Africa’s population of more than a billion people is both a blessing and a curse. Today, the continent has the fastest growing mobile telephony in the world. Mobile banking pioneered in Kenya through the Safaricom M-pesa and other mobile phone companies has spread to Eastern Africa and beyond.

Today, Nigeria has almost 170 million cell phone subscribers, South Africa has almost 60 million while Kenya has almost 30 million. These are positive astronomical figures. They clearly show that Africa is ripe for business. Any company targeting even one percent of Africa’s population would be talking in terms of millions in turnover, in whatever the currency.

Mention any sector, and the continent has it all. In terms of land mass, Africa is number 2 in size after Asia.  There is millions to be made in exploiting the continent’s natural resources, be it oil, gas, coal, wind, solar or geothermal energy, and a host of strategic minerals.

But across the continent, millions of people live in abject poverty due to poor governance and corruption which lead to civil strife, famine and human migrations. The UN estimates that in 2015 alone, almost 60 million people in the world will flee from war, tyranny or poverty in their countries. Many will die in the process. In 2015, almost 2000 African migrants, from as far as The Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Ghana, died in the desert or in the Mediterranean Sea trying to join the Diaspora in Europe.

In the 1960’s and 1970’s, coups and counter-coups across Africa were inspired by the soldiers’ fraternity with the Cold War combatants, the West and the then Soviet Union. Leaders such as Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya and Haile Selassie of Ethiopia established the Addis Ababa-based Organization of Africa Unity (OAU) in attempts to unite the continent. OAU gave birth to the current African Union which was inspired by the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s grand dream of a united continent.

A number of independent Africa’s first leaders such as Jomo Kenyatta and Julius Nyerere came from the diaspora. And so is a number of the continent’s current leaders such as Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya. The latter two studied in the United States. They have first-hand experience of private sector-driven uninterrupted supply of electricity, gas and water to American homes. Supplying the same to Africa’s 1 billion people is a big business opportunity waiting to be exploited.

In the last two years, Kenyans have witnessed less power failures. But in the absence of bad weather and other Acts of God, there is no excuse even for the occasional power interruptions. Water supply remains erratic and a blessing to cartels of water vendors. Every down time in supply of these basic services means less billings for the investors in the sectors and unnecessary inconvenience to the consumer.

2015 also witnessed Nairobi’s City Hall overwhelmed by mountains of garbage. The Jubilee administration responded by calling on the National Youth Service to help remove the garbage. This was equivalent to the US calling out the National Guard during a local crisis.

The Jubilee administration enjoyed the so-called tyranny of numbers in the House of Representatives and in the Senate. That numerical strength should have led to more business-friendly legislations on sanitation, health and education projects across all the battle field counties of the next elections.

The recent arson attacks in the County of Narok showed the world the ugly face of intolerance which Kenyans rightly associate with terrorists and political thugs. The horrifying and bloody images coming from Burundi are too close to home.  Uhuru Kenyatta and other African leaders enter 2016 with a full in-tray. Hopefully, their administrations will, among others, launch comprehensive diaspora policies, and tap a pool of tremendous goodwill, talent and the much-needed foreign remittances. Kwaheri 2015.

By Leonard Njoroge, DM Media Contributor


- Advertisement -

Comment on the article

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

%d bloggers like this: