President of France, Emmanuel Macron paid a 2-day working visit to Nigeria last week and it didn’t take him so much time to warm the hearts of Nigerians. I personally didn’t expect less as he comes from a country that is home to a city that is referred to as the city of Love by a lot of people including myself any way.
I love interaction/engagement a lot. From it, you get solutions, gain clarity, understanding and nip in the bud what would ordinarily have turned into a degenerative conflict.
There are a lot of problems in Nigeria and Africa as a continent, just as there are a thousand and one opportunities.
In my take, drilling down to the sincere root cause of the problems that exist is very important if we want to make real and sustainable progress in solving these problems. This can only happen through conversations that unravel the issues in its raw form in the first place. From there, practical solutions can be sought.
The spot light is on us and the reason isn’t far-fetched, if you are the only rich person among your family and friends, you are not exactly rich in a sense of it, as they all look up to you to solve their problems which you might not be able to ignore.
Hence the dire need for us to get our act together and look inwardly to solve these problems. In the long term, it’s a win-win situation if we do, as one of the major problems facing the developed world such as migration would tend towards being resolved.
Here’s my take home from President Emmanuel Macron’s and Tony Elumelu’s Conversation with 2000 entrepreneurs;
1. President Emmanuel Macron isn’t new to entrepreneurship, public service and politics. He is young and can relate a lot to what the younger generations are passing through even though the environments and platforms are much different.
2. There is a ready population of youth in Africa who are eager and willing to do what it takes to succeed but are held back.
3. There are new leaders who are out to totally change and re-frame the whole continent.
4. Africa is young, 2/3 of the population in Lagos alone is under 35.
5. Lagos state alone is the 5th Largest economy in Africa.
6. Young people have a lot of responsibilities and opportunities to build.
7. President Emmanuel Macron is interested in building the new narrative with us.
8. Entrepreneurship, the economy, technology, culture and sport are areas we can focus on in changing our narrative.
9. It is important that we think about the legacy and sustainability of our deeds.
10. Africa is the one to decide for Africa, explain about Africa to the world, and create its own model for entrepreneurship.
11. If Africa doesn’t succeed, France and Europe won’t succeed. African diaspora can’t succeed if their people back home do not succeed.
12. Entrepreneurship and innovation is part of the answer as it is the best way to change everything when you are young and you want to do it.
13. Young people should be obsessed by innovation as it is the only way when you are not an existing player, to enter the game and succeed. Disrupt the insider and what is already existing to become part of the game and better the lives of your immediate community.
14. No gap for innovation except the one we have in our minds.
15. Be willing to take risks and don’t ask for permission to change what you want to.
16. Never follow advice in which people tell you to wait, that at a point it will be for you but not now, when you want to do something for yourself.
17. If you want to change your world, or your country, if you believe in your innovation or in your project, make it feasible, create and dare and do it right now.
18. Innovation is part of the answer to Africans problems hence the decision to launch digital Africa initiative to create an African platform for digital innovations.
19. Foreigners won’t have the best possible idea for the region, we are the ones to have the right decisions and right ideas for our country, innovations that can succeed and find its market.
20. Digital Africa is the platform to connect people with ideas and innovation, scale-up, accelerate, get access to financing, getting access to market, improve ideas, and to work with start-ups across Africa and also with large company’s business angels.
21. Private sector is part of the answer as it can provide better access to people, as well as have an inclusive and sustainable growth to build middle classes.
22. When people have access to jobs and better life the political life is totally different because the whole society is much more inclusive.
23. Another initiative sees the investment of 1 billion Euros in the African private sector through the French development agency.
24. There is no one model or one recipe to succeed in politics, in the economy in culture and so on.
25. There is no success without being a risk taker.
26. If you want to be a Leader, if you want to create, if you want to be a business leader and so on, you have to be in a certain way a front runner.
27. Never stop at the first failure, because when you try you fail, you can fail, if you don’t fail you become dangerous for yourself.
28. Our jobs, governance, business angels and so on is to reduce the cost of failure for people like you, but you should accept to fail.
29. Never believe that your success can just be your success.
30. If you do not have a vision that is sustainable for everybody around you, you are making a mistake.
31. 20 years ago, it was possible to be a leader and to succeed with your business and living in the middle of crisis, of poverty, it is no more sustainable because now people are connected, people are aware of everything.
32. Entrepreneurship isn’t a linear journey but is filled with ups and downs.
33. Migration should be by choice and not due to hardship or the pressure of lack of opportunities.
34. New players need access to funds and access to trade .
35. Politicians are the ones who would will create policies that will ensure new players have access to trade.
36. Your nationality is not part of your ability to succeed.
One thing is sure, there is a lot of interest in Africa and Nigeria in particular. Hence it is imperative that an environment that is conducive for success is created.
A Silicon Valley approach won’t work here and that has been proven severally.
It is left for stakeholders to genuinely develop models that would work for our region and this can only happen through further interactions with the people on ground, and holistically understanding what the problem is, in order to come up with long lasting solutions to the continents problems.