Recently, my colleague Bev, asked me a number of strategic questions relating to Africa – What are my dreams for Africa, What do I think of Africa’s potential and so on and What really are Africa’s challenges and opportunities. You’d think that I will have some kind of boilerplate response given my work, but for me it was an opportunity to think a little deeper. As I was taking the time to think it through, I met a wonderful lady called Marie Lora-Mungai at the Omidyar Network Baraza in Mauritius (which happens just before the African Leadership Network Summit every year, which this year is happening tomorrow here in Mauritius).
Marie (who leads BUNI, along with the famous cartoonist, Gado – the guys behind the XYZ show) told me that in her view, Africa’s problem isn’t governance, corruption and all those other boilerplate issues. She said that Africa’s problem is a PR. This clicked with me and I was reminded of a twitter post which I cannot now find from way back in which I expressed the same sentiment – that Africa suffers from an image problem more than anything. Because your image affects how you behave, and your culture and perceptions relating to you and so on – both internally and externally. Because we perceive ourselves as corrupt and we keep reaffirming it – we become more so. Ditto insecurity, health etc.
Of course this isn’t the be-all end all but it is significant. Read what she said back in 2012 and lets continue thinking.