December 15, 2015
Africa’s Time Is Now
Last week saw the launch of the much-anticipated book, The Convergence of Nations: Why Africa's Time Is Now, published by the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF), with insightful perspectives from 24 authors in addition to my own introductory chapter. This is perhaps one of the most pertinent books on Africa at this time and I am so pleased at how well it has been received to date. The book provides well-balanced viewpoints on Africa’s affirmative place in the world today, and recommendations on building sustainable growth in the context of changing societies and global financial trends.
The title of this book says it all. Africa’s time is now, especially as world economies converge their attentions towards this remarkable continent. In this era of technological advances and digitalization, many African nations are now in a position to leapfrog their economic growth and chart their own course, one that is unique to their people, cultures, norms and political realities.
Africa is an early stage market with tremendous potential in areas such as technology, infrastructure and banking, backed by a very young demographic, some 50 per cent of which are below the age of 19. By the end of the century Africa’s population is expected to rise to 4bn. The needs of African nations are therefore very different to other developed nations.
I believe that the most pressing need is to invest in this untapped potential, this large, youthful demographic, in order to preserve the economic and social advance that Africa is currently undergoing. Failure to do so will work against the positive convergence of nations, increasing the danger of insurgency, conflict, terrorism and instability. And this has global consequences.
Governments and institutions everywhere must therefore ensure that demography pays dividends rather than result in dissatisfaction and drawbacks. Now is the time for the developed world to explore the opportunities that can arise out of the ongoing oil crisis to support economic diversification across the continent through infrastructure development, technology transfer and critical know-how.
Africa’s time is now, because it occupies a pivotal position at the intersection of new routes of global capital. In order for global economies to benefit from this, they need to work with African public and private sectors to create favorable environments that support socio economic growth across the continent.
One of the key motivations for my involvement in this book was to demonstrate to institutional investors how they can find yield in Africa by increasing their risk appetite for the continent through African-focused private equity and why it is important to do so. We need to explore new ways for Africa to channel funding towards profitable and useful investments that promote the African people’s social wellbeing and also build a sustainable basis for development and growth.
Africa is very special to me, and being part African myself, I hope that this book, with its vibrant perspectives, will lead other Africans to understand that they are a crucial part of the opportunity equation that Africa represents in the convergence of nations. In fact, the artwork on the front cover of the book, created by young Kenyan pharmacist and amateur artist, Shivani Shah, encapsulates visually the essence of what I am saying. In her own words, “The use of red symbolizes man’s most primitive instincts of self-preservation; gold and silver evoke the tremendous wealth found throughout Africa; and the 3-D effect of the wires shows the increasing importance of the internet and mobile technology”.
At its core, the message I want to give through this book is that there is an authenticity about Africa and its people that must be preserved as the world shifts its focus towards this great Continent. Developed markets in the position to facilitate this economic convergence ought to do so in a way that preserves the integrity and spirit of humanity.
Africa's Time Is Now - Infographic