Africa's Inspiring Innovators Show What the Future Could Hold.

Author:Harry, Njideka
Position:Essay
 
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The potential for economic and technological growth in Africa is clear. Yes, many African countries still face challenges related to infrastructure, security and education, to name but a few. Nevertheless, their young people have forged paths towards sustainability for themselves and their families.

African immigrants boast higher levels of education than the overall US population, according to a January 2018 report by the New American Economy. Forty per cent have at least a bachelor's degree, and of them, about 33% have degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM).

By 2025, 97% of worldwide growth will occur in the world's emerging markets, many of which are in Africa. Africans are watching technology develop and evolve in ways never seen before. The continent leads the way in mobile payments, with money transfer service M-Pesa serving 30 million users across ten countries. Africa isn't just driving technology change for Africa, but for the world at large. By 2025, the population of Africa will exceed that of India and of China. Shortly after that, about 40% of the world's working-age population will be in Africa, a continent of 54 countries.

If not carefully implemented, new technologies can amplify inequalities. An economy driven by changing technology can also result in the exclusion of lower-skilled workers from an evolving labour force, which can contribute to a gender gap. New technologies could concentrate value in the hands of the wealthy, while people who haven't benefited from earlier industrializations risk being left even further behind. We can no longer be silent and allow the continued dominance of established interests that are heavily invested in conventional systems, local patronage networks and the failure of good governance.

In order to break free of these systems and usher in new ones, we have to step up and lead like we have never led before. If it is to successfully enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Africa must foster a culture of production. To do that, it needs to innovate. Innovation comes from the reality of constraints. In a culture built on need, innovations will happen, but for them to become part of the culture, they must come from local talent.

We need to make sure that the future of Africa and of African employment is based on a competitive structure, rather than on a defensive, backwards-looking approach that will not be competitive in the long term. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is...

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