President and chief executive officer of Whitaker group and also wife of Archbishop Duncan Williams, Rosa Whitaker, says the African continent can develop at an accelerating rate if strong human and institutional leadership is in place.
In an exclusive interview on Multitv’s PM Express Personality Friday, the trade and business expert though applauding the innovation and technological advancement in Africa pointed out leadership as a big challenge for the continent.
“You can have the best president with a strong vision but if you are within a bureaucracy where there is no leadership at every level and the institutional capacity is weak, l do not care who is president, it is not going to work. Good countries become great through leadership”. She explained.
Rosa Whitaker expressed optimism and hope in Africa and called for brilliant minds to be part of governance.
“I believe in Africa, l see a new generation of leaders that will do amazing things in the next 10 years. I see Africa transforming commodities produced with consumer class adding value and patronizing those commodities as well as regional and infrastructural integration. The trajectory of progress gives Africa hope”.
She also advised the youth to be agents of change, disciplined and discover God’s purpose for their lives.
“Do what you love to do and are called to do by God, do not be in any kind of situation or relationship where your self esteem will be under attack and live for something bigger than yourself”
Growing up in the sixties in the Washington DC area of the United States, Rosa left home at an early age of 16, and through determination and purspose, rose through the challenges of her time, to become arguably, one one of the world’s foremost experts on Africa trade, investment and business issues.
She told host Stephen Anti, there were many distractions as she grew up, and these could have been excuses for her not to stretch herself to the limit in achieving what she has achieved today.
Her connection with her spirituality and relationship with God, is one of the most endearing of her personality, which drives her to achieve the very best of what God purposes for her.
During her 30-year career, Ms. Whitaker served as the first ever Assistant US Trade Representative (USTR) for Africa in the Administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and William J. Clinton.
While serving as Senior Trade Advisor for US Congressman Charles Rangel, she was a hands-on-architect of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), the first comprehensive US trade policy toward Africa.
AGOA provided, inter-alia, duty- and quota-free access to the US market for essentially all products produced in Africa. AGOA continues to be the center-piece of US Africa economic policy.
As the lead US negotiator for bilateral and multilateral trade agreements, she was the prime mover behind a series of unprecedented initiatives to enhance US trade, investment and economic cooperation with African countries. Ms. Whitaker also served as a career US diplomat specializing in African economic matters.
Married to Archbishop Nicholas Duncan Williams of the Christian Action Faith Ministries, Ms Whitaker sees herself in the next 5 years, continuing to drive trade and investment to Africa, while supporting the call of her husband in his call and ministry.