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The Africa I dream of

'if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.' - romans 12:7-8

The African continent is currently at a crossroads, we can either make it or break it. It is apparent that the future of food production and agribusiness is strongly linked to Africa. The continent still has potential to expand area under production and to intensify production through new technologies. This means there could be many opportunities for building strong business relationships with the rest of the world but the question is: "how do we build the bridge between potential and reality?" 
In addition to the resources advantages of good land, favorable climate and abundant minerals, Africa has another advantage - a burgeoning and most youthful population. While the developed world has to deal with an ageing population, Africa is carrying a 'ticking time bomb' or a demographic dividend - the youth. If these young men and women do not get jobs or fail to become true value-creating entrepreneurs, the whole continent could just explode! But if they do get the right skills to stand on the global stage and negotiate mutually beneficial world class business deals, the continent could also explode (but this time in a more positive way). When Africa's youth get it wired in their heads that 'yes, we can build Africa' - the next century could be the continent's golden century.
So... 'What does Africa need the most?'... money, food?... Well yes, all of that is important to help people to respond to negative shocks in the short to medium term. But I believe what Africa needs the most is 'human capital development.' Yes; you heard me right, 'human capital development.' Let's just call it HCD for simplicity
Photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann
In my perspective, HCD is NOT synonymous with education, though education is an essential element of HCD. HCD goes beyond the desk, or college graduation. HCD 'goes beyond the desk, or college graduation'? What does that mean? It means HCD includes a change in mindset and belief system. We might... but we don't always get this kind of support in the classroom or the college halls, (well I speak as far as Africa is concerned). HCD is something that should start and continue in the home and the communities we live in (and the school or college is just one part, though a very essential one in our community).
HCD is also a cultural issue, it is a continuous, multi-faceted yet targeted process of building the required skill set and belief system into the African child and equipping him and her for the global opportunity. It is the gradual development of the capacity to make informed and strategic decisions whose impacts go beyond oneself and one's immediate surrounding. HCD is about taking the African child and 'broadening their vision beyond the village' and giving them a world perspective. One of my early career mentors, Prof Mandi Rukuni, used to say, 'development is about people, helping people help themselves.' A truthful statement I have never forgotten, it actually feels so real whenever I say it or write it.

My dream for Africa in the context of a rapidly urbanizing world, is to see some young men and women decide to stay on farms because they 'want to' spend their lives producing quality food for the local, regional and global consumers. My hope is that the nightmare of African youths locked in farming not by choice but by a fate of an HCD gap will end. My dream is of young Africans who choose to take to the metropolis and build or help build technologies that solve human challenges such as poor access to health services. I dream of young men and women who will choose to code until until they make doing business easier for their fellow farmers through building systems that reduce supply chain inefficiencies in Africa and connect Africa to the rest of the world.

HCD will empower young Africans to choose to make Africa a better place, in ways that are unique to all of them. HCD will help us find our place. If you ever get the chance to educate an African child or youth, please do it with all your heart, you could be making the first step to taking Africa to the 'next level.'

On the belief system as part of HCD, the African society has a huge role to play. Noone can do this for us, we have to do this for ourselves. I dream of the young African professional who chooses to say NO to corruption and prioritizes creating value in service. This is the basic ethic of business... we cannot thrive sustainably without it. Money will always follow value. I dream of the African youth who will choose hospitality before pride and make Africa the warmest and safest destination.

Though, all these be dreams for now, I know all this is possible. It is possible when I wake up to do it and inspire you to do it. And when you do it and inspire one more; everyday we will inspire more young men and women to build the 'Africa I dream of everyday.'

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