Written by Josy Baroness-Boakye, Online and Marketing Manager, Young Pioneers Network
Global interest in Africa and its potential has been through a number of phases. The first one, that I remember, was the “well Africa may have some potential… but it’s too unstable. And Asia has a lot more potential” phase. A couple of years ago, we had the ‘Africa is on the rise’ phase. That was my favourite. Though short-lived, the ‘Africa Rising’ rhetoric was in full stride and with it came a barrage of press releases and think pieces identifying the continent as the next big thing.
Then it stopped. Abruptly.
Nigeria, Africa’s powerhouse, had slipped into a recession in 2016 and that signaled the beginning of the “perhaps Africa isn’t really rising” phase.
But was that premature?
The Africa Rising narrative may have dimmed, but interest in the continent is at an all-time high. From music, fashion, film, business – Africa is trendy and with that comes opportunity. Especially for the diaspora.
Every year, for the past three years, we at Young Pioneers Network (YPN), have organised an annual event, targeted at the African diaspora to discuss and debate relevant issues. In our first year, we hosted “EU out, AU in – The Politics of Free Movement” where we discussed the merits of the African Union, the introduction of the AU Passport and trade liberalisation. The second year was “Social Media and its impact on African Development” (shout out to @Omojuwa for being one of the inspirations for this) which focused on internet activism and asking whether social media was the great political equalizer. This year we hosted our third event and launched a series called “Focus on Africa”. With Theresa May’s recent announcement that the UK will be focusing on building stronger relationships with Africa post-Brexit, this series aims to provide a platform for people to discuss what this truly means in reality and explore the opportunities that can be leveraged for the benefit of the continent.
I’m super excited about this series.
Yesterday was the first one: YPN Presents Focus on Africa: The Ghana Edition.
I know. I know. The bias in choosing Ghana to launch this series… But hear me out. There were very good reasons for it. This year alone, Ghana has been heralded as one of the fastest growing economies in the world; Google announced that it was locating an Artificial Intelligence lab in Accra and the country boasted the launch of a new “state-of-the-art” terminal at Kotoka Airport (is it really new if it isn’t described as ‘state of the art’?). To name a few. So it’s only right that we provided a forum to discuss Ghana’s position in Africa and also on the World stage.
We had the pleasure and honour of hosting Honourable First Deputy Speaker of the Parliament of Ghana, Hon. Joseph Osei-Owusu who gave an inspiring keynote speech encouraging the diaspora to think outside of the box when looking to invest in the country. He also emphasised the importance of capital, persistence and not expecting handouts.
Our amazing panelists provided insight into social enterprises, of which they all have experience in, and discussed the realities of trying to build a sustainable business in Ghana. The rest of the event was a heated debate on politics, economics, Foreign Direct Investment and discussing the availability of skills required to grow a tech community in Ghana. So a lot!! I love hosting panel discussions like this because I learn so much from both the panel and the audience. It’s refreshing, and encouraging, being in a room in Parliament with people who are engaged and eager to know more and do more for Africa.
The First Deputy Speaker of The Parliament of Ghana, Honourable John Osei-Owusu
A huge thank you to our amazing panelists: – make sure you follow their work:
Ben Anim-Antwi, Director, Future of Ghana
Annette Oppong, annetteabena.com and Community Manager, Foundervine
Gillian Asafu-Adjaye, Founder of Ekua Haizel
Also featured on www.beingbaroness.com