Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s former (and the first woman) Finance Minister, speaks eloquently about the exciting new opportunities emerging in the African continent.
In this 20 minute presentation at the TED conference, she paints a picture of an Africa of improving governance, emerging democracies, reducing conflicts, and blossoming entrepreneurs. She also highlights the biggest barrier that local businesses face – the lack of capital to expand. She exhorts the audience to invest in Africa. And even has a recommendation for the best people to invest in: the women (well, of course! :)).
Here are a few excerpts, just as an incentive to get you to listen to the full speech. It is totally worth it.
I am here to talk about a different Africa…
The Africa that you hear about all the time is the Africa of HIV-AIDS, the Africa of Malaria, the Africa of Poverty, the Africa of Conflict, and the Africa of Disasters.
There is an Africa that you don’t hear about very much…This is the Africa that is changing. This is the Africa of opportunities. This is the Africa where people want to take charge of their own futures and their own destinies. This is the Africa where people are looking for partnerships to do this.
The best way to help Africans today is to help them to stand on their own feet. The best way to do that is by helping create jobs. Imagine the impact on a family if the parents can be employed and make sure that their children go to school…They can fight the drought and diseases themselves.
I am sure we will be revisiting some of the issues Okonjo-Iweala raises and also the solutions she proposes in later posts. But for now, we need a “Jobs Not Bed Nets” graphic.