Has Africa finished rising?

Cape Town

“Has Africa finished rising yet?” Someone asked me at dinner a few days ago. I am in Lagos and the only friends I have in the city are either entrepreneurs, work for startups or work in tech. This makes perfect sense, my re-introduction into my home country was through a journalist’s lens. The questions I ask are socio-political, they relate to infrastructure and the conversations I have with friends follow this trend. It is a small part of Nigeria, but it the part I know well and I am intimate with.

Four years ago, you couldn’t take a breath in Africa without someone telling you its on the rise. Africa is rising, our mantra to the West. We said to them: come, our continent is ready and we want to show you what we can do. Africa is rising multinationals chanted, they invested in a foray into the continent. This was it, Africa’s time. No one ever asked, who decided this, no one ever asked about the global roster that had Africa next on its list.

While Africa was supposed to be rising for the tech ecosystem, its creative industry that had always been on par and even exceeded global standard pivoted – building on quality and creating global appeal. Everyday people began experimenting with platforms that allowed them to be creative and have fun, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook opened up the world. African fashion and culture began permeating the West. The Ankara jungle of Nigeria proved its potential as a key global player, and the Jollof wars came in vogue with heads of states and celebrities wanting a say. African cities were the subject of sultry tales about young 20-somethings, destinations for world travelers and location for famous Hollywood moments. While we waited for Africa’s infrastructure to catch up with its entrepreneurs, its music, movies and dances graced the world stage and captured the world.

African entrepreneurs have had to force the ecosystem to match where their vision is. They have had to drag governments and users with them on a journey that required stepping back a few steps before achieving the intended beginning. Africa began to rise, then investors decided they weren’t sure it should. Then Starbucks, Burger King and Krispy Kreme, lacking more places in the Western world to go, came here. Then investors too, came back and brought with them the multinational’s renewed interest.

African startups haven’t been able to compete in the same way that counterparts in more established markets have. Africa rising put a spotlight and added pressure on a young ecosystem to deliver on impossible scale. When a business that worries about basics has compete with one that only thinks about scale, there is a disconnect. Still, the successes did come.

Africa is the next frontier, I suppose we had to come before space. The next billion users will come from here and the race is on to see who wins the continent. The battle is on between Africans and the West to see who can save Africa first. Who will solve the access problem, who will bridge the skills gap and who will reform the education and healthcare systems.

“Project Africa” is fully on the way and the objectives are set, get Africans on the global stage.

Has Africa finished rising?
Did the sleeping giant awake from its slumber ready to begin the long haul reimagining of a story that has long been told by hunters?
What does a risen continent actually look like?

One thought on “Has Africa finished rising?

  1. The African continent is without a doubt on the rise. Growth is constant and unending. In comparison to other developed countries and continents, Africa is a long way from completing its rise. The big question for me and many of those I have conversations with has always been “As Africans, what do we define as growth? Is it having skyscrapers, solving the food shortage problems in some parts of the continent, is it building schools, what is it?” and second, what kind of Africa do we want? An Africa where the top Companies are owned by non Africans or and Africa where we rely on foreign aid more than government aid or an Africa where our collective efforts as Africans is resulted in a new dawn on the continent?

    The number of startups on the continent is no sign of growth as most look to compete abroad rather than at home. Young entrepreneurs traveling to London, Tokyo and Dubai to work better programmers while they are spread across the continent looking for an opportunity.

    To me, Africa hasn’t yet started rising. We face the same problems as we did 60 to 100 years ago. Corruption, poverty, hunger, unemployment, misrepresentation on the world stage and are held back by religious and ancient beliefs. We must redefine who we are, what we want, what we stand for, where we are headed and how we get there.

    Mandela, Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Jomo Kenyatta, Thomas Sankara, Muammar Gaddafi and more, took a front sit in the political liberation of Africa with so much selflessness and led us to where we are. An Africa built by Africans for Africans (first). We have fallen short of living up to the sacrifices they made.

    Have we finished rising, no we haven’t. We need selfless leaders to take on the mantle and guide this generation into a new era by focusing on building the African Dream and focusing on solving the Poverty, Wars, Starvation, Unemployment, Poor Education and all the other issues plaguing this beautiful continent. Not until the millions of startups and parastatals flogging this continent begin to tackle these issues significantly and unceremoniously will Africa begin to rise.

    PS: I would appreciate it if you followed my blog: http://thinkinalike.blogspot.com/

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