Op-Ed: Change an African’s Mentality, Change the Continent

by CNBC Africa 0

Zandre Campos | ABO Capital

The history of the African continent is long and complicated and it has impacted the current generation of Africans. Today, many Africans tend to have a very negative mentality. Despite the fact that Africa has a growing consumer market, a rapid evolution in technology, and robust growth prospects, people still tend to focus on the negative.

In order for Africa to become a global leader, the mindset of its inhabitants needs to change. Positive attitudes help maximize performance and often have a ripple effect on others. African’s need to stop focusing on the destructive history of the continent and the undesirable elements that still remain. Instead they need to focus on the aspects that make Africa the great place it is and the will help move the continent forward.

Diversification

The oil crisis has forced the oil-producing countries to face some serious financial difficulties. But, it also forced them to look into different forms of revenue and diversify their economies. There are several industries in Africa that can be developed and help propel growth including tourism, healthcare, industrialization and agriculture. The decreased oil prices are the motivation countries need to push Africa to the top of the global economy.

New Leadership

People are often afraid of change, but it can be a good thing. New leadership can infuse countries with the motivation needed to move forward. Angola recently elected a new President after 38 years, and instead of focusing on the constructive impact the new leader may have, Angolans are reluctant and doubtful that it will bring any positive change. The new president, João Lourenço, is 63 and younger than Angola’s previous president and many other African presidents. Lourenço has been involved in the political environment, but avoided corruption scandals, and has enough experience to bring Angola and Africa to the next level. He can help Angola continue to follow the growth path it has been on. A younger president is good for a country because they look at problems in different ways and bring a level of freshness to the position. Angolans should consider that a new leader will help rejuvenate the country and improve the economic condition.

Growing, Young Population

While the rest of the world is aging, Africa is young. Deloitte found that 20% of the population, or some 200 million people, are between the ages of 15 and 24, and that figure is expected to rise to 321 million by 2030. A working-age population is associated with favorable rates of GDP growth and Africa is expected to have the world’s largest working-age population of 1.1 billion people by 2034, according to the World Economic Forum.

Urban Expansion

Over the next decade, 187 million Africans will live in cities where productivity is three times higher than in rural areas. Past urban expansion led to increased household and business consumption. Between 2010 and 2015 household consumption grew faster than the continent’s GDP growth rate. Consumers are expected to continue spending more money and urbanizing which helps diversify and strengthen economies.

African Entrepreneurialism

The entrepreneurial spirit in Africa is booming. Because of the massive job losses following the Great Recession, many Africans returned home and developed an entrepreneurial spirit because of the lack of native jobs. Entrepreneurism is high in Rwanda, where businesses can be started in 48 hours, compared to other countries where it takes an average of 11.1 days. Rwanda’s economy was paralyzed after the Genocide, but their GDP is expected to rise 7.5% this year alone, according to Imirasire.com.

Europe and several other continents have histories that are full of strife. Germany currently has the strongest economy in Europe, but that was not the case following WWII and the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Germany and other countries and continents have been able to leave the past behind and move forward and there are several reasons for Africans to do the same. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects associated with the continent’s history, Africans should look forward and focus on all the reasons the continent will prosper. Changing mentalities is necessary to achieve a complete economic transformation. When the mentality is changed, Africa will flourish and impact the world.