Martyn Davies, Managing Director Deloitte Frontier Markets spoke of China’s convergence in the last few decades, how its shift in policy made an unprecedented impact in the world as we know in from trade, consumerism, innovation, industrialization and economic growth. This disruption post-2008 global recession was presented against the impact resources have made in African nations such as Nigeria, Angola, DRC and Botswana, the diversification of South East Asian nations and the stark difference efficiency and management in the state can redefine a country’s future.
With all the statistics, economic jargon and evidence of how Sub-Saharan Africa still has a long way to go, one thing struck me hardest that is often not spoken about; People. He positioned industrialization as a critical turning point for the wealth, employment and well being of a nation, despite the many other economic theories that exist. This well learned man managed to convince a room full of some of the most powerful names in financial, political and business sectors in Botswana that the difference one man can make is all that is needed to move a country forward. His most notable example was that of Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos from their hometown to Seattle, this literally changed the landscape of Seattle to a global tech hub with the best talent and corporations around.
The diversification drives made by South-East Asian nations from commodity and labour driven industries to software, motor vehicle and electronic diversifications, amongst many other exports, show what efficiency and management can create. In contrast to economic growth and development, the rise in demand for commodities only made Africa more dependent on its resources. Countries report between 70 and 97% of GDP being solely from natural resources such as oil, diamonds and nickel. This has left a significant exposure for Africa in Chinese decision making. Proof of this was in the correlation between China and Sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP trends post-2008. The solution to this challenge, in addition to those of power shortages, water cuts and proper governance mechanisms nationally and regionally; People.
People are a critical factor and differentiator in all aspects of the economy, social construct and policy making, yet often this is neglected in the context of development priorities, profit making and at times, civil society. I found myself in this engagement , thinking about how I could contribute towards making the kind of difference Martyn Davies spoke about. There is always a start to something and in the least, I and a lot of other young people, are a work in progress to make this happen. The key however, is in the treasure of knowledge. How we take the information we consume and put it to good use. The best treasures are never in classrooms, the workplace or in literature, but in the people we meet by change and opportunities we stumble on without expectation. Embrace the world as it is and redefine this landscape, it sounds simple – but I know, it takes a great deal of effort and time to make unimaginable things happen. God speed.