Friday, May 6, 2011

Fixing Africa - once and for all

As it stands, 2011 will hopefully be remembered in Africa’s history as a year of optimism within reach after inspired and judicious uprisings staged by sensible and steadfast communities with a common interest of Fixing Africa. This task will only yield the desired outcomes if/when aligned with process driven change.

Our way of contributing and celebrating this recent surge of renewed spirit and re-commitment to Africa on the blogspot is to share and highlight the ideas and work of others who are leading the charge.

Last week we profiled the work of Hamid Bundu and his Freeeafrica ( program in an effort to raise the bar and provide insight on African Entrepreneurship - Enterprise – Empowerment.

This week, we shift our focus and attention to Tidiani (Jeff) Tall and his Fixing Africa idealism. Fixing Africa is an e-book which has spread virally and provoked healthy debates about the possibilities within Africa.  In addition, Mr. Tall is the mastermind behind a non-profit called Africa 2030 that is in the planning phase that aims to serve as a vehicle to push for peace and prosperity in Africa through a radically different approach to development.

By now our viewers and supporters should know what is about to go down next. We reached out recently to Jeff across the atlantic got busy.

Let's go there... 

Panko:            How did the idea of Fixing Africa a come together and what does your work consist of?
Jeff:                I wrote the first edition of Fixing Africa in 2009, in anticipation of the 50 years of independence celebrations in a large number of African countries. I felt that there was not much to celebrate and that we deserved better from our leaders.

Panko:            What is your mission and vision for Africa?
Jeff:                My vision is an Africa where the youth can have peace and prosperity without leaving their country of origin. My mission is to contribute to the emergence of federal entities that can compete politically and economically in our globalized world.

Panko:            Who does Fixing Africa partner with and how do
                        people get involved?
Jeff:                Despite the presence of a few sympathizers, Fixing Africa and Africa 2030 are still primarily one-man-show initiative. This is a major weakness and I am counting on readers to introduce me to influential people and institutions that can help us go further.

Panko:            Explain your philosophy and concept of “54 Struggling Countries to 3 Super Federations (SAHARA, SAHAEL, KONGO) by 2030”
Jeff:                My model is countries like Brazil, Russia, India and China.
These countries have been able to change their image and level of development in a massive way in the past 20 years. They have the size and scale to compete economically and have true political sovereignty in the world. My goal is to contribute to the emergence of such entities and success stories on our continent within 20 years.

Panko:            What are your thoughts and viewpoint on
                        today’s youth in Africa? In particular,
                        the 25 years of age and younger demographic.
Jeff:                The youth have an open mind; they are not enslaved by old ways of thinking and submissive attitudes towards other regions and races of the globe. They are also in tune with our globalized world and want the same peace and prosperity that they see on satellite TV from other continents. They expect more from their leaders and rightfully so.

Panko:            What was your reasoning for creating the Super Federation MVP’s? What are the criteria’s that one must meet to achieve such an honor?
Jeff:                The main criterion is someone who is willing and able to compete on global level in their chosen category. There has long been a belief, in some quarters, that Africa is doomed or condemned to being second rate. The people I chose to highlight have proven through their achievements that individually, Africans can compete with anyone, anywhere and anytime. 

Panko:            How is Information Technology best utilized in Africa? What direction do you see for (IT) in Africa?
Jeff:                The main benefit of IT is to empower the average guy. It makes censorship and top-down control very difficult. It is catalyst for grass roots movements and people power. It is also very cost effective. Just imagine how many more billions of dollars would have been necessary to reach the current level of connectivity through fixed lines and physical networks. IT is a blessing for Africa because it levels the playing field.

Panko:            Please expand on your belief that Africa is structured for dependency rather than self-reliance.
Jeff:                Most experts agree that most African economies are structured around export of commodities and import of manufactured goods (and often foodstuff as well). We need more intra-Africa trade; we need more value creating activities instead of exporting raw materials, etc. Many scholars and experts have written eloquently on this issue.

Panko:            10 years from now Africa will be?
Jeff:                10 years from now Africa will be in a much better place. If we look at events over a 1-3 year period we can become discouraged. However over 10 years or 20 years, progress is undeniable. I have a lot of faith in the possibilities of the human spirit. I also know that capitalism needs consumers who can afford its good. Africa is the continent that offers the most upside in that regard. We only ask politicians to avoid setting us back through selfish conflicts. They should lead, follow or stop blocking the way.

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Na Wa O (NWO)!

Na Wa O! - is slang or a pidgin term used back home in Nigeria and other parts of Africa that simply illustrates something unbelievable, makes you speechless or leaves you flabbergasted.