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Published On: Sat, Mar 11th, 2017

Leveraging African Growth- Through Self-Awareness, Self-Reliance and Self-Diligence

By Olayemi Fakolade

The last time I began with a similar topic, I began with something that is very crucial and important to the heart of Africa, I believe that whatever thing is important to the heart of Africa right now is quite important and very dear to my own heart too. As a matter of fact, the form of Africa is currently the form of my heart too.

I have often wondered and been bewildered at how a continent can be so rich and yet so poor. How can a continent have all the potential for greatness and not attain it.

Having discussed inferiority complex extensively in my last article, this new article will be focused on how we can focus on our journey to greatness. I will expatiate on ideas and steps that will help us realize our potential as a continent and help us realize every bit of our greatness.

I am discussing something germane, important and very crucial to us. I am convinced, not just in a bit that Africa is the continent with the greatest potential in the world. If we consider this material or the sense in it, only in a few years we will become the destination point for the rest of the world. The time has come for Africa to arise on her feet and attain all her hidden and obvious potential. The point I am focusing on in this article is how we can leverage our growth through self-awareness, self-adequacy and self-diligence.

Self-awareness first of all is we understanding what we truly are capable of, what we are able to achieve, what we have at our disposal, the machine in our arsenal and the resources that we have to build. I strongly believe the resource that is greatest for any nation on earth to build is the human resource. The human resource of course is Africa’s greatest and most abundant resource. Apart from Asia, no other continent in the world has this enormous resource which Africa has.

How do I mean by the human resource or human capital? Human resource encompasses the aggregate potential of people based upon their native or innate capacities and their environmental experience. Quite simple. Human beings irrespective of where you were born, you were born and survived that particular environment because you had the capacity to interact with and subdue that environment and to maximize all the resources around you for survival. Children born into riverine areas in countries like Nigeria learn to swim or mount traps from an incredibly young age, their own way of interacting with the world around them.

Every part of the world and place where humans are located have the potential and ability and capacity to sustain its people. The degree of their sustenance is however dependent on the human resource, the degree to which these humans have developed themselves and whether by so doing they have created tools to help them get the best of their environment. When this is the case, such people will be able to maximize and utilize the resources and the potential of that God-given environment.

Human resource includes the energy, skills and knowledge which can be directly applied to the production of goods and rendering of service. First I talked about capacity to subdue an environment, Secondly I am talking about the skills and knowledge of people.

When the human resource has been developed, then people are able to tap maximally the potential of their environment. If people have little skills, knowledge and ideas, they are only able to refine their resources to a little extent. Their production of goods and services are low. This is the contrary when the human capacity is high and has been greatly developed.

This is perhaps the greatest thing that sets nations of the world apart. The richer nations got their wealth in their ability to maximize and develop their human capital. The poorer nations are poor because they have not done same.

The human resources connotes man in relationship to the world of work. Such work involves producing things and rendering services of all kinds for the social, political, cultural, religious and economic development of nations.

When human resource has been developed, man is able to produce complex work, complex information, complex ideas, complex innovation and the best of goods such as social goods, political goods, economic goods etc for the development of his country.

That means a nation could be as small as the nation of Israel with just about 8 million people but because human resource development is quote high, they are able to produce the best quality of everything ranging from food to security. They have been able to attain a certain peak because of aggressive human capital development. A nation like my country Nigeria is still so poor because the human capital development has been left to waste. What that means is that the more people are trained and the more the ideas of a people are allowed to thrive, the wealthier the nation becomes.

Of course man may work to live, but man’s living must exceed work. Man’s living must embrace output, productions, ideas products, goods, services, innovations etc. Allow me to emphasize again that the wealth and development of a nation depends on the discovery and utilization of human resource. When a nation effectively utilizes its human capital, it becomes a wealthy nation. A wealthy nation has created successfully the environment for more ideas of her citizens to thrive whereas a poor nation is sitting on the wealth of ideas of her citizens.

Every other resource that a nation has such as natural and capital are only dependent. Others are passive resources, human resource is the only active resource.

“… while extraordinary products and unique services still afford a competitive advantage, the one advantage that stands the test of time… is people.” � Mark Salsbury

Where the human resource is discovered and active, every other resource will be located and tapped into. Whereas where the human is not discovered and developed, every other resource will not be utilized and maximized appropriately. When we cannot develop people, we cannot develop anything else. Every serious government in the world has learnt to lay emphasis on people because they know people will generate everything else.

We must not however lay all the responsibilities on our government, we must begin to take ourselves as Africans and as a people very seriously. We must begin to help ourselves.

It is ultimately important that we begin to utilize every resource starting with the human resource to utilize every material in our environment in order to generate what we need.

“Many people go through their whole lives having no real sense of what their talents may be, or if they have any to speak of. Human resources are like natural resources; they’re often buried deep. You have to go looking for them, they’re not just lying around on the surface.” � Ken Robinson

I believe being an African is not a curse, we can begin to generate and make good and services that can compete with any good that is being done in any part of the world.

This is important because if we are able to develop our human capital, we will be able to rise above every dogma, racism, sectionalism, hatred and segregation.

When the human capital is not developed, what ordinarily ought to be a blessing to the nation becomes a problem. Because people are people and will always have energy, when people are not developed, they begin to constitute problems and nuisance to that environment and to the society as a whole.

What then are some of the hindrances that has been to the development of human capital and how can we begin to combat such hindrances?

First is the challenge of illiteracy or lack of education. Education helps the mind of man to develop and to creatively solve problems in the environment. An uneducated mind will degenerate and constitute problems rather than solve them. We need to creatively begin to solve this problem of large scale illiteracy by the idea of informal education. When we begin to promote informal education through the systems of families, communities, the religious bodies and even schools. We will be able to create some basic forms of education. The main idea of education is to create exposure and open mindedness in people. Education is supposed to help break narrow mindedness and create problem solving skills in the individual. This can be learnt anywhere even in public libraries and not just the formal schools. If the government can come up with a basic curriculum for this program, we can begin to impart knowledge at all levels.

“The ability to dream is the most important human resource given to man by God.” � Pastor Sunday Adelaja

The second problem is the problem of high rate of unemployment. When we fail to engage people adequately and productively, then they become materials for militancy, armed robbery, and other social vices. If we can strive to provide an environment where people can create jobs for themselves and by themselves, we would have dealt a deadly blow to the high rate of unemployment. The wealthiest nations are those where an environment has been set up for people to create jobs for themselves and solve problems. Many problems we complain about are minor and not immediate. Our greatest challenge is in the inability of our people to start their own jobs, occupations, farms, labs etc. This is our biggest economic woe.

We need to first change people’s mindset and also create environment by starting soft loans, check our land acts for easier farming, provision of incentives etc. As a people, we must begin to rise up and solve our own problems and no longer wait on the government.

“Incentives aren’t the only thing that matter for economic growth. Opportunity is also crucial, and extreme inequality deprives many people of the opportunity to fulfill their potential, and government programs that reduce inequality can make the nation as a whole richer by reducing that waste.” � Paul Krugman

The next challenge is the shortage of critical skills. This is another major deficiency. Many students and young people no longer want to study production courses. Young people want to become lawyers, doctors, accountants etc. if we must rise as Africa, we need more critical skills, we need productions courses, we need sub professional skills, we need more farmers, more community development leaders, we need effective production. There is no point having all the water bodies we have in Africa and still import any form of fish. We need skills. Not everybody should be geologists and chemists. We must begin to cherish our sub professional courses and artisans for effective production.

Furthermore, I want to discuss the false education in Africa. Education especially from the private stakeholders in Africa is quite expensive and is not geared towards the needs pf Africa. Schools are everywhere in Africa but education is scarce. Most of what is studied has no relevance to the people. The goal of education must include critical thinking, problem solving and self-reliance. When Education does not produce self-reliance, then it is illiteracy. Education must produce capacity and capability to take on challenges and make lives easier for other people. An educated mind cannot just go to school and all he wants to do all his life is seek jobs. Education and curricula must be geared towards the needs of the African people.

We need engineers who are graduates of our schools and who can make use of our resources to make machines. Those machines that can refine our own oils and work our own farms. We need doctors who can with the public health approach help citizens to live healthy and eradicate numerous diseases Africa is plagued with. We need these and more critically right now.

Brain drain also constitutes a major obstruction to human capacity development in Africa. When the best among us do not live among us or when we cannot retain the best to live with us, then we are left to suffer the consequences. We will then seek the help of expatriates and foreigners to give to us what we should be giving ourselves. The problem is when foreign trained graduates are done, they do not want to come back home due to higher pay and a better life abroad etc. If Africa is serious about development at all, we need to begin to address this problem of brain drain. We have to begin to instill patriotism in a lot more people. More Africans must become patriotic. More importantly, the issue of security and our social environment must be addressed, that cannot be overemphasized. Security is still a mighty challenge and many of our best brains overseas will not think it wise to come home and die when abroad is safer. It takes a greater deal of patriotism to make such a decision.

“The body may be bought with a pay check but the heart is earned with a purpose.” � Angela Lynne Craig

In all, what one man can do and the effect of one mind cannot be downplayed. Now imagine when we have more mind in development. Consider George Washington Carver, the ‘peanut man’ who helped his nation through severe economic recession with the wonder inventions from peanut. His efforts was recognized not just in his country but in many nations of Europe.

Whatever we are going through as a nation should not get us discouraged, we only need one man, more men, arising and releasing their enormous potential, developing that potential and using their skills to solve our problems. We need our youths to get more energetic and begin to solve problems. We need our young people to create solutions to solve our food problem through advanced farming. Rather than complain about salaries, let’s begin to think of creating jobs.

“Providing employment is the best form of social service, as it serves you, others, your country, your world – the entire society.” � Amit Kalantri

Africa Arise, you’ve got enormous resources and greatness. Many African countries have opportunities for almost 10-12 months of farming by weather, whereas many countries in Europe have an average of 5 months to farm. It is unacceptable then for Europe to still import food into Africa.

Now is the time for Africa, let’s go win, conquer and subdue our own problems. If we don’t, no one else will.

“Unleash the potential that is in another and you unleash the potential that is in you.”� Matshona Dhliwayo




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