African boy (Credit: pixabay/wjgomes)

For African eyes: Visioning for the future

Sometimes the only way to tackle a complex challenge is to be simplistic: as many have said, Africa’s greatest strength is also its greatest weakness – the vast amounts of resources within easy reach. It seems to deprive many Africans of the will to desire and expect more, to create a long term vision which becomes so compelling that it motivates focussed action.

I know Africans are not one people but still, we can address all of Africa’s young ones to help them create a powerful vision to desire better things all around them, built on their strengths. A strong desire for better futures + knowledge of strengths = confidence and determination to control one’s fate. Much of the confidence I presently see in some forums appears to be infected with a sense of reliance on external influences. It is not confidence based on people knowing their strengths and their ability to choose how to address their weaknesses. Confidence mostly comes from past personal experience or for the young, from receiving consistent messages.

Education in Africa for example, can be made more effective for the future by ensuring consistent clarity of the reason for educating children, a reason that goes far beyond a certificate and personal wealth. A reason that is about the community. A desire for certificates and wealth is great and increasingly shared by young people all over the world. However few would doubt that but the environment will determine how much they can be enjoyed. The pressing need for the future is therefore to create a context in which personal possessions can be enjoyed.

Corruption in Africa which most would identify as the key problem in the continent is but a symptom driven by a short-sighted desire to cater for one, not for a community or a generation. If you ask 5 consecutive “whys” for the enduring challenges in any Africa country, I suspect you will arrive at a mindset. A mindset can be changed with motivation and persistent attention. Individuals can start taking small steps to address the real underlying weaknesses. It could be something as simple as asking young ones to consider for a few minutes: If the only restriction were to be that you must remain in Africa, what would you want to be doing in 10 years time? Who would be around you, at work and on the streets? What would the environment and infrastructure look/feel/smell like?

Such cultural change will not come easy because change is always difficult. However it can be achieved if all adult Africans were to help cultivate an ambitious, positive vision of the future at every opportunity, a block-by-block approach to building. Given my initial premise, an alternative path would involve a massive disaster that would deprive Africa of its natural resources and force innovative responses for survival. Mother nature may yet deliver this option.

So, do you believe it is possible for your African country to have the best quality of life on the planet? Really? Some wise person once said that when your future becomes clearer and more desirable than your present, you will begin to move towards it.

Leave a voicemail for a valued customer

I can only say what works for me, combined with inspiration from Derek Pilcher of The Ladders. Remember that having to chase-up suggests you are not top of the priority list and this may be an “amber warning” for you to address outstanding issues. Having to leave a message could itself hold a message to you about the timing of your call. So leave a message that nurtures the relationship.

Decide how important this person is to your long term interests and consider how willing you are to lose their custom. Make it easy for your listener by taking a minute to plan the message.

  • Your Name when you start and last thing when you finish.
  • Your phone number, twice, the 1st at normal speed, the 2nd slowly enough for writing it down.
  • A reminder of your relationship and how you have previously interacted
  • An upbeat message about why you are calling and a benefit for them. People do not like associating with guillt feelings, so do not say they have not returned your call
  • A pleasant reiteration of your interest and request an action.

What is the strategy for growing the UK economy to its potential?

The UK which is the world’s 6th largest economy, is projected to grow by 1.7% in 2011.  Growth in many developing economies will be 7% in 2011. Our expectation is that it will rise to the 2007 levels of 3% in a couple of years, so the economists say.  You see, I am no economist and do not know how these predictions are arrived at.  However, I do wonder at the assumptions that underly them.

In an economy with comparatively high GDP but which imports more than it exports, slow growth will mean increased national debt as expenditure exceeds income. There is already deep displeasure about the cuts in UK public expenditure, but there is more to come.  The logical solution is therefore to increase income earned from exports to achieve the predicted rise in economic growth. But where is this growth going to come from – what sector is positioned to produce the additional income? Will the economy grow from increased recycling of the existing funds or will overseas investors in the property market bring in enough funds to achieve the projected growth? What would need to be happening in the rest of the world for the inflow of such investment to drastically increase?  Will it be from high tech manufacturing for which the UK has competitive advantage but which is still on a smaller scale than is needed for a turnaround? The figures published today show that growth in manufacturing over April and May is essentially flat.

If nothing changes, nothing will change.  The UK has to identify a sector that has enough potential to compete with other countries in exportable products or services.  It has to be based on an existing cabability that could be extended by the government visibly investing in and encouraging training to build capability.

So how exactly can we optimise this potential? Building the basics from primary schools, giving positive messages about the desired careers, encouraging parents to guide children towards these careers, encouraging great numbers of start-up businesses in these industries and giving them real support until they either succeed or fail. I am not an economist but I can consider the future and wonder.