Why Africa is the key to advancing human potential

Andela, a tech company, scouts for smart Nigerians with talent for tech, trains them and places them to work for international companies like Microsoft, while still based in Nigeria.

Story highlights

  • Africa has missed out on two of the most important episodes of global advancement
  • The internet has revolutionized how knowledge and opportunities can be accessed and shared

Seni Sulyman is Country Director of Andela Nigeria. He is passionate about building an ecosystem of exemplary African businesses and leaders and has an MBA from Harvard Business School. Andela this week announced a $40M round of funding from two Africa-focused venture funds.

The views expressed in this article are solely his.

(CNN)Humans have done a poor job of equipping the majority of our seven billion peers to contribute meaningfully toward our collective future.

As a result, humankind is not advancing at the pace it should be.
    Today, millions of children lack access to education and healthcare, and are all too familiar with poverty and hunger. Our planet is exhibiting severe side effects resulting from human activity while we still debate the existence of climate change.
    Elections in developed countries are no longer guaranteed to be free and fair, thanks to hackers. This is 2017.
    Andela Nigeria Country Director Seni Sulyman
    Africa, home to a massive young and growing population, could possess the solution to the global human capital dilemma. Africans, working alongside and leading global teams, can help humankind avoid catastrophes in healthcare, education, climate change, and cybersecurity.
    By producing the next wave of global leaders, Africa (and Africans) will play a critical role in building the future.
    If we're going to actualize this promising future, we need to first come to terms with our difficult past.

    A history of missed opportunities

    Over 12,000 years ago, humans shifted from hunting and gathering to organized agriculture. Africans participated actively in what is widely known as the Agricultural Revolution, spanning several centuries across several kingdoms.
    We've since slid in both productivity and innovation, failing to achieve food security, and have some of the highest rates of undernourishment globally. The reasons vary and we can debate them, but the consequences are irrefutable.
    In the 18th and 19th centuries, humans developed the steam engine, created the textile industry, invented machine tools and factories, and built telecommunication, transportation and power infrastructure.
    The Industrial Revolution, as we know it today, is commonly referred to as the most important event in human history since the domestication of animals. Africa was a source of key raw materials and labor that fueled this revolution, yet once again the benefits of this revolution skipped most African economies.