Africa, this continent with abundant natural resources and immense human potential, still remains the poorest continent, with hopeless youth.
The challenge before us is clear: the lack of investment in the knowledge economy. This economy, where knowledge is the main productive resource and the engine of growth, is the key to positioning itself in the world dominated by technology and innovation.
Currently, Africa is a spectator in a world where artificial intelligence and continuous innovation are redefining the boundaries of what is possible. We are consumers of technology, but rarely contributors. This situation must change.
Let’s take Japan and South Korea as an example. These countries, lacking natural resources comparable to ours, have focused on the knowledge economy. They trained their young people, preparing them to excel in a competitive digital world, transforming their companies into global technology leaders.
These developed countries have understood something fundamental: true development cannot be imported, it must be sown.
Development is sown twice: First in minds, through education anchored in our culture and reality, then in our lands, by developing robust and innovative agriculture.
Our educational systems, inherited from the colonial era, favor theory over practice. This approach must be revolutionized. Education focused on science, technology, and innovation within a framework that resonates with our African identity is essential for Africa to not only participate, but also lead in the global economy.
The Consequences of Inaction
The absence of these investments has a tragic human cost. Our young people, without knowledge or hope, turn to the ocean, risking their lives on perilous journeys, or go into exile to enrich other nations. This brain drain is a blow to the future of Africa. Meanwhile, multinationals from other countries are investing in Africa and exploiting our resources, or controlling the core of our economies. And this is made possible because their countries have invested in the knowledge economy for a long time. That is to say, they realize their own “African dream” while the average African remains poor.
The Example of Senegal
Take our Senegal, rich in gold, zircon, gas etc. but whose wealth is underexploited due to lack of appropriate knowledge. This situation is a symbol of our collective failure to value our resources. We must take control of our economic destiny, currently led by foreign interests.
Giants like Facebook, Google, and Apple are leading the way. Their success relies on innovation and data management, sectors where Africa can and must excel.
Here is the strategy I propose for investing in the Knowledge Economy
- Educational Revolution: Redesign our education so that it combines our cultural values with science and technology.
- Development of Technological Infrastructure: Make access to the Internet and modern technologies universal.
- Promotion of Research and Development: Encourage innovation within our universities and industries.
- Support for Entrepreneurship: Create an environment conducive to African startups and SMEs.
- Strategic International Collaborations: Share and acquire knowledge beyond our borders.
- Legal Protection and Incentives: Establish a solid legal framework to protect our innovations.
- Valuing Innovation and Creativity: Encourage a culture that highlights continuous learning and innovation.
- Sustainable Agricultural Development: Use our natural resources ethically to finance technological development.
- Education System Reform: Create a curriculum that meets the demands of the modern world while being faithful to our heritage.
The knowledge economy is not an option, but an imperative necessity for Senegal and Africa. By investing in these areas, we can transform our continent into a major player in the digital and technological era. This is where our prosperous and self-reliant future lies.
Social Entrepreneur – Farmer – Speaker – Author