The Cowbell Mathematics Completion is one that many passionate Nigerian math geniuses cite as the pinnacle of their secondary school experience. It’s an annual math competition in which secondary school students across the nation send their best and brightest with hopes of winning the grand prize. The schools hold a preliminary exam—sending the two best students to represent the school in the Competition.

Read more: The Dangers of Discriminating Against Girls in STEM

 
As a Nigerian PhD student in the humanities, I am often confronted with a myriad of facial expressions, ranging from confusion to sheer disbelief and wonder, when I tell people that I study Africa. These facial expressions are accompanied by questions such as: Why study Africa? What do you plan on doing with that? Or, aren’t you African?  Most times, I usually respond with my proposed career options, professor or something in the UN. Long after though, I think to myself:When will we eventually get tired of non-Africans studying Africa and coming to far-fetched conclusions about us?  When do we reclaim our continent?  And why not me?  After all, to study Africa is not only to study Africa, it is to study the world.  Africa has and continues to play a decisive role in the development of our modern civilizations from time immemorial. And I replay these thoughts over and over again in my head, hoping that someone will see the connections between the invisible/blurry dots because I get it.
 
A majority of us (read: Africans abroad) were not exposed to the plethora of career choices and life-long passions outside the traditional professions of medicine, law, engineering, and banking.  According to most of our parents, these professions would bring us respect and financial security. And for the most part, they do because they are important and necessary for the growth and development of our societies. Especially when we take into consideration the post-independence tasks of nation-building and economic development, we see the utility of these careers in shaping what our predecessors hoped to be the new Africa.  Furthermore, given the relative failure of our democratic and economic ambitions in the 1980s and 1990s, our parents migrated outwards in order to realize their personal visions of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And it was those same career pathways that opened doors for them to settle and successfully establish themselves in a strange land. 
 
But what about the rest of us —whose passions, dreams and desires never quite fit within the lines of the coloring book?  Those who want to be creatives: dancers, artists, filmmakers, writers, musicians, fashion designers, and etcetera. They too have always impacted and transformed our social landscapes in tremendous ways although, now more than ever before, more individuals are gaining access to realize their dreams.  African fashions are gracing runaways internationally, African writers are being featured in contemporary pop music, and African actors are becoming more prominent in Hollywood. Given the reality of this globalized era, every and anything is rapidly becoming possible. The possibilities are indeed infinite in this era of packaging (like my naija people will say) because it is all about how you brand yourself and communicate your value to the world. 
 
Therefore, now is the time for us non-traditional people to truly flourish and display our talents. Now is also the time for us to build those collaborative networks across disciplinary and professional boundaries that will transform, impact and thrust Africa into the limelight for good. With hope that, in doing so we change the entire world.In order for us to accomplish this, Africa needs dynamic thought-leaders, who are unafraid of new ways of thinking and being. Africa needs passionate and dedicated individuals who are willing to revolutionize the state of the continent.  Africa needs every single talent and skill that we can offer.
 
Kányinsọ́lá Ọbáyàn is a writer and cultural ambassador. Currently, she is a PhD Student at Cornell University, where she is using her research on gender, femininity and sexual politics in Southwestern Nigeria to imagine alternative possibilities for Nigeria's future.
 
 
 
 

 

Johannesburg, South Africa - African Leadership Network Ventures (ALN Ventures), the African Leadership Network’s (ALN) pan-African accelerator for early-stage companies, recently began their nine-month bootcamp for their first class of entrepreneurs. ALN Ventures recently selected a group of 9 entrepreneurs from 275 applicants.

Read more: ALN Ventures Program Identifies 9 Promising African Entrepreneurs

 
International experts will call for African leaders to “leapfrog the shackles of convention” at a major education conference next month, in order to ensure that African economic growth is sustained by adequately trained young people. The programme for this year’s eLearning Africa, which is being co-organised by the African Union and co-hosted by the Government of Ethiopia, reflects the extraordinary breadth and pace of change underway in African education – and the challenge for new technology-based solutions to meet Africa’s growing demand for high quality education and training.

Read more: African leaders need to “leapfrog the shackles of convention”

 
My computer science class in secondary school was largely spent on social media sites (e.g., Facebook, MySpace, Hi5, etc.). However, I spent very little time learning how to code or other similar skills that could have been valuable to my classmates and myself. In the same vein, the use of technology and technology education across Africa is, to a large extent, still at its infancy. A study conducted by AT Kearney has shown that the mobile phone ecosystem in Africa has provided more than five million jobs and generated close to US$15 billion in government revenue in 2011 . It is therefore extremely likely that technology will play an important role in Africa realizing its potential.

Read more: Womenology: How African Women Can Lead in Tech

 
The theme of this year’s Africa Business Conference held at Harvard Business School in Cambridge, MA on February 27th to March 1, 2015 was “A More Inclusive Africa: The Pursuit of Progress for All”. The conference was organized into three main panel sessions each broken up into subsections based on industry, all of which had themes of inclusivity as a main talking point. The featured industries this year included entrepreneurship, finance, business and geopolitics, education and healthcare, infrastructure and resources and sports. 

Read more: 17th Annual Africa Business Conference 2015: Inclusivity in Africa

 

Africa is alive and well, and open for business. The continent now holds the fastest growing economies in the world, but still struggles to develop an infrastructure for its entrepreneurs. Why? Bank rates average 25%, loans are inaccessible, and coordinated resources are hard to come by, leaving the continent’s businesses, over 99% of which are SMEs, underbanked and unable to access the tools they need to evolve. To combat this, Ingressive has created a resource pipeline to thoroughly vet, represent, build and connect high-growth businesses with international resources and impact opportunities. Come find out what it’s like to be an African entrepreneur, international investor, and legal and auditing firm connecting Western businesses with Sub-Saharan opportunities. We demystify the African entrepreneur’s experience, show you just how easy it is to cross borders for business, and introduce you to the Silicon Valleys of the Sub-Saharan.
 
The global gathering of some of the world’s most powerful and influential political, business and academic leaders in the now famous Switzerland town of Davos, opens last week with the formidable presence of Nigerian businessmen, including Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote of the Dangote Group; banker turned serial entrepreneur, philanthropist and champion of Africapitalism, Chairman of Heirs Holdings, Tony Elumelu, as well as Wale Tinubu, Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Oando Group, in attendance.

Read more: Dangote, Elumelu, Tinubu, lead Nigeria’s business elite to WEF 2015

African Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka on Friday, January 16 expressed optimism that 2015 holds an opportunity for the African continent to achieve progress in economic growth depending on the political will of African Governments. “It will depend on the policy stance of the countries, and the choices that they make or do not make,” he said.

Read more: Sustainable economic growth and peaceful elections should be Africa's focus in 2015

The Africa Business Club, a Member of Student Clubs of HBS, Inc., Announces the 17th Annual Africa Business Conference at Harvard Business School
 
 
The Africa Business Club, a Member of Student Clubs of HBS, Inc., announced the 17th Annual Africa Business Conference to be held at Harvard Business School. The event will be held from Friday 27th February to Sunday 1st March, 2015.
 
The conference is the world’s largest student-run event focused on business in Africa, bringing together preeminent keynote speakers, expert panelists, and nearly 1,500 passionate students and professionals from across the globe to discuss and debate important African business and leadership topics. This year’s conference will continue the tradition of professional networking with inspirational leaders, thought-provoking talks, and an enriching experience for all the attendees. The conference will culminate with the annual conference gala at a new location, the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in Boston’s historic waterfront district, followed by an after-party featuring a world-famous musical performer. 

Read more: Quench your thirst for Africa’s stellar growth at HBSABC

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