Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Good Evening.
It is my great pleasure to be here today at the Graduate Practitioners Forum 2019 organised by the School of Graduate Studies of the UPSA. I would like to thank the School of Graduate Studies for organizing this forum ‘The UPSA Graduate Practitioner in a Competitive
Global Economy’ which provides an opportunity for experts to share their thoughts and insights that improve our performance in a competitive global environment. May I also extend my warmest welcome to all participants?
The sub-theme for today’s forum, ‘Enhancing Productivity – The Case of the Uncommon Worker’, befittingly describes our drive to improve our education landscape, to make us more diversified, more productive and give us a competitive edge in a global world.
Can I start this session with a popular anecdote “The Emperor’s New Clothes“, a short tale written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, about a vain emperor who cares too much about wearing and displaying clothes, and hires two weavers who claim to make the most beautiful clothes and elaborate patterns.
The weavers are con-men who convince the emperor they are using a fine fabric invisible to anyone who is either unfit for his position or “hopelessly stupid”. The con lies in that the weavers are actually only pretending to manufacture the clothes. Thus, no one, not even the
emperor nor his ministers can see the alleged “clothes”, but they all pretend that they can for fear of appearing unfit for their positions.
Finally, the weavers report that the suit is finished and they mime dressing the emperor who then marches in procession before his subjects. The townsfolk uncomfortably go along with the pretense, not wanting to appear unfit for their positions or stupid. Finally, a child in the crowd blurts out that the emperor is wearing nothing at all and the cry is then taken up by others. The emperor realizes the assertion is true but continues the procession.
As a nation, we must accept the “onslaught” of reality though it is painful to face the facts, it is also very essential to eventual recovery. Many of us are still “in denial” and expecting things to somehow miraculously begin to improve their own volition.
We are a third-world nation. We have a development deficit of about 250 years. Our cities are choking with filth. Educational standards are down and graduates are deemed unskilled and unprepared for the job market. Infectious diseases are killing us. Our highways are unsafe for passengers. Our water bodies are polluted. Our forest cover is gone.
Industries are dying partly because Political delegates have replaced technocrats. Corruption is rife and our law enforcement agencies are a threat to the citizenry. Homes are breaking apart. The gap between the rich and the poor keeps widening.
Yet when you listen to our parliamentary debates, read our newspaper headlines, listen to the radio or watch television for a whole month, you will not come across any sustained intelligent discussion.
Offering solutions. Rwanda’s local government systems are replicated from Ghana, lots of tertiary education lecturers are Ghanaian, a good number of practising consultants are Ghanaian so why are we where we are? They respect Ghana and Ghanaians a lot because we are their “role models”.
Even though there are signs of a “police state” (the police are everywhere and dissent is not tolerated at all), they consider it enforcement of law and order. It’s a nice place to take a vacation and see gorillas in their natural habitat (@$1,500) per individual per tour. It is a country that has invested in education and health and that is paying off.
What have we invested in? In Rwanda health care is now free; universal eye care for its citizens. The public schools are so advanced that private schools had to close in mass numbers due to low patronage.
Rwanda is set to open its first smartphone factory making it the first Africa to locally manufacture phones that will meet the demand of the African market. Kigali is the cleanest city in Africa. Why? The country 2008 ban on non- biodegradable plastic and the mandatory Saturday monthly clean-up practice called ‘Umuganga’ loosely translated ‘coming together to achieve a common purpose’. Rwanda launches the first coding academy that will produce a pool of experts in software engineering in order to address in a more sustainable manner the current shortages of software developers on the local and regional market
Rwanda has Africa’s best judiciary, 2nd best roads, is Africa’s 2nd best country to do business and 8th best-governed country. It is the first country to have a national health drone delivery service. Provides universal care and is set t become cashless economy by 2022. President Paul Kagame says ‘I would rather argue that we need to mobilize the right mindset, rather than more funding. Africa has everything it needs, in real terms but Africa remains mentally married to the idea that nothing can get moving without foreign finance. We are even begging for things we already have. That is absolutely a failure of mindset’ what are we doing to make a difference? We have prayed a lot. Gone to church a lot. Sung a lot. Danced a lot. NOW IT IS TIME TO THINK
CREATIVELY A LOT. And this is where (you) the academia and professionals come in We have to seize the moment and take possession of this hour.
This is the moment to define the rest of history. The country must be emancipated. We must make a deliberate decision to break the spirit of inferiority that makes us dependent on foreigners for anything to work.
We must be prepared to live for dreams BIGGER than our selves. With the benefit of higher quality education, our generation is looking to you for solutions to the problems that have kept them in bondage for years.
You must not fail; you must use your new insights to create new business centres and opportunities that create new wealth.
The current wealth of 54 Africa countries i.e. the entire wealth from Cape Town to Cairo, Senegal to Somalia is 2.2 trillion dollars. All that we have done – gold, bauxite, oil, cocoa, coffee, diamonds from Ghana, Egypt, Nigeria, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, South Africa put together and developed is USD 2.2 trillion
Let us look at statistics of the wealth of 4 companies. Apple (est. 1976), worth over USD 1trillion. No oil, gold, bauxite, plutonium. All they do is to produce laptops and watches and phones
- Microsoft (est. 1975) Worth over USD 570bn
- Facebook (est. 2004) now worth over USD 500bn
- Amazon (est. 1994) an online retail worth over USD 430bn
The sum total of these 4 companies (over USD 2.5bn) is worth more than the whole of Africa continent combined. All of the wealth of these 54 African countries combined is less than the total wealth of these 4 companies. These are new companies (unlike Shell or older companies); each one of them was formed after all of Africa had gained independence except Zimbabwe (the 1980s) etc.
- If you divide Africa into 4 and made each one a company, we would have been better off. And if each had been run and managed efficiently like companies our worth will be far more than what we have now.
- Facebook has grown in the last 5 years at an average of 50% annual growth in revenue. The parent company of Google grows averagely at over 20% per year.
- We can grow at a minimum of 20%; it is possible. A 25-year-old boy has done it. Let us open our book and write our own story. We must be more ambitious to drive the growth of our economy. We must grow at a minimum of 20% growth. When you are down you grow faster. We can create a Facebook-like business, an Amazon, a Google-like business in Africa. We must direct initiatives, policies, budgets around it and concentrate on increased production A quality educational system MUST drive your will to be INNOVATIVE, RICH and IMPACTFUL through meaningful, productive, life-enhancing work.
Not just to earn a salary and perks but to CREATE, OWN and IMPACT.
Our capacity must be above just buying used clothes, used bicycles, used refrigerators, used and rejected TV sets.
We must divorce ourselves from a whole economy based on rejected goods from another country.; but on creative productivity from highly intelligently and equipped citizens ready to attack the status quo and effect a change.
Link to part 2 and 3