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Matsi Modise
 
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The rise of the pan-African entrepreneur

07 February 2014, 17:00  - Matsi Modise

As the African Sun is on the rise, so too must it rise above historical obstacles and capitalize on Africa’s strengths. Indeed it is time for Africa to appropriate the promise that has eluded it for generations – i.e. 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 once said ‘to understand is to transform what is’. To exploit our continent’s potential fully an understanding of its challenges is an imperative prerequisite to its transformation for the benefit of our people. Africans remain hungry both literally because Africa is still hounded by food security challenges. But Africans are also hungry in a metaphorical sense – for success, opportunities and empowerment. No longer are Africans happy to be stigmatized as the “dark continent” characterized by squalor, dysfunction, corrupt leadership and unemployment.

South Africa, for example, has a static unemployment rate of 25.6 %, woefully above the continental average of 6%. This is a challenge the urgency of whose address cannot be overemphasized!

As an underdeveloped continent, with approximately 1 billion people, Africa presents immense opportunities. Our capital flows out in streams to irrigate the whole system of the Western economy. 52% of the gold in Fort Knox at this moment, where the USA stores its bullion, is believed to have originated from African shores…
Africans need to see Africa as a potential and viable market. Africans need to start creating generations of African multi-national corporations. Africa needs to feed its own people, as the 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 recognize. Entrepreneurs create something out of nothing and they will be the continents required ‘game changers’. They will transform this continent to be 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 continents development. They must not deprive them of a decent education system. The fundamentals of business, investments, corporate governance, business ethics are principal learning’s 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 6 of the 10 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 and not job seekers.

What Haile Salassie 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.

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