Our past must not be neglected for it illuminates the Africa we want. The Pan-African philosophy of Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah, Harambee spirit espoused by Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta, Ujamaa, Socialism Concept developed by Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere and the Ubuntu phenomenon lived by South Africa’s Nelson Mandela must be the guiding post and foundational stone from where the new inspiring story of Africa Rising must be written and told.
Although challenges of twenty first century are more complex, drawing inspiration from the courageous acts of the founding fathers who through sheer determination, some with their own blood freed us from the shackles of colonialism; employing advanced technology of our time we can achieve Food Security, eradicate poverty, eliminate illiteracy and ensure high health Standards for Africans.
No doubt, the world has always considered Africa a dark continent, without capacity to engage in global stage since her inception. This should not become our reality. Instead we must put Africa on the world stage through the concept of United States of Africa fronted by Muammar Gaddafi of Libya. All Africa States and regional blocks must collaborate and partner in building physical infrastructure like roads and railways, international airports and financial institutions while they adopt Africa Preferential Free Trade Area in words and deed. Most importantly, Africa States must decide to develop digital infrastructure that forms the relevant environment where talents, abilities and skills of young men and women will be nurtured and utilized in 21st century globalization.
To achieve the grand dream, Africa leaders must fight the scourge of corruption that has become ubiquitous phenomenon in many Africa countries, condemning many generations to oblivion. Collective governance enabled by genuine consultations through public participation must be accepted and espoused by all leaders and States. The Africa Union, as a queen bee, must promote peace and security. She must ensure amicable resolution of disputes and conflicts among states. Together living in harmony, the mass of over three billion people makes the giant that the world will turn to for protection from hunger and provision of human capital.
Given the dwindling fortune of natural resources coupled by aging population in developed countries, African countries must guard against the second scramble for the Africa. However, we must know they won’t come with guns but dangling appealing carrot of aid. This must be firmly rejected with honor, dignity and wisdom.
Youth bulge has been branded a time bomb that is waiting to explode. Instead of letting our ballooning youthful generation become a curse, we can tap their energy to propel the continent to a new level. Twenty first century youth’s strength lies in the gadgets in their hand. Their agility in using digital tools must be seen as a positive development that we must exploit. Building industrial parks from smallest towns to mega cities in every Africa state, with platforms of e-governments, e-infrastructure, e-education would be a critical step.
From these digital walls we expect more innovative technologies. For instance, JamboPay, a platform developed by youth entrepreneur in Kenya to help in collection of online payment, has been contracted by Nairobi City County to collect their parking revenues. This has increased effectiveness and efficiency helping to curb corruption. With high mobile phone penetration, coupled with massive adoption of mobile money transfer, several applications have been developed offering loans to young people. This phenomenon has critically reduced financial marginalization among youth and women. Financial inclusivity of Africa youth and women portend a tipping point to Africa prosperity if well managed.
Given availability of finance, building capacity becomes the next move that is needed to transform the Africa continent. Massive online classes and training should be initiated from the digital sites hosted in different industrial parks within the continent. Young people should be taught financial management skills, business management skills and many others skills that would be relevant to specific regions in order to enable them build sustainable enterprises.
The urgency to feed Africa and the world remain critical. Young African people have shown interest in advancing agribusiness. Governments must tremendously increase national budgets towards agriculture. More effort should be made in transforming property rights. Women and youth as the critical mass of population and important agents in developing rural agriculture must be allowed to access and own property.
The place of technology in agriculture must never be neglected. Extensive knowledge of mobile phones ownership and usage is a significant happening. Developing mobile applications to share weather changes could be a game changer in the agriculture sector and its value chain. Use of scientific methods and technological innovations will ensure predictability of production hence will enable adoption of crop insurance. With crop insurance then farmers could easily benefit from contract farming.
Postharvest food loss is a menace that has negatively impacted food security agenda. To curb these cold rooms should be expected near production sites. This requires government to be deliberate in connecting electricity to every village, and build good roads. With refrigeration systems and good transport system, it is easy to establish manufacturing sites from where value addition to our products will be done.
Africa states must be aggressive in opening markets both internally and internationally. Indeed, the market within Africa is substantial. However, we know previous failures occasioned by underdeveloped infrastructure and to some extent unstable government regimes, hampered transnational trade. With the establishment of Africa preferential Free Trade Area, well implementation will give Africa, as a continent an edge in the global arena. This will make Africa the giant that will authoritatively engage the world from a vantage point of influence. And this is the we desire to have.