Dear African Tech Stakeholder,
On the 29th of November, 2017, I published Startups4Africa: This is NOT OUR MANIFESTO in reaction to a manifesto developed by Startup Europe to guide collaboration between our two continents around tech startups.
My argument for rejecting the manifesto was that the document, contrary to how it was portrayed, was not a product of collaboration between the continents and proposed a patriarchal & patronising relationship between the the European & African startup scenes.
For me the process was as important as product and for a collaboration manifesto, it had not been created collaboratively.
Thanks to your amplification the article reached the right quarters and achieved the aim intended by stopping that manifesto dead in its tracks.
As a result, the leader of Startup Europe at the EU Commission reached out to me and we had a positive Skype conversation. The thrust of our conversation is that the EU-Africa manifesto will be re-written with ecosystem players from both continent taking part in a truly collaborative process.
We are currently scheduling to have a call with the EU team to discuss modalities for the re-write. Good outcome - battle won but now for the war.
Defining OUR Agenda
The whole affair made something more apparent which I enquired about in my initial article and I spoke some more about in my comments here and in my conversation with Andile Masuku for the African Tech Round Up.
We need to converge as a continent to set our own agenda. Draw up our own manifesto as our own way of defining and shaping our outcome.
I, and many of the people who responded to the article, see this as the perfect trigger for us to come together to write a manifesto on digital innovation and entrepreneurship for Africa, much broader than just for the startup ecosystem.
In order not to waste a perfectly good crisis, we have created a simple portal for us to start co-creating such a manifesto at www.africamanifesto.com.
What is the African Manifesto on Digital Innovation & Entrepreneurship?
Our aim is to create a document that reflects what digital innovation and entrepreneurship means to Africa as a continent as well as for our individual countries.
We want to describe our vision for a continent with one connected thriving digital innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem that transcends the borders created by the colonialists about a century ago.
We want to identify the key drivers that we need to develop to harness the immense potential for growth buried in the minds of our citizens at home and abroad.
We want to identify strategies for enhancing each of the key drivers drawing from examples of excellence that may already exist in some of our countries but which hardly ever get shared and copied.
We want to create a document, backed by data & deep thought, that can influence the efforts of our national governments, sub-regional and regional bodies including the AU Commission, AfDB, ECOWAS, SADC etc as they develop strategy to grow the economies of our regions and continent.
We want to involve all voices in all our languages drawing contributions and insights far beyond the English language.
We want to create one document that we can share while instituting a process to ensure continuous updates as circumstances change.
We want to involve the many groups playing a critical role in growing our digital innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem including but not limited to entrepreneurs, developers, incubation hubs, angel & VC investors, government & policy makers, university & research institutes etc.
We want to involve subject matter experts across the different sectors important to quality of life for the average African that digital innovation and entrepreneurship can play a role in improving.
We want this to be a model for African convergence and collaboration that can be mirrored in other areas of our continent.
To this end, I invite you to join and start the conversation at www.africamanifesto.com.
If not now, When?
For so long it has been nigh on impossible to have our continent converge and collaborate to address the many challenges we have to grapple with.
The internet has done a lot to shrink our world and to make collaboration easier.
We, who are at the forefront of driving the use of the internet in Africa, need to take the lead in showing that a new way of collaborating on our continent is possible.
This is the time to set aside the artificial differences that separate us to speak with one voice and to take an active stance in crafting the future we want for our sector and in turn for our continent.
Someone wiser than me said
“The best way to predict the future is to create it”
This is our collective opportunity to co-create the future we want for our continent first by describing it and then by doing the work to run it into reality.
YOU are a critical piece of the puzzle if this is to be done right.
So how do you get involved?
1. Share this article on all your channels (blog, Facebook, twitter, Instagram etc) with #OurAfricaManifesto
2. Translate this article into other languages and share so that we can bring in other voices beyond English speakers
3. Go to www.africamanifesto.com, sign up and join the conversation. Come back from time to time as things would have changed
4. Invite EVERYONE you know that has an interest in digital innovation and entrepreneurship in Africa to join the conversation
5. Volunteer to work with us in mining the output of our discussions and shaping it into the first version of our manifesto for ratification
6. Volunteer to translate the manifesto and the conversations into as many languages as we have on the continent so that language is no longer a barrier for shaping our agenda
7. Share the manifesto, once it is completed, on all your platforms and use it as a conversation piece in the activities of your part of the African digital innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem.
Every generation has its opportunity to leave its mark on the sands of time — for good or otherwise.
This is our generation’s opportunity to shape our continent and to leapfrog development using transformative technology and entrepreneurial thinking. Let’s use it wisely.