World Youth Alliance Africa was honored to be participate in the 5th East Africa Inter Region Economic Forum Thought Leaders Forum from 12th to 15th August 2015. The forum took place in Naivasha, Kenya with the theme and focus as Africa’s Elusive Asset: the Mind as the Ultimate Capital. The Inter Region Economic Network (IREN) is a leading independent African think tank that promotes ideas and strategies geared towards causing prosperity in Africa through free enterprise and sound public policy. IREN nurtures thinkers, to better approach challenges, and identify strategies for improvement.
The Forum reflected on why utilization of Africans’ intellectual capabilities has remained elusive. The quest for fast paced development [maendeleo chap chap – in Swahili] continues to compromise the African peoples’ ability to interrogate and reflect on priorities. In the process, self doubt and low confidence levels lead to the outsourcing of the continent’s intellectual capabilities. Little fidelity to evidence based public discourse further fuels pessimism on African capabilities. Accepting to play in “global games” without necessary information makes it difficult for Africa to tap into its elusive asset – the mind as capital. As we go forward, we cannot forget history and culture. Further proposed was promotion of authentically Africa solutions, springing from the African heritage and culture and a significant reduction in foreign aid dependence.
To tap into Africans’ intellectual capabilities, the agency is on the African person to address some basic requirements such as promote clarity in communication; promote precision on how one interacts with time and space and finally promote a high sense of obligation to get rid of pervasive self doubt. This calls for heavy investments in role modeling, mentorship and the requisite framework of modules for African youth. African policy makers should learn from the Swahili saying “akili ni mali” [knowledge is wealth] and initiate deliberate programs that interact with the continent’s industry, academia and intellectuals to foster development. Non state actors such civil society organizations and the media should identify their own interests and agenda in the global context and push for evidence led advocacy and mobilization.
As Africa, we have a lot to teach the world, beginning with our smiles and a focus on our human resource. Key in the match toward the Africa is Rising narrative is a responsible leadership, that is at the service of the common good. Corruption is never a good. The family is at the heart of securing the best possible future we want. In the family, citizens are developed, and the State needs to foster and guarantee an environment that enables the family to flourish. A good education is life-long and indispensable in securing a happier future for Africa. The goal of a good education is individuals who are intellectually, spiritually, emotionally and physically balanced.
Participating thought leaders were drawn from diverse backgrounds ranging from political foundation, think tank, academia, psychological counselor, business, social workers, journalists and university students. The 6th edition set for August 2016 will be announced in April 2016. The outcomes of this year’s discussions will be published on both the African Executive and IREN websites. WYA Africa is grateful to IREN for inviting us as part of the 2015 Thought Leaders Forum.