The second last stop on our Africa tour has brought us to beautiful Ethiopia!
The most hyped up country of all 4 (Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia and Kenya), and with a forecasted GDP growth spurt of 8.2% (Taken from the WorldBank.org website) in 2018 I must say that my expectations were high. I was expecting to step onto a buzzing metropolis in the making…. but, not quite.
Now I’m not saying that Ethiopia is not growing, from the areas I have visited in Addis Ababa, I can certainly say that of the 4 countries, Addis had the most developments. You cannot drive longer than 1km without seeing a new development and this is a great sign for things to come from an economic growth, opportunity and expansion perspective. However, right now and into the next 3 years, I don’t believe there would have been enough time for a shift. Maybe in the next 5 to 10 years.
Because Ethiopia is still highly regulated by the law of the ruling government, foreign investment is highly regulated, barriers to entry for outsiders are high and major industries such as Banking and Telecommunications are monopolized. Historically, there has been limited to no support from the local government in order to support entrepreneurs, drive competition, increase the literacy rate as well as employment but the sudden increase in foreign interest should change this and hopefully make the Government realize the importance of working with investors and using the opportunity for the advantage of its people.
From a general, tourist perspective I could say that Addis has a quasi Mediterranean quasi Middle Eastern feel to it. Extremely dry air and dusty roads will make you feel like you’re walking/driving through the streets of Athens, Greece and the local culture, language and aesthetic of the natives has an Arabic sand dunes feel to it.
I was grateful to also have some time to try out the local cuisine which I though was simply divine and completely exceeded my expectations.
And of course…. COFFEE!
All in all, being in Ethiopia was an incredibly insightful experience and I cannot wait to see the country grow and establish itself as a powerhouse in Africa. It is certainly open for business and one to look out for in the near future.
Although practically neighboring countries, Ghana and Nigeria were like night and day.
Where Nigerians where boisterous and welcoming, I found Ghanaians to be more reserved and relaxed…
In terms of infrastructure, Ghana had a stark difference when it came to the developed vs underdeveloped areas. Where it was Commercial and westernized, you couldn’t tell the difference between being somewhere in Joburg or Accra; and where it was underdeveloped/ informal, you could absolutely see.
You don’t need Protocol here 😂
It’s humid but slightly more bearable than Nigeria, the heat however is intense!
Food in Ghana was quite different to Nigeria. I found Ghanaian food to be more nutritious as there was a variety of fresh vegetables and spices in all the meals I had, and boy did I go in with the local food!
Ghana was a much more chilled and orderly country. Where in Nigeria distinguishing between poor, middle and upper class was near impossible, in Ghana you could see it.
So, which country do I prefer between the two? Hands down Nigeria!!! It’s still so rugged and so African which I loved and my soul resonated so much with that. Ghana was too easy and comfortable for me so I didn’t find it as stimulating/ entertaining.
Ghanaian informal markets were my highlight so far on the trip. The experience made me really appreciate and count the blessings in my life and also gave me a new found respect for how hard-working Ghanaians are. No matter how developed the country becomes, none of the natives have forgotten their roots, they trust and believe in their local market as well as what it has to offer which I think is beautiful and truly African.
It’s no doubt that organizations have started considering and taking shape in order to be future fit. Some organizations could be progressing more rapidly that others due to a geographical influence but what matters is that the pivot in business complements the environment these organizations are working in.
Earlier this year I had the privilege of sitting in on one of South Africa’s most renowned business trends expert and from this engagement I was exposed to quite a few insights around where are businesses going which I would like to share with you.
Business disruption is occurring across all industries.
We are moving to an age where organisations are obsessed with company culture:
Being collaborative and not silo-driven, employers will hire employees who basically push beyond boundaries. We will begin to see a rise in people who are driven by achieving a greater purpose rather than a monomaniacal focus on profits.
Death of the legacy companies!!! Agile companies have a lifespan of 15 years and not because they exit the business lifecycle at the end of the 15 years but because they pivot frequently. (Because this is the future of the business and business- owner mind-set corporates will be serving/ servicing, the big question here is “what steps do corporates in South Africa need to take in order to become relevant for their future client?”
Collapse of the value chain. The space between the product and customer is getting narrower (E.g. Beyoncé and Tidal). Business owners are cutting the middle man and the need to quantify value for money/services rendered increases
The lengthening Omni-channel. It is becoming crucial for corporates to find out where customer are experiencing their brand and whether all the channels are “saying the same” thing.
Digitization pawns, the essential business pivot (Biggest disruptions globally being seen in the automotive industry: ride sharing and driverless cars, and healthcare: Augmented Reality learning techniques)
Mechanization, robotics and the erosion of jobs (Google: Relay Robot).
So in the midst of the tech hurricane, what’s going to happen to our jobs?
Critical thinking, leadership, communication and problem solving ability is key!!! The ability to display the skill of Lateral Thinking in a role will be crucial. Punt this and evolve in this.
New economies enabling new industries. People find themselves in industries they would have never imagined because of this new need of different thinking. (E.g. the partnership between the digital music guy who was hired by LVMH to help build them an ecommerce website….)
The on demand economy/ The sharing economy (Hyatt pairing with Airbnb to create “unhotel” experiences)/ The gig economy (This is forcing companies to rethink labour laws!!!).
The need for unconventional thinking will force educational institutions to ready students in a different way for the workplace.
Effect on education: The need for education disruption
What is your degree worth because there really isn’t any scarcity?
Already in EY UK no degrees are needed for employment
The biggest challenge and commodity will be the skills gap: critical thinking, problem solving, communication, leadership and ownership will be highly valued
So how do we bridge the gap?
What’s wrong with the way we learn? The education system isn’t geared for the knowledge economy….
Vocational training schools need to get mixed in with high tech. (No degree, actual training using holograms for surgeons (Google: HoloLens))
The future of work
It’s no longer linear. There are a lot of stop- starts and career changes
Hybrid skills will be needed
Organisations will hire for attitude, and retrain for skills (this will fix the millennial churn)
Nomadic work swarms. You don’t have to watch an employee working to know that they are getting work done. (reskill yourself to do what you want to do, get your work life flexibility by doing what pays the bills while leaving time for passion projects)
Remote flexi-working options and productivity impact
The impact of the female century will see an increases profitability in companies
Millennials see mentors as people they can take advice from and give advice to.
Jobs of the future- what will they look like?
Things related to drones, coding, virtual reality, UX (We will see skill and career combos that have never existed before such as Life Coaches with an IT background etc.)
Rwanda; the South Korea of the technology realm… delivering blood samples to hard to reach hospitals via drone technology
Ultimately, organizations and their staff must understand the movements of their industries in order to stay relevant in their environment and careers respectively. Nothing can be taken for granted anymore.
I am especially excited though to see how resourceful individuals will become with their toolkit of skills and how they will couple what they know in order to excel in the digital age where their customers are just as, if not more aware of what they need, how they want it and what their service providers must do in order to ensure excellent delivery in a radical and client- centric way.
Earlier this week, CR7 won his fifth Ballon d’or, the highest individual award any football player on the planet could ever wish for, a joint record between him and Lionel Messi and no other Player has ever won the prestigeous award this many times.
In his acceptance speech, Ronaldo was asked to indicate who he felt was the next CR7 or Lionel Messi, his response was really nothing short of an eye opener and an excerpt of his speech can be found below:
“The next Ronaldo or Messi doesn’t exist. Every player has his own style. There are a lot of players with the potential to win it. That’s not enough though, you have to be professional, there are many examples of that. You have to win big things at the right time and have a bit of luck. Talent and Potential don’t win you anything. Talent is important but you have to train and work hard. If you’re not disciplined, forget it.”
This hit me. I’m 25 years old and I have a strong belief that with my talent and potential, I can become an executive within the next 5/6 years. But after hearing this speech I though, “So what if I have the potential?” I mean, a lot of my peers probably feel the same way but what else am I doing to set myself apart? Am I just riding on the fact that I believe I have the talent and potential to arrive at my desired destination or am I actually putting in the hours apart from the normal 9 – 5 ? Am I disciplined enough to push myself to the limits and beyond? Am I constantly preparing myself to ensure that im ready to grab the next exciting opportunity? Am I satisfied with the idea of my potential to the point that I don’t really nurture my talent to take me to the next level?
Am I professional enough for people to use me as a reference in their conversations or, have my qualifications tricked me into believing that all my efforts thus far are sufficient? The unfortunate answer is that I’ve been operating in a hidden comfort zone and its high time that I start thinking about how I can do more.
For as long as we continue to pride ourselves purely in our talents /potential /qualifications /titles, true growth will forever elude us. we need to wake up and strive to make things happen, we need to learn how to work hard towards improving and nourishing our talents, we need to strive for perfection, we need to desperately seek personal mastery and at the heart of everything, we need to be patient but always prepared for the next challenge. our talents and potential can easily become our worst enemies.
Guest Post Author: Atticus Tshepo Matlebyane
“For at the hands of worldly logic, my dreams suffered the most and my talents witnessed the wrath of the soil.”
A hopelessly enthusiastic young individual who actually believes that human-beings can fly!
University of Johannesburg alumnus (Bachelor of Commerce Honours degree in Marketing Management) and Industrial Psychology, Business Management and Marketing enthusiast . Currently works at Africa’s largest bank as a senior segment analyst while hustling for a part time lecturing and radio gig.
So I have been the biggest fan of Chimamanda since we all first heard her speech in Beyonce’s music video “Flawless”.
However, being the fussy reader that I am, I have been putting off buying her books, despite the raving comments I heard. To be honest, when I think about why it took me so long, it wasn’t because I did not think she was a fantastic writer. I was just so intimidated (read: lazy) by the African names and context.
As an African blogger and avid reader from South Africa, my biggest fear was that I would pick up one of her books and just simply NOT RELATE. I thought I’d try and give Americanah a try and close it bitterly after trying to drill the character names into my head and relate to the storyline and the characters experiences. I was afraid I wasn’t going to be black or African enough to get it and the last thing I wanted was to read about the people of my land from a foreign context, I did not want to feel like and imposter. I was so terrified of just disliking liking it.
But alas! After an hour of research and debate in the bookstore I walked out (with a little reservation and confidence) on my new purchase and addition which was Americanah. Why was I never told Ifemelu was a blogger who had monitozed her blog!? People. I would have long been within this book if I knew this!
Needless to say, I cannot express how estatic I am to have one of Chimamanda’s pieces of literature on my bedside table. It is so surreal, and my love for her writing and storyline in the current book I am reading just make the novel that much dreamier. If I could compare Chimamanda’s writing style to food I’d say it smells like French vanilla and melts in your mouth like rich dark cocoa. Her storylines are extensive, and as deep as a freshly brewed pot of coffeee on a Monday morning. I’m in love! My second African author and I am simply in love!
I’m left with 1/3 of the book to go and I just cannot bring myself to finishing it. Do you have any recommendations of a book just as lovely, either written by her or other female African authors? Please swing your recommendations to me via the comments box 🙂
I cannot wait to share my final thoughts and my deconstructed version of a book review with you!
When one gets their wisdom teeth removed, very many things can happen, one of these things, naturally as a bookworm, is having time to read. In between the moments of fatigue and pain I devoured the last few pages I had been savoring of Americanah and finally today I read the final page of an incredible journey found in a book.
As you may have read in my previous blog post (Americanah: My thoughts so far), I was initially apprehensive about reading African literature, but Chimamanda writes in such an incredible way that allows for “cop- outs” as I have alluded to before. She leaves the reader feeling included, catered for and understood in their thought process throughout the journey of reading the book irrespective of the readers background.
Having now completed Americanah, and excitingly attracted some African bloggers to my post, I can certainly say for sure that this experience has taught me the following:
1. Africa as big and diverse as it is, shares a common thread of understanding amongst its people. We all share similar perspectives of what struggle, hope, triumph and success look like.
2. Show me an African who doesn’t like America or London and I will prove to your that person is not from Africa. There’s just something about these places man haha!
3. Interracial relationships… as diverse as the world has now become, society is still very backwards. I have so much to add to this section but for now I will just say this- Chimamanda laid it down in this book! I have never felt like anyone truly understood this dynamic as much as she did when she wrote about it in the Curt chapters. I felt like I was having a DMC with a bff who finally GETS IT.
4. Blesser/blessee life is everywhere and it’s universal. It’s not a black thing.
5. African stories and story writers are out of this world. It doesn’t matter which country you’re from in Africa, we all share similar narratives. There is no better place to gain inspiration from than from an African context. There is just something that hit home when I read this book, a feeling of reading something familiar, as much as it was fictional and influenced by a Nigerian context. I truly felt at home between its modern threads as a South African.
Americanah has been such a joy. One of the realest and most relatable books I’ve read this year. It felt more like a DMC session with a good friend than it felt like reading. At the same time that I was going through this journey with Ifemelu, I felt my own mind and soul detoxing and releasing all these memories and questions I had bottled and buried far within my soul.
Final Verdict: What a joy! I cannot wait to add another one of these gems in my collection!
*If you have any recommendations for female African authors I should look out for and the titles of their books, please swing them my way in the comments section!