The African malaise
Africa is a continent of diversity rooted in countless shades of culture and tradition, endowed with resources as far as the mind can imagine both in man and material. Sadly, both have not yet been put to effective use.
Africa has been called so many names, borne so many titles and is downgraded by the rest of the world. For many years, we have been called ‘The dark continent’, ‘capital of the third world’, ‘cynosure of underdevelopment’. Unconsciously, Africans have accepted these titles and lived with them. However at the dawn of the information age, thousands of its inhabitants beg to differ, they have (in diverse ways) seized the opportunity to correct the false notion.
In simple terms, Africa faces colossal population dilemma. There’s nothing wrong with about having a huge population. In a society like China this has been harnessed and put to use. However in Africa, man power is often left unattended. Thus, we have millions of idle people on the streets that depend on fate and the government for their survival. The unemployment rate is abysmal. The Africa Center for Economic Transformation (ACET) reports that‘about 50% of graduates are regularly unemployed because of the lack of availability of jobs.’ Unemployment and underemployment pose the greatest threats to Africa’s development today. With idle youths parading, there is an inevitable increase in crime rate which indirectly provides a platform for terrorism as an avenue to vent grievances.
The only viable solution to this problem is entrepreneurship. Merriam Webster dictionary defines an entrepreneur as a person who organizes, manages and assumes the risks of a business, (in other words a self-employed person). The only way Africa can break away from the shackles of poverty is to promote the practice of entrepreneurship. We must emphasize the need for self-employment and independence from the government’s welfare for survival.
How fast is entrepreneurship growing?
Travelling from Nigeria’s buzzing commercial hub, Lagos, to the rising city,Kigali then, to the city that never sleeps, Nairobi. It is only visible that the wave of entrepreneurship is rising in Africa. Local technology incubation hubs are reshaping the once dark continent.
In his article, Why African entrepreneurship is booming, Ndubuisi Ekekwe recounts ‘Last month, I visited my village, Ovim in southeastern Nigeria. I met a painter who also manufactures the paint he uses for his work. According to him, his business nearly collapsed early in the year when he could not access the foreign exchange market to import the raw materials required for paint production. At that time, the Nigerian Central Bank was running a currency control regime which stifled the importation of goods for small businesses. But despite these challenges, the painter came up with new ideas to keep his business going. He created a new type of paint from non-toxic materials, using materials sources locally. The new paint has no smell and dries within minutes of application. I was impressed.’
Creating a niche for herself is Teta Isibo, a Rwandan fashion entrepreneur and founder Inzuki designs that specializes in jewellery and home decor that fuses Rwandan traditional craftsmanship and global contemporary design. Teta says, ‘The whole essence of our business is the fusion of Rwandan traditional and global contemporary, and the traditional comes from the skills of local artisans.’ Teta has been featured on many international platforms including Forbes.
Uganda, Paul Isaac Musasizi is the CEO of tech company Kiira Motors Corporation and the brains behind Africa’s first solar-powered electric bus. The 35-seater ‘Kayoola’ as is called runs on two batteries, one that is powered by solar and an electric one to drive passengers at night. The solar-powered bus is an indigenous solution to unemployment and the transportation problem in Africa. It also supports the climate change action initiative by the United Nations. In an interview, Musasizi explains that ‘no other country manufacturing vehicles are on the equator like Uganda. We should celebrate that and make a business of it.’
Similarly, IssamDami is the founder of Lagare.ma. Lagare.ma is Morocco’s first electronic bus station which allows people book bus tickets online instead of standing in queues. The transport app is available in 10 languages and serves more than 25,000 frequent customers.
To be continued next week