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Africa's strength lies in her young population

By Vincent Omeddo | October 5th 2016

Countries that have emerged as economic and industrial powerhouses have always played to their strengths in order to compete in the ever changing landscape of global commerce.

Sadly, African nations and particularly Sub-Saharan nations have perfected the craft of "bench-marking" with the Western industrial powers, borrowing ideas that do not fit in with our population dynamics and state of development.

We have a large and continually growing young population that can be tapped to innovate and address Africa's challenges.

A visit I made to South Korea afforded me an observation that in itself is not revolutionary but says a lot about the developmental culture of a nation.

Unskilled labor and what we traditionally refer to as blue-collar jobs are heavily driven by the older population while the young are allowed opportunity to be drivers of the technology and knowledge economy.

My taxi driver while in Seoul was an octogenarian and it was not unusual to see 70-plus-year-old-women working at mega construction sites, driving cranes and concrete mixers.

On the contrary, a typical developing country would have young adults barely out of high school working at the "mjengo" with the promise of better things in the future.

I do not mean to demean blue-collar employment, but the result of this is the very population that we have abundance of is engaged in noncompetitive and less innovative economic activity while their grandparents drive policy with romantic ideas of our "good old days" and a lesser tendency to think out of the box.

Let us empower our largest resource to enable us solve the problems bedeviling our society and we shall leap in to the front line of global economy.

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