There is no doubting that we live in an age of global interconnectedness. While this trend started nearly 30-years ago and has brought more than a billion people out of extreme poverty it has only been in the last decade or so that the wave of modernity has swept Africa.
The result of this wave has been a reawakening in Africa and this has led to political stability and economic development. However, this only tells half of the story as the real driver of change in Africa is its people. This includes millions of engineers who are shaping the Africa’s future.
Shaping the Future
There was a time when people used to talk about the ‘deepest, darkest Africa’ but recent events have shaken this concept to its core and with it are changing perspectives on what the future will bring.
Self-sufficiency is a bid change and this means that foreign aid is no longer to the main source of income for many countries in the region. While one might have thought that this would lead to economic hardship, the reality is further from the truth as the GDP of continent is growing faster than almost any other place in the world.
A big reason for this is the end of incessant fighting which had wracked the continent for over the last century. Even in places such as Egypt which have recently gone through conflict, economic conditions are improving.
This is good news for the people of Africa as its inhabitants now enjoy a higher standard of living, on a per capita basis, than those in India and many other countries. In addition, increased investment and activity has helped to drive growth.
More importantly, this investment is not completely centered on taking advantage of Africa’s mineral wealth – as resource investment only accounts for a third of total activity. Ultimately, this diversification points towards a bright future for the region as it will help to drive the development of a middle class, who will then help to drive further improvements.
All of this will lead to a better standard of living for Africans as well as an opportunity for major countries in the region to take leadership positions in the world.
Work to Be Done
However, there is plenty of work to be done and the worst thing to happen would be to assume that the current period of growth and prosperity is set to continue indefinitely. In fact, the growth in Africa is very much tied to events which are happening around the world and the only way of the people to benefit over the long-term is for the leaders of African countries to map out a trajectory which is not only attainable but also sustainable.
This means not repeating the mistakes of the so-called ‘developed world’, such as overreliance on fossil fuels, the development of a throw-away culture, and flawed economic model which overemphasizes the profits of a few at the expense of the many.
In addition, this means developing experts in everything from engineering to science, medicine, and research. For example, municipal engineers deal with issues ranging from planning to land use as well as developing public works projects for the betterment of the entire community. As the infographic below illustrates, these engineers can have a dramatic impact and it is import for Africa to keep developing homegrown talent in this space.