The AU Summit has been going on for the last nine days and I cannot help but reflect on some of the shortcomings in Africa. For one, many people still live in extremely difficult conditions, with geopolitics not making it easier. Institutions have not lived up to their billing and many promises seem to have either evaporated like water in the hot broiling sun or have taken a backstage to weather catastrophes and other man-made dangers and conflicts.
Nevertheless, there is an optimism that I have for the continent when I reflect on these somewhat sad events. For one, I believe that through technology and the dispersion of the internet – citizens have been empowered to engage their societies, the public, and the world. Technological advancements like M-Pessa have revolutionized banking for instance. What’s more, this revolution is an African one. Jumping on the innovations outside of our boundaries, Kenyans were able to further innovate and contextualize the potential of mobile communication. Does this not excite you? Knowing that although there are many problems, and some of them so terrible it is depressing – that there are also many solutions. There are go-getters and change makers on the continent!
Furthermore, I believe that the world has changed its attitude towards Africa. At least our generation has. The white man’s burden is slowly ebbing away at the tide of innovation and partnership. Similar to the Chinese that looks to Africa for business, younger folks in the West look to Africa as a place where they can meet their passions of a better world – with local innovations and partnerships. This is exciting too. However, credit is due to the innovators and pioneers that sent a message to the world, letting people know that African problems can be addressed by African solutions.
There is a caveat though. The Chinese look to do business, but the risk of exploitation exists. What the true drive for the people engaging in the thousands of innovative projects in Africa is, might not be clear. However, through technology, individuals have become empowered with access to information. Which means, that better decisions can be made. Not a bad start right?
Moreover, African countries – to the credit of African leaders – seek out a more level playing field. This has become a good leverage, due to the rise of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) nations.
I think with this in mind and that unrelenting hopefulness deep down inside of me that I feel now, for a better future tomorrow is exciting.
What better place to begin but excitement right?