The Sub-Regional Office of the United Nations Commission for Africa (UNECA) hosted the 37th Session of the Intergovernmental Committee of Senior Officials and Experts of Centre Africa (ICE) from 6-10 December 2021 in Brazzaville, Congo. I led the team that wrote the background paper for this meeting, comprising Prof Desta Mebratu (Ethiopia) and Anton Cartwright (South Africa). Entitled “A trip to 2030: Fostering Leadership and Transformative Change for Economic Diversification in Central Africa”, I used this opportunity to take further our thinking in CST’s governance research group that is linking relational governance, political settlements theory and ‘institutional work’ approaches. This made it possible to address the leadership challenge in Africa without resorting to simplistic arguments about ’lack of political will’ and the ‘need for new leadership’. This institutionalist perspective is heavily influenced by the new African literature on political settlements.