There is Nothing Better to Do

Africa has untapped potential that we are only at the cusp of realising. We have a responsibility to realise this potential.

Even after all the pillaging and destruction by colonialism, corruption and outright extraction, we are still booming with natural resources, a young and growing population, and a bust of energy and ingenuity. Africans have always shown great creativity in how they deal with their problems. We find ways to survive and some even thrive. From agriculture to services, finance to hospitality, we have found unique ways to capitalise on each one of them.

We live in an interesting time, where globalisation and technology have come together to unlocked unlimited access to talent, information and capital. Anyone can learn anything, talk to anyone and build anywhere and Africa is becoming no exception to this rule. As the last frontier, we are opening up to the world-stage like Asia in the 80s. We are becoming the next place to do business and create newfound wealth. It is a gold-rush and you should not miss it, especially if you are a son of the soil.

The Sign of Something Brewing

There are many foreigners who will come to capture this opportunity. You will see this as a threat but don’t be alarmed. This is an opportunity. This is a signal that you are in a great place. A white person doesn’t just move from his luxurious life in a first-world country to live and work in a 3rd-world country. If he does this then there is a very good reason that is worth the downgrade. In fact, it is a potential upgrade to his life.

The West is quite established as it is. Most of the essential and needle-moving infrastructure has been built, both in the physical and the digital. From the great government institutions, interstate highways to the search engines, data centers and payment rails. There are not many ground-breaking innovations you can come up with that span a large-market, unless you take a swing at difficult problems like AI or nuclear fusion.

Africa on the other hand is raw. Our infrastructure is under-developed in most areas and non-existent in significant others. It is also unequally distributed with some sectors doing well and others struggling to even survive. The opportunity to use software and technology to develop infrastructure is massive, especially with a large market of 1.4 billion Africans. That’s an opportunity to make big money and change lives. We all talk about the lives but the wealth to be made is huge (Selfish altruism all the way).

As a son or daughter of the soil, you should ask yourself what problem you are passionate about to solve on my continent and how you can use software and technology to do that. You will find that technology is not the whole picture but it is a great enabler that will increase efficiency and increase your scale. These are good things that Africa needs. There is only so far that a physical store can get you. With 54 countries with different jurisdictions, laws and cultures, you need a tool that can scale across all the barriers that are set before your business. Software is just code on a server that runs on the internet. It knows no laws and answers to no judge. It does as it is instructed by the developer. That is you.

Just Do it Mahn

I urge any young person with no dependants, no debts, no large expenses and no serious hurry to keep up with the Kinuthia’s, to solve a problem on the continent. There is nothing better to do. If you think there is, ask yourself why so many multinationals like Amazon, Microsoft and JPMorgan care about Africa so much. All of a sudden, they have African strategies and they are setting up in Kenya as the hub to make this happen. If you are Kenyan, you need to wake up and realise that there is opportunity. Instead of applying at JPMorgan, you can take a step back and ask yourself what opportunity they see and tap into the heart of it.

If it is any consolation, if you build a startup and it fails valiantly, I can assure you that most employers will be pretty impressed and take you. Former founders are great workers because they understand what it takes to make something successful. You will have an edge over most people in your age-group and experience-level. Not many young people can say that they have started a business, built software, hired a team, raised money and collected revenue. From such an experience, you will just see the world differently and that’s invaluable if you ask me.

Written on March 28, 2023