AFRICA today is at an important economic and political crossroads. Many citizens are asking what has happened to our great continent. Politicians are daily hurling insults and threats against each other forgetting the suffering masses? Where is our continent going? Where are the patriotic national leaders to speak up on behalf of the people of Africa and offer concrete solutions? Africa is not poor and we can reverse all these negative statistics within 10 years if we unite and use our natural resources in a prudent manner. Africa is ‘sitting on a time bomb of youth unemployment’.
Whichever way one sees it, the truth is, widespread unemployment is the grease that smoothens the spread of abject poverty and insecurity in Africa. Indeed, the hallmark of poverty and crimes in Africa is the high level of unemployment among her active-age citizens. If Africa can tackle the high rate of unemployment in the country by creation of productive employment for its millions of unemployed citizens and those engaged in unproductive-manual jobs, doors to prosperity in the land will open. BUT we need a significant paradigm shift –an emphasis on nurturing bottom-up change rather than top-down dictates. The reason: donor driven programmes and one-size-fits-all solutions do not work as well anymore in meeting the complex challenges of the 21st century economic markets.
Growth, job creation and shared prosperity lies in creating opportunities for entrepreneurs and small companies to find financing, accessing new emerging markets, and building new networks to connect innovators, suppliers and customers across traditional geographies. To be clear: we are not simply calling for more Government tax revenue-sharing with the people or just taxing the Multinationals more, what we need is pragmatic sustainable links between the private sector and Governments across Africa. We need honest answers to real issues affecting the people.
The changes we need to accelerate private-led innovation in regions and communities do not begin, or end, there. What we need instead is to create the incentives and architecture for a new Regional Race to the Top, for all Africa’s regions. We need creative approaches for public private collaboration. Change begins with the business sector and local community stakeholders at the centre of the conversation – not as an afterthought. There is too much on the line for our economy to be bogged down in oversimplified debates from the past. We need decisive actions from the Governments and the people of Africa. It is time for Africa to arise and shine.