AFRICANGLOBE – Post-colonial Africa is in its fourth generation. Over the past few decades, each generation has had a specific role to play: the first generation fought for, and gained, independence from their colonisers. The second generation, marked by greed and corruption, largely destroyed all that the first had fought for. The third was tasked with cleaning up the mess made by the second.
So where does that leave us – Africa’s fourth post-independence generation? It is up to us to build large-scale prosperity for Africa for the first time in its post-colonial history. Although much remains to be done, the second generation’s mess has largely been cleaned up and Africa is the most stable it has been in decades. Inter- and intra-state conflict is declining and trade is booming. Africa’s 5 % annual GDP growth is four times that of the EU, and between 2011 and 2015, African countries will account for seven of the ten fastest-growing economies in the world.
In many African countries, reliance on foreign aid is declining while foreign investment is pouring in. Across the continent, people are healthier, better educated, and more connected with each other and the rest of the world than ever.
Our generation’s challenge is to find a way to capitalise on these unprecedented changes and achieve transformative growth. Africans everywhere are seizing the opportunity to propel Africa forward and establish ventures capable of addressing the continent’s unique challenges and opportunities. Consider Alpesh Patel, the Ugandan-born chief executive and founder of Mi-Fone, the first African mobile phone company. Mi-Fone has a presence in 15 African countries and is leading cultural change by launching the first Afro emoticons, becoming the first company to address the lack of diversity in the world of Emojis.
Investors are recognising the role of entrepreneurship in building Africa’s prosperity. This year, members of the African Leadership Network (ALN), a community of influential young African leaders, pooled $2m to address early-stage entrepreneurs’ greatest challenge – access to capital. With these funds, ALN is launching ALN Ventures, a pan-African accelerator programme that identifies and supports entrepreneurs who have scalable private ventures. It connects them with funding, coaching, mentoring and strategic skills to enable them to grow their ventures from local startups into regional powerhouses that will create jobs and catalyse Africa’s prosperity.
Such developments are driving Africa’s renaissance. People everywhere are replacing their outdated notions of a continent ridden with poverty, violence, and despair with one of opportunity, drive and innovation. Africa’s success story is finally becoming mainstream – yet sustained growth is not inevitable. Policy environments at both the national and global levels must be favourable to entrepreneurs. Nationally, entrepreneurs must be enabled to build their businesses through clear ules and regulations and concerted efforts to tackle corruption.
There have been some successes in this area. Rwanda, devastated by genocide only 20 years ago, has rocketed to 32nd worldwide on the World Bank’s “ease of doing business” ranking. Botswana, 30th onTransparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, is one of the world’s least corrupt countries. And at the international level, trade and investment agreements must reduce protectionism and allow African businesses to participate fully in the global economy. These improvements must spread in order to support entrepreneurs, scale up innovations and make a real impact on ordinary Africans’ lives.
Despite the continued challenges of achieving positive change within the African context, I have full faith in this fourth generation: a brilliant and diverse community of innovators, leaders and visionaries. Every day, we are coming up with original and impactful ways of realising our shared purpose of unlocking Africa’s full potential. If we don’t do it, who will?
By: Fred Swaniker
Mr. Swaniker is the founder of the African Leadership Network
Some Good News From Africa