My country of origin is Nigeria but I presently study and live Japan. These two countries are worlds apart in terms of development and and advancement but I do not intend to use this post to show how a country like Japan is more advanced than a country like Nigeria. This statement is more agreeable than not. That been said, I’m really interested in the future. I’m interested to know what the future holds for developing countries like mine. Most of which are in Africa by the way. I have thought about the question in the title of this post for a little while so I would like to share my thoughts here.
There seems to be a continued debate about what age we are in right now or whether we have transitioned out of the information age yet. So until there is an agreement on the best nomenclature to use, I will refer to this present age and the one after as the post-information age. There is so much going on in the world right now in terms of technology and the advancements on the various cutting edge. See my recent post on 5 technologies you need to learn about if you want to be relevant in 10 years time to understand what I mean. As all these are going on, many countries like mine are been left in the dust in terms of our contributions. I am going to share some images that should make any well-meaning and visionary African sad.
The first image is a map of the world on which cities are getting ready for the age of self-driving cars. None in Africa. By the way I just finished a Nanodegree in Self-Driving cars from Udacity. I might as well be the first Self-Driving car engineer in Nigeria or even Africa. 😉 . Let me know in the comment if you know any other person.
Next is a map of from space showing light pollution. While this shows some concern for astronomers, I see something different. Africa is the darkest part. Basically, about 68% of Africans are still without power.
Next is map of 2015 world internet users as a percentage of a country’s population. Some African countries are waking up in this area. Still, generally abysmal.
Next is a map of world Nobel Prize winners by country. Do you see a pattern here?
These are all statistics from the past, you say. Well that’s the point of this post. What does the future hold?
Before I discuss that, see the next image about every country’s highest-valued export. Something important about this image is that the developing countries mostly export raw materials, while the developed countries export finished products. This is the status quo, but there a hidden message here. Africa’s natural resources feed the worlds advancement. If you cannot see it, then you cannot see it.
So, talking about what the post-information age future holds, I can only give conditional speculations. If the situation continues the way it is right now it means developing countries will continue to be what they are; developing. And her resources will continue to feed the advancements in the developed countries. However, I have hope that we would be more than just developing. The following are some reasons I have this hope.
First of all, Africa is young in terms of the demography, and might as well become the workforce of the future. This is both good and bad. The reason is that, because of technologies like Artificial Intelligence, the nature of work is moving away from mass workforce to smart or intelligent workforce. What we focus on right now will determine which side we will fall in the future.
The world is running out of food, but this is neglecting the impact of Africa’s arable land, more than 25% in most African countries. I think Africa will supply food to the world in the future. Soon we are going to realize that we cannot keep sending out raw materials and importing the finished products. We are going to be the makers and the producers, we will use our own technology and export the finished products.
Africa still supplies most of the world’s essential natural resources and precious metals. If only they can be self controlled and the proceed go back to the communities where these resources are gotten from.
There is more to say but a focus on only one of the above has the potential to turn around the fate of African countries. However, are we moving in the right direction? This question is hard to answer. However, there are some indicators which I think might be pointing to some future trend:
According to a study by the Pew Research Center, Immigrants from the Subsaharan Africa earn more than immigrants from Mexico, Caribbean and Central America in the United States.
Kenya leads the world in mobile money technology. We might be seeing the true financial revolution start and take place in Africa. Presently, in some parts of Kenya, a lot of people don not use cash money, all monetary transactions are done through a cell phone.
There is rise in international education by students from developing nations. A research in 2008 showed that Nigerians are the most educated in the US. Generally, there is a migration problem but I think we are making good use of our opportunities.
Over 600M projected venture capital funding to African Tech Startups by 2018. The next global tech company might be coming from Africa, and this makes me most excited.
Ghana is working towards building high speed rail system throughout the country. This will be the first in many to come.
These are all potential indicators, but to answer the question of what happens in the post-information age? I think we are going to see an unprecedented embrace of technology from Africa like never before. In summary, we will surpass expectations. But of course we must keep working. We need massive human capital investment. We need a trade explosion between African countries. We need to start and focus on converting our natural resources into finished products. This is the true self-empowerment.
We are already late but I believe we can catch up.
Originally published by Joshua Owoyemi on Medium
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