If you had to choose one industry to invest in and help develop an entire geographic region, which industry would you choose? Let’s say this region was West Africa.
This question pops into my mind a lot. However, it is not a fair question considering that it takes multiple sectors working together to impart true, sustainable change. But to play along, my response is always the industry of education, specifically higher education based on its implications on workforce and economic development.
Colleges and universities are unique institutions which have the potential to advance individuals and communities through different strategic approaches. Unfortunately, if these institutions are poorly resourced, poorly governed, and poorly perceived, then they simply serve as symbols of untapped potential.
The tertiary education industry needs some shaking up by innovative leaders who are committed to placing more African institutions in the category of “world-class”. Meanwhile, we must create our own definition of “world-class”, which is evaluated more around the effect on local livelihood and less on western hegemony. Only then will African communities begin to realize the full potential of knowledge and freedom combined.
I encourage all of my peers to identify key industries of interest that they feel passionate about contributing to. Choose your industry carefully and be aware of the associated challenges as we push the continent into the 21st century.