will drive transformation and deliver the Africa We Want.
“This leadership must see the moral imperative and inherent justice in shared prosperity. This leadership must be ready to grapple with, and eliminate all barriers and vulnerabilities, which lead to inequality. This leadership must invest in stability, by investing in individuals. It must recognize the magic of a full stomach, and its implications to peace and security, and acknowledge that just as the threat of hunger often leads to crime, grinding poverty can also lead to instability. This leadership must grasp the urgency of the moment; time is of the essence, and there is no longer any excuse for delay.”
He said African leadership must be transformative, democratic, people centred, modern, dynamic and responsive.”Anything short of that and the African moment is wasted forever.”
President Kagame said young people had messed up in several sectors and it was not an issue of age. “Leaders young or old grow through a system. The environment creates different leaders,” the Rwandan President said.
Dlamini-Zuma said a blend of old and young was good as it is done in the United States where although President Obama was young, his Vice President Joe Bidden was old.
Ibrahim said a younger leadership was better for the continent while Obasanjo argued that a people-centred leadership was more critical.