Amidst the political, social, and economic discourse about creating a resurgence of forward-thinking ideas globally, Africa has the potential to take the lead. Unlike other developing countries, Africa has leap-frogged over development stages that denote first-world modern status to new world futurism. African cities are known for heavy traffic jams, which translates to excessive exhaust fumes. The use of motorcycle services (boda-boda) has cut down some of the exhaust fumes. However, it appears that electric vehicles could “transform the streets of Africa.”
While America is still trying to increase electric vehicle charging locations, startups in Africa are building fleets of light electric vehicles, motorcycles and expanding charging stations with ease. The vehicles range from automobiles to two and three-wheeled motorcycles constructed to handle various road conditions on the continent. Kenya’s ARC Ride built its fleet in response to the heavy demand for Uber Eats deliveries in Nairobi. The owner of the company is an ardent environmentalist whose successes are more significant than his failures. He expects the ARC fleet to grow significantly in the coming months and will expand his geothermal energy charging stations throughout the city.
In Nairobi, Kenya’s largest slum (Kibera), 17 students scored above 350 marks in the Kenya Certificate of Primary School exams of 2020. Three of the students scored above the 400 mark, ranking in Nairobi’s top 10 students’ test scores. The SHOFCO Kibera School has successfully educated residents of the slums without the aid of the West. The 17 students from the slum beat out students from Nairobi’s top private schools. The school managed this accomplishment during COVID-19 lockdowns, whereby students were continuously taught through innovative ways.
In Nigeria, the African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) developed a COVID-19 vaccine. Led by Harvard-trained Dr. Christina Happi (who also helped quash Ebola), ACEGID was the first to sequence coronavirus DNA samples in sub-Saharan Africa. Animal trials revealed 90% efficacy, but human trials were thwarted due to a lack of funding. Months later, the ACEGID proposal for funding has received no responses. What could help the continent reach herd immunity has been interrupted by a lack of funds and political will.
Since Africa represents 16% of the global population and births 70% of pathogens with pandemic potential, investors and governments should re-think where they invest their money. Despite this, public health and economic experts are amazed at the resilience of African countries in terms of a return to a sustainable economy. Like the leap-frogging of development stages, African governments spent very little on PPE and social support. Some countries are likely to return to a normal economy faster or equal to the rate of first-world countries. Africa doesn’t need another country to “build it back, better,” because no country ever has. Africa is doing it alone.
No more gatekeeping. African governments are beginning to see the value of self-sufficiency. While totalitarian leaders may not have cared much about the pandemic deaths of ordinary citizens, many of the leaders contracted the virus and died. Leaders who escaped the virus must have realized that the legacy the West maintaining a power relationship with Africa will never stop, even during a global pandemic. Help was undoubtedly offered but in the traditional way….loans. To date, the continent offers little to no vaccines for its population. Since the Black Lives Matter movement, Westerners have learning that it is not polite to hog power, but not at the country to country level. In the near future, African leaders may quietly circumvent the West with their own solutions, regardless of the amount of power their polity may or may not have on the global stage..
Ethiopia’s coming election on June 21 may inform the extent of democratic Western influences in the region or countries with similar issues in Africa. Ethiopia was colonized and is currently courted by Russia, China, and the West. The Tigray ethnic tensions will undoubtedly play a role in the elections. Will Western solutions work for the country, or will Ethiopia find its own approach to politics.
What does this mean, and why am I writing about this?
Those looking to invest, collaborate, or startup internationally should investigate opportunities at the proverbial bottom. For years futurists have cautioned that the reign of the West will end under the shadow of the East. While the East has made its debut on the economic front, all data points to the underrated South to steal the show. Don’t be fooled by hearsay of incompetence; look to where the East is investing heavily. A manufacturing revolution is likely in its infancy, with a bulging youth population to carry the continent toward manufacturing and successful trade during the coming decade. Today, 99% of Africa’s vaccines come from UNICEF’s Vaccine Alliance program (GAVI). By 2040, the African Union promised to increase the manufacturing of vaccines from 1% to 60%. China and Russia can produce their vaccines. If South America leans to do the same, Western power will be further diminished. It’s time to bet on the underdog.