The African Spring: How ‘Afropreneurs’ will shape Africa’s future

photo(28)Had a great time speaking at the London Leadership Forum on Friday, June 28 in London UK. See below the synopsis of my talk at the Forum which was organized by the London think-tank, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue 

The African Spring: How ‘Afropreneurs’ will shape Africa’s future

African populations are growing rapidly. It is expected that by 2040, the total African population will be the largest in the world, surpassing both China and India. Jobs are not keeping pace with population growth rates and issues of unemployment acutely affect the growing ‘youth bulge’ across the continent, which has implications for political stability across the continent, as has recently been witnessed by many of the northern Arab States, and even more recently in Mali and Northern Nigeria. Continue reading

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Plan your finish, or your finish is planned ; An overview of the 800-years old graduation ceremony at the University of Oxford.

1043983_10201523897803109_2012730630_nI am a big believer in finishing what I start, and so June 22, 2013, so having matriculated in Oxford back in October 2011,  I headed back to the city of dreaming spires to partake in the 800-year tradition of an Oxford graduation.

Below is my feeble attempt to capture the amazing event in a few words and pictures.

Wearing this attire -the advanced student gown-in Oxford could mean any of several things: from matriculation, to taking an exam, to attending a formal dinner, to going for a ball, to preparing for graduation. Continue reading

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Young, Gifted and Black

young blackLast year,  as part of activities in honor of Rice Universitys centennial celebration, I was honored to be featured in the film ;Young, Gifted and Black; Reflections from Black Alumni at Rice.

The 80-minute film explores the lives of 15 distinguished black alumni before they came to Rice, during their stay at Rice and their careers after Rice. You can enjoy the excerpt below, and you can order the full DVD here

http://youtu.be/0Xi-3DTph_Q

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Is this what mid-life crisis looks like?

Midlife CrisisA few weeks ago, I attended the 2nd year reunion of my Executive MBA Class with whom I had spent two very intense and exciting years at Rice University between 2009 and 2011. It was great to see several people again and to catch up to what people had been up to since I had been unable to attend the previous year, when I was stuck somewhere else on the other side of the Atlantic between Oxford and Swaziland. Continue reading

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Its been a while

its been a whileIts been a while since I blogged last. Since I left Oxford about 9 months ago, I have been busy. So busy I keep putting off updating this blog. I have gotten several emails from folks out there asking what I have been up to.

Hence I plan to blog more frequently. However, I am going to trying keeping my posts short, and most times it will be some quick reflections on article/books I have recently read, or new ideas I have recently come across. Comments are welcome as always.

For the most part these days, my time is divided between Houston (with family and working on a software project for the energy industry) , Nigeria (where I still oversee the work at Wennovation Hub of creating more afropreneurs) and airports (where I relax in between flights ).

Later

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2000 breasts…perhaps a lump you pick will save someone’s life.

brresiNot had time to blog for some time, and I hope to make up for that soon. But I could not help putting this post up to support an initiative by my youth corper (NYSC) medical doctor baby sister to bring attention to the issue of breast cancer in Nigeria. Below is verbatim from her….

Breast cancer is a major killer of women worldwide. It is the commonest cancer affecting women and the fifth commonest cause of cancer death worldwide. Here in Nigeria, it is the commonest malignancy and is estimated to kill 25,000 women annually, making it the commonest cause of cancer death in them.
A diagnosis of breast cancer puts overwhelming stress on the patient, family members and close friends. It disrupts family relationships causing considerable physical, psychological and occupational vulnerability, which persists even long after treatment. However, these consequences can be significantly lessened when it is diagnosed and treated in its early stages. Continue reading

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Fighting Youth Unemployment in Nigeria, the Wennovation Way

Watch this

http://www.sap-tv.com/video/#/8331/fighting-youth-unemployment

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Wennovation Hub Emerges as SAP/Ashoka Global Competition Finalist: VOTE NOW

The “Wennovation Hub Initiative” has been selected as a finalist in the SAP/Ashoka ‘The Power of Small Competition‘.
The flagship creation of US-Nigerian business incubator ‘LoftyInc’, the Wennovation Hub was one of 11 finalists selected from more than 370 innovations submitted globally, tackling various issues around innovation and entrepreneurship. To emerge winner, friends of Wennovation Hub are invited to VOTE at this LINK.
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As a competition finalist, the Wennovation Hub is “being honored for outstanding demonstration of innovation, social impact, and sustainability” according to a Press Release by the Ashoka Changemaker organizers.
The Wennovation Hub has been invited to participate in the SAPPHIRE NOW event organized by SAP in Madrid from November 13-16, 2012.  Represented by its Program Director, Idris Bello,the Hub will showcase the power of its innovative model for powering start-ups in Frontier Markets. This model of “Product to Commercialization” has yielded six portfolio companies in the past year, three of which were funded by outside investors, and four of which are in full operations today.
The four finalists with the highest number of online votes will be announced as winners at the SAPPHIRE NOW event in Madrid. Wennovation supporters, friends, and well-wishers across the globe are invited and urged to VOTE for the platform at:
Just click on the check mark icon next to our entry, and LOG-IN with your Facebook Account to have your votes recorded. You can also create an account if you do not want to vote via Facebook.
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Your vote for ‘taking the Wennovation dream to the next level’ will be appreciated!
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I have been busy…………….

So busy I have not had time to keep this blog updated.

After managing to get exams out of the way, and an amazing Pan Africa Conference over with, May 7, I headed off to Swaziland (no, not Switzerland).

I was here to work on an m-Health project with the Clinton Health Access Initiative and the Ministry of Health in Swaziland  aimed at improving appointment attendance (and ultimately retention) among pre-ART and ART patients through the deployment of  what we refer to in-house as the AP Reminder System.

But I have been doing more than mHealth in the small but beautiful country of Swaziland as you will discover from this CNN iReport . Its been a different clinic each day, a different mountain each weekend. I have gone hiking, rock climbing (including Sibebe Rock-the world’s largest exposed granite dome and second biggest rock after Uluru (Ayers Rock) in Australia), and on a safari trip. I even managed to experience an earthquake

In June, I took some time off from Swaziland  to make a 2-day trip to London. I had been named as one of the  “10 Most Outstanding Black Students in the UK for 2012″  by a panel consisting of Rt. Hon. David Lammy MP, Trevor Phillips OBE, Chair of the Commission for Equality and Human Rights, and Jean Tomlin, HR Director for London 2012.

Organized annually by Rare Rising Stars, I was deeply humbled to be so chosen and attended the Awards Ceremony on June 7 at the House of Commons, Palace of Westminster, London.

From London, I was off to Texas, where my team, AfyaZima Africa had just been announced as the 2012 Winner of the $10,000 Best Innovation Leveraging Technology Award presented by Dell, Inc

This is what Dell had to say:

At Dell, we believe that innovation and entrepreneurship are not “born” but can be “bred” through the right community, support, tools and inspiration. And we’re especially delighted to announce the winner of the Dell Technology Award: AfyaZima Blood Pressure mCuff, a low-cost device that eases blood pressure measurement and transmission via a mobile in hopes of early hypertension diagnosis, especially in areas with low resources.

The trip to Austin was amazing as prior to the awards ceremony, I got to visit the Dell Headquarters, where I met one-on-one with Michael Dell, CEO and Founder of Dell and the rest of the amazing Dell Team.

I was also impressed at how Dell uses Social Media, as evidenced by the amazing tools at the Social Media Center which I had the opportunity to visit. I even found one of my Dell-related tweets on the screen.

I also had the opportunity to share my  personal inspiration and thoughts about innovation in a changing world with Dell employees by speaking on a Dell Innovation panel moderated by the young but very impressive Nnamdi Orakwue (Harvard & Wharton alum), Dell’s Director of Strategy, who also doubles as Executive Assistant to Michael Dell.

Then it was time for the award ceremony at the Austin  City Limits Theatre followed by a sumptous dinner afterwards.

With my time in the US up, I thus returned to the Kingdom of Swaziland but not before a short tour of Frankfurt!


Until my next blogpost, I invite you to join me in dreaming bigger, scarier dreams, because if your dream does not scare you, it’s probably not big enough!

Remember that people who dream in their sleep are dreamers, but those who dare to dream while they are awake are the people that change the world.

Sawubona!

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Making the Case for Youth Leadership in Africa!

313 delegates, 512 Livestream viewers, 750 GooglePlus Hangout participants, 13 speakers, and 6 sponsors!

With the theme “Building Capacity for a New Generation: The Case for Youth Leadership in Africa”, the 2012 Oxford University Pan Africa Conference held on 5 May at the Wesley Memorial Hall, brought together over 300 students, entrepreneurs, activists, academics, and political and economic leaders from 51 different countries. We also had over 500 viewers watching the online Livestream, and hundreds more interacting with the speakers through the live Google Plus Hangout, and other social media outlets.

It was truly inspiring to see so many young people so passionate about working towards a shared vision in dealing with the rapidly evolving challenges of the century. If there was one theme however that came out time and again, it was the need for action. A shared vision will only be as good as the action that we take to make that vision a reality!

Below, enjoy my welcome address at the event, a view of some of the speakers and delegates, and some of the key issues discussed.

Welcome to the Oxford University Africa Society’s 2012 Pan-Africa Conference.

It is a great pleasure to host the conference here in Oxford, with its distinct heritage of training leaders for the past 800 years.  This year’s conference, “Building Capacity for a New Generation: The Case for Youth Leadership in Africa,” brings together students, entrepreneurs, activists, academics, and political and economic leaders from across Africa. That is what this conference is about: young leaders from around the world, gathered to discuss, debate, and learn from some of the most prominent African leaders of today.

The organizers of today’s conference, Oxford University Africa Society, which I am honoured to lead,  is the umbrella body for all African students at the University of Oxford. It seeks to provide a legitimate and strong voice within the University community to African students and others who are linked to the continent by way of ancestry, research, experience, or interest. The society is a platform for informed debates and stimulating events, and strives to create a sense of community among members.
The conference is part of a wider vision, “the Pan-Africa Project”, which seeks to provide an annual platform for all African students in the UK to reflect on mutual challenges and identify ways of promoting quality leadership and sustainable development in Africa. Our 2011 conference, ‘Pan-Africanism for a New Generation’, brought together scholars, activists and leaders, to interrogate the meaning of Pan-Africanism in the 21st century. The concept of Pan-Africanism is largely associated with independence struggles, having served as a unifying force against colonialism and as an important part of the United States civil rights movement. In the post-colonial period, Pan-Africanism has inspired a series of principles and themes guiding several policies and programmes across the continent that seek to provide an agenda in dealing with the particular challenges of the 21st century, such as the adverse impact of globalization, security, and climate change.

Africa faces many challenges. These challenges, in whatever sphere – whether political, economic, health, or environmental—represent a distinct opportunity for Africa’s young leaders to provoke a bold culture of change.  The world is already witness to some of this change.

Today we begin a new conversation. The African leaders gathered here represent more than people, languages, or geographical denominations.  They represent more than a global movement, or the transnational network of social, political, and business entrepreneurship. These leaders project the nascent hope that is transforming the continent. They reject the traditional themes that dominate discussions on Africa, and show, by their own achievements, the potential enormity of Africa’s human resources. We are honoured to have them with us here at Oxford.

But it is also important that we do not dwell in naïve optimism of the kind that just keeps talking without acting. Africa probably has too many think tanks and talk-tanks, what we need more of are do-thanks. At the same time we cannot afford debilitating pessimism, of the kind that keeps people hopeless, and rooted to the same spot. Today is about activating leadership.
Today, over 300 delegates originating from over 50 different countries are here. From Cape Town to Cairo, from Lagos to Luanda, From Swaziland and Switzerland. While thanking our sponsors, I ask you to  take this opportunity to learn from each other, to share knowledge with one another, and to strengthen our common ties.
I wish you an amazing conference.

Opening Keynote ; Building Capacity for a New Generation: The Case for Youth Leadership in Africa- by Vera Songwe- World Bank Country Director (for Senegal, Cape Verde, the Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, and Mauritania)

Main Point: Africa has gone from transformational to transactional leaders. And now it is up to us to move towards a new kind of transformational leadership. We need to be able to pull young leaders together towards a shared vision and have a discussion about what the vision is that we’re looking for.

Afternoon keynote Beyond Political Rhetoric: Investing in Youth as an Economic Strategy- By Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria & 2011 Forbes Africa Person of the Year

Main Point: Resource-led growth does not translate into broad-based and sustainable wealth creation and is vulnerable because it is not driven by deliberate policy. If we do not change the structure of the banking system, then we cannot have real financial inclusion. We need to diversify revenue of government. Farmers must be taxed (they form about 40% of GDP), but we must therefore invest in infrastructure – building a social compact between state and citizen to support the farmers.

 

Closing keynote:  Building Sustainable Partnerships: Redefining the Future of Sino-African Business Relations, by He Liehui, Chairman, Touchroad International Holdings Group, China

Main Point: Africa and China, and indeed, the rest of the world, need to understand each other more. We need a relationship based on mutual respect. What is clear is that no one can save Africa without Africans’ involvement.

1st panel on Challenges and Opportunities for the Next Generation of African Leaders

- Matthew Hassan Kukah, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Hadeel Ibrahim, Director of Strategy and External Relations, Mo Ibrahim Foundation, Kingwa Kamencu, Rhodes Scholar & Presidential Candidate, Republic of Kenya

Moderator: Amina Adewusi, Africa Economist, Standard Chartered Bank

Main Point: Youth are the greatest opportunity for the continent. We can turn the youth bulge into an asset, but we need a shared vision, and need to negotiate that vision. Governance is managing and mitigating risk. Leadership involves taking risk. The challenge is taking the path of good governance and taking necessary risks to sustain growth.

2nd  panel on Can Youth Change Politics in Africa?  

Arthur Mutambara, Deputy Prime Minister, Zimbabwe, Gbenga Sesan, Executive Director, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, United Nations Committee of eLeaders on Youth and ICT, Mary Harper, Africa Editor, BBC World Service & Author of Getting Somalia Wrong? Faith, War & Hope in a Shattered State

Moderator: Stephanie Busari, Digital Producer, CNN International

Main Point: We need to encourage young people and young women in particular, to be engaged .The youth dividend will only be reaped if they have skills and a democratic mandate. Youth leadership needs to be encouraged early on. Regional and continental integration is fundamental to this. Need a strategy to achieve the vision.

 

3rd panel on Africa in a Globalized World; Fostering Youth Leadership Within & Across Borders

Patrick Awuah, Founder, Ashesi University, Ghana, TED Global Fellow, Tebogo Lefifi, Founder, Young African Professionals & Students, China, Madelle Kangha, Founder-Youths for Change, & Inaugural Class, African Leadership Academy

Moderator: Daniel Stone, Officer for the Oxford University Student Union and 2010 Top Black Student in the UK

 Main Point: Education is often narrow education, or rote education. Need emphasis on problem solving, broad perspectives and ethics. A small group of people really can change the world. Educating people and preparing them for a rewarding life is the best thing we can do.

The Africa-themed dinner banquet for Speakers, Sponsors & Select Participants held at the Divinity School, Oxford, a medieval building and the oldest surviving purpose-built building for university use. You can check out the tweets using the hashtag #OxAfr12 on Twitter or follow @oxfordafrica

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