Diversity is the best thing that ever happened to humans. Diversity brings strength and with diverse ideas the strength is even stronger because everyone’s ideas can be an opportunity for another to close any knowledge gaps he or she has. In chat forums, the key is to leverage on others’ ideas to enrich our own repertoire of knowledge. Knowledge should be for development and everyone’s knowledge or ideas matter no matter whether the person has a PhD or not. I always use the example of our mothers in the villages and especially mine who without nothing taught us the values of hard work, humility, and passion and to date, those values have been a game-changer in everything I do.
So, what is the point?
Without new ideas we perish. Without nurturing the mindset to embrace logical reasoning, we will perish in our developmental sojourn. Ideas – not persons – should matter, not because we like the person who professes them but because the ideas and approach can change the way we think. Man’s biggest dilemma is to think he or she knows it all and instead of learning spends time discrediting new knowledge. This is the reason we see problems not solved not because they are complex but because we are fixated on a particular way of doing things, thinking its the alpha and the omega way.
Africa is a good example. The problems we have today in the continent and even in our backyard countries are not exotic. They are solvable but we cannot use the same archaic ways and thinking and expect to see them solve themselves away. We need a new kind of thinking which is not just what has been done and validated by others but what has been missing in all the equations we were taught.
Just take a minute to think of the reasons why projects fail in Africa. Accordingly, we cannot fully answer this question without looking closely at a key aspect – the approach of projects in Africa, and this is almost universally characterised by two aspects. First, “project = money/budgets”, over which any failures can be explained away as a “lack of funding”, not a failure in human attitudes which in my view play a more central role. Second, projects are almost synonymous with the government. And by this, they are viewed as government’s goodies for citizens. Citizens have reduced themselves to passive recipients, instead of active participants. These are facts. Then how can you solve this without making people know that without them fully and willingly engaging to become the solutions provider, we can never achieve anything? This is common sense. Have all the best policies in the world in Africa and without a willing and passionate selfless citizenry, nothing works.
All this boils down to a serious misconception of public policy. Policy, which is what leads to project prioritisation is seen solely as government’s responsibility, which is flawed thinking. Policies, institutions, regulations, procedures – regardless of how cutting edge such provisions may be, their intended impact will remain unrealised, as long as the critical constituency of implementers – who are the ordinary citizens, continue to relegate implementation responsibility to their governments alone. The primary role of government in any nation is to set up and put in place a conducive enabling and regulatory environment as well as guarantee the rule of law. With this, it becomes the role of ordinary citizens, to leverage whatever policy tools that are available to drive implementation through the exercise of their enterprise, talents, skills, aptitudes, passions etc. in their various places of work or enterprise, and by this make an impact. These ordinary citizens, who seem to doubt and neglect their ability to drive continental
development, are the proverbial tortoise’s shell to Africa’s economies. They are the missing link in making otherwise excellent policies that already exist in the continent and working optimally to accelerate globally competitive continental progress.