To see a view of what an African country will look like in 20 years, sit in a university class today. Africa’s future progress, or the lack of it, is linked in one room. To explain with a statistic. Only 5 percent of the young people in sub-Saharan Africa attend university. This percentage is so small that you can be sure that those few Africans in universities will be running the show in 20 or 30 years or not considering the rates of unemployment in Africa. The coming leaders in business and government, the professionals, engineers, and managers who will be responsible for tomorrow’s infrastructure, education, health, and other sectors are sitting in a college classroom today.
Consider then, in the near future, whether this influential 5 percent will play a positive role in creating a healthier, more productive, and more just future for Africa. Will they have strong ethics and a concern for the vices such as corruption, regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender, or class? Will they be innovative thinkers, ready to develop creative solutions? Will they have a creative mindset, ready to work hard and help Africa’s private sector thrive? Or will the world watch as Africa’s next influential 5 percent remain a leadership rotten by corruption and inefficiency?
I grew up during Kenya’s chaotic Moi dictatorship. The economy was so dysfunctional that finding food was a daily challenge for most families, including mine. It was illegal at one point for people to criticize the government to make a point, or even to have a substantial reason for change. The result: huge shortages of goods, and an economy with no fight against declines in agricultural output. When I earned a scholarship to United States International University Africa, a new way of questioning, developing, and testing ideas was revealed to me. I majored in International Relations and Diplomacy, but I was also challenged and enriched by liberal arts classes. My mind was opened up to the world, my mind became a global village and i was able to understand how we were being oppressed in Kenya and Africa as a whole.
Africa needs homegrown, local talent in every position to solve today’s problems and prevent tomorrow’s catastrophes. Examples abound. Our graduates have developed financial products for mobile phones like Mpesa in Kenya. They are working in Africa’s emerging finance sector, attracting needed capital for local ventures. why not harness this talent and make our future brighter? however we have to change the perspective on how we think and how we act as Africans, the talent is there to be harnessed as a people but aspects such as unemployment and corruption push as back.