Africa: A Story Of Broken Pieces and Beaming Dreams
Africa is known to be tremendously endowed with natural resources. It’s arguably the richest continent with fecund natural reserves.
These resources range from rich oil wells, diverse minerals, brim water streams and fertile farming land.
However, most countries on the continent are grappling with paying foreign debts after borrowing colossal amounts of funds from external lending institutions. A ‘malady’ that has shackled most countries from realizing socio-economic prosperity.
You would ask where things went awry for a continent that showcased so much potential. And your curiosity would lead you down the memory lane, to the annals of history.
A post-colonial Africa, where leaders worked on impressive blueprints and are ready to chart a new path for young African nations oozing with energy, bubbling with visions and shimmering dreams.
African resources which should have been exploited and turned into imperative pillars of shared growth and development has instead become a curse – causing violence, tyranny, conflicts and poverty. All this boils down to the continent’s leadership.
At the apex of policy formation, adjudication and implementation, tables are reclined by leaders with selfish interests. The greed, wild appetite for more, the undisciplined delving of hands into public coffers is self-defeating.
In this obnoxious state, most African leaders are self-sabotaging their citizens. How?
Firstly, by failing to believe in the ability of the ordinary person. They only invest in expressway and mega infrastructure projects which don’t have a direct impact on economic growth.
Secondly, by failing to craft sound policies that support the spirit of entrepreneurship on the continent. This involves easing the process of business registration, giving incentives to small and medium-term enterprises, starting business incubation facilities, facilitating the training and nurturing of young entrepreneurs. Research indicates that in the whole of Eastern Africa, Rwanda leads impressively when it comes to the business registration process which takes 1-2 days.
Thirdly, by failing to utilize the creative potential of its enormous youth population. After all, the youths form an integral part of any developing nation. It is quite ironic that the government of the day kills the dreams of young people with the erroneous belief that the older generation is the ideal people to engineer the future of a youthful and vibrant population bristling with creativity and energy. This is purely ironic because the energy, creativity, and ingenuity of the youthful population which is to drive innovation remains tapped.
This sad reality incessantly haunts the continent every day as tragic news is reported of scores of young people chasing ‘diaspora dreams’ by crossing the Sahara and finally having their dinghies capsize in the wrath of the undulating waves of the Red Sea.
The fourth reason is corruption. News of embezzlement of public funds keeps popping up as headlines, painting a grim picture of unaccountable leadership. Paradoxically, leaders who are expected to act with integrity are land grabbers and feckless spenders. These looters have plunged many economies into recession.
Finally, the failure of many African countries to embrace the policy of blended finance. This is the policy that allows the deployment of catalytic capital from philanthropic or public sources to be combined with private capital to rejuvenate economic growth. This would culminate in job creation and reviving of industries to sustain livelihoods which helps to reduce the reliance on foreign aid.
“It is only the one who lives in the house who knows where the roof leaks” goes an African proverb.
The future of Africa is up to Africans. We are already versed with the problems ailing and staggering our economies. It lies with African leaders to bury their differences and together in the great unifying spirit of Ubuntu, focus their energy on building a healthy, safe, rich, industrial, entrepreneurial, inclusive and better Africa.
This is what Barack Obama told a congregant of youths on his historic visit to Kenya.
“You can build your future right here right now. Don’t look outside for salvation. You are responsible for your destiny. Just live up to your highest values and beliefs and from that, imagine how bright the future can be. Rise up and take the lead, for the future of Africa is in the hands of the young people”.
This is a truth that many African nations shouldn’t shy away from. Governments should commence to invest heavily in skilling and reskilling the youth because they are the soul-engine of innovation.
With the bust of digital innovation, with global entrepreneurs like Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos pushing the frontier by exploring space, Africa seems to be cut out of such an exciting yet challenging venture.
This calls for the quick reawakening of the entrepreneurial spirit across Africa. African entrepreneurs do have the potential to reset from their setbacks and make a comeback.
Strive Masiyiwa, a Zimbabwean entrepreneur has already set the pace. With his optimistic glance of a bright digital future for the continent, he is building Data Centers across Africa in a bid to make internet accessibility easy for the vast remote places and ultimately cut the cost of data. He has mastered the entrepreneurial knack of working tirelessly on 3 ps – people, process and product. The only way to come up with a product that is “proudly made in Africa ”.
It’s the right time to build Africa from the foundation of the innovative youthful population. It’s the right juncture to develop an entrepreneurial mindset that will ensure opportunities are exploited in a way that doesn’t hurt the environment.
No miracle is going to work, the progress of the continent demands nothing short of hard work. Many have been travelling on the continent in pursuit of the American dream. Now is the time to get back to the roots and in all conditions fight for the African dream; of creating a self-reliant continent that favourably allows its people to fully explore their potential and become successful.
Written by: Eugene Rop
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.