It’s HIGH time we dispense with the images of starving children, unruly militants, disaster, and degradation. I think everyone gets the point: there’s still quite a bit of ground to cover along “development road.” With an eager camera crew, I’m certain I could capture astoundingly similar images in the United States, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Canada, and most assuredly in Vladimir’s Russia. Okay, maaaaaaaaybe not Canada. They’re way too nice to allow such atrocities, right?! Africa is up, and in spite of the aforementioned factors, it’s coming quickly.
Ever heard of CNBC Africa? What about Forbes Africa? Keep reading! Although fabled brands with an “Africa” handle don’t necessarily mean that all is well in the motherland, it does hint at the collective progress of African states.
On June 8th Kenya Cabinet Secretary of Transport James Macharia announced Kenya Airways would resume direct flights to the US beginning April 2018. While this isn’t necessarily new news – it’s definitely noteworthy.
Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport recently underwent a series of US-recommended safety and security improvements to satisfy ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) audit requirements. The improvements demonstrate Kenya’s persistent effort to modernize, and an immediate interest for greater access to the global economy. Presently, there are six African airlines with direct flights to the US, four operate non-stop flights: South African Airways, Egypt Air, Royal Air Maroc, and Arik Air. What’s this all mean? Access! No longer can Africa be viewed as a far-off, mystical land. You can get here…in business class if you fancy.
This month’s Forbes – Africa cover story, “30 under 30,” is a telling image of the existing talent and creativity in the region, which is largely unrecognized by the global community. According to a 2016 World Economic Forum report, “the world’s 10 youngest populations are in Africa.” They are young, innovative, and highly motivated. They are the next generation of leaders. This group of entrepreneurs, scientists, artists, and thinkers have the potential to completely transform life on the continent. In my humble opinion, I believe they have already begun to do so.
A few profiles that caught my attention were:
Sean Drake, 29, of Ghana, the founder of The Wealth Project Holdings, an investment company that provides education and financial services.
Jokate Mwegelo, 30, of Tanzania, is the founder of Kidoti Company. Kidoti Company designs and manufactures lifestyle products for the African market including synthetic hair, bags, jewelry, accessories, and footwear.
Eugene Mbugua, 26, of Kenya, is the founder of Young Rich Television Limited and My Yearbook Kenya Limited. Young Rich Television Limited produces popular reality television programs. My Yearbook Kenya Limited designs yearbooks for schools, businesses, and government organizations.
Jean Bosco Nzeyimana, 24, of Rwanda, is the founder of Habona Ltd. Habona Ltd produces environmentally-friendly, cost-effective energy sources including biomass briquettes, bio-fertilizers, and biogas for cooking and lighting.
Mo Abudu, though not quite under 30 (love ya Mo) is quite a powerful voice on the continent. Her creative breath is reaching millions. A native of the United Kingdom with Nigerian roots, Mo is founder and CEO of EbonyLife TV.
Mo’s ambition is pretty clear; give the world the absolute best of Africa. EbonyLife TV has become a mega broadcasting entity in West Africa. The network is telling Africa’s story in a new way and is invigorating the consciousness of African people. She’s given Africans a new way to see themselves. Some have referred to her as Africa’s Oprah Winfrey. I prefer to refer to her as Africa’s Mo! She’s a success in her own right. Why compare her to anyone else?
I stopped by The Moet Party Day 2017 at Sankara Hotel in Nairobi. For me, the event boldly confirmed the assertions of a 2014 report by Deloitte pointing to sub-Sahara Africa as the next growth frontier for luxury goods. CNN – Africa’s growing appetite for luxury goods
The event was the typical, run-of-the-mill semi-lavish affair; there were hours-d’ oeuvres, suits, ties, stiletto pumps, local VIPs, an array of journalists and photographers, and enough champagne to booze-up an Army. Fun!? Events like this always make me somewhat uncomfortable. I appreciate the sobering reality, that just under 5 kilometers up the road there’s a water shortage; my glass wasn’t all that enjoyable. Granted, they represent the responsibilities of two distinctly different groups in the community, I wondered – what if the same effort had been directed toward fixing the local water problem? Maybe this event was a way for locals to simply forget about their troubles for a few hours?
Safaricom, headquartered in Nairobi and one of Africa’s major communications companies, is launching a much-anticipated music app in July. The app will allow musicians to publish their work and most importantly…be paid for their work. Safaricom’s app launch is a huge leap forward for the Africa-based music industry, particularly for small-scale, local talent.
This listing doesn’t even begin to capture all the GOOD things happening on the continent. Given the vast number of volunteers, aid workers, business consultants, military and diplomatic partners, AND local creativity and imagination, I could write about Africa progress all day long; but then who would read it? Who would pay attention? We’ve been conditioned (the West) to expect the worst from this continent and people. Sadly, I’ve found that any report of progress is looked upon skeptically, and scrutinized in accordance with an unreasonable standard.
I encourage everyone to go beyond the easily accessible information. I encourage folk to challenge commonly held beliefs about African states. Some are in very tough spots. Consider, South Sudan has been a country for virtually 10 minutes given the long history of other states in the global community. I know of no civilization, rather, no organized state, that began beautifully or smoothly where things just simply came together free of conflict. Everything comes with a fight. In the case of the motherland – even peace and progress requires a fight.