Dear African Leaders The Future is Here.
When you have a nation where the age average of its citizens is seventeen years old discussing the future is not a convenience it’s a necessity. In fact, in fact, insomnia should haunt you, when they reach 25 age average without jobs believe me the result is chaos. When you have eighteen million people getting into your job market every year any leader with a conscious mind will invest in creating jobs. The next major wars in Africa will not be caused by ethnic clashes or fights for natural resources. The war will emerge from three hundred million African youths who will be staying idle in our primary and secondary cities without jobs, ask Al-Bashir and Bouteflika they will explain the concept to you because they have experienced it.
My home town, Dar es Salaam is among the fastest growing cities in the world, by 2030 the city will have estimated twelve million people, this is true to other African major cities, the outcome is either a mega slum or a mega city status. We are the one to choose the outcome if you fail to plan you are planning to fail. Population growth comes with opportunities and challenges, people will need jobs, they will need to navigate, they will need quality health services and constant supply of food. Are we ready?
The solution for jobs has always been industrialization. Our quest towards industrialized Africa is a good and noble quest, but how do we want to industrialize? Do we want to follow the path of East Asia towards industrialization or we want to create our own paths? The answer is simply you can’t compete with a cheetah on an open field. They have figured out all the complex puzzles of the game which we want to start by copying their model. Can we try something different? Maybe exploring industries without smokestacks and then move to the traditional industry when we have enough energy, technology, and capital. In the last 20 years, Africa’s services exports grew more than six times faster than merchandise exports. Something which we are already good at. Can we train our youths the relevant skills required by the sector? In Tanzania, tourism accounts for approximately 14 percent of GDP, and about 3.2 percent of total employment. My first investment as a leader would have been establishing strong academic institutions to equip youths in the sector with relevant skills to capitalize on the market.
Dear leaders, we can’t underestimate the power of the digital economy. Our policy has to clearly show how are we linking our national strategies with the advancement of ICTs and technology. ICT based services, agribusiness, tourism, and transport will dictate the direction of the continent in the years to come. Can we adopt technology in all these sectors to improve efficiency and productivity? Technology will change, how we deliver health services, how we supply farm inputs, how we offer education and even how we get you guys in power. The “startup language” is not the language of the youths it needs to be in our Party manifesto, our policies, and laws is a language of all. Let’s learn from Israel when the leader pitch the country, investors have to invest.
We need to show how are we connecting the three Ps, People, Power and Policies to ensure we are capitalizing on the digital economy, by equipping our PEOPLE with relevant skills, by investing on the INFRASTRUCTURE and cocreating right POLICIES. In order to realize this, the Born Before Computers (BBC) can’t afford to be on the driving seat of the agenda. They need to allow young people to choose their own fate and be there to share their thoughts when required based on their past experience. What we need is a new type of leadership, “Amalgam Leadership” a blend of old experience and wisdom with new age knowledge, energy, and skills.
Dear leaders, if you can’t tweet, you can’t run the continent. Following one hashtag can tell you how thousands of your people think about you. Mugabe could have done this earlier. Ask radio and TV station owners the amount of traffic they lose to digital platforms. This generation was built to question everything, it is not their fault its technology. The knowledge is available everywhere is not centered around a few people. We understand in Africa the council of elders doesn’t make mistakes, and if they make mistakes they don’t agree publicly. They find a way to fix mistakes by offering sacrifices to the gods. Your best sacrifice is to sit down with the youths and decide the fate of our continent together. If we are to explore the “pathways to prosperity” then let’s use the resources of the clan to explore them together.
Dear leaders, integration is key, Africa needs to trade with Africa. If a business works well in Lilongwe why should we have issues to scale it in Addis? What is the point of both of us producing the same thing and selling in the same market? Even our ancient fathers knew better when they were introducing the concept of barter trade, value is obtained when you exchange goods of different nature in different markets. When China and her friends looking to exploit our 1.2 billion people market, we are still talking about what type of integration will work better for us. What we have so far is not working anything new is acceptable. Enough of talks in the conferences we need transactions to happen.
Dear leaders, in no way I’m offending you. Only you can transform this continent. Consider this as advice of a youth who has been given a seat in the council of elders to explain the feelings of other African youths. What we are requesting is trust, trust us, invest on us, and we will do wonders together. We are all that you got. Please use us wisely.
Follow hashtag #Africa4IR on Social Media, we are looking to have these conversations in the next #SaharaSparks event on our leadership panel. The future of Africa is now.
- National Geographic — This Tanzanian city may soon be one of the world’s most populous. Is it ready?
- Brookings.edu — How industries without smokestacks can address Africa’s youth unemployment crisis
- Citylab.com — The Bright Future of Dar es Salaam, an Unlikely African Megacity
- Nyuafricahouse.org — “Pathways for African Shared Prosperity in the New Technological Reality” with Professor Benno J. Ndulu
- Jumanne Mtambalike — The Council Of Elders Is Feeling Exposed.