In my unofficial role as African Diaspora Ambassador 😁 I attended the Oxford Business Forum Africa 2019 at Said Business School.
Well, for the last few years I’ve been interested in focusing more of my efforts on connecting the diaspora to opportunities on the African Continent. This years theme was on ‘Single Market, Global Outcomes’ —a discussion primarily focused on the potential impact of the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement.
After a day of talks, discussions and insights I left in deep thought about what I’d just witnessed. Here were my 5 takeaways —
1. We've got go beyond the whole ‘Africa Rising’ narrative. Easy to swallow but ultimately misleading. We need more honesty about the issues facing Africans and those of African heritage in the diaspora. For all the talk of opportunity, we must remember issues of structural poverty afflict the lives of the majority.
2. Changing demographics in the diaspora. A generation of people with African Heritage coming of age. How can this talent be harnessed beyond remittances and building homes on the continent? What’s the next step or mechanism? Saw the good work of Movemeback leading this charge.
3. I’m still convinced that beyond — North Africa (minus Libya, for obvious reasons) South Africa, Mauritius, Seychelles etc the question about ‘Brand Africa’ is still undeveloped. Is such a unified identity even achievable? If Africa is a brand who’s the customer and most crucially, what are we selling?
4. More than enough appetite for Investment / VC/Private Equity. However, I still think there’s an opportunity to provide a path for diaspora (who, at this point in Europe/USA could be 2/3 generations away from the continent). This is a huge pool of talent with genuine connections to the continent. Yet this can’t be taken for granted and time is ticking. I’ve seen several organisations attempting to forge links, would love to see more.
5. Generation gap between the Africa envisioned by my parents generation and the current ‘Africa Tech’ narrative. The idea that Technology would be play such large part in the future of the continent during their time, was at best, fanciful.
Much like in the west, how do we ensure that we’re all ‘taking the journey together’ and that we’re not leaving people behind.