The world is in a constant state of evolution. The many changes and transformations are so far-reaching that, up until very recently, they would have been unimaginable. The human spirit, like a genie released from a bottle, is moving from conquest to fresh conquest, from one innovation to the next. In the midst of this shifting sea of change, three key attributes continue to stand out as fundamental for the young people of Africa: energy, passion, and imagination. These are all qualities that we have in abundance.
But what we need more than anything is to learn how to learn, especially through what I call “dream revolution workshops.” In other words, we must be able to come to terms with change and adaptability as disciplines, while adapting our knowledge to suit prevailing needs. By making entrepreneurship accessible, these workshops could provide ongoing and useful opportunities to keep up to date with technological progress and to stay on top of local issues. By identifying needs, workshops could point to available opportunities. They could be itinerant workshops, organized on a large scale, yet low in cost, possibly with the help of MOOCs. Say goodbye to the rigidly structured curriculum. Let us focus on the heart of the matter: learning how to learn and invent, how to channel and combine our knowledge…this is the flexible approach.
So, how can we nurture the enabling environment for value creation in the future?
First of all, by implementing modern methods of food production (hydroponics, aquaculture, urban farming, etc.), so that food may be produced everywhere and at low cost. The aim is that, instead of mouths to be fed, there will be hands to work and minds to create. A number of jobs will also be created, involving maintenance, monitoring, data processing, and connected devices, etc. The 3D printer is still in its fledgling stage, but will revolutionize industry in the not-too-distant future. The ability to produce the components we need simply by uploading the technical specifications on the Internet will forever change the face of entrepreneurship, by making it even more democratic.
An enabling environment can also be promoted by connecting both the older and rural populations with modern technology, much like the services provided by those young people who now install and maintain mobile applications for market vendors in Lomé; or like the many teachers who are accessing teaching resources with the help of their smartphones. Here again, technology is helping to democratize teaching and the transmission of knowledge.
Finally, we develop the enabling environment by easing congestion in our cities and by occupying new spaces, especially in rural areas. This “re-ruralization” will allow for the mass dissemination of the tools of modern technology all across the continent. This is a major turning point in terms of structure, technology, and even civilization, and is the very cornerstone of progress. The profusion of wealth, values, and new jobs that will result is quite simply astounding.
This is a vast project and the challenges are enormous. But Africa’s youth are full of passion and energy and will tackle them head-on. Because over and above merely coping with tomorrow, we must invent, dream, and shape the future. Africa awaits: let us celebrate her young nation builders and their “dream revolution.”
Ayi Renaud Dossavi-Alipoeh, a Togolese national, is a winner of the World Bank Africa 2019 Blog4Dev regional competition.