Three things last week told us about Africa
Maybe not everything, but last week’s events showed a great deal of what Africa is and where she is headed. The highlight of the week was President Obama’s visit to Kenya, his father’s land, for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, GES2015. However, happenings around and beyond the American president’s visit contributed significantly to the African conversation. Here are the three main points that it gave us:
Africa is the new entrepreneurship frontier
Africa has often being described as the the Next Frontier for Entrepreneurs, the GES2015 summit in Kenya proved the continent has gotten past that level. It is now the world’s entrepreneurship frontier. Not only did the event bring together leading entrepreneurs from over 120 countries, it also showcased several African stars among them. Many of these African entrepreneurs are young people, and behind them are millions of even younger people across the continent working to create their own entrepreneurship success stories. Success to them is not just measured in profits but also in the socio-economic impact of their ventures. It is this belief that informs Africa’s perception of entrepreneurship as means to create shared prosperity and improve people’s’ lives.
— Ventures Africa (@VenturesAfrica) July 26, 2015
President Obama did not just recognise this belief, he shares it. “I want you all to know that I believe in you,” he said to African entrepreneurs at the GES2015 on Saturday. “I believe that you have the drive and the passion to change the world. You can unlock new solutions to the pressing global challenges that we face. I believe that. I believe that as you make these innovations, you’ll make life better for all of us. And I’m looking forward to being your partner in that process.”
Africa is… not going accept negative labels anymore
The backlash that US TV network, CNN, got for calling Kenya a terror hotbed has sent a clear message to the world that Africa would no longer sit down and accept the negative labels. The Western media has long been guilty of reporting on Africa through negative stereotypes. Their coverage is often focused on conflicts, poverty and suffering, while remaining largely silent on the progress happening across the continent.
CNN’s disproportionately negative report was a perfect example of this, and it got the perfect African response. Africans, and Kenyans in particular, took to twitter to not only denounce the report, but also tell the amazing Kenyan stories that the news network was quiet on. This kickback was more significant because it was not driven by the leaders of government or PR agencies. Instead, ordinary people, empowered by the progress that they are making and united in their resolve not to be badmouthed anymore, took the fight to the western media and won.
Africa still has a lot of Leadership challenges
While President Obama’s visit to Kenya and the GES2015 summit proves that Africa is continent on the move to greater things, the controversial elections in its East African neighbour Burundi shows that there is still some clog in the wheel. Africa has a leadership challenge. It is one of the major inhibitors of the continent’s progress. In Burundi, like in South Sudan, Eritrea, Central African Republic and several other countries, irresponsible leadership continues to limit and obstruct societal progress.
We need to get the concept of Leadership and Democracy and Freedom right in Africa. If not, we WILL never maximise our potentials. #Burundi
— Fola (@PirateHunter_) May 15, 2015
However, Africans are demanding better and accountable leadership, as exemplified in the popular protest in Burkina Faso that removed sit-tight President Blaise Compaore. They are also no longer waiting on their leaders. They are making their own lives and that of their communities better through entrepreneurship. “Entrepreneurship brings down barriers between communities and cultures and builds bridges that help us take on common challenges together,” President Obama said in acknowledgement of the entrepreneurial drive of Africans. Thus, while the quality of government leadership in many African countries remains below expectation, pushed by an increased sociopolitical awareness of the masses and their growing can-do spirit, it is bound to improve.