South Africa’s FAFA Creations set to Exhibit at Accra Fashion Week

By Prince Akpah

Leading South African apparel store, FAFA Creations, a brand that caters for both African women and men is currently in Ghana to join 100 of exhibitors at the 2016 Accra Fashion Week which will take place from 6th to 9th October, 2016 at the Accra Trade Fair Center.

The brand which symbolizes the beauty of the African continent and its people is aimed at providing abundant African clothing and accessories and have great intents to become a central hub of shopping activity for local African populations and others who enjoy wearing African apparels.

Founder and CEO of FAFA Creations, Tanya Kagnaguine noted the team came all the way from South Africa to participate in the event because of their interest to launch the brand in Ghana. She also encouraged the public to attend her special fashion show scheduled for 9th October at 3:30 PM.

Accra Fashion Week is set to be a fun filled event with much celebrities and fashion and entertainment personalities present showcasing the latest trends and introducing fashion from all over the world including USA, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Senegal, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, South Africa, UK, Netherlands and much more.

Although, the show is also strictly focused on the business of fashion and it’s the first fashion event in Ghana to focus primarily on the involvement of fashion boutiques as it’s target audience.

FAFA Creations is located in north rand, precisely in the commercial district of Sandton, South Africa and has centralized itself directly in a position for social activities.

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Africa’s Lake Chad Disappearance: A Wake of Violence by Alabede Surajdeen

Lake Chad basin that happens to be an endorheic lake is bordered by four different countries including Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria on the edge of the Sahara Desert. The name Chad is a local parlance meaning ‘a lake’ or ‘large expanse of water’. The primary inflow of this lake is from Chari River and empties its water into the Soro and Bandele depression. The Kanuri people are one of the earliest settlers around this lake in far northern Nigeria with fishing and farming as their major occupation. According to historians, Lake Chad Basin was the remnant of former inland sea, named paleolake Mega-Chad.

It was, however, considered by the Europeans in 1823 as one of the largest lakes in the world. But, ironically this lake has continued to shrink over the years due to shifting climate patterns according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Lake Chad Basin Commission. More so, an alarming increase in population and unsustainable human water usage are some of the factors responsible for this disappearance over time.

Coe and Foley in their article titled, ‘Human and natural impacts on the water resources of the Chad Basin’, stated that “according to the Global Resource Information Database of the United Nations Environment Programme, Lake Chad shrank as much as 95% (25, 000km2 to less than 1,500km2) from about 1963 to 1998”. It is no gain saying that this unprecedented change was caused largely by overgrazing, which resulted in desertification, and decline in vegetation affect millions of dwellers, all of whom depend on the lake as their main source of livelihood. They rely on the lake for drinking, irrigation and feeding. This unabated shrinking led to the extinction of hundreds of species of animals that rally this region and also attests to the reality of climate change.

We should know and hold this singular fact in mind that when people’s source of livelihood is being threatened, crime and other social vices will become cheap and rampant. This gives credence to the battle of ownership experienced in the Chad Basin region. The Fulani herdsmen need it to feed their wandering cattle’s, the local farmers are not left out in their own quest for irrigation and the fishermen want it to stay in shape for hunting prey. This amongst many other things resulted into violence as to right of ownership. As if that is not enough, poverty, hunger and hatred will continue to spread like pandemic in this volatile region if government fails to restore hope. Boko Haram festered in this region for years because most of the inhabitants have lost their livelihood and wants a means of survival by hook or by crook.

Mahatma Gandhi could not have said it better when he opined that, “poverty is the worst form of violence”. Therefore, in order to forestall future occurrences of terror in this volatile region the government must swift into action by funding many programmes. There should be a project centered on Lake Chad’s reversal underlining a germane aspect of the climate change. The indigenes should be sensitized in their local parlance through their leaders in gatherings, seminars, symposium etc. on climate actions in order to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 13 (Climate Action). Skill acquisition and empowerment programs should be flagged through vocational centers so as to reduce poverty and avert violence of all forms in the future.

 

AlabedeSurajdeen is an environmentalist and SDGs advocate.

E-mail: alabedekayode@gmail.com

Twitter handle: @BabsSuraj

 

 

 

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Lagos Set To Become Africa’s First Smart City After Signing Deal With Dubai

Government and the City of Dubai on Monday entered into a historic partnership that will see Lagos emerge as the first Smart City in Africa.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the Lagos Smart City was signed at the Emirate Towers, Dubai by the Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem and the Chief Executive Officer of Smart City Dubai LLC, Mr. Jabber Bin Hafez.

The signing of the MOU, which would make Lagos the home of the very first Smart City in Africa, was witnessed by the Chairman of Dubai Holdings, His Excellency, Ahmad Bin Byat who is also the Deputy Prime Minister and the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode.

A Smart City is a growing concept that draws from the success of Dubai’s innovative knowledge-based industry clusters to empower business growth for companies and knowledge workers all over the world.

Governor Ambode in a statement signed on Tuesday by the State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, said that the Smart City (Lagos) is expected to bring multi-billion dollars investments to the State, create thousands of jobs and transform the Ibeju-Lekki axis in particular and the entire Lagos State in general.

“This is a deliberate attempt by us to establish a strong convergence between technology, economic development and governance.

“The MOU is between Lagos State Government and Dubai Holdings, LLC, owners of Smart City (Dubai) to develop a sustainable, smart, globally connected knowledge-based communities that drive knowledge economy,” Governor Ambode said.

The Governor stated that the collaboration is part of the larger vision to make Lagos safer, cleaner and more prosperous.

He said: “A Smart-City Lagos will be the pride of all Lagosians just as we have Smart City Dubai, Smart-City Malta and Smart-City Kochi (India). We are encouraged by the fact that we do not, as a government, need to develop at a slow pace, but take full advantage of the digital age and fast track development of Lagos to a real megalopolis that we can all be proud of.

“The future is ours to take. It also marks the first smart city in Africa when completed.”

The Governor added that apart from creating jobs for the people, the project would also become the world’s first carbon neutral city.

“Lagos,” he said, “will become an important centre for innovation in smart technologies, wellness and destination for green tourism.”

Earlier in his remarks, the Deputy Prime Minister, Bin Byat said the Dubai authorities were impressed with the conduct and readiness of Lagos State Government and were eager to proceed with the State Government and the Smart City Lagos project.

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Iyalaya Anybody: Pencils, Nigerian Innovation, & Africa’s Path In The 21st Century By Pius Adesanmi

You must excuse the obscenity, “iyalaya anybody”, in my title. When you invite a well-known scholar of African popular cultures to address such a distinguished assembly of actors and professionals in Nigeria’s corporate and entrepreneurial world, you must be prepared to be illuminated by the philosophical nuggets always hidden in the lingos and cultures of the African street. You must be prepared for some discomfiture.

In its pristine cultural background in the Yoruba world,iyalaya is an obscenity hurled at your opponent in a brawl to display contempt for his or her maternal lineage. It is usually accompanied by the insulting palm and five-finger flash we call “waka” in the face of your opponent. The consequence, as you all know, is often a bloody nose and an unscheduled trip to the hospital. However, as cultures evolve across generations, new meanings emerge and old words or expressions and are sent on new errands by the human imagination.

Thus, in its contemporary usage in Nigerian popular culture, iyalaya anybody”speaks directly to the spirit and theme of Verdant Zeal’s 5th Innovention Series: “The Next Big Thing: Identifying Africa’s Untapped Potential.” Within this broad thematic framing around the African continent, I was further mandated by the organizers of this event to try and think through the particular issue of a path for Nigerian innovation in the 21st century.

I was asked to ponder some questions: what promises does Nigerian innovation hold and in which directions could it lead our society? What are the challenges to Nigerian innovation? Indeed, during one of my many telephone conversations with Verdant Zeal’s Mr. Dipo Adesida on the subject matter of this lecture, he had even told me point-blank: “Prof, we want you to answer the question: what’s the next big thing for Nigeria?” I gave him a confounding answer: iyalayaanybody”!

It was not immediately clear to Mr. Adesida – and I am sure it is not clear to you too as yet – howiyalaya anybody”, a slang from the popular culture factory of a certain Nigerian youth demographic that loves to display its swagger on social media, can be said to be the next big thing in Nigerian, nay African innovation. Permit me to sustain your suspense a bit. The longer you are unable to figure out the connection between “iyalaya anybody” and the theme of this conference, the more time I have to make my case and explore matters in detail!

Suffice it to say, for now, that starting with your beautiful neologism, “innovention”, the theme of this event features at least three of the conceptual keywords which 21st-century modernity and civilization ritually use to capture the futuristic flights of the human imagination, as well as the feats that are shaping our collective human future in the provinces of invention, innovation, entrepreneurship, and potential.

Invention. Innovation. Entrepreneurship. Potential. Add globalizing economy, competitive knowledge economy, technology-driven development, and knowledge-based economy to these four keywords and you would have established a broad handle on how peoples, nations, states, and other actors and participants in the global marketplace of human advancement are remapping and reshaping notions such as growth, development, and prosperity. These keywords speak to something I propose we call a global scramble for the future of humanity. Peoples, nations, states, corporations, multilateral organizations – and just about everything and everybody in between – are in a scramble to envision the future of humanity in line with the conceptual benchmarks of the aforementioned keywords.

The UN, with her sustainable development goals, wants to fundamentally change the world in seventeen sustainable steps by 2030. In essence, the SDGs are a fifteen-year agenda. Europe is slightly more ambitious. She does not stop at 2030 in her own roadmap to the future. The European Commission’s vision document is entitled: “The Knowledge Future: Intelligent Policy Choices for Europe 2050”. Incidentally, China also has Vision 2050. For the United Arab Emirates, it is Vision 2021, mapped out in a document built around what she calls a “competitive knowledge economy”.

Africa is not left out of this scramble for the future. Indeed, in my comparative study of what I am calling the global texts of the scramble for the future, the Africa Union’s Agenda 2063 – a fifty-year envisioning of the future of the continent and her peoples launched in 2013 – is by far one of the most ambitious agenda-setting texts. Furthermore, while studying these agenda texts, the literary critic in me did not fail to observe that the omniscient narrator speaking about Africa’s future in Agenda 2063 speaks compellingly from a position of agency.

The confident perspective of the omniscient voice speaking in Agenda 2063 is an indication that the African continent is very much aware of a global scramble for a future powered by invention, innovation, genius, and entrepreneurial efflorescence; a future that will be determined and shaped by those who understand and position themselves as central players in a global growth and development scenario driven almost exclusively by competitive knowledge economies and economies of competitive knowledge. In this picture, Africa seems to be saying that she has a stake and an edge.

In essence, if you compare the omniscient narrative voices in, say, Europe 2050 and Africa’s Agenda 2063, the latter seems to be saying to the former: if you think that the nature and the order of things in the next fifty years are going to be the way you have programmed them in the last five hundred years, with you on the throne and me always groveling in poverty and backwardness at your feet, you’ve got another think coming! To the extent that the race to the second half of the 21st century and beyond is going to be powered by genius, innovation, invention, and knowledge, and not by slave ships, Gatling guns, natural resources, and colonial punitive expeditions, I, Africa, have all it takes to be an agent and a central stakeholder in the said race.

In other words, the Africa Union’s Agenda 2063 seems to be beating its chest and saying iyalaya anybody” to all the other agenda-setting texts and literature from Europe, North America, Asia, and the Middle East. How does one account for the optimism, hope, and confidence which powers Agenda 2063 despite the persistent realities on the ground in Africa? To answer this question, we need to take a closer look at what unites these vision documents from various parts of the world. Let me lift a sample language from the chapter on “competitive knowledge economy” in the UAE’s Vision 2021 document:

“The global economy will witness significant economic changes in the coming years and the UAE Vision 2021 National Agenda aims for the UAE to be at its heart. As a result, it focuses on the UAE becoming the economic, touristic and commercial capital for more than two billion people by transitioning to a knowledge-based economy, promoting innovation and research and development, strengthening the regulatory framework for key sectors, and encouraging high value-adding sectors. These will improve the country’s business environment and increase its attractiveness to foreign investment.

The National Agenda also aims for the UAE to be among the best in the world in entrepreneurship as this plays a key role in unlocking the potential of nationals and enables them to be a driving force of the UAE’s economic development through small and medium enterprises in the private sector. Furthermore, the Agenda strives to instill an entrepreneurial culture in schools and universities to foster generations endowed with leadership, creativity, responsibility and ambition. This will allow the UAE to be among the best in the world in ease of doing business, innovation, entrepreneurship and R&D indicators”.

This is how the UAE frames her path to 2021. Now, let’s hear from the European Commission. Here, we need not go beyond the Foreword to Europe’s Vision 2050 text, written by the European Commissioner, before we encounter language very similar to the language of the UAE document:

“Foresight is an important tool to help us face the future with confidence, understand opportunities and risks, and help us develop our medium to long term strategies for research, science and innovation policy. It takes many guises: trends, signals, scenarios, visions, roadmaps and plans are all parts of the tool-box for looking to the future. In addition to these tools, using foresight requires an in-depth reflection on the policy implications and related scenarios. This report ‘The Knowledge Future: intelligent policy choices for Europe 2050’ is an excellent example of such a reflection.

Europe’s research, innovation and higher education systems are the foundation of our economic and social prospects, shaping our ability to tackle numerous challenges at both local and international level. Globalization, demographic changes and technological advances pose important challenges and opportunities for research and innovation in Europe. By reflecting on the trends and articulating scenarios, this report helps us think differently about European policies in the medium to long term.”

Same keywords. Same phraseology. Similar texts from North America and Asia do not disappoint in featuring the same keywords. Agenda 2063 agrees with all these texts from the rest of the world: the future belongs to innovation, invention, knowledge, research and development. But commonality of language, diction, and vision is not enough to account for why Africa’s Agenda 2063 places her in an “iyalaya anybody” position with the rest of the world in terms of the scramble for the future. This leaves us with the last thing that all these vision statements from Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Americas have in common.

Youth!

All the texts agree that with the global shift from resources to human capital development, the youth demographic is the next big thing – the single most strategic key in creating prosperous societies of the future. Take the overwhelming emphasis on the youth demographic out of any of these documents and the lofty dreams, hope, vision, promise, and aspiration contained therein will collapse completely.

Basically, these documents are saying that invention, innovation, genius, entrepreneurship, and potential all devolve mainly from the dynamism of the youth demographic. In the last decade or so, the future of humanity has placed a bet on youth. The societies of the future are saying that the youth demographic is the next big thing. For good reason. If you look at the conjugation of genius, innovation, invention, energy, and work ethic which led to the emergence of the Asian Tigers and placed them at the forefront of global economic and infrastructural postmodernity, you will find the unmistakable footprint of the youth demographic all over that scenario.

This explains why from South Korea to China, from Singapore to Malaysia, from Japan to India, the explosion of the youth demographic, which social scientists once labelled a problem, is now often discoursed as a “demographic dividend” by Asia watchers. If you study Europe 2050 very carefully, you’ll notice a certain discomfort when it comes to population. The document recognizes the centrality of the youth demographic to a future of humanitymidwived by innovation, invention, and genius but Europe is worried and you should know why.

Unlike Asia and Africa, her population is aging and she does not have the youth demographic that can sustain her competitiveness in the sort of innovation-dependent future that I am describing here but hush…hush… these are things we whisper behind Europe’s back. As Fela would put it, don’t tell anybody that I told you that Europe is aging and is at a strategic demographic disadvantage in a future that is going to be determined by the restless and borderless scope of youth innovation, creativity, genius, and invention.

What the Asian Tigers call “demographic dividend” is what watchers of Africa have been calling “youth advantage” or “youth opportunity” since the beginning of the 21st century. It wasn’t always rosy. Just as the youth demographic in Asia was initially seen as a problem, the usual suspects who have told Africa’s story for five hundred years said that Africans were having way too many children. They said that there was a youth bomb waiting to explode and unleash continental scenarios of hunger, poverty, want, unemployment, social unrest, crisis, conflict, and all the usual things they say about Africa. When their master of ceremony, The Economist, saw all these things, she promptly declared Africa a hopeless continent at the end of the 20th century.

Ten years later, The Economist had a road to Damascus experience and declared Africa a hopeful continent. Our friends in Bretton Woods began to scream Africa Rising. The entire frame of discoursing Africa changed. Suddenly, everybody began to see hope, opportunity, and potential. China rushed in.

The connecting strand in all these developments is Africa’s youth and her innovation. For when experts speak, for instance, of the rise of a new African middle class and how they are changing the topography and the skylines of Lagos, Abuja, Accra, Nairobi, Kampala, Addis Ababa, what they really mean is the rise of a mall-cultured, IT-savvy, and tech-savvy generation that has altered the destiny of the African continent by finding a way to bypass the insurmountable dysfunction of the state in Africa and connect to global and transnational circuitries of opportunity – the way that the youth of Africa found around the collapse of the African state is called innovation.

I will return to this question of African youth and innovation shortly but perhaps it is now time to end your extended suspense over what “iyalaya anybody” has got to do with this matter. The mere mention of iyalaya anybody” brings to mind the Nigerian musician, Olamide, and his famous spat with music industry icon, Don Jazzy. No Nigerian needs to be reminded the details of this spat which shook the African entertainment industry to its roots and set Twitter and Facebook on fire for weeks. With the whole world watching, Olamide had shot out at the audience, “iyalaya anybody”, while dissing Don Jazzy.

When we are done here, I want you all to go to YouTube and watch the clip of that episode again. Watch Olamide’s poise and posture; pay attention to the tenor and cadence of his voice; do not miss the streak of confidence with which he screamed “iyalaya anybody” at the audience. Iyalaya anybody and what it entails in popular culture is the summation and the biography of the 21st century postmodern African youth. Iyalaya anybody is swagger. It is a thematic of the self as borderless and unleashed. Iyalaya anybody involves a projection of the self into horizons of derring-do, of exploration, of adventure. It is the unmooring of the human spirit and imagination. Iyalaya anybody says I am young and I can self-project into spaces and places never before imagined. It is human potential untethered.

“Iyalaya anybody” is the philosophical base and portrait of the kind of youth demographic that has been at the heart of Africa’s resurgence and promise since the beginning of the new millennium. A confident youth demographic that daressans frontieres! It is the abundance of this youth potential all over the continent that makes Agenda 2063 so confident, so sure of herself, so certain that Africa will not be marginal in the scramble for a future underwritten by invention and innovation. If Agenda 2063 is betting so much on the ability of the continent’s youth demographic to rise up to the challenges of the global knowledge economy, it is because examples abound across the continent of momentous shifts in culture and economics midwived by youth innovation and invention. Nigeria has been the pacesetter and trendsetter in this respect.

Consider the fact that as recently as the 1990s, Africa’s consumption of culture was largely dependent on Hollywood and the American music industry. Then came the reinvention of musical genres across the continent and American musicians were driven out of the dance floors and party halls of the entire continent. The Francophones started this continental cultural rebirth. I am sure you all remember how an entire continent and her diaspora swayed to the magical rhythms of “Premier Gaou” in a transcontinental and transnational burst of musical jouissance. I am sure you still remember how Awilo Longomba entranced an entire continent from Johannesburg to Nairobi via Lagos and Accra in the 1990s.

I mentioned earlier that “iyalaya anybody” is no respecter of borders and boundaries. From behind thelanguage Iron Curtain in Africa, Awilo Longomba and Magic System burst across Anglophone Africa in the 1990s. The recalibration of the African musical landscape that they inaugurated was what prepared the ground for Innocent TuFace Idibia of the African Queen fame and Soni Nneji of the Oruka fame to conquer Africa and the world. Think of how far Africa’s musical innovation has come since then. There is even a generation of Nigerians on Facebook and Twitter for whom TuFace, African China, Mad Melon, and Soni Nneji are old school because this latter generation came of age on Azonto, Dorobucci, Eminado and Shakiti Bobo.

But also think of what has come with the rebirth of music: economics, entrepreneurship, industry, employment. Everything I have said about Africa’s music industry could be said for Nollywood. Indeed, much more could be said for Nollywood in terms of how the derring-do and innovative spirit of Nigerian youth created an industry that eventually saidiyalaya anybody” to Bollywood and is now giving Hollywood a good run for its money.

One asset that Nigeria’s and Africa’s youth demographic has in terms of channeling innovation and the knowledge economy in confronting Africa’s contemporary challenges and mapping her way to the future is the dysfunction of the African state and the near total absence of imagination and critical intelligence in running the state.  Sounds contradictory, innit?

Come with me. 

If you look at the United Arab Emirates, which around here is reducible to Dubai, you will see that she solved two major problems within a generation. First was the question of how she was going to transition to a post-oil economy through an aggressive diversification of her economy. Second was her irrepressible urge to become the touristic capital of the world.

If you want the wealthiest people in the world to replace you with Paris and other chic Western destinations as the world’s headquarters of tourism, there must be a visionary leadership able to channel the imagination and potential of the youth to finding innovative ways to have ice rinks and ski resorts in the desert. The leaders of the United Arab Emirates have been providing this strategic vision that has enhanced the creative and innovative juices of their youth.

The American example is also instructive. Today, people look at Mark Zuckerberg and his generation as the epitome of 21st-century youth innovation, invention, and entrepreneurship. But the foundation for this spirit was laid by generations of American visionary leaders. Long before Mark Zuckerberg was born, an American leader had taught his people that there is no limit to human will and desire. He gave them a deadline to extend themselves beyond us all and conquer the moon. This no-limit philosophy to human daring, imagination, and innovation is the philosophical matrix into which the generation of Mark Zuckerberg was born. Do not make the mistake of thinking that these kids just happened along ex-nihilo.

And today, the leaders of Dubai are inspiring their youth demographic by making them believe that whatever futuristic leaps they can imagine can be done. Every time you think that Dubai has taken us to the very limits of futuristic architecture and construction, some youth somewhere innovates an engineering marvel that allows Dubai to add more floors to those skyscrapers. In America, the leadership is telling a restless youth demographic that the moon is not enough – they must conquer Mars. All over Asia, youth are imagining and shaping our future in huge innovation leaps because their leaders are telling them that they must beat American kids. That is why Chinese kids go to Harvard, MIT, Yale, Stanford, and Columbia and make American kids look like dunces in those places.

The opposite is the case in much of Africa. Take Nigeria for example. While visionary leadership and the state are making it possible for the youth in America and Asia to dream of conquering Mars and opening up the next frontiers of science and innovation, the Nigerian Federal government recently assured her own youth that with patience, dedication, prayers and dry fasting, we may be able to manufacture pencils in two or three years. Yes, you heard me right. Manufacturing pencils by 2018 or 2019 is how a Federal Minister in Nigeria recently framed the aspirations of the Nigerian government. With any luck, the Nigerian government may inspire our youth to try and see how we might be able to manufacture toothpicks in 2050.

The tragic mental constipation of the state in Africa is magnified by Nigeria in ways that are intensely painful and personal. If you think that aiming to manufacture pencils at about the time that some people elsewhere are thinking that they may land a man on Mars and start Mars tourism is the worst case of aspirational poverty we have encountered from the Nigerian state in recent times, it means you are not current.

All over Nigeria, Fulani herdsmen have been having bloody clashes with their host communities, culminating in the recent Agatu massacres which resulted in about five hundred deaths in some estimates. The Nigerian state’s predictable response to a problem which calls for the facilitation and mobilization of the innovative genius of the people is to retort that she would import grass from Brazil to feed the cattle and solve the problem! This got me thinking about the boy who recently resolved a problem for the Masai of Kenya. Lions kill their cattle. The boy invented a flashing light device which scares away the lions. The boy’s invention is trending in Kenya. Bring that problem to Nigeria and the Nigerian state’s reaction would not be how to inspire genius and innovation. Some Minister would have suggested that we import lions that are allergic to the cattle of the Masai.

But I insist that the lack of enabling or inspiring official environments for the unleashing of the creative intelligence of the continent’s youth demographic is an ironic advantage. When you understand that all over the world, the youth demographic is being called upon to harness the resources of the global knowledge economy to solve the critical problems of their societies in the present and to innovate pathways to the future; when you understand that leadership and the state have a significant role to play that is largely absent in Africa, then you understand that the cards are stacked against you and you must double your effort.

Your innovative spirit must be much more intense than what obtains in the United Arab Emirates, Europe, or North America. Making monumental progress through innovation and an irrepressible spirit of the sort that I have theorized asiyalaya anybody is how Africa’s cultural consumption in music and film has been redefined by the continent’s youth with Nigeria as hub. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Amazon, Tumblr, and YouTube are products of genius, innovation, invention, and entrepreneurial wizardry but they were all midwived in an enabling environment. Ushahidi, Budgit, Nairaland, Konga, and Nollywood were all midwived in chronically disabling and disabled environments. The case of Nollywood is particularly telling. By the time the Nigerian state eventually decided to throw money at her in 2015, she had already overtaken Bollywood without help.

It should be clear from the foregoing that identifying the next big thing and surmounting debilitating circumstances has never been a problem for Africa’s youth demographic. Ushahidi and Budgit are innovations of foresight by young people in Kenya and Nigeria who understand that the future of the continent cannot happen in the absence of a citizenry divorced from civics. Budgit is also a warning to the Africa state. The imagination of the youth is unleashed and cannot be stopped. The innovation or invention that will make you accountable to the people is always just around the corner. The innovation that will bring you closer to good governance is always just around the corner.

In 2016, for instance, President Buhari failed in his oversight duties and his budget was padded by unscrupulous civil servants, creating one of the worst fiscal scandals in the postcolonial history of Nigeria. President Buhari failed in his duties because he was not aware of an innovation called Budgit. He has now been made painfully aware of it. Trust me, his 2017 budget will be fine. He will buy plenty of tomtom and kolanuts and go through the budget with a fine tooth comb.

What the 21st-century global atmospherics of innovation, invention, and potential should say to Nigeria’s youth demographic, therefore, is that they are called upon to solve the big problems of the day in the absence of visionary governance. Let us return to the question of the Fulani herdsmen and government’s proposed solution of importing grass from Brazil to feed Fulani cattle. With daily advancements in biotechnology, all it will take is for some gifted youth one day to stumble on a patent for improved nutritious grass that can be grown all over the arid expanse of the north. After all, there are people already projecting into a future of rainforests in the aridity of the United Arab Emirates.

Just imagine the lives that will be saved, the enhanced economic activities and the entrepreneurial frontiers that will be opened up in Nigeria if we were to channel the innovative spirit of the youth into thinking up ways to come up with nutritious grass! Just imagine the opportunities that could open up for Verdant on the promotion, branding, and packaging front if biotechnological innovation were to be used in solving the grass issues of cattle rearing in Nigeria!

This brings me to my next point: mobilities. Mobilities is the future of humanity. Part of the reason why Africa and Nigeria still face enormous challenges is that we are yet to fully understand mobilities are indissociable from the knowledge economies and innovation ecosystems that are shaping the nature and future of human society.

Innovation has no home. Cutting edge knowledge and invention are no respecters of boundaries and borders. It is in response to the fluidity of innovation and invention that economies are globalizing and interconnecting in a frenetic pace. People will and must move and with them ideas. The next innovation or invention that will change the face of medicine, construction, or architecture forever may be crossing the Sahara Desert right now as we speak, on its way to Europe via the perilous boats of the Mediterranean Sea.

Brazil, the country from which Nigeria wants to import grass, understands the centrality of mobilities to the scramble for the future. Unknown to many people, Brazil is currently one of the biggest players on the African continent alongside China and South Africa. Brazil is buying up huge tracts of land in Southern Africa to feed its ethanol and agricultural industries. We are speaking of millions of acres already bought in Mozambique, a country twice the size of California.

The imagination of Brazilian inventors and innovators is crossing boundaries to make the soil of Angola and Mozambique produce high-yield sugar cane for Brazil’s ethanol industry. That is the power of contemporary global mobilities. I understand that Verdant Zeal has blazed a trail here by organizing a staff retreat in one African capital a year. Now, here is a Nigerian brand that understands that the future belongs to mobilities. Keep it up!

Yet, in Nigeria and in Africa, we continue to place cultural, religious, and political impediments on the path of mobilities, forgetting that our youth have to be part of the global ecology of mobilities for their imagination to roam untrammeled. We continue to let primordial identities stand in the way of the freedom to innovate which, according to Professor Calestous Juma of Harvard, is the way to go for Africa. If I am Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, Fulani, Tiv, Ijaw, or Ogoni, how am I supposed to give free rein to my imagination and potential when I have to watch my shoulders as a non-indigene every time I venture out of my state? What we lose in the 21st century by placing primordial obstacles on the path of the freedom to roam and innovate is not easy to quantify in empirical terms and that is why we are hardly aware of it.

Only Ghana seems to have understood what is at stake in terms of mobilities because she inaugurated visa-free entry to Ghana for all citizens of Africa. That is one small step for Ghana, and one giant step for Africa. It is important for Nigerian youth to rise up to the challenge of national and transnational mobilities.

One way in which Nigerian youth can overcome strictures and impediments to mobilities is by constantly striving to become full and active citizens of global economies of knowledge. Cast your mind back to the agenda-setting documents we examined at the beginning of this lecture. Whether it is the UAE document or the European text, you would have noticed the emphasis on world-class and first-rate Universities and research institutions as the power houses of 21st century cutting-edge research. They are not joking. The University idea is taken extremely seriously in those societies and billions is poured into research and knowledge production.

In fact, China and the United Arab Emirates are having it both ways. They are building their own 21st-century world-class Universities, attracting the best brains in the disciplines and the professions to those Universities while still sending their kids en masse to elite Institutions of the West in case there is anything they are missing. That is why Universities and research institutions in the West and in Asia always dominate all the rankings and are by far superior in research output and indicators.

Africa barely registers here and you know why. The closest we have to what might be generously called 21st-century Universities in Africa are in South Africa. I am thinking of Wits, UJ, UCT, Rhodes, and Stellenbosch to name a few. The emphasis here is on the word generosity otherwise South Africa wouldn’t even come close to having anything I consider to be a 21st-century University. The picture indeed is very bad in Africa and there is no need sugar coating it. Nigeria, as usual, leads Africa in the bastardization of the University idea.

In fact, one of the most frustrating things for me is when Nigerian kids graduate and they send me emails seeking admission opportunities abroad. You hear that so and so graduated from the great University of Ibadan, the great University of Lagos, the great UNN, the great Ahmadu Bello University, the great Obafemi Awolowo University, etc. I would read such emails and shake my head and mutter, God soda your mouth!

Who told you that there is a great University in Nigeria by 21st-century standards? Do you even have any idea what a University is, let alone a great one? State governments are the worst culprits here. Imagine Ondo state having almost four Universities when her entire annual budget is not up to the research endowment of Harvard! I am sure you have heard that the Governor of Osun state received only N6 million in Federal allocation this month. Given the fact that the Governor’s helicopter is more important than the State University, I think it is safe to say that the said University is OYO this year.

Given this picture, how do Nigerian, nay African youth become citizens of the global knowledge economy? How do they become fully functional in global economies of knowledge? The good news here is that the era of innovation, invention, and entrepreneurship is also an era that has ushered in a global democracy of knowledge. Cutting-edge knowledge is available everywhere. Knowledge communities and circuitries are ubiquitous and transnational. The Universities of the developed world are finding out that our present age does not respect the traditional borders and boundaries between the town and the gown. Conferences, journals, classes are increasingly becoming open access. You can be in my hometown, Isanlu, in Kogi state, and access research in Harvard that could help you innovate in the domain of cutting-edge practices in agriculture.

The successes recorded by Africa’s youth in innovation, especially in IT-tech, the emergence and expansion of tech hubs all over the continent, and the creativity of our youth have created a new continental vibrancy and dynamism that is visible in Lagos, Nairobi, Johannesburg, and Accra. But, alas, Africa still suffers from what Chinua Achebe calls an imbalance of stories and this is an area that our youth must pay serious attention to. MIT has an annual ranking of thirty-five innovators under thirty-five. That, in itself, is an affirmation of the thesis of this lecture that all over the world, the generation that is thirty-five-years-old and below is in the driver’s seat of innovation and invention.

However, if you look at MIT’s selection for two consecutive years, 2014 and 2015, not a single African innovator, inventor, or entrepreneur makes the cut. Yet, if you read the biographies of the Europeans, Americans, Indians, and Chinese who make the cut, what some of them are said to have invented does not even come close to the revolutionary credentials of Ushahidi and Budgit. What many of the young entrepreneurs are said to have done does not even come close to the genius that Africa’s youth demographic is deploying to radically change the way in which we do e-commerce and make e-payments on the African continent.

What I have learnt from MIT’s canonical efforts is that the scramble for the future is not limited to a rush by societies to deploy invention and innovation and entrepreneurship in the creation of happiness and prosperity. There is also a story that is being quietly told about who matters in the race, who is creating and inventing, and Africa is quietly being written out of the picture. Luckily, Africa’s youth, Nigerian youth, have all it takes to tell MIT and her ranking: iyalaya anybody!

I thank you for your time.

Keynote lecture delivered at the 5th Innovention Series of Verdant Zeal Group

Lagos, Nigeria

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President Buhari Challenges Africa’s Public Broadcasters To Develop Rich Content

President Muhammadu Buhari has challenged public broadcasters in Africa to pay attention to the creation of content in order to take their rightful place and be a catalyst for growth.

Declaring open the 9th African Union of Broadcasting (AUB) General Assembly in Abuja on Thursday, the President, who was represented by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said public broadcasters in Africa should use the power of their reach to invest in good quality content for the viewers, saying that in the media industry, ‘content is king’.

”Broadcasting is not just about equipment, and technology is not an end itself but a means to an end. There has been too much focus on equipment without massive investment of time and resources into content,” he said.

The President cited the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) as an example of a public broadcaster that has leveraged on content to dominate the media space, adding: ”They have become the catalyst for growth in the production and channel industry with spin-offs like BBC FOODS, BBC PRIME, BBC WORLDWIDE, etc. Their catalogue of content that they now sell all over the world is admirable.”

He said the creation of content and world class production would create jobs, provide revenue for government and quality entertainment capable of increasing the broadcasters share of the advertising pie.

”Therefore, I challenge you to be the stimulant for growth in your creative industries and serve the promotion of culture. You must not lose the younger generation who are fast changing their view of television, what they watch and how they watch it. If the issue of content is not addressed urgently, public broadcasters in Africa that once dominated the broadcasting landscape will have no viewers in the next 10 years,” President Buhari said.

He also said African countries must not see the Digital Switch Over as a simple crossover from Analogue to Digital ”but an opportunity to provide enhanced services, quality programming, interactive content and a new and vibrant media industry that will help grow the economy of the various African countries and create jobs”.

President Buhari said Nigeria had recorded significant achievements in her digitization effort and is willing to share her experiences with the AUB member countries

He urged the AUB, formerly known as the Union of African National Television and Radio Organizations, known by its French acronym URTNA, to retake the initiative of ensuring that more African viewers are able to watch global sports events like the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics.

”URTNA used to get the radio and TV rights for broadcasting such events to African viewers, using the public broadcasters, instead of the practice now that some individual marketing companies will simply secure the rights and price such beyond the reach of national broadcasters, thus limiting viewership to the few who can afford pay TV subscription. The AUB must work hard to regain its lost glory in this respect,” the President said.

He urged AUB member countries to explore and exploit the commercial viability of the services of the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) for the socio-economic benefits of Africa and the world at large.

The Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) and the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), the two largest radio and television networks in Africa, are the official hosts of the 9th AUB General Assembly.

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Buhari, Dangote, Adesina, Linda Ikeji Make Africa’s 100 Most Influential

President Muhammadu Buhari, business mogul, Aliko Dangote, blogger Linda Ikeji and 17 other Nigerians have been named amongst the 100 most influential Africans of 2015.

The list complied by New African Magazine was dominated by Nigeria and South Africa, with 20 and 16 personalities respectively.

Kenya, Uganda and Cameroon also feature strongly with eight, six and six entries each respectively. Of the top 100 personalities, 65 are men and 32 are women, with the other three being groups of people. South Africa’s students, for example, were recognised this year for their role in South Africa’s #FeesMustFall and #Rhodesmustfall campaigns.

The list presents the continent’s definitive power list and profiles the continent’s top game changers in eight different fields: 22 from politics ; four from public office; 21 from arts and culture; 21 from business; 11 from civil society; nine from technology; seven from media, and five from sports.

In one of the continent’s most dramatic and unusual elections of 2015, and Nigeria’s most significant in recent history, Muhammadu Buhari defeated his opponent and incumbent Goodluck Jonathan. Both are recognised in New African. Other Nigerians recognised include the former UN Special Advisor on Post Development Planning, and current minister of Environment, Amina J. Mohammed; AfDB’s new President, Dr Akinwumi Adesina and a surprising addition in the form of Nigerian Diasporan, UK MP, Chuka Umunna, who was in the frame Labour Party leadership.

South Africa also had its fair share of political influencers, among them “the black leader of South Africa’s ‘white’ opposition” party, the DA’s youthful Mmusi Maimane who also makes the list as one to watch during the next elections.

Prominent women making the list are UN Women’s Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and fellow South African Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the current chairperson of the AU Commission, widely tipped to be a potential successor to her former husband, President Jacob Zuma.

Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is recognised together with her fellow heads of states, Alpha Conde of Guinea and Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, for beating the odds to win the war against Ebola in 2015.

African financial giant and Credit Suisse boss, Tidjane Thiam, from Côte d’Ivoire, makes this year’s most influential list for Business and Economy, where he is joined by new World Bank VP and Treasurer, Arunma Otteh, Kenyan ‘DJ’ businessman Chris Kirubi and the entrepreneur and innovator behind Tesla cars, Elon Musk, among others. Nigerian industrialist Aliko Dangote also makes the list.

Also on the list are innovators (Cameroon’s Tonje Bakang), philanthropists (Senegal’s Akon), athletes (Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana), actors (Zimbabwe’s Danai Gurira and Keyna’s Lupita Nyong’o), writers (Zambia’s Namwali Serpell), cultural and media personalities (Trevor Noah and Linda Ikeji), along with the activists, artists, models, musicians that have made the headlines and shaped opinions during the year.

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Reshaping Africa’s Economic Destiny In A Sustainable Development Era By Olawale Rotimi

The era of Millennium Development Goals is fast ending and the Sustainable Development Goals have been set, accompanied by strong advocacy and campaigns by the United Nations and its agencies in order to gear the globe towards this emerging directions. Articulately stated on the United Nations Sustainable Development Knowledge platform, “the Rio+20 outcome document, The future we want, inter alia, set out a mandate to establish an Open Working Group to develop a set of sustainable development goals for consideration and appropriate action by the General Assembly at its 68th session. It also provided the basis for their conceptualization. The Rio outcome gave the mandate that the SDGs should be coherent with and integrated into the UN development agenda beyond 2015.” Having been set, these goals mirrors the MDGs in a broader and sustainable manner, showing more commitment to growth through monitoring with data accessibility.

The sustainable development goals as the millennium development goals have more ground in Africa and Asia where poverty, food security, gender equality, education among others remain major challenges. In the case of Africa, despite major challenges faced by various African nations, where governance is characterized by instability, poor leadership and corruption, in a sustaining manner, some institutions have consistently played key roles in resolving problems of unemployment, epidemic, free trade barrier, gender inequality, poverty eradication, access to portable water among others. Africa is not left out global conversations and progression, currently, the Continent may not level up with other continents in the globe, but the motivating fact is that, Africa is making significant progress in development; we are not there yet, but we are not where we used to be.

It is inspiring to know that Africa, formerly regarded as Continent of despair has changed to a Continent of hope; this milestone is not disconnected from the noticeable economic growth and potentials recorded in Africa, particularly in the last decade. The emerging sustainable development goals present thematic issues on broad platform for playmakers in Africa to contribute to development in Africa in the areas of poverty eradication, educational development m, youth empowerment, agricultural development, gender equality, job creation, climate change, quality health to mention a few.

The issue of economic growth is critical to Africa and it inter middles with various sectors in causes and solutions. Eradicating poverty, ensuring food security, job creation among others are impossible in a poor economic atmosphere. Not limited to these, however, four critical sectors must be considered in enabling economic growth towards establishment of the Sustainable Development Goals: Education, Agriculture, Health, and Energy.

First, the level of a nation/continent’s education will determine its level of growth; no nation can grow beyond its level of education because education is the bedrock of progress. Standard of education must be improved through updated curriculum, infrastructures, girl child education, good rewards for teachers and security for students and the learning environment as a whole. Secondly, agriculture has always been with man, it provides the wealth a nation can call its own, agriculture has never failed humanity. It has the capacity to generate more employment. The goal to end poverty and ensure food security will remain impossible without agricultural development. Thirdly, a healthy nation is a wealthy nation. Assessing the resulting effects of an epidemic like Ebola on the economies of affected countries, foreign investors withdrew in droves from worst-hit countries in West Africa, ArcelorMittal, the world’s leading steelmaker, moved its expatriate staff out of Liberia. London Mining, a British company, also removed staff from Sierra Leone. Without iron ore, Sierra Leone’s growth output, which was 20% in 2013, will fall to 5.5%, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), stressing how critical the iron ore sector is to the country’s economy. Fearing for staff safety, a number of international non-governmental organizations in Liberia have also closed their operations according to a United Nations report. Fourthly, energy! It is quite apparent that economic growth is inextricably linked to energy. As energy is tied to our economy, our future is dependent upon equitable access to energy.

That improvement in manufacturing power will create more jobs and boost Africa’s economy has appeared to be a major inference that will boost the continent’s economy towards sustainable development goals. Africa is endowed with fertile soil, mineral resources, passionate and energetic people, and raw materials, yet the continent is unable to solve major challenges, particularly its economy. For example, the total production capacity of Africa is only compared to that of a country in Europe despite human power and resources. Africa has a population of 1 billion, with 40 percent in the city, the main problem remains unemployment, originating from poor economy and leading to other issues such as hunger, lack of portable water among others. Unfortunately, governments of many African nations have been unable to proffer a solution to meet the demand of the growing population. In the area of unemployment, It has been projected that 17 million jobs must be created in the Continent annually to fight unemployment. Apparently, to meet this target in the sustainable development era, Africa’s economy must be boosted through manufacturing to meet SDGs. Economic and social successes of China, Japan among other places is tied to priority placed on manufacturing as means of creating wealth for continental growth. Africa consumes more than it produces, and we need to realize that our dependence on foreign products could cripple our economy because supply constraints or disruption to importation of those products could derail economic activity. It should be an imperative for Africa to intensify manufacturing in order to improve its economy.

With rapid growth in production in different sectors, there will reduced dependence on foreign financial support and more wealth will be created to cater for Africa’s challenges. By 2050, Africa’s population is projected to be at 2billion, this is only less than four decades away. More focus must be channelled towards increasing wealth because none of the SDGs goals can be done without wealth. Increasing the manufacturing power of Africa isn’t something that will be delivered to Africans; Africans have to work tenaciously to intensify processing of its raw materials into finished products for export. Some of the key areas of focus include agriculture, information technology, engineering, media and entertainment. The fascinating development is that, many young Africans are responding to this challenge. More young entrepreneurs and manufacturers are emerging in Africa; this explains why government and financial institutions should work together in infrastructural development and financial packages for young manufacturers in across Africa.

Following this frame work, not to miss out in the SDGs emerging trends and cater for the growing African population, there is a need for a continental initiative that will motivate, inspire, project and create wealth for Africa through manufacturing in various sectors across the Continent. By fetching manufacturers in institutions and local communities and promoting their products, Africa’s manufacturing strength will be driven. We cannot remain a continent depends on foreign grants to and expect the continent to develop.

Olawale Rotimi
T: @RotimiLawale

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Omojuwa, Linda Ikeji, 10 Other Nigerians Named In Africa’s 50 Movers And Shakers

World-leading financial services company, Credit Suisse has named 12 Nigerians as part of its 50 Movers and Shakers on the continent.

“These 50 people personify modern Africa: entrepreneurs and artists, athletes, politicians and activists,” Credit Suisse said in a report.

Popular bloggers Linda Ikeji and Japhet Omojuwa made the list that had Nobel laureate Prof Wole Soyinka and Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote and serial entrepreneur Tony Elumelu.

Other notable Nigerians on the list are Mo Abudu, Chimamanda Adichie, Davido, Raji Fashola, Genevieve Nnaji, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Michael Akindele.

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Commonwealth Youth Council Condemns South Africa’s Xenophobia

The Commonwealth Youth Council, CYC, has condemned in strong terms the on-going xenophobia attacks on Africans in South Africa and described the attacks as a breach of the commonwealth values.

Ahmed Adamu , the chairperson of the council in statement issued on Friday, said social cohesion is a guarantee for success and development and should not see immegrants as enemies of progress.

“People coming to your country to work are to your advantage as they will add to your productive labour force that propel your economy. They will have to exchange their foreign currencies with yours, injecting your economy with hard currencies and creates demand for your currency.

“The visa fees and the flight fare they pay your domestic airlines, the purchases, rent and patronage within your economy add up to the positive economic indicators of your country and they will help you learn new skills and exchange ideas and partner for developments”.

The youth leader that there are two immigrants: “1. Professionals/businessmen. 2. low skills immigrants. The first category add to the value of the economy, they inject lots to the economy. The second group provide cheap labour, making cost of production cheaper” and maintained that it is an open world with equal opportunities and urged South African youths to “be fit and don’t be lazy”.

“Immigrants put you on your toes, to be competitive and challenge you to do more. If immigrants are preferred, it means they have competitive skills required for the job, and the efficiency of every job in your country is a positive indicator”.

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Meet Africa’s New Chiefs By Peregrino Brimah

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