Aside from corruption, one of the greatest problems facing Africa today is the desire to copy from others, instead of being authentic. Innovation is the mother of creativity. There is nothing terrible about getting ideas from existing concepts and modifying them to fit one’s situation, environment or needs. But copying an existing concept, which is developed to fit a particular environment and using it in a completely different setting only leads to mediocrity because what works for, say, the USA might not necessarily work for China. Why? Because both countries have totally different systems – politically, socially, mentally, environmentally, you may go on and on. So for an idea which yields positive results in the USA to produce the same impressive effects in China, it must, in most cases, be modified to fit the Chinese system and realities.
You may ask yourself why some economies like those of Taiwan and China have developed and expanded so much and strong. Mostly, these countries copy existing technologies and modify them to suit their needs and environment. They do not import or use the same concept without modification.
Welcome to Africa. Forget about the usual endemic cancer eating African in the name of corruption, leave mismanagement, for now, the continent is foreign to originality. Things are usually done simply because the same has been done somewhere with success. From the individual level, Africans are products of imitation. You start a computer busy simply because your neighbour started the same business and it is profitable. Sadly, more often than not, it becomes irrelevant whether your neighbour has knowledge of computer or marketing before venturing into the computer business, which may have played a vital role in the success of their business. The same mistake is the order of the day at the governmental level. Policies are simply copied with little or no attention to whether they fit the local environment before such policies are to be used. Result: stagnant outcome; sluggish economies and lack of social progress and coherence.
Africa is enormously blessed with everything that could lead to a sustainable power supply – and for that matter, productivity. Apart from potential manpower, the continent has nearly uninterrupted sunshine; yet the electricity problem is so epidemic that it affects almost all other parts of life. Think of insecurity, food, and labour productivity, health care system etc. You may ask yourself why have African governments not invested heavily in the area of solar energy rather than spending billions on the generator, fuel importation? Your guess is as good as mine. When African countries complain about the lack of foreign investment, they often forget to honestly and unsentimentally ask themselves why. Logically, no one wants to invest in uncertainty and fear. Typical investors want to put their money where both their money and lives are safe. They want to invest where they can easily get a turnover or at least get back their capital. With epileptic power problems, expect criminals to operate at night fearlessly, and the police seriously hampered by electricity challenges in Africa, with communication amongst law enforcement agents terribly affected. Imagine a situation, where you are lying helplessly, in the hospital’s Operation room, only for the power to go off, the dedicated doctors, who are doing everything they can to save your life are, therefore, helpless too. While Western countries are busy going solar, their African counterparts, abundant in natural solar energy, on the other hand, are spending billions, buying generators and other unwanted – and often unhealthy – products from the West, rather than investing half of the billions they spent on imports from the West, on the abundant African natural resources. Investing in the solar technology, research, training will not only create jobs; it will effectively increase power production and make Africa solar power giant, capable of exporting its technology to the rest of the world. Job creation is added as well, change quality of life and crime drastically reduced. But that would be ‘un-African”
Today Côte D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) is the world largest producer of cocoa, the basic raw material for the production of many major products African countries import from the West. From chocolate to cocoa cream, soft drink, ice cream, cocoa is indispensable in many Western produced products. Worse still, these end products are imported by Africans at much higher prices.
Based on its abundance minerals, the Democratic Republic of Congo, ordinarily, would have been one of the richest countries in the world. As the world greatest producer of Coltan, the DRC would have been a major player in mobile phone technology, but the country would rather focus its energy on senseless ethnic war and the power struggle for control over different mineral resources found in the country. Without Coltan found mainly in East African countries like the DRC, Rwanda, Uganda and also in Zimbabwe and South Africa, your most adored product, the mobile phone would not have been possible. The same can be said of the micro-electrical components and wiring in the phone, which compose mainly of silver, copper and gold, the products mainly found in Congo and Zambia. What have many of these raw material producing countries to show for their dominant position in the production of some of the world most demanded products? Like many African countries, the Republic of Congo is contented to buy mobile phones, the finished product from its raw material, from the West at an exorbitant price, rather than invest money, manpower, material, and resources to be a major world power or player in mobile phone technology.
Where do we go from here? Africa is deeply into the culture of the do-like other, copying ideas, including technologies, without thinking of acquiring the necessary knowledge needed for the technology to succeed. Often, things are done and policies made, not because they fit our social situation, but simply because the same ideas and policies have been successfully implemented elsewhere. The result has been ever dependence, lack of foresight, originality, authenticity, creativity, and innovation. Does one still need to go to T.B Joshua to ask why Africa remains where it is today?