I am back in Ghana for a holiday but I am trying to make the most of the time here. Learning as much about what is new in Ghana as possible. Fortunately for me, the Stars For All Nations (SFAN) event at the British council, that I wrote about here, took place during my stay here. After a morning meeting at La Wireless school, to organise our upcoming coding club, I was a little late to the event and sadly missed the beginning.
The fact that I missed part of Airtel MD Lucy Quist’s presentation was disappointing for me personally, but optimistic for the event. What this means is, the event started on time! I have been to many events here in Ghana in which I had to wait for a long time for the beginning. Even yesterdays Easter celebration in the village delayed by 5 hours! But, this even starting on time was a sign of good things to come. As I arrived the 200 strong audience were quietly and attentively listening to Lucy Quist’s inspiring insights.
Lucy Quist, a renowned speaker who is an advocate for STEM education, was the main speaker at SFAN. During her opening speech, she spoke about how important it is that Africa supports Africa. As we have been saying on Inventive Africa for sometime, “Change is happening” in Africa, and Africa needs to be ready to take advantage of it. Quist explained that “the majority of people preparing for the African demographic and opportunity boom are not African”. From just walking around Ghana this is quite clear. There are many non-Ghanaians in Ghana taking advantage of the potential of the Ghanaian market. It is time for Ghanaians to also recognise the potential here and start utilising the market. Quist also pointed out that African’s need not only to create jobs, but to buy from other Africans.
Quist explained that technology is an important issue in Africa. Not only do we need to close Ghana’s and Africa’s technology gap, but we need to prepare for a time when technology will be doing many of the jobs we do today for us. In Europe and America, automation of jobs is swiftly gaining traction and many of todays jobs will be non-existent in a few years time. Of course, like any industrial revolution, other jobs will be created to deal with the new technology but there needs to be preparation for that. Ghana, and Africa may take a little longer to get to that stage, but the leap frogging capability of the continent means those changes are inevitable. Africa needs to prepare. Lucy Quist ended with a poignant statement “in my lifetime we (Africa) have not caught up with the rest of the world”. It is time for Africa to change faster!
After Lucy Quist’s questions and answer session, in which the audience fired many questions to the Airtel MD, 5 other influential and experienced panelists took to the stage to discuss the future of work in Africa. Josiah Eyison of iSpace Ghana, Genevieve Puni, founder of Rectrain Ltd, Yasmin Kumi founder of Foresight Group, Jemila Abdulai, founder of Circumspecte, and Ama of MEST all joined the panel. The panelists had a varied discussion regarding their views on Ghana’s future when taking in consideration technology. Genevieve Puni, a HR consultant believes that the human element will still be very important in the future, because robots will not be able to deal with the creative element. The MEST representative Ama added that it is important to learn new skills to help you in your career. With technology set to change the job climate, it is important to learn skills that enable you to be working along side the technology. That could be technical skills or simple developing your creative side.
One of the days most interesting moments was a heated dialogue between Josiah Eyison and Paul Payne of the British Council. Eyison broke the usual politically correct panel discussions to challenge the British Council, suggesting that it is competing in the same field with organisations such as iSpace. Eyison pointed out that local organisations know how to contact the people better and know how to get the best out of the local system. British Council has the power and the clout to support local organisations to get the best out of Ghana. Paul Payne seemed to relish his opportunity to respond and announced that the British Council is looking to do exactly that. It is not in competition and is working toward collaboration with as many local organisations as possible. They attempt to partner with local organisations for as many as their events and programmes as possible. It looks as if the panel discussion alone has pushed the British Council and iSpace together.
The rest of the day was spent with skills training and 1 on 1 mentoring for the participants of SFAN. The event was wildly successful, engaging, and inspiring. The level of organisation was excellent, with everything running like clockwork. I would certainly recommend going along next year. These days there are not many events which are so informative and free to attend! Keep up the good work SFAN!
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