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Africa Day 2020: It’s my African dream- that time for Africa and Africans has finally come

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The Africa Day has been annually celebrated on the continent and by African communities in other parts of the world since 1963. It is a commemoration of the foundation of the Organisation of African Unity – now known as the African Union- and a tribute to the achievements made by African leaders over 50 years ago to decolonize the continent and pave the way for a greater Africa .

The main objective of the 30 nations who met on that day of may 25th in Ethiopia, Under the leadership of the Pan-African President Kwame Nkrumah, was to unite Africa and identify post-independence socio-economic development concerns which were plaguing the continent.

Since then, a lot has been made politically, socially and economically to grow Africa. And there is still a lot to be done because, despite being blessed with a rich bounty of natural resources (the continent holds around 30% of the world’s known mineral reserves, including cobalt, uranium, diamonds and gold, as well as significant oil and gas reserves), it has fertile soils that produces cocoa, coffee and tea, Africa is still one of the poorest land on earth with almost 50% of the population living on less than $1.25 per day.

So, why is it that a continent with such vast potential wealth can remain so poor? Why do we see so many Africans looking for survival means outside of their home country? why do we still see thousand of people so desperate to quit Africa that they are ready to draw in the waters? Why, 56 years after the Africa Union was formed, the situation of the continent is still looking so terrible?

“The black continent”

My whole life, I’ve heard people -including Africans- talking about Africa as “the black continent”. Not because of the skin of the people living there but because of the multiple challenges we face .

Poverty, over-dependence on international aid, weak governance and lack of true leadership, endless wars and conflicts, lack of international intelligence, huge dependence to western countries, etc…all these factors are painted in such a negative way by the medias and other analysts that even African themselves tend to forget where the Truth is and develop, together with the international readers and visioners an Africaphobia or a sense of mercy that doesn’t play in favor of the attractivity of the continent. I am not saying everything is false, I am just thinking everything is not that hopeless.

With Africa always being held in bad light, very few of its positive aspects are ever allowed to come to the forefront. I remember when I shared my enthusiasm of returning to the continent, many people not understanding my willingness to leave my comfort zone in France to go back to this terrible place in the world. I’m not even sure they realized how weird their comments were so these biases become unconscious.

These stereotypes sometimes give a wrong perception of what Africa really is and what Africans really are.

No, Africa is not a country. It’s the second largest continent in the world made of 54 countries with many different cultures, traditions, and ethnic groups. No, Africa is not all jungle ; the Sahara Desert makes up one-third of the continent. No, not all African embrace Voodoo or black magic, not all Africans are polygamous, all African men are not inattentive to their child, all business leaders are corrupt … and yes, Africa has bookstores!

I know every country, every culture has its own stereotype and biases but I thought interesting to demystify at least few of them, although King Hassan II said one shouldn’t “waste time putting forward arguments in good faith in the face of people of bad faith”.

Some of these stereotypes are sometimes true. Yes, Africa is still facing several challenges as it struggles to free itself from poverty, including weak healthcare and education systems. Yes, Africa has the youngest population in the globe and a chronic unemployment that makes the task our continent faces even more challenging. Yes, Africa is struggling against internal conflicts… But as the McKinsey & Company studies published in Nov 2018 says, ” Africa is ready for an economic boom similar to that of Asia” .

If Africa handles its proper new opportunities wisely, this time, finally, may be the time of African themselves.

The Africa dream is real!

With its population expected to double by 2050 (by 2025, the UN predicts that there will be more Africans than Chinese people) and its $5.6 trillion dollars in projected consumer and business spending by 2025, with its 400 companies at annual revenues of $1B or more, with its 89 cities of over 1 million inhabitants by 2030 and the potential growth in manufacturing output by 2025, with 122M active users of Financial mobile services, 11M square miles of land-three times that of Europe, the continent is becoming more and more important for investors.

And hopefully the African population itself. These flourishing numbers certainly explain the reason why there has been much talk of an African renaissance in recent years. Europe, Americas and Asia, governments and businesses from all around the world are all fighting to increase their influence in the continent and take advantage of its massive opportunities.

…but unless the business in Africa is beneficial to all parties, it can’t be sustainable and it will not eradicate poverty.

Africa is hungry not because there is no food. Nor because it’s poor. It is just that those who need the food and money are not getting it because, one way or the other, those who have the power and the means have not cared enough to do something about it.

Acemoglu and Robinson assert in their book Why Nations Fail’ that the major difference between developed countries and developing countries is in their political evolution. Developed countries have political and economic systems that are inclusive and offer opportunities for most people to create wealth.

Still, statistics says 80% of the global wealth is controlled by 10% of the worldwide population. If those involved in driving the economic engine are not more inclusive, independently of their community, nation, religion or race (and even gender), if they are not ready to drive the economic engine in a fair way that will lead to including every human being, it is the whole humanity which will finally suffer from it.

Also Read: Meet Seipati Mokhuoa – CEO Southern African Women In Leadership (SAWIL)

As an example, providing good health care and qualitative education for the disadvantaged populations is not charity. It is an investment that creates quality human resources and expands markets, furthering the reach and scope of the economic engine. Leaving over 50% of the population out of an active involvement in the economic process does not make good business sense.

Often, the engagement of Africa with the rest of the world has been positive. New infrastructures are built, new factories, new companies flying in and out… but the results over decades shows it’s still not enough, what is needed now is true economic empowerment. and it goes with solid leadership.

African Union’s 2063 Agenda, “is an approach to how the continent should effectively learn from the lessons of the past, build on the progress now underway and strategically exploit all possible opportunities available in the short, medium and long term, so as to ensure positive socio-economic transformation within the next 50 years.”

Education, entrepreneurship and women empowerment can help Africa thrive in the next 50 years. They have been ignored for too long now. And today, more than ever, we have the necessary resources, capabilities and technology to fix almost all the problems in the continent, provided we finally unite our 54 strengths. Whether we want to do it or not simply depends on how inclusive our economy becomes, and how courageous, visionary and focused on inclusive long term goals, our leaders are .

It’s my African dream: that time for Africa and Africans has finally come.

Article By: Elisabeth Moreno, Vice President and Managing Director HP

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Africa speaks

Africa Rising: Why Project Managers Are Critical to Africa’s Future

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Photo by NESA by Makers on Unsplash

With a rapidly growing population and economy, Africa is poised to take on massive infrastructure upgrades, and they’ll need talented project managers to lead the charge.

If you want to see the future of project management, look to Africa. The world’s second largest continent by both land mass and population is home to the world’s largest free-trade zone and is experiencing significant population growth and urbanization. These trends, in turn, are driving massive investments in infrastructure, but they’re also giving rise to flourishing film and music industries and attracting significant technology investment dollars.

What’s especially exciting about the future of Africa is the coming “youthquake” poised to drive change across the region. Fully 75 percent of the population is under 25! This means that the people who stand to benefit the most from all these developments are the young. It also means that responsibility for managing many of these projects will be shouldered by a new generation of project managers. 

 

These young managers have a natural affinity for the growing African film, music and technology industries: 

  • Nigeria is home to “Nollywood” – the second largest movie industry in the world after Bollywood in terms of output. It produces 2,500 films a year. 
  • The African music industry is also thriving. New African streaming platforms like Boomplay, uduX and Simfy have emerged in recent years, attracting investments from music industry stalwarts like Universal and Warner. And consumers are flocking to hot new music festivals like AfroChella and Afro Nation. 
  • Africa is also pulling in investment dollars from technology and fintech firms. According to African Tech Startups Funding Report, 311 African tech startups raised $491.6 million last year alone. And a report from Briter Bridges and GSMA indicates the number of active tech hubs in Africa has almost doubled to 618 over the last three years.

In addition to these industry hot spots, infrastructure remains a high priority across the continent. Despite recent economic development, only 38 percent of the African population has access to electricity. Three-quarters of all roads are unpaved. And 416 million Africans still live in extreme poverty. These numbers spell out why infrastructure development remains such an urgent priority. 

Also Read: L’Oréal Appoints Hlengiwe Mathenjwa As Director

In 2018, for the first time, Africa’s commitments to infrastructure projects exceeded US$ 100 billion, according to the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA). These mega projects included: 

  • Grand Inga Dam on the Congo River in the Democratic Republic of Congo – Estimated to cost US$ 80 billion, Grand Inga is the world’s largest hydropower project in the world (and expected to be twice as large as the Three Gorges Dam in China). 
  • Bagamonyo Port in Tanzania – A joint venture of Tanzania, China and Oman will be the largest port in East/Central Africa. 
  • Konzo Technology City in Kenya – Called Africa’s Silicon Savanna after Silicon Valley in the U.S., this smart city project is part of Kenya’s Vision 2030 plan and is expected to generate 17,000 high-value jobs and 68,000 indirect jobs.

As noted, both population growth and urbanization are powering this development. Already home to 1.2 billion people, Africa has the highest rate of population growth in the world. The United Nations projects that more than half of all global population growth will occur in Africa, and the population of sub-Sahara Africa alone is expected to double by 2050.  

Africa is also increasingly urban. The world’s fastest-growing cities are now in sub-Saharan Africa where, according to the World Bank, 472 million people live in cities. They expect that number to more than double to 1 billion by 2040, due to high birth rates and migration from rural areas. (That’s the fastest rate of urbanization in the world.)  

All these developments are creating enormous demands for project managers who can deal not only with technical complexity but with the transnational nature of many of the projects. An 832-kilometer electrical transmission project in West Africa, for example, crosses four countries: Nigeria, Niger, Benin and Burkina Faso. The LAPSSET megaproject in East Africa involves a port and oil refinery in Kenya, a railway line and two pipelines between southern Sudan and Ethiopia, and three airports, among other projects. 

The pace of development is just as rapid within individual countries. In Zambia, where the population has doubled to 17 million since 1993, infrastructure projects include four international airports, the US$ 4 billion Batoka Gorge hydroelectric power station, and Link 8000, a 10-year, US$ 31 billion project to rehab and construct 2,000 kilometers of roads.   

The need and opportunity for young project managers are clearly immense – but so are the challenges. Some of these challenges are economic. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Africa’s economy is expected to contract between 2.1 and 5.1 percent in 2020 – the region’s first recession in 25 years.  

Large-scale projects can ensure long-term growth, but they also require sophisticated project management skill sets. Young project managers will need training and mentorship to lead Africa’s development efforts. At PMI, we’re supporting their needs through our training and certification programs and through the guidance and encouragement that comes with participating in local chapter activities.

The next generation of project managers in Africa will play a critical role in transforming their continent, and, in doing so, will inevitably reshape the world of project management. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see what’s next! 

Author: Otema Yirenkyi, VP Global Engagement, Sub-Saharan Africa

PMI

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Africa speaks

Systemic Racism- A Case of Elon Musk

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Humankind artwork by @tristaneaton flew with the Dragon spacecraft this past Saturday.

Please note: This article is not about Elon Musk and his family being racist or direct supporters of any form of oppression. (Article by: Mariatheresa Samson Kadushi)

“You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great- and that’s what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It’s about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars.”- Elon Musk

For me and my 10 year old son, our biggest news for the past few days has been SpaceX’ Falcon 9 historic launch. Stuck in two different continents due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, it didn’t stop us from livestreaming and witnessing two astronauts embarking on Crew Dragon’s second demonstration (Demo-2) mission, launching from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida (USA) to the International Space Station. #launchamerica was a great moment of inspiration and turning point for Elon Musk’sexploration mission to the Moon, Mars and Beyond.

Humankind artwork by @tristaneaton flew with the Dragon spacecraft this past Saturday.

In parallel to #launchamerica this week, another big news has been protests in United States and around the world following George Floyd’s death. Masses of people have been expressing their outrage against police brutality and racial profiling. More frustration is directed towards systemic racism that allows a flawed criminal justice system to thrive; one recent example being lack of action for two months after Ahmaud Arbery’s murder by a white ex cop.

What would have been Elon Musk’s future if he was born black in South Africa?

Elon Musk was born in South Africa eighteen years after apartheid was established. Apartheid was a system of institutionalised racial segregation that existed in South Africa and South West Africa (now Namibia) from 1948 until the early 1990s. It was characterised by an authoritarian political culture based on baasskap (or white supremacy), which ensured that South Africa was dominated politically, socially, and economically by the nation’s minority white population. (Source: Wikipedia)

Race was a deciding factor for the quality of education, housing, healthcare, voting, public services, employment, business or property ownership and marital or sexual relationships. Over the years, racial separation and oppression resulted to not only peaceful protests but also violent resistance, thousands of deaths, mass incarceration, detention and extreme use of police force.

Despite remarkable efforts and strong opposition within South Africa and globally Apartheid remained in effect for more than 48 years.

An image illustrating segregation in South Africa (Image credit: Mariatheresa Samson Kadushi)

“ The native [referring to an African] must not be subject to a school system which draws him away from his own community, and misleads him by showing him the green pastures of European society in which he is not allowed to graze”- Dr. Hendrik Verwoerd “Minister of Native Affairs” (1950–1958).

If Elon Musk was born black in South Africa he would have been subjected to attend Bantu schools, a separate education system that was designed to prepare blacks to lead their lives as a laboring class. This, along with many other hurdles would have made it difficult or even impossible for him to build a future that is currently transforming and creating new possibilities for humankind. If Elon Musk was born black in South Africa, his skin color would have been a deciding factor for his intellect, existence and future.

To the privileged ones……

From time to time, people based on their skin colour find themselves in a lesser or superior side of the playing field. Elon Musk and many white South africans were just born in an unequal society, they neither asked for it nor had much of a say on how oppressive structures were run by the state. Systemic oppression is not individualistic and white privilege doesn’t mean that your life is not difficult, it plainly means that the color of your skin isn’t one of the things contributing to your life difficulties.

In this era, we can collectively take action against structures of oppression and institutionalized racism. If you are white, examine your privilege and educate yourself, become an ally, voice your opinion, join people of color in protesting peacefully, build resistances and support movements easing racial disparities and injustices.

Here is a poem by my white friend Joel Moskowitz.

I too am familiar with hatred as I am a Jew, but in today’s America my problems are relatively few,

For the brown, red, yellow or blacks; equality, fairness and rights is what America lacks,

Protection, justice, enfranchisement and equal opportunity are held back from some, seemingly in perpetuity.

I have never felt the blow from a policeman’s baton nor the tightness of handcuffs ever put on,

I have never unfairly been locked in a cell nor feared routine traffic stops as if facing hell,

I’ve never been needlessly separated from my mother or brother nor rendered uncomfortable by basic interaction as if I was the “other”

I was taught to judge my fellow man by the content of his character only to receive advantage of which I am an all too willing inheritor,

I’ve been told that the arc of morality always points towards justice yet we give no reason for people of color to trust us,

It helps no one if I say I am color blind, if to institutional racism I pay no mind,

If by my silence I perpetuate this evil creed then I am just as guilty for this pernicious deed.

I will conclude with a quote by a human rights activist and Nobel prize winner Desmond Tutu

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

Photo by Xena Goldman

Also Read: These two Africans are helping businesses and individuals spend less time doing expenses with Xpensi

Article by: Mariatheresa Samson Kadushi– Humanist with loud thoughts and Founder, Mobile afya| Digital health | technology and innovations

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Africa speaks

Juliana Olayinka: The Trauma of Racism

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Juliana Olayinka, Broadcast Journalist

I can’t recall ever experiencing a bout of post-traumatic stress disorder until very recently.

After a week of seeing the outrage trend on social media I decided to watch the video footage showing the brutal murder of Ahmaud Arbery.

Unfortunately, the sad tale of Arbery’s untimely death is a familiar one. He was a young black male killed while out jogging in his neighbourhood in Georgia, after being hunted down by father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael. The incident took place on February 23rd. 3 months later the pair were arrested and charged with felony murder and aggravated assault. An indictment that may not have occurred if not for the relentless outpouring of disbelief and horror expressed by the black community and beyond.

For at least 30 minutes after watching the video, I sat frozen at my desk. I could not erase the image of Arbery attempting to fight off the killers out of my mind. What would he have been feeling and thinking at that precise moment? What were his killers thinking? Why did they do this? How can any human being loathe another so deeply purely because of the colour of their skin? I was traumatised.

It’s because of this experience that I have refused to watch the full clip of George Floyd’s murder. I’ve seen the haunting image – it’s unavoidable – but I’m afraid of what that footage will deposit within me. I’m even more afraid of what these depictions of black men and women being slaughtered will do to the younger generations who are consuming this heightened narrative with no pause button.

At times I’ve felt drained and helpless over the past couple of weeks and the global lockdown hasn’t helped to calm the anxiety.Black men and women are nearly twice as likely to die with coronavirus as white people in England and Wales, according to the Office for National Statistics.

As a Black British born woman of Nigerian descent, I’ve often wondered if my opinion matters to the Black Lives Matter Movement whose origins are very much entrenched in the injustice felt by African Americans in the States?

Throughout most of the 15 years that I’ve worked in media- calling out racism has been morphed into having a chip on your shoulder as an ‘angry black woman’. How can I compare losing out on promotions (time and time again) to my less qualified white peers to the brutal murder of an unarmed black man in police custody? These past couple of weeks have taught me that I don’t have to compare the outcome as the intent is all part of the same problem.

Do I believe insidious and institutionalised racism exists in Britain Absolutely I do. The inequalities felt by ethnic minorities in the UK may not manifest itself as overtly as what is being witnessed in America, but the disease of oppression still exists. It exists across the world.

The Historian and Broadcaster David Olusoga summarised this sentiment perfectly in a recent article published in The Observer;

“When black Britons draw parallels between their experiences and those of African Americans, they are not suggesting that those experiences are identical. Few people would deny that in many respects’ life is better for non-white people in the UK than in the US. The problem is that it is not as “better” as some like to believe. Black men are stopped and searched at nine times the rate of white men. Black people make up 3% of the population of England and Wales but account for 12% of the prison population and not since 1971 have British police officers been prosecuted for the killing of a black man, and even then they were charged with the lesser crime of manslaughter and that charge was later dropped.”

Also Read: Black Founders: Here are some fundraising and networking opportunities

Just a few weeks ago my social media feed was flooded with images of lynching, today it’s flooded with images of unity. Of tens of thousands of people from across the world marching together in solidarity for change. The anxiety I used to feel anytime a Black Lives Matter incident trended on social media, has been replaced with hope. The hope that this period may be a defining moment in our quest for equality.

Article by: Juliana Olayinka, a Broadcast Journalist

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