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View from 'The Voice': Africa has a bright future

GLIMMERING WITH HOPE: A South African landscape (image credit: South Africa Tourism)

AS WE approach the Africa on the Square festival which will be held this weekend (Saturday October 14) it is right that we take a moment to reflect on the continent’s bright future.

Our front page interview with former Nigerian president Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, which hit newsstands today, would seem to indicate that the country's future is a bright one. This new narrative, about what is possible, is already being embodied. Analysts are highlighting the fact that with more than 900 million consumers, Africa is a great place to do business.

Obasanjo points out that the region has the world’s fastest growing and youngest population. Africa’s population will double to 2 billion by 2045 providing it with the largest workforce in the world. Over 40 per cent of this will consist of young people under the age of 25 living in cities who will be connected with each other through mobile devices. That gives the continent a potentially huge advantage in economic terms.

The energy of youth also means that it is home to more young people who want to start their own businesses than anywhere else in the world. These are young people who are hungry for success.

Africa’s political leaders, so often caricatured for their willingness to hold on to power at all costs, are thinking more closely about helping this young talent flourish. Many governments have created new platforms for innovators and entrepreneurs such as state-backed venture capital funds or innovation hubs.
They are also re-thinking how education should be provided to create a generation of people who can create businesses rather than people are administrators.

Of course, we cannot pretend that widespread poverty is not an issue on the continent or that more still needs to be done in confronting issues like corruption. But, we should celebrate the fact that things are changing. African entrepreneurs, inventors and business leaders are slowly beginning to realise the capacity they have to transform the continent into the place we often dream it could be.

The ideas and political will to make a difference in Africa is there and we should applaud this.

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