Monday 25 January 2016

After Davos 2016

Instead of posting my own recap of what happened at DAVOS 2016, I felt it was better for me to give you a sort of prelude to the coming World Economic Forum On Africa 2016 that will be coming up in Rwanda this May. 

However, I could still also link you to a document that does perhaps some level of justice to the highlights of DAVOS in a more global sense.

By the way, I must apologize for having not yet posted my thoughts on the 2015 edition of the WEF On Africa that came up in Cape Town South Africa in June 2015. I did however manage to post my commentary on the 2014 edition. That’s the very least I could have done anyway, considering that that one was held in my own country (Nigeria).   
But anyway, I also added some context to it that I gained by also following the narrative from the US-Africa Business Forum which came up a few months after. I encourage you to check that out after reading this post.

Clever Gatete, Finance Minister of Rwanda, where the World Economic Forum On Africa will hold on MAY 2016


There is no doubt that it is time for Africa. But I am sure that by now you know that is a huge understatement. Yet, let me just say that no matter who you are or what you do, as long as you are reading this words right now, you really need to become interested and connected to what and what is unfolding on the continent. Yes, I mean that!

As the developed world advances further and further into becoming Knowledge Economies, we in the developing world are at the risk of becoming even more at a disadvantage when it comes to global trade.

First off, when our predominantly agriculture-based economies were predicated almost exclusively on harvesting crops and mining raw materials, we were at a disadvantage because we relied heavily on their production of the technology and equipment we needed, like fertilizers, irrigation systems and oil rigs (they were manufacturing economies then).

Then we arrived at this point, where we've become a hybrid of  mostly agriculture-based and sparsely manufacture-based economies. Here we are still at the disadvantage that we can’t really manufacture goods that are worthy of export to other continents, even though at least, we've started producing a few of the goods that we use, which are growing our economies at faster rates than the agricultural culture alone did. 

Yet, when we look ahead into the future of these knowledge economies, we begin to see a picture where they will soon be driven mostly by their consulting services sector (thus knowledge) more than manufacturing. 
They are already using data to drive innovation and to create remarkable solutions to human problems (albeit sometimes creating some new problems in the process).

Shifting Towards A Knowledge Economy

I don’t mean to scare you, but I must awaken us to the fact that we have to get our acts together. 
Here in Nigeria, we have been too sluggish in dealing with our woeful electricity supply deficit. It is too shameful to begin to discuss how poor it has been, and how no visible changes have been made despite all that was promised by the previous governments.

From my observation, it is almost certain that the rulers in Nigeria still DO NOT UNDERSTAND the role that electricity plays in all forms of development, especially the manufacturing sector. 
The wretched state of electricity in Africa (along with corruption) has probably been the most crucial factor in our sluggish crawl to industrialization.

Now, I know that CNBC Africa’s Chief Correspondent and South African journalist, Bronwyn Nielsen has been very active at bringing this issue to the front burner, but I am appealing to every African (especially Nigerians) to press this point even more than ever before.

There is a lot more to be said about how to take our positions as manufacturing economies, but for now I am focusing on the most rudimentary ingredient. Of course, those of you that are part of our Digital Africa community know that my first advocacy is always for broadband internet access for every African. And also future-oriented education, and relentless skill acquisition using the Web. Yet, I realize that power (electricity) is critical; especially for those things to even work.


My advice would be to find out what the topics of discussion are at the WEForum On Africa, and how your current knowledge/education, skill set, or interests may relate to those topics, and the consequences that could possibly come out of the discussions on such topics.

Was that sentence a bit confusing?  

I will illustrate:

1) Future Energy was a big topic among African leaders at Davos 2016 (a few days ago).
I personally have no education in engineering or material science or whatever relates to energy, yet I was trained as a journalist, and I personally became interested and obsessed with solar energy when I realized how much more the sun has been blasting us in the city of Lagos since the last decade.

As a result, I will be joining this particular conversations about future energy to do whatever I can to spread information and ideas on transitioning Africa smoothly into solar and energy storage technologies. This is also sure to make me read more on the topics surrounding energy in general, not just renewable. 

2) Inclusive Growth has been an ongoing topic on the WEF on Africa platform. 

If you are an economist, or you work in the financial sector, or even if you have developer skills in designing mobile apps, you might want to consider keeping up with this topic in order to learn of what the major policy makers and industry players are actively doing to enable/sponsor solutions that foster inclusive growth or information dissemination on it among the masses.

In so doing you are likely to discover opportunities to develop applications that can be useful for such endeavors.
These are just a few tips on where to start thinking, in terms of being a responsible citizen on our beautiful continent. I am sure you can come up with much better thought paths that can help key our people (especially the younger generation) into the debates and discussions that have a greater impact on our future than we often consider.

There are always other important global issues to discuss, like gender issues, health care, and of course the future of technology, robots and artificial intelligence.   

Ariana Huffington was perhaps the most engaging speaker at Davos as she touched on a wide range of issues.  

So don’t forget, like I said before, see this as an OPPORTUNITY. Consider the great economist, Adam Smith’s words, and think also of your own selfish interests. Plug in and be connected!

Thanks and Happy New Year.

Please stay with Digital Africa as we look forward to World Economic Forum Rwanda in May 2016. We will definitely be giving our own opinions and hoping to hear yours during or immediately after that event. Please join us. You can click on the “Keep Up With This Blog” icon below the Blog Archives in the top right column of this page, and also join our Digital Africa community on GooglePlus here

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