The purpose of this write up is to re-awaken the world, most especially Africans & African descents ((diaspora), young, adult, elderly, student, entrepreneurs & businessman) and organizations working in the social entrepreneurship and non-profit sector to a common thinking for impact investing “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”; a quote from the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu. The quote simply expresses the importance of investing in human capital.

While doing this write up, I stumbled upon the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Goal keeper report 2018; which got me thinking hard & scared of what might befall our great continent on our way to 2050 if we fail to act on pressing issues facing the continent. The report aim to confront a pressing yet neglected challenge, and identify some of the most promising strategies to meet it.

The report puts it bluntly, that decades of stunning progress in the fight against poverty and disease may be on the verge of stalling. This is because the poorest parts of the world are growing faster than everywhere else; more babies are being born in the places where it’s hardest to lead a healthy and productive life.

Africa is a young continent. Nearly 60 percent of Africans are under the age of 25. Compare that to 27 percent of Europeans. The median age across Africa is 18. Compare that to 35 in North America (or 47 in Japan). According to the Goal Keeper report, by 2050, 86 percent of the world’s extreme poor will live in sub-Saharan Africa, with more than 40 percent living in just two countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria; notably amplified by population growth. It has however become more important that Africa wakes up and chart a new course for development by investing in its young and fast growing population.

Of importance to the development of Africa is Human Capital Development and Investment in form of knowledge, skill sharing and knowledge management most especially from the knowledgeable highly skilled, professional and experienced individuals to the less knowledgeable ones.

Knowledge & skill sharing can be described as formal, informal or a voluntary process of transferring or disseminating knowledge from one person to another person or groups in an organization. The intentional sharing of awareness and experiences among learners with the goal of not only enriching their own individual learning, but also of creating or maintaining a common repository of reusable knowledge.

Knowledge management on the other hand is the process of creating, sharing, using and managing the knowledge and information of an organization. It is the systematic management of an organization’s knowledge assets for the purpose of creating value and meeting tactical & strategic requirements; it consists of the initiatives, processes, strategies, and systems that sustain and enhance the storage, assessment, sharing, refinement, and creation of knowledge.

Perhaps these two elements are the reason why many developed nations and profitable organizations are able to perform well and grow exponentially. These countries have developed systems, processes, strategies and environment that ensure constant and adequate knowledge & skill sharing; and the technologies or infrastructures to manage, store and transfer knowledge and skill in the best reusable way. It is important to note that the concept of knowledge and skill sharing does not only apply to individuals but also in our work places, schools, government, etc.

You might find it interesting to know that the average life cycle of many African businesses is < 10years after which they die. Ofcourse, sometimes the economy is to blame or the businesses themselves weren’t operating well enough to ensure profitability. However sometimes this is not the case; Knowledge management plays a significant role in ensuring sustainable growth of organizations by making the right knowledge or the right knowledge sources (including people) available and accessible to the right people at the right time.  Knowledge/skill sharing is therefore perhaps the single most important aspect in this process, as it depends on the habit and willingness of the knowledge/skill owner to share & less knowledgeable to seek out and/or be receptive to these knowledge sources. The right culture, incentives, environment and so on must therefore be present.

The lack of systems, structures and processes to support knowledge/skill sharing and knowledge management is also evident in many African government structures; as institutions, ministries, etc become grave yards and repository of old knowledge, skill or practice.

For Africa to grow, Africans must embrace knowledge/skill sharing & Knowledge management. Rodney Bullard at the 2019 Atlas Corps Global Leadership Lab talked about “Your Three Feet of Influence” he spoke about how difficult it is to change the world; and that everyone has the ability to affect the three feet around them. This is to say that when Knowledgeable Africans considers their three feet of less knowledgeable Africans around them as their canvas, they can create meaningful positive impact. Furthermore, according to the Africapitalism concept my Tony Elumelu, an economic philosophy on promoting the change in approach and outlook towards development in Africa by young Africans by tackling pressing socioeconomic issues for economic and social development. It is therefore important that Africa and the world at large need to invest in human capital which is pivotal in the prosperity of the continent. Knowledgeable Africans must also invest in the development of the less knowledgeable ones; affecting their three feet of influence through knowledge, skill sharing & knowledge management. By doing this, we are able to create a domino effect that will snow ball into positive growth and development in the continent; most especially in the areas of positive youth development, employment and employability, education and literacy, organizational development & sustainability; and in general a thriving economy & people.

By Omitogun Abolaji, (Atlas Corps Fellow)
Knowledge Management and Communications,
YouthPower Learning/YouthLead, Making Cents International