Africa Needs Thinkers

I am an avid follower of rich lists. Particularly the Forbes rich list. I love reading about who is making more money than who all over the world. My fascination is really on how these distinct individuals make their money. It’s very exciting to find out what they did to get to where they are. It makes you feel like you could easily get there. It gives you aspirations and ambitions. It’s even worse if your passion is in the same industry as they are in; because at this point you feel – “If Bill Gates could do it, why can’t I?” This is the point where you start working hard because your inspiration is Bill Gates and you would like to be like him one day be like him.

My study on the rich lists though comes with a little bit of comparison of the continents. Sure we have rich people in Africa too, but the economic and financial gap between the rich in the United States and the rich in Africa. Let’s take for example the current richest man in Africa; Nigeria’s Aliko Dangkote, his wealth is at an estimated $16 Billion. His core business is cement, flour and sugar. In Europe, the richest person is Sweden’s Ingvar Kamprad. His net worth is $31 Billion. His source of wealth is in retail – he sells furniture. Gustavo Cisneros, is South America’s richest man. He’s in the media industry and his wealth is up to $4.4 Billion. The richest in the world happens to come from North America; Bill Gates whom we all love and aspire to be like one day has a whopping net worth of $66 Billion. He designed the computer and is founder of Microsoft.

What do you notice in the comparison of the continents wealthiest people? The first of course is the gap between North America’s richest person to the richest person in South America. The difference is a huge $61.6 Billion. Then the difference between Bill Gates and Aliko Dangkote becomes a huge $50 Billion. If we took this research and translated it to the economies of the continent, then we could see which continent is doing economically better than the other. We could also possibly determine who is supposedly living in a continent where there’s a large amount of poverty. Without discrediting any of these great men who have done well and have been inspirations in their part of the world, let’s take for instance North America vs South America; South America is lagging by a whole $61.6 Billion. So hypothetically speaking, there’s more poverty in South America than there is in North America. Let’s take North America vs Africa. Africa is lagging by a whole $50 Billion. So hypothetically there’s more poverty in Africa than there is in North America and Europe. Geographically what you’re probably thinking is that the south hemisphere as a whole is falling behind. Maybe. But the reason they are lagging behind has nothing to do with where they are geographically positioned. The reason they are lagging behind is more because of lack of innovative thinking!

Take a look at how the richest in the continents make their wealth. Bill Gates, Microsoft. He created it. It is his genius and it revolutionized the world. Aliko Dangkote, well he’s into products which we could say are natural resources. As a business man I respect Aliko Dangkote, I think he’s a great man and his legacy will live long. However, for us Africans who are looking for “how to create wealth” inspirations, we only have exploiters of natural resources to look up to. Everyone you could look up to for inspiration in Africa and has made the rich list, exploiting natural resources. They either mine; gold, platinum, oil and many other resources of the earth that Africa is rich in. That limits our vision for being listed in the rich list one day. This is no blame on those great Africans who have made it. As a matter of fact we should applaud them for being so entrepreneurial and finding something in their land to sell. But you and I who don’t have capital to purchase a mine, what happens to us? Well, we need to start thinking of other things that will change the world. Look at what North America has produced; Mark Zuckerburg, Steve Jobs, Sergy Brin and Larry Page who created google. These people with their thinking have changed the world. They created innovative products and services that changed the world. They created products and services that everyone in the world uses or is after. That’s how they became great; by thinking of something so innovative, that everyone will want to buy into. Who doesn’t use google? People who don’t have access to the internet. Who doesn’t use facebook? Well, some old people who don’t understand what social networking is all about. Who has never wished to own an Apple product?

So using the richest man in the continent as the economic father of the nation that every achiever should look up to as a distant mentor what should happen is that those aspiring to be “like” the mogul should be somewhat interested in his field of work. The notion is that; “if I do this the way he did it, I will be where he is.” Which is not wrong. But in the case of Africa where it is wealth through the exploitation of natural resources, how many of us will go flooding to that industry looking for wealth? And if we do make it into the industry, how many of us will make it big?

This is what will change Africa. THINKERS! INNOVATORS! If we look to the government for jobs and capital for entrepreneurial activities, then we will remain in the state that Africa is in. Why is this? Because as much as there is too much money; money has to be created and circulated. So the government creates extra jobs, the question is how are they going to make that money back or how is it going to be circulated back into the country? However if they invest in an innovative thinker who wants to change the world; money invested will create more opportunities for people of that land to find employment. Take a look at South Africa’s Ludwick Marishane who created the FIRST water less bath gel. Money was invested into his idea, now his product sells internationally, he has made enough money to employ fellow South Africans and help in reducing the unemployment and poverty rate. If entrepreneurs don’t think globally and innovatively, then what will happen is that we will think we deserve resources of the land we live in. That’s why there are so many economic protests. People aren’t fighting for better jobs, they are fighting to be part of the wealth of their land. The real wealth however, is in their heads.

Entrepreneurship still remains the only way Africa can alleviate poverty. However, to be a great citizen of this beautiful continent of ours your idea needs to be innovative enough to reach all around the globe and change the world. Will your idea be recorded into Forbes? Are you able to think outside of the land that has wealth and focus on the brain that can create wealth and greatness? Will you be looked up to as someone fellow Africans aspire to THINK like you? Go out there, be innovative, be a thinker and change Africa.

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