Dreaming Big for Africa!
“Am fired up, ready to go!”
Well even though that was Obama’s sentiments in the 2008 elections, it has been mine ever since I witnessed the shift in the socio-economic well being of Africa in the past five years, as well as its gradual shedding of its negative image, to one of self-sufficiency away from aid, and the emergency of a new generation of reliable, innovative and visionary African leaders. These leaders, including those that have encouraged me to come back to Africa, have made it their mission to invest their time, resources and finance to impact positively Africa and all that she has to offer. What further fueled my shift to the African continent was living in the heart of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa (The headquarters of the Afican Union, United Nations Offices, and other international organizations), I was fortunate to have met movers and shakers from all over Africa, who are either working in government bodies, international organizations as leaders, economists, climate change experts, researchers, CEO’s in the private sector, all tackling issues such as innovation and technology, financial structure, sustaining a green economy in Africa as well as making resolutions to create much needed jobs in the continent. Having attended a few interesting conferences such as World Economic Conference, African Leadership Network (ALN) forum, and a number of conferences at UNECA that dealt with agendas such as finance and banking, environment, inter-African country trade, conflict management, empowerment of woman, and the like, left me energized and inspired. Traveling to northern, eastern and southern parts of Africa not only exposed me to the continent’s uniqueness but also prompted me how I can merge the vast knowledge and experience I had been fortunate to get living, working and being educated both in the US and Africa.
As an up and coming leader, I recommend attending conferences such as the ALN forum, where rby presidents of bankers such as African Development Bank, Equity Bank; CEO of major corporations in Africa such as, MTN; managing partners of the top consulting firms in the world like Mckenzie, Boston Consulting group, Acis; as well as top surgeons, social entrepreneurs, agents of corporations, start-ups, who grace the panel discussions, presentations and after hours events.
ALN is the brainchild of two African visionaries Fred Swaniker (Ghana) and Acha Leke (Cameroon) who were inspired to launch a network of next-generation African leaders. This experience at ALN leaves everyone inspired, committed, well networked with fellow Africans, and reenergized to do more and dream the possibilities that can be crystallized in Africa.
Having attended the World Economic Forum Africa (WEFA), which brought presidents and prime ministers of African countries (including the late prime minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi), provided me with networking opportunities with executives of major corporations in Africa, as well as finding friends amongst the organizers and participants within WEFA. This will further be reiterated not just that it is finally time for Africa, but also those of us wanting to make changes, need to step up and take the challenges that would provide new opportunities, partner strategically with friends of Africa, and be the bridge that fills the gap between the misconceptions of Africa and its potential. As a result, the next generation can be proud to say that they are from the continent of Africa and dream further to greater possibilities.
Like any emerging continent trying to shed its past, make peace with its history and refocus for a better empowering future, we as Africans whether in the continent, or living outside have to be the ambassadors that while standing firm and confident with our diversity need to work even harder, focused and diligently for the well-being of Africa in consideration of how the world has constantly taken advantage of its people, land and resources. It has become apparent that healing is much needed, as well as a clearer understanding of the uniqueness of each country within Africa. So let us all make an extra effort to travel, work with and be engaged in a dialogue with Africans.
Understanding that we all matter, and that the whole is greater than the simple sum of its parts is a necessity, and making ethical and conscious decisions when doing business in Africa should always be a priority. A comprehensive and non-judgmental approach to seeing Africa and its citizens as we are, is also essential. Let us write our own books, build our own case studies using our leaders, and use our own resources to trade with one another, and educate the young so that we equip tomorrow’s leaders, and strive to change ourselves from within. Let us each strive to be the change that we seek for this beloved continent we call Africa, and do not forget to dream big, as that is what we have inherited from our forefathers.
On May 7, AWiB has organized its fourth annual forum that will be held at UNECA. One of the breakout sessions is entitled, “Dream Big – Crystalize Possibilities”. Join us to learn more on how to expand your horizon to dream big.
Tickets are available at Bole Lime Tree on Boston Day Spa Building, 3rd floor.
May 1st, 2015