Africa – A future in innovation, youth, industry, and entrepreneurship

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Matters eRising  with Olusegun Oruame

Jelani Aliyu, Director General (DG), National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC), in one of his musings, lament the sickening sense of lack of priorities or its misplacement by Nigerian teeming population of young people. While decades of government’s sense of failure have a strong persuasive argument, young people must look beyond the failings of state institutions to build a future and a swathe of possibilities outside of governance. Blaming the system is easy but interrogating the system to build a new system that works for all is more tortuous but more desirable.

“Let us not be driven by fear and mistrust, but by inspiration, compassion, the pursuit and sense of adventure and discovery”

– Jelani Aliyu.

All over the continent, there is a subtle sense of desire to re-order things, seek life outside of five or more decades of a governmental system that simply fed on faulty religious and ethnic lines to hold the continent and its gifted young people ransom. You see the unfolding pictures in the tech-hubs: Cc-Hub  in Lagos, those of Sahara Sparks in Dar es Salaam, nHub in Jos and iHub in Nairobi. It’s the new Africa, slowly unfolding.

Young people whether in Nairobi, Cape Town,  Dar Es Salaam, Accra or Lagos want to build a new world that works; that solves old, new and emerging problems. While thousands of their peers occupy the focus of the international media as the subject of painful migration across the tempestuous Mediterranean waters and the torture slave chambers in Libya, a quiet others – in their thousands too – are seeking to raise the pedestal of entrepreneurship with innovative solutions that put moribund state infrastructures to task and challenge old thinking within government.

The road to growth is not the elusive chase after nothingness across the deserts and seas seeking for self-imposed slavery. The road to growth is in the little corners in Kumasi, Damaturu, and other seemingly insignificant African cities where young people are making a discovery of power and new value propositions that, ultimately, will redefine government and governance.

This new breed of innovators deserve the podium to inspire the new generation that must seek life outside of ‘kabu-kabu and okada.’ For theirs is the kingdom of a new Africa. Jelani Aliyu should know. Himself an innovator and a knowledge pathfinder; being at the helms of a government’s agency throws up its own peculiar challenges and that strong desire for knowledge-sharing. I share his musings below:-

“Misplaced priorities: while youths around the world are into exciting technology such as Artificial Intelligence, Nanotechnology and Robotics, millions of Nigerian youth waste away their future at motor parks and riding kabu-kabus and okadas, “while others aimlessly attend universities with no focus on self-development or career choice.

“Wake up, young Nigerians, each one of you can blame the system or join in the creation of a new effective system. Which do you choose?

“Those powerful capabilities within you must be reawakened!

“Let us not be driven by fear and mistrust, but by inspiration and compassion.

“By the pursuit and sense of adventure and discovery.

“Because whether Banker or Engineer, Lawyer or Doctor, singing the same old tune hasn’t and will not save us as a nation, nor as a people.

“The nations that have progressed did not achieve that status by simply adopting what others have done before, nor by shying away from innovation, industry, enterprise and commitment to agriculture.

“Many of our current systems, and for the most part, our practical and moral institutions are in serious decay, and so the engagement of advanced innovation, concepts and solutions is not just a matter of leisure or debate, but quite simply an imperative commitment for the very survival of our people.

“Any young Nigerian, actually all Nigerians, must strive to fly and soar, not enter public service, but diligently network and team up into private sector.

“Innovation, industry, agriculture and enterprise for a new Nigeria!

Jelani Aliyu, DG of NADDC
Jelani Aliyu, DG of NADDC

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