OPINION

Capitalising on Africa's strengths

Matsi Modise, national executive director, South African Black Entrepreneurship Forum
Matsi Modise.jpg

As the African sun is on the rise, so too must it rise above historical obstacles and capitalise on Africa’s strengths.

It is time for Africa to appropriate the promise that has eluded it for generations – the exploitation of its natural resources (fertile land and abundant natural resources) for the benefit of its people. With 60% of the world’s arable land, Africa is destined to feed the world, writes Matsi Modise.

As the African Sun is on the rise, so too must it rise above historical obstacles and capitalise on Africa’s strengths. It is time for Africa to appropriate the promise that has eluded it for generations – the exploitation of its natural resources (fertile land and abundant natural resources) for the benefit of its people. With 60% of the world’s arable land, Africa is destined to feed the world!

A 19th century spiritual philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti said “to understand is to transform what is”. To exploit our continent’s potential fully and understand its challenges is an imperative prerequisite to its transformation for the benefit of our people. Africans remain hungry both literally and figuratively because Africa is still hounded by food security challenges. Africans are also hungry for success, opportunities and empowerment.

No longer are Africans happy to be stigmatised as the ‘dark continent’ characterised by squalor, dysfunction, corrupt leadership and unemployment. South Africa has a static unemployment rate of 25.6 %, woefully above the continental average of 6%.

As an underdeveloped continent, with approximately one billion people, Africa presents immense opportunities. Our capital flows out in streams to irrigate the whole system of the Western economy. A total of 52% of the gold in Fort Knox at this moment, where the USA stores its bullion, originated from Africa.

Africans need to see Africa as a potential and viable market and need to start creating generations of African multi-national corporations. Africa needs to feed its own people, as plentiful natural resources exist in this place we call home. To achieve this will not be an easy undertaking, but will certainly take a cohesive continental effort and a rigorous culture of entrepreneurship to exist.

Entrepreneurs shape the future, they produce solutions and they are constantly challenging the status quo. Entrepreneurs are risk-takers who pursue opportunities that others may fail to recognise.

Entrepreneurs create something out of nothing and they will be the continent’s required ‘game changers’. They will transform this continent into one that beneficiates its resources – human and natural. They will create new markets, new value and unlock new wealth.

The new and the old generation of African leaders must acknowledge the significant impact that entrepreneurs have on the continent’s development. They must not deprive them of a decent education system. The fundamentals of business, investments, corporate governance and business ethics are principal learnings that future captains of industry and business owners need to be familiar with.

African leaders cannot ignore the fact that they must harness a knowledge and technology–based continental economy. As six of the ten fastest growing economies exist in Sub-Saharan Africa and also as Africa has the youngest population in the world, more resources should be invested in youth enterprise development initiatives that will create a continental culture of job creators.

What Haile Salassie, Ethiopian emperor, said 50 years ago, at the founding Conference of the Organisation of African Unity, remains to this day, a defining statement in terms of what Africa must do to realise her full potential. This includes the achievement of her unity, the defence of her independence, the implementation of an independent development programme and constructing a policy in favour of the emancipation of the ordinary African people from poverty and underdevelopment.

The rise of the Pan-African entrepreneur will facilitate Africa’s rising. If we do not develop our own continent, who then shall do it for us? We need to unite as a continent, work as one force and speak with one voice.

Matsi Modise, national executive director, South African Black Entrepreneurship Forum

 

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