In Summary
  • Kenya needs to do a lot more in order to get to a turning point where we glorify success in business enterprise over politics.
  • We are on the cusp of a technological disruption like in no other period. But we must also be alert on where new opportunities are coming from.
  • Entrepreneurship and innovation thrive on problems or ride on changes like technology. In the recent past, two major technological waves — the internet and mobile revolutions — created global disruptions and new entrepreneurship opportunities.
  • There is hope that if we applied these emerging technologies, Africa will deal a blow to many of her problems and in the process a new crop of wealthy entrepreneurs will arise.

People want role models. While other countries have celebrity entrepreneurs as role models, developing countries often lack similar role models with celebrity status.

As a result, many young people, including those who may become great entrepreneurs, aspire to become politicians instead of entrepreneurs as they seek to self-actualise themselves.

This may be changing in Kenya but we need to do a lot more in order to get to a turning point where we glorify success in business enterprise over politics.

But things are changing slowly. At a recent event held at Strathmore Business School, the founder of Econet Wireless, Strive Masiyiwa, and Equity Bank’s James Mwangi, received a thunderous welcome as they announced a soft launch of Pathways for Prosperity, a new Commission on Technology and Inclusive Development (CTID).

FROM POTENTIAL RISKS TO OPPORTUNITIES

The Commission was founded by Oxford University’s Blavatinik School of Government and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to examine how to turn the potential risks of technological change into opportunities for inclusive development.

These efforts come at a time when emerging technologies threaten to wipe out up to 75 per cent of existing jobs in most developing countries.
We are on the cusp of a technological disruption like in no other period. But we must also be alert on where new opportunities are coming from.

In the past, I have written in this column how other countries are preparing for the impending disruptions that also come with opportunities, but I have not seen either policy or academic engagement on the matter in Africa.

The World Economic Forum (WEF), for example, has created a global hub of expertise, knowledge sharing and collaboration, based in San Francisco to seek solutions for the following question: How can we maximize the benefits of science and technology for society?

THERE'S ROOM FOR EVERYONE

This question will most likely lead to creation of powerful start-ups that create new entrepreneurs that we can celebrate in the future.

Entrepreneurship and innovation thrive on problems or ride on changes like technology. In the recent past, two major technological waves — the internet and mobile revolutions — created global disruptions and new entrepreneurship opportunities.

These two waves created many billionaires, mostly from advanced countries, simply because they took the risk to invest in the technologies at the very early stage.

What people didn’t know is that there have been many failures in the process but nevertheless success depends on the individual’s ability to see opportunity and exploit it.

There is room for everyone, including those who may not have the resources to invest heavily in an opportunity, by carefully analysing organisations that are likely to succeed and investing in them.

ADVANCING GLOBAL COLLABORATION

There are also opportunities for successful local companies to be part of the global solution providers.

The WEF hub is composed of partners and memberships. The partner list reads like the who is who in globally succeeding companies. These include:

“Reliance Industries, Salesforce, ABB, Accenture, Deutsche Bank, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, Kaiser Permanente, Microsoft Corporation, Palantir Technologies, SAP, Suntory Holdings Ltd.

“American Heart Association, Baker and McKenzie, BBVA, Cyberdyne, Dignity Health, Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, Huawei, IDEO, Sompo Holdings, Sberbank, Turkcell, and Wipro” all from different advanced and emerging economies.

The WEF has also created a centre for members with the “world’s most impactful start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises.” They are actively engaged in Forum efforts to advance global collaboration on the Fourth Industrial Revolution to benefit society.

CAPACITY TO HANDLE NEW DISRUPTIONS

They include Averon, ConsenSys Door2Door, FiscalNote, Globality, Inc., Quid, Shanghai Liulishuo Information Technology, Sedicii, Spire Global, Storecoin, Synthace, and Watersmarts.

Although Africa has companies that have had an impact on inclusivity, such as Safaricom and Equity, none is either a partner or a member. Indeed there isn’t any African company or start-up in this promising hub.

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