When you look at Michael Soi's work (above) you get the image of New Africa. An Africa where you have a regular people trying to go about their day to day lives in a modern space different from the west or even east. The Africa he portrays is a laid-back Africa with liberal thinking that allows for a somewhat defacto free space for LGBT, while at the same time harboring broken institutions like the Kenya Police plagued by corruption.
Now we all know that Africa is a force to be reckoned with in the 21st century. Where does our future lie? Well, this is a hard question to tackle. I've spent most of my 28 years of living trying to think about Africa as a whole and where we are heading. I'm always reminded of the multiple independent nations that exist within this behemoth of a continent. These different countries with dynamic cultures and peoples are brought together by their common past of colonialism, recent independence 40 years ago, and now common future because of merging economic interconnectivity (international trade and capital flows) driven by a powerful catalyst, technology.
Today, Seven of 10 of the fastest growing economies in the world are found in Africa. Sustainable Development, Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship are now hackneyed buzz words all over the continent. Seventy percent of Africa is under the age of 35 years. Every time I visit Kenya, I'm simply overwhelmed by the sheer optimism I see from these young men and women. From the young self-made hawkers I see on the streets in Nairobi, to the creative artists who are making music and art that has become the source of inspiration for our world today. Countries like Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Angola, and Ghana will continue to give us some of the most talented youth in the world.
Higher education systems across the continent have realized the benefits of moving away from the traditional model of education. Harvard's Colestus Juma advocates for collaboration across the disciplines allowing cross pollination of data by enabling students to learn design thinking, social entrepreneurship, and higher technical training. Juma is optimistic about the 10-year Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA-2024) focusing on higher technical training, especially in the engineering and entrepreneurial fields.
By 2022, the middle-class will be larger than the poor in Africa. The rate that global education, technology, and health innovation is improving lives on the continent is simply incredible. Even the legendary emerging markets/frontier market investment guru, Mark Mobius, asserts, "when on the ground in Africa you'll realize that Africa has the best opportunities in the world today." He is of course talking about the various African stock exchange markets that have shown great promise after successful IPO's. Countries like Kenya, Botswana, and Ghana have worked to establish strong legal, regulatory, and monetary systems to create strong stock markets.
Patrick Mukabi's work above captures the spirit of the creative entrepreneurial youth in Kenya and Africa writ large. Youth across our continent are using creative combinations of film, music, and art to communicate and inspire their societies. Inspiration is plentiful in every corner of Africa. The kids Mukabi captures here are saving up to start their first business that sells toys to other kids, representing how people have been able to merge entrepreneurship and creativity. This spirit is also evident in the multimedia productions that are replete across the continent.