Why The Future Of Africa Is Bright
In This Podcast
- Design and intention
- Co Creation HUB
- Opportunities and challenges in Africa
- Solving problems with science and technology
- The future is bright
- Long term business solutions
- Experience, wisdom and empathy
Bosun Tijani is a Nigerian British entrepreneur. He is the co-founder and Chief Executive of Co-Creation HUB, a pan-African hub for innovation. He drives the application of innovation and social capital for a better society across Africa.
The Future Is Bright with Bosun Tijani
Bosun Tijani is the founder and CEO of Co Creation Hub (CcHUB), Africa’s leading technology centre dedicated to accelerating the application of social capital and technology for economic prosperity. Founded in 2010, they work closely with stakeholders – including entrepreneurs, technologists, civil society, government and private sector to identify and nurture novel solutions to pressing challenges in Africa.
Bosun believes in an Africa by design, which means designed and built with clear intentions. The world we live in has some serious complications and there are aspects that he doesn’t like and doesn’t want to see in the continent he lives on.
“The evolution of humanity has been extremely exciting. We live at a time where digital technology is changing how we communicate, how we interact, how we do business on literally every facet of our lives.”
But the challenges in Africa are not hard to comprehend. Many of the problems Africa is facing, the rest of the world has already overcome.
“How we intentionally leverage existing knowledge, but also how do we intentionally create new knowledge helps not only solve some of these problems that we face on the continent, but also helps to take advantage of the opportunities that are commonplace all across the continent.”
Africa has an opportunity to offer services to the world, to contribute to the development of the world. And while it’s been doing this for years, it’s not always been beneficial to both Africa and the rest of the world.
“The only way forward for me, is that intention. How do we become more intentional about being an inclusive society in Africa? An inclusive society that leverages the resources for the good of the world? But also the resources for the benefit of the people now within the continent? How do we take the resources that exist in Africa to create opportunities for Africa to have value to the world?”
Understanding challenges and creating opportunities
Now is the time, says Bosun, for Africa to become creators of its own solutions. The continent is the second most populated continent in the world, with the largest youth population. Around 60% of people are 25 or younger, with 200 million Africans living in cities.
The biggest challenges they face will be a demand for more resources and a demand on society that will create agitation. The current infrastructure is weak. There is an increased pressure to educate people differently.
“The future of education and our work itself is changing. There will be demand for more jobs as well. Because as the population is growing, people will look for ways to ensure that they can keep their livelihood going. There will be pressure on public health as well.”
But in all of these challenges lies opportunity.
A younger population means more people of a working age, people who are restless. And restlessness leads to innovation and creativity.
The challenge is thus, how can we build a society that can empower and enable people, to provide opportunity to people regardless of their background?
Young people are demanding a better society, says Bosun, they’re demanding change in the way they’re policed. They’re demanding better governance. Older people who don’t understand the digital era are struggling to understand social media, or the creativity that is coming out of modern technology. And this will be Africa’s biggest problem.
“That’s going to be where our challenge and opportunity will be if we can find a way to bridge that gap. If we can find a way to connect these two sides of society, I think Africa may be onto something that the rest of the world will be extremely proud of.”
“We need unlikely leaders. We need leaders that are inclusive in the way they think. We need leaders that are intentional about how they design interventions in society. Leaders who understand that there’s no one size fits all approach. Leaders who understand that true design and empathy are essential. Leaders who understand that you do need to engage and listen to people for you to be able to come up with the right solutions to problems of society.”
The future is bright
Bosun recognises that his opinions on business may not be relevant for anyone living outside of Africa, but for those who are from Africa, they might be important.
“And the reason for that is that when you look at the stories of successful nations, you will find that entrepreneurs are always embedded in how these nations were formed.”
When you build a successful business, you build an ecosystem. And the way you conceptualise that ecosystem, says Bosun, is what will determine whether your immediate society will benefit from it. There are companies in Africa that are deeply rooted in African society that are building ecosystems and building value chains. In doing so, they’re creating a culture that will help to make African countries more prosperous, they’ll help to solve problems in society, to help families look after themselves, and create more innovators who think critically.
If Bosun had all the resources in the world available to him, he would create maker spaces for young people between the ages of 5-18, in different cities across Africa. These places would train young trainers to help these kids understand how to build their creative confidence and teach them how to create stuff and show them how to keep on creating. These kids will eventually become the innovators Africa needs.
“These innovators would end up building solutions to some of the pressing challenges in Africa, but also the world as a whole.”
A world united
One thing that has become apparent from the COVID pandemic is the need for the world to unite. Every country has looked inwards for a solution, but the reason the virus has spread so rapidly is because we are global, we are connected people.
“This virus almost mirrors the reality of the current wave of digital technologies we have access to.”
By which he means, we have access to technology that enables us to process information like we’ve never processed it before. But in doing so, it leaves us vulnerable and exposed.
The importance of focus
One thing that Bosun learned from his time working in Europe was how dedication can lead to opportunities. By focusing on solving just one problem, researchers became very good at what they did. And they were able to produce something of value to society.
“For Africa to progress, we also need to provide a platform, we need to be that society that encourages people to not only create, but also apply their creation for social good as well.”
Bosun says with access to information, we are fast becoming experts at everything, but that isn’t what the world needs. The world needs specialists.
Companies too need to focus. They need to stop blurring the lines around social infrastructure. They need to realise that the role they play in social infrastructure, from pubs to parks to restaurants to schools, these things, these businesses, are all embedded in how society functions. Leaders need to realise that yes, digital may be beneficial, but applying digital solutions to every problem is going to kill society, because we aren’t as connected as we were.
What the world needs
So what does the world need most right now? Empathy, says Bosun.
“Whether you’re a shrewd capitalist, or you’re a social-inclined entrepreneur, we can all bring empathy into what we do. We can bring empathy into how we view products, we can bring empathy into how we lead, we can bring empathy into how we teach young people.”
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