Africa in Focus

My Africa is Awake for Business! | Corporality Global

The global pandemic has brought significant uncertainty across the entire world, not least on the African continent, where historically, the provision of appropriate health services competes with the rare financial resources available for all the other priorities of governments. 

However, the one thing for sure, is that the people of Africa are resilient, the people of Africa are mentally and physically strong in that they have been through so many upheavals, pandemics, and uncertainties in their lifetime, that no covid-19 is going to destroy their spirit, their determination for a better life and their unyielding pursuance of wanting to improve every generation’s lives.  Simply put, African people have been through it all and they will never yield from covid-19, even when many of their governments do not have appropriate vaccination programs in place. African people are mentally and physically tough, they are always hopeful, they are adaptive and most of all, the young people of Africa are rising, and they are rising very fast in every sphere of technology, innovation, education, knowledge, skills and competencies. They have embraced digitalization, technology, gaming, education, research, self-learning and growth and radiate the strongest ever yearning and pursuance of a better life than their previous generations. What this means is that, African leaders who hang onto power, make empty promises to their people, embezzle and waste state resources, are aloof to how their governments are setting the future agenda for their young people, will be simply ignored by their young people and will certainly not last for long. Gone are the days of leaders in Africa leading with lovely and rhetoric words, they have to deliver and they must deliver quickly, especially to the young people if they are to be relevant. 

Having said the above, the young people across Africa are connected with the world outside Africa like never before, they are in the know of the latest global trends in social justice, activism, futures thinking, education, health, entrepreneurship, innovation, creativity, technological advancements, digitalization and even leadership. I intentionally mention leadership because more than ever before, young leaders on the African continent have taken charge and are taking charge in every sector of the economy including government. Today, we have so so many Patrice Lumumba’s, Nelson Mandela’s, Wangari Maathai’s, Kwame Nkrumah, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s, all over the African continent and they are making serious contributions to business, government and social upliftment of their people.

The reason for the above introduction is that Africa is not the Africa that the news programs all over the world report on. Africa has the largest young population in the world, that is more connected than their forebearers to education, technology, business, leadership, worldly matters, etc, like never before. This means that Africa is poised to transform itself and unleash a potential that the world has never seen before. It just has to come, any time soon, it has to come! It is such a pity, although understandable that most African young people do not care for politics, political careers or political representation and this is the single biggest impediment to large and massive transformation across the continent. However, this is bound to change soon and when it does this wave of transformation will not be stopped nor slowed down. Africa’s young leaders will surely get into politics en masse soon and when this happens, their leadership excellence combined with their yearning for a better life, will take their people and their countries to great heights and very fast too! Many countries across the world are being led by young, vibrant political leaders who are not only connected with their people on the ground but are also agile, decisive and impatient to improve the lives of their people; Africa is no different and this show will surely arrive soon on Africa’s soil!  

Having said the above, infrastructure development across Africa is being commissioned and implemented, not in grand announcements but actually being implemented, like never before. Dams are being built, new railway lines are being built, new highways are being built, shopping malls are being built, new airports are being built, ports are being upgraded, technology hubs are being set up, smart phone penetration in many countries is now about 81% compared to about 41% in 2016, data networks are getting faster, Africa’s airports are busier than before, more African students are now enrolled at overseas universities than ever before, more Africans are now working out of Africa and many are sending money back home to uplift their families and their communities. 

Whilst many African children still struggle to get a decent formal education, many of them today have access to knowledge like never before, and more black Africans are being attracted to academia also, like never before. I recall when I grew up, that social disparities created a monopoly on knowledge; some few privileged rich people where the only people in the community who owned a set of encyclopedias and their children were the only ones who could write and describe things that others never knew off. Times have changed where almost everyone now in Africa has an encyclopedia in their hands and nobody has a monopoly on knowledge! Knowledge is power for the entire nation, it provides not only enlightenment but also a foundation for thinking, reflecting, inspiration, innovation, creativity, communication, inclusivity, strategic choices and a catalyst for exponential growth, an abundance of new business opportunities and brings the whole world closer!  

This can only set the stage for rapid growth and transformation like never before in the private and public sectors in Africa. I have deliberately steered clear of delving into the recent Africa Free Trade agreement as I sincerely believe this agreement is not embraced by all African leaders and it will therefore be another of those agreements that will gather dust instead of being optimally implemented. One of the problems we have in Africa is that despite us complaining about colonization, we still prefer to deal almost exclusively with our past colonialist countries and their coalition partners. It is my belief, not hope, that our young future African leaders will free themselves from these past ideologies and instead forge relationships with the entire world, irrespective of past appendages but mainly because of a shared mutually beneficial future for all.  

However, there are many African countries such as Rwanda, who are making massive strides in improving their economic growth, rapid infrastructure development, forging meaningful global partnerships, embracing technology, education and social upliftment on a grand but quiet scale, and creating at swift speed, their very own ”Singapore of Africa”. 

So, what does this mean for companies and individuals outside of Africa. It means you must start if you have not already, by getting familiar with opportunities on the African continent, expanding your business and social networks on the African continent, directing your research and development towards the African continent, partnering with individuals and companies on the African continent, forging links with digital entrepreneurs in Africa, forging links with academia in Africa, familiarizing yourself with African cultures and practices and also getting ready especially with venture capitalists, to pursue opportunities in Africa. 

Your current country will definitely have embassies and trade commissions across the African continent, and my advice to you is to also be familiar with them, their capabilities, bi-lateral agreements with your country, future trade commissions and opportunities. I would dare also say, use your social media networks to also stay abreast of the progress on the African continent, latest trends and forge networks. I am a firm believer that before parties do business, they must understand and respect each others’ cultures and build mutual relationships of respect before doing business. So therefore, get to know your African sisters and brothers better, learn their countries, their cultures and involve your trade commissions and embassies in your business dealings and business meetings. Your trade commissions will definitely give you ideas on local business opportunities, country needs and even guide you on your deals. In short, Africa poses a wonderful opportunity to diversify your business and provide you with more viable options of product offerings targeted for a young and vibrant market. 

However, I would hasten to add that the manner in which you approach the African continent for your business growth must be founded on wanting to genuinely change and improve the lives of Africans. This means that in order for you to succeed and be sustainable, you should demonstrate a commitment to making contributions in improving the lives of African people. These contributions are not monetary but instead encompass job creation, skills transfer, exchange of technologies, joint research or research for mutual benefit, etc. Testimony to this are the various overseas investors from all over the world, who have quietly invested across the African continent, without pompous announcements but are instead making telling contributions to the communities in which they co-exist, whilst simultaneously growing their businesses exponentially. 

You don’t have to advertise your arrival, commitment and contributions to the communities in African countries where you set up your business. These communities will themselves vouch for your commitment, contributions and improvement to their lives. I am often asked when I travel overseas by potential investors as to whether I know the minister of transport or technology or whatever minister in a particular country. I must add that wanting to do business in any country through the door of a minister, whether in Africa or any other continent, is shortsighted and not sustainable, because just as surely as that minister will be removed or leave their office someday, so will your business venture follow that minister’s exit. My advice is to rather meet genuine business people, who are rooted in also wanting to improve the lives of their own people; through your embassies, trade missions or social media, and focus on building mutually beneficial relationships with them, rather than wanting to hobnob with politicians. 

Organizations such as Corporality and its CEO Ms. Priya Mishra are quietly trailblazing and leading the way in pioneering unique personalized networking platforms, that globally enable organizations and individuals to network smartly, exchange business ideas, debate issues of growth and share knowledge on new market penetration. These platforms are not the usual run-of-the-mill networking sessions that are reserved for the well-heeled or overwhelmed by consultant talk of two-by-two matrixes, but instead they are very practical, extremely relevant and highly informed by the personal knowledge and expertise of actual people on-the-ground in countries where these business opportunities exist. These focused and specialized networking forums provide immense value in highly sought-after knowledge sharing. 

I remain convinced that our young people across the globe, will together with their African sisters and brothers, seize the vast opportunities that are unfolding on the African continent and that they will forge long lasting, mutually beneficial business relationships that will continue long into the future, and outlast any political changes. 

In closing, I leave you with the words of Rabindranath Tagore, 

“Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high,

Where is knowledge is free, where the world has not been broken up into fragments, 

By narrow domestic walls, where words come out from the depth of truth, 

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection, 

Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit, 

Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action, 

Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my (Africa) country awake”.

Best wishes to Ms. Priya Mishra, Corporality and their fantastic team on this great initiative of alternative, high impact, uniquely tailored transcontinental business networking, marketing and business2business or individual2business acquaintances!

Ravi Nair Director Croc Mondelief International

Ravindra (Ravi) Nair
Director: Croc Mondelief International
Rail Systems Expert & Business/Executive Coach
South Africa 

 

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