Ibrahim was delivering the annual Nelson Mandela Lecture in Pretoria.
"Leadership is not about bossing people around...it is not about securing a seat in the UN Security Council on behalf of Africa, or chairing the African Union," he said.
"Leadership is true engagement with Africa. You [South Africa] have a role to play."
Ibrahim said that half of the continent's population was below the age of 19, and that African youth could become the best in the future in terms of production.
This was because the population of countries such as China and many European countries were ageing. "But to do that, we need good education and training to equip these youngsters for the future. Through that, Africa can become the future factory of the world."