By Onoruoiza Mark ONUCHI
Africa is at the cusp of an industrial revolution – the potential of becoming the world’s continental powerhouse for natural and human capital. It seats atop over 60% of the world’s arable land, offering it the capacity to feed the world coupledwith a vibrant youth population that can help activate this vision. It also has in abundance natural gas, oil, iron, uranium, copper, bauxite, cobalt, diamonds, gold, silver and more across the four regions of the continent of 54 countries. With machine power and manpower integration, the rapid transformation on the continent would be unparalleled.
Africa’s current population is over 1.3 Billion, about 16.64% of the total world population with a median age of 19.4 years well ahead of other continents in terms of youthful energy to champion radical transformation across economic sectors but the paradox that continue to plague the continent is its brazen culture of corruption and its predatory norm for vile leadership.
According to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Africa’s young population between 0 and 24 years old will increase by nearly 50% by 2050. According to the World Economic Forum by 2050, Africa will be home to 1 Billion young people (15 – 24 years). This is a huge human capital that could reposition Africa if the leaders
buckle up to the reality of the times.
With sub-Saharan Africa housing six of the globe’s 10 fastest-growing economies, it can in no time become an epicentre for economic growth and an intercontinental ecosystem for trade and commerce.
From the highlands of Nairobi to the vales of Johannesburg; from the upland of Cairo to the coastal plains of Lagos, the youth bulge is palpable and the erupting symphony of this ilk is inspiring a revolutionary trend. The increasing hordes of entrepreneurial clusters and tech hubs littered across these landscapes is an attestation to this disruption.
This change would have long been effectuated if the leadership on the continent are much younger, laser-focused and patriotic but the wide gap premised on sittight-syndrome by septuagenarian leaders who prefer death in office than the option of vacating their presidential offices honorably is giving the populace credible leadership deficit and infrastructural shortfall. This has generated youth unemployment, underemployment, cybercrimes, poverty and a whole lot of other vices that come with joblessness.
As a heavily import dependent continent the need to galvanize a revolutionary transformation agenda through path-breaking industrialization, infrastructural revolution and innovative digitalization through corporate governance mechanisms can help it chart its way to becoming the continental hub of the world.
Amongst the unpleasant lot, there are still continental top performers who are rewriting the narratives and giving the world enough to debate on, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana are leading the pack with radical reforms to engender the required revolution for economic impact. While the government may not be able to do it alone, heavyweight entrepreneurs are also championing chart bursting opportunities to empower passionate youths across.
Africa through credible platforms like The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) by the Nigerian Billionaire entrepreneur, philanthropist and investor, Tony O. Elumelu CON. Aliko Dangote GCON, one of the wealthiest business men in Africa with investments across 18 African countries and the largest business conglomerate in West Africa is also poised to impact youths in Africa.
We also have young vibrant entrepreneurs who have built their businesses from zilch to global reckoning of which magazines like Forbes Africa continue to showcase to the world. Recently, 20 teenage South Africans built a plane in an unprecedented manner telling the world what the African youth can achieve with just a little push, a feat they achieved in just ten days.
Amidst wars, conflicts, underemployment, unemployment, poor infrastructure, rising illiteracy, cybercrimes, joblessness – there is still hope in the horizon for Africa: trailblazers, highfliers and pathfinders are rising from the ashes of pain and poverty to drive the rebirth of a new Africa.
ONUCHI is a Management Consultant and Business Strategist and
Member of the 2019 Workforce Magazine Intelligence Board.