Creatives, tech ecosystem potentially most powerful pressure group in Africa – Ezekwesili
Former vice president of the World Bank’s Africa region, Obiageli Ezekwesili has said that the creative industry and the tech ecosystem could become the most powerful pressure group if they unite on a regional level.
The public policy analyst and also once a former minister of education in Nigeria, was the guest speaker at the AfCFTA Ecosystem Meetup held on Thursday, 15 August, 2019 in Kigali, Rwanda.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is a free trade agreement with the objective of creating a single continental market for goods and services as well as a customs union with free movement of capital and business travelers. Although the Africn Union agreed to create the document in 2012, it finally took eight rounds of negotiations, beginning in 2015 and lasting until December 2017, to reach an agreement.
(Read more With AfCFTA, its swim or drown for tech startups )
The 54 members out of 55 of the AU that have signed on to the AfCFTA, including Nigeria, expect the agreement to fast track regional integration and address the overlapping membership of the continent’s regional economic communities (RECs).
The agreement has generated a lot of enthusiasm in the tech ecosystem and creative industry most of whom see it as an opportunity to take their innovation beyond their local shores. However, Ezekwesili believes that the two segments cannot ignore the role of good governance in setting the stage for growth. She defined good governance as an environment where there is sound policies, strong institutions, effective and efficient investment in public goods and services.
“Your group has enough to force government to listen to you,” she said.
She observed that already millions of Africans – the majority of whom are trapped in governance that do not work – are directly affected by the products and services from creatives and the tech ecosystem. Thus, the players have to realign their strategy on a regional level for deeper impact.
“We know that technology disrupts existing pattern. If technology can disrupt existing pattern, then surely technology can disrupt bad governance. When you gather and you are having this conversation, it has to be what are things that can be disrupt entrench patterns of poor governance. When you achieve it is a lot easier for you to see the kind of policies that enable the operation of your industry,” she said.