TEDGlobal 2007: Session 11: James Shikwati

James Shikwati economistThis is the 2nd talk on the second last session of TEDGlobal 2007. We need to commercialising enterprises or entrepreneurship in Africa. Chris Anderson, TED curator, described him as one-man think tank, a libertarian economist.

Address famine as a business opportunity. Lost $200 million due to famine in Kenya. Estimated cost 300 to 500 million people to malaria and cost billions to the GDP of Africa. Young people in a project he is running are cleaning huts and using it as a business to fight mosquitoes. Exploit urban set-up with endless opportunities and offer more variety.

What is missing in Africa is confidence – not money! Africans sometimes think it’s someone else’s problem to fix things in Africa. We need to start using passion of young people to start businesses. Create Olympic style business plan competition to get young people interested and excited about business.

Now back to the Jeffrey Sacks debate. We need to understand how the world works, how the world thinks. The Aid debate operates under the constrained position i.e. the African person is in a box, somebody else must free him. We need to focus on releasing the African mind. Everybody talks about corruption. When a foreigner meets an African the first thing they see is corruption.  One example he quotes, which I’ve heard before is that in Africa not even the most corrupt or the poorest people will deny you water. Yet million of dollars are being spent on buying water like the very popular bottled water products.

With aid it’s like foreign countries subsidising their own companies in Africa. So African companies can never compete, being paralysed and never develop to a point where they can be world class. Keep focussing on entrepreneurship with young people. They are the future and can stop Africa crying.

Chris did a short Q&A with James in which he confronted him on aid debate.

For more information on James Shikwati visit the Inter Region Economic Network.  And read this excellent interview with SPIEGEL, For God’s Sake Please STOP Aid!

 

Author: RJ Thomas

RJ Thomas is an International Relationship Builder. He was born in South Africa, and moved to China in 2013.