The world is in the eye of the storm when it comes to data and connectivity. To keep sane in this unpredictable time, I'd like to share insights into how I see the world changing as the storm develops.

In my latest keynote, I explore a not-so-distant future of ultimate connectivity which I call “The API humanity”.

An API allows everything to work as if it’s completely interconnected.  When things work seamlessly together, we can take advantage of increased information, interoperability and scale. The system gets stronger the bigger it gets.

Why is this important for us, now, here in Africa?

Because in the race of life, we are pretty far behind.

How far behind is Africa?

I would estimate approximately 200 years.

My book, Ladders and Trampolines, explains my thinking and how it applies to us all. I often wonder; what Trampoline does Africa need to catch up?

We know the gap is increasing (China is already profiling and punishing citizens), so it’s fair to suggest that we are on a historical back-foot. This is not an excuse, but a reality. If we understand that, and work to overcome it, we can catch up. Ladder thinking is no good for us. We cannot afford to progress the same way. By the time we start closing the gap, it will be 2000 years.

What if we apply some Trampoline thinking?

Could we catch up in 10 years? And how?

By taking advantage of the tools and thinking at our fingertips and not waiting for it to happen TO us. The intersection of humans and technology is the opportunity for Africa’s Trampoline!

This is not new.

Change where we live - Tunisia, Coober Pedy (‘white man in a hole’) and Beijing are all examples of people living underground. This can work because of all the lessons we will have to apply to create more effective working environment.

Change who we work with - I believe compatibility trumps similar skill-sets and we should use this to decide who we work with. But how? We look at what makes us different and use that to make ourselves more balanced. We have so much to learn from each other. The Bible, the Quran and the Torah are all different types of code written to do the same thing. They represent API’S that we choose to plug into.

Change what we eat - Too many people consume too many resources. We need to flatten out population growth and find ways to power the machines that are human beings. Hunger also leads to social unrest. The Arab Spring was not about democracy, it was about food – people getting HANGRY. People can’t think if they can’t eat. Think about the plant-based movement, Beyond Meat/Bill Gates and the growth of veganism. The fact that alternative nutrition company Soylent just raised $800k on Kickstarter. I challenge us to consume less, so others have more.

Change who's in charge - Leaders versus mentors: “The old impose their world view, politics and way of life on the young, and then wonder why nothing changes. All the possibilities that could be - that need to be - are cradled in our youth. But we need to help them realise it. We need to be their mentors, not their leaders”. Frank Lloyd Wright would never have designed the Guggenheim if he had listened to older architects. But he would never have been able to do it without their mentorship, wisdom and experience either. It’s about old code integrating with new code- API to API. Social change and innovation come from young people. Think about Rapelang Rabana, who created Yeigo at 22. Sizwe Mpofu Walsh with his SX initiative. #FeesMustFall (I think we all agree with their point now, just not their methods). #NeverAgain: Kids pushing for gun control. “The adults know that we’re cleaning up their mess,” says Cameron Kasky. “It’s like they’re saying, ‘I’m sorry I made this mess,’” adds Emma González, “while continuing to spill soda on the floor.”

Why is this critical for Africa?

Remember that 200-year gap?

Here is the formula to create a Trampoline for our generation:

  • Change how we live and work to address poverty and societal ills;

  • Change what we eat to improve life expectancy and productivity;

  • Change how we communicate to increase understanding, care and empathy;

  • Change who is in charge to introduce a fresh new progressive view on the world.


Cover image credit: Tyler Casey/Unsplash

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