By Professor Terrence O. Kommal 1h ago
Unleashing Africa’s potential requires bold and transformative reforms that first begin with mindsets
Just imagine that glorious day when every African excitedly wakes up to live their African dream in Africa and for Africa in the world.
Imagine when the positive energy is pounding through their veins, our veins, at the realisation that as a people we have the infinite potential to unlock the true value of Africa for the world.
Currently, Africa’s population is almost the same as that of China. Yet, the Chinese economy and GDP is more than six times larger than the GDP of the entire continent of Africa.
As one of the most resource-rich continent’s in the world, it is perplexing to try to understand why Africa is still seen as a destitute continent waiting with a begging bowl for handouts from the more developed economies around the world.
The sad reality is this perception of Africa has also been internalised by many of us Africans living in Africa. This negative outlook, much to the frustration of the excited, passionate, and engaged youth of Africa, is the first part of our self-imposed limitation against Africa’s growth as a people and a continent.
According to the IMF, every day, just in sub-Saharan Africa, more than 90,000 people connect to the internet for the first time.
Every week, countries in parts of Africa export about $6.5 billion (about R88.7 billion) in goods but less than 20% of that is exported within Africa.
Every year, more than 20 million young and eager Africans enter the labour market. It is predicted that in the 10–15 years, almost one in two new job seekers globally will come from Africa.
With so much potential in Africa, it begs the question as to why we have not maximised our potential in the continent yet. In my view, one of the underlying critical principles is identifying a strong enough “why” as the purpose for why we want to change our lives.
At this stage, I also strongly believe that the solution lies in “social capitalism” across Africa. Social capitalism is the system that has the ideology of liberty, equality, and justice.
Therefore, instead of accumulating only economic capital, social capital also measures value all in forms, including human capital, social capital, natural resources capital.
To accelerate our development in a socialist capitalistic perspective I believe the three I’s of integrity, innovation and impact are critical components to building a robust mindset and platform to accelerate the development of the youth and continent of Africa.
In terms of integrity, it needs to be seen in three contexts: the individualistic, the immediate family environment, and then the societal/continental environment.
When one looks at the individualistic level, one needs to have a strong understanding and believe in yourself and the purpose of what you intend to do as an individual.
As an innovator or entrepreneur, you need to create solutions, products and services that are meaningful and create value in people's lives’. Solutions for the family societal and continental environments can and will naturally flow when there is a strong enough purpose and value creation focus of the youth and leaders in Africa.
In terms of innovation, the first transformation that needs to happen is internalising that innovation is believing that solutions can be found and should be found to increase efficiencies and access to services and products.
This innovative mindset change must also include an understanding that long-term sustainable solutions require dedicated immediate action that is transparent, meaningful and purposeful by the youth, entrepreneurs, businesses and government.
Technology solutions like machine learning, artificial intelligence, cloud-based services and real-time information sharing are the implementation of innovative mindsets ideas and solutions to improve the quality of lives of people and increase their access to opportunities, education and services.
In a world and continent currently still devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic we must realise that healthcare is a critically important component that underlies all solutions that need to be found in Africa and around the world.
Therefore, urgent solutions need to be found to solving the needs of social determinants of health include access to good clean water, nutrition, sanitation, access to healthcare facilities, etc.
For the third “I” which is impact, solutions by the youth entrepreneurs and businesses need to also focus on the long-term impact of what they do which includes people and the environment. Businesses must purposefully create value for their non-shareholding stakeholders, to become a sustainable and relevant business.
Africa urgently needs tough and resilient youth, who can develop into highly balanced individuals with great emotional intelligence and the ability to drive momentum and execution in entrepreneurship.
To begin working on your ideas and solutions, in the early stages, capital and money is much less important than passion, commitment and courage.
Build on your current skills and learn to be agile, dedicated and committed. Actively seek mentors to learn from their experience and wisdom and accelerate your growth.
As a continent and people, now is the time to focus on building solutions in Africa for Africa, and the world.
* Professor Terrence O. Kommal, is a medical doctor and an Extraordinary Professor of Practice at North West University. He is also the Chairman of the Medical Expert Consulting Group and the SA Veterans Investments Group. He was selected as a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum in March 2021.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL and Independent.