In a recent captivating webinar hosted by Nexford University’s CEO, Fadl Al-Tarzi, industry leaders sat down to discuss Africa’s future economic landscape, weaving insights from McKinsey’s newly published report, “Reimagining economic growth in Africa: Turning Diversity into opportunity.” The conversation centered on Africa’s anticipated trajectory over the next decade, examining how various factors like technology, demographics, and socio-economic diversity will influence the continent’s destiny.
The panel of experts, including Omid Kassiri, Managing Partner for East Africa at McKinsey, Dr. Laila Macharia, Director at The Aspen Initiative Africa – Nairobi, and Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, Founder and President, Human Capital Africa (HCA) discussed crucial topics under the adept moderation of Fadl Al-Tarzi, Nexford University’s CEO.
The Shift to Services and Skills Development
Africa’s economic landscape is evolving rapidly, with a notable shift toward service-oriented economies. As Laila Macharia aptly put it, “There’s never been a better time in world history to be young or to be female or to be African.” This sentiment underscores the fact that Africa’s youth is its most valuable resource. The continent’s transition to a service-based economy presents a compelling opportunity for skills development. With economies expanding and diversifying, the demand for specialized skills is on the rise. Laila Macharia encouraged African youth to seize these opportunities by equipping themselves with the relevant skills to thrive in a changing job market.
Productivity, AI, and Job Creation
The rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is sparking debates worldwide, with a particular focus on its impact on job creation. Omid Kassiri, Managing Partner for East Africa at McKinsey, emphasized that while AI and improved productivity might lead to job displacement in some areas, they also have the potential to create new employment opportunities.
Omid pointed out, “The 21st century can be claimed by them… the opportunities are just waiting for you.” Embracing technology and enhancing productivity is crucial for Africa to propel itself forward in this era of rapid technological advancement.
Intra-continental Trade: The Next Frontier
Unlocking intra-continental trade is seen as a pivotal step toward harnessing Africa’s economic potential. The panelists stressed the importance of not only looking outside the continent but also exploring opportunities within Africa. By fostering trade and collaboration among African nations, the continent can unlock significant opportunities for growth.
Omid Kassiri highlighted the significance of collaboration, stating that “small is no longer beautiful.” Partnerships and collaborations are essential for leveraging the opportunities that intra-continental trade presents. Africa’s vast potential can be fully realized through collective efforts and cooperation.
The $3 Trillion Question: Consumer Spending
The panel also tackled the notion of unlocking $3 trillion in consumer spending. While this presents an enticing prospect, it was crucial to discern whether this is what Africa genuinely needs. Omid Kassiri emphasizes that accessibility to education, tools, and opportunities is at an all-time high. Africa has the capacity to leverage this consumer potential, but it’s essential to assess whether this is genuinely what the continent needs.
Dr. Ezekwesili encourages young Africans to adopt a “possibility mindset.” She reminds them that opportunities abound and that they are the ones who can claim the 21st century. Her advice: “Embrace reality and don’t see the world through a tinted glass.“
In conclusion, Africa stands at a crossroads of unprecedented growth and development. The insights shared by the panelists emphasize the need for skills development, technological innovation, intra-continental trade, and thoughtful consumer spending. Africa’s youth are uniquely positioned to drive this transformation, armed with knowledge, adaptability, and a mindset that embraces the possibilities of the future.
To gain a deeper understanding of the discussions and insights from the panelists, we invite you to watch the full webinar recording here.
ABOUT THE SPEAKERS
Fadl Al Tarzi
Founder and CEO, Nexford University
Fadl Al TarziFadl is the founder and CEO of Nexford University, a next-generation university. He became an entrepreneur at age 18 and has since gained over 14 years of experience in media, data, and technology-related businesses in the MENA region as well as the U.S. He is experienced in starting and building companies from the ground up based on a solid future vision and the necessary discipline to build and execute plans.
Managing Partner, McKinsey East Africa
Omid is the Managing Partner of McKinsey’s East Africa Office (Nairobi and Addis Ababa). He leads McKinsey’s Agriculture for Africa as well as the Firm’s global food security service line. He sits on the Advisory Board of One Acre Fund Kenya; the Board of Malaika Kitchens; and the FarmWorks Institute. He holds an Engineering degree from the University of Cape Town and an MSc in Technology and Policy and Civil and Environmental Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Dr. Laila Macharia
Director, Aspen Initiative Africa – Nairobi
Raised in Kenya, Namibia, and Somalia, Laila is a serial entrepreneur and investor based in Nairobi. She chairs the board of the Africa Digital Media Institute (ADMI), Eastern Africa’s premier learn-and-work creative technology community, which over the last decade, has trained over 5,000 students from over 30 different countries. As Senior Advisor at the Nexford University, Laila also serves as a non-executive director for the Absa Bank of Kenya and Centum, both listed on the Nairobi Stock Exchange.
Dr. Oby Ezekwesili
Director, Aspen Initiative Africa – Nairobi
Obiageli “Oby” Katryn Ezekwesili is an Economic Policy Expert serving as Senior Economic Adviser of the Africa Economic Development Policy Initiative and one of co-founders and pioneer directors of Transparency International-TI, the Berlin-based global anti-corruption organization. Oby is currently also the Founder-CEO of Human Capital África working in the education sector across Africa.