• Friday, July 12, 2024
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What is conviction?

Conviction is defined as i) a firmly held belief or opinion and ii) certainty about a particular course of action or outcome. In summary, conviction is an idea or a belief you hold deeply and strongly. This is something you know, but may not have the research or evidence to back up.

What is courage?

Courage is i) the ability to do something that frightens one or ii) the choice and willingness to confront agony, pain, danger, uncertainty, intimidation or act rightly in the face of popular opposition. Courage refers to your ability to act. Courage is evidenced by action. It is not hidden. It can be seen by others.

My convictions

As we come to the end of this decade, I have been reviewing and analysing the progress and regress we have made in Africa, the missed opportunities, the challenges, and the emerging themes over the last 10 years. I entered this decade with so much optimism as Africa took giant steps forward in the previous decade (2000 to 2009). From the transition of military rule to democracy in most countries; to the gradual entrenchment of democracy (we will speak about the ideal form of government for us in the future); to the economic growth led by resource boom and some economic diversification; to the technology adoption led by mobile phone penetration. The stargazer part of me dreamt that Africa would put a man on the moon this decade (don’t roll your eyes at me ‘biko’).

Instead of consolidating on the gains of the previous decade, Africa’s economic architecture and plans hit a slippery slope when the shockwaves from the financial market crisis in developed economies hit our shores with a bang. From denial by our governments on the potential impact of these shockwaves (and hence poor preparation) to the Ebola crisis, recession entered our daily dictionaries/lexicon and became ubiquitous. Even pets and wildlife in the Serengeti wanted a seat on the table to discuss the impact of this new word on them. And everyone blamed the other person: kids called parents, employees blamed employers, employers pointed the finger to governments, and governments blamed capitalists, capitalists mouthed off on derivatives. And as the recession’s rain is easing and we are beginning to see signs of sunlight, the global headwinds are rising again (with no obvious signs of a different attitude from everyone again). In summary, time has shown it waits for no one and the decade is over and oh yes, China won this lap.

A new decade beckons and watching my 16 year-old daughter prepare to go into college, seeing the over 5,000 students that attended the Techmoney conference at The University of Lagos, and digesting the view from a plane as I take off from Lagos and land in other African cities; my convictions begin to haunt me to the point of courage. “Will you Dr. Akintoye Akindele do anything about me? Will you keep waking up and going with your economic activity and writing pieces on leadership, success and finance for another decade?” (That is my conviction asking me questions).

The voice is now too loud to ignore. What are these convictions?

Everyone acknowledges that human talent is our largest and best resource in Nigeria and on the continent. The question is, are we investing enough in this significant resource? Are we educating them enough? Skilling them? Tooling them? No, we are not; and we are quick to point fingers at the government. There are c.38 million students in Nigeria1 (over 204 million students in Africa) with 5 percent in tertiary education, 27 percent in secondary education and 68 percent in primary education. Out of this number, 85 percent are in public institutions and 15 percent are in private institutions. The quality of education in these private institutions (across all levels from primary to university) range from basic to decent with a very few of them comparable to international standards. The public schools in Nigeria (and most of Africa) are a shame to this generation. In this age, children in most of these schools do not have books to read, or enough teachers. Some do not have chairs to sit or tables to write on. Schools that do have teachers do not have teaching tools and aids. It is utterly disappointing.

Nigeria’s education budget (excluding capital expenditure) in 2020 is $1.4bn (c.$87bn in Africa), which is on a par with the budget amount of $1.3bn allocated for fuel subsidy; and we produce oil – God help us. This works out as $36 spent per student! I can go on bashing the government, but I do not see an upside to that activity. The fact is the Nigerian government cannot (both ability and capacity wise) solve this problem.

In comparison, there are currently c.90,000 Nigerian students5 studying abroad (c.520,000 African students studying abroad6) with 82 percent enrolled in tertiary education and 18 percent enrolled in primary, secondary and non-degree education; with parents spending c.$4.1bn – 3x the government’s 2020 education budget – on their children’s education. This works out as $46,000 spent per student. There is a huge disparity between what the government is allocating to education in Nigeria and what parents are already spending on educating their children.

(To be continued)

(First in the series of Africa rising – courage and conviction)

AKINTOYE AKINDELE

Dr. Akindele is an investor, entrepreneur, lecturer and philanthropist.  He is the founder of Synergy Capital Managers and Advisers. Dr Akindele is also a faculty member at the University of Lagos Business School, lecturing on finance and entrepreneurship.