A letter to myself from the Future Year 204X by Ngozi Bell
We arrived here hale, hearty, and enthused. Whew, the world that is Africa has really changed, and you were a part of it, but your role in the process and my role now will be the subject of another letter. I’d like to tell you what it looks like from here. It is so different that imagining how things are for you there, required me to pull data from the Global Economic Ledger of 2021 (GEL 2021), from our World History Block Chain Library. It places China as king of hardware and manufacturing, fastest growing economy, #2 of GDP with nearly $17T and the US at number 1 in GDP with about $22T and then Nigeria appearing as the first African nation at #28 behind Iran and Thailand and Indonesia and Norway and so many others with a GDP of $467B. It also shows Africa importing 90% of its agricultural products and medicines, wow!
From here all that has changed, there is no Nigeria per se, from a-go-it-alone perspective. There is Africa as one united front. I will tell you about the one central theme that helped galvanize and transform Africa, and to think that yours truly was part of it. Well, like I said, I will tell you how we participated in another letter.
Remember the Africa Continental Free Trade Area AfCFTA that was developed in your current reality, well did it work! It was the catalyst for everything. Now I must admit that it hit some bumps along the way, but once the 54 nations really gave AfCFTA a whirl everything changed. It started when a working group started hosting strategy sessions at the AfCFTA secretariat in Accra, Ghana. These working groups spread like wildfire from places of power, prestige and clout to clusters of rural leaders. From the young to the aged, from the formally educated to the informally enlightened, men and women. It was a move that many termed “The Wind of God in Africa”. And as if the group talks were not enough, as people heard of these clustered conversations, they joined and broadened them and linked them to others. Before we knew it these moderated conversations crossed countries became regional, crossed regions, and became one big conversation demanding action, by people ready to tax themselves. What was evident was the fierce agreement that this was an Africa conversation and the solution had to be wholly African! They also agreed that a framework was needed to converge the conversation. Very quickly they unanimously agreed that a United Africa Policy Framework (UAPF) would be the first outcome, and that from it will emerge implementation strategies on whatever they decided. So, the AfCFTA UAPF or UAPF was birth. The below describes how they did it!
The UAPF defined a robust unprecedented policy process, that is now the world’s Gold Standard for policy development because it was truly inclusive.
- First, they set an Africa-wide agenda that was ambitious, yet considerate; robust, yet lean in practice
- Agenda Development: At the heart of the agenda was the public interest of Africans, every sub demographic’s biggest needs were collected. Poverty alleviation, disease management, healthcare reforms, ethnic clashes, education, food/water, jobs, infrastructure etc. They created discussion forums through many means to ferret out key aspects. Visits to rural, urban, and suburban areas brought to light specific causes of distress or highlighted limitations that needed addressing. What was so impressive is how they collected the information. From using rudimentary means to the most technologically advanced ways. From speech to text translations to Machine Learning algorithms that could take key phrases and spew comprehensive information, to a blockchain of interoperable networks that connect all kinds of tools like drones, cameras, and the many intelligent and rudimentary devices. This literally created an Africa wide super internet using IOT to collect and capture information, create the right analytics based on the correct assumptions. They made no preconceived assumptions. They left no stones unturned!
What was ironic and beautiful at the same time, was that when clashing groups saw that the effort was genuine and was represented by people who looked like them, who spoke the same languages and for the most part had the same values and concerns; and, simultaneously projected the confidence that the problem no matter how big and long was fixable and part of the crucial big step they needed to take – they ceased fighting and agitating and came together to provide input and suggested solutions. The learning was palpable!
Eventually an agenda was set that grouped things into a comprehensive list of “must do now, follow on, and nice to have “. They determined that the goal of the agenda was to keep in view, outcomes robust enough to positively impact every single subgroup in a meaningful and measurable way. It was a herculean task of sorts, considering Africa’s notoriety which you are aware of in your reality; but girl, the work they did was amazing to behold. Today, looking back, it’s as if the world stopped as Africa led!
- Second, they embarked on the policy formulation process – By this time they had assembled a strong robust and diverse team of advisors and pseudo-oversight teams. Their regional teams were representative of every group, they had poor and rich folk, male, female, young, and mature, they had the formally and informally educated, they had the technical and non-technical – they were so adamant that everyone had a voice, they even made sure that sustainability advocates, the socially conscious, religious, and non-religious were involved. Even chiefs, the aged, locals and the young and precocious had input. The process by which they analyzed the policy options and decided on the best possible solutions to crystalize and determine the direction a policy will take was pretty cool. Check this out! They used tools like Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence models to simulate different scenarios they had come up with. The age-old wisdoms they solicited could be simulated alongside modern derivates and checked for efficiency, cost, and performance outcomes. They shared options with the people and gave them time for feedback. Then converged on the best options for implementation.
One of the best experiences I had was visiting an Experience Center in the DRC (yes, the DRC was used as one of the Centers of Excellence), on that day the average age of the people converged to give inputs was at least 75 years old. They would watch simulations of an issue with different scenarios dialed in and register what they like, did not like, or modified the scenario using whatever tool kit they were comfortable with, at the end of the exercise they ranked the preferences and their input recorded via the “Super internet database”. The point is these older people had contributed directly to the future of Africa!! Wow!!
- The Adoption Process – This stage was a beast because this is where the choices on what to advance and the solutions that would best support the whole was made. Even after all the work, disagreements surfaced threatening at times to derail all the good work, but despite all the challenges they soldiered on – what eventually resulted was a crystalized format of actions and solutions posted on a universal blockchain with possible iterations captured and modelled on an adjacent blockchain for safekeeping and backup. The plan also baked-in the reality that real life is unpredictable and impossible to model, so there had to be room for adjustments.
They recognized the elements of human existence unique to African life and its peoples. When we did the review on how they eventually made it work – do you know what the overarching feedback was? It was simply seeing the genuine concern and care that Africans displayed for themselves, this led to the determination to work things out at every turn. When I heard it, I cried!
- The implementation stage – This was like being on stage with multiple rock stars or being part of an eclectic yet elegant symphony. They put the policies to practice with good parameters that gave some boundaries but also enough scale to create impact. They reviewed the complexity of implementing policies beyond what the simulations had accounted, adjusted where they could and continued to implement after taking note of outliers. At the end of the process, they collected the following information amongst many others – complexity and scale of impact, human, financial and tools cost and impact, the role of administrative structures that maximized success or fostered the most challenges.
Keep in mind that the implementation cut across many verticals like Healthcare, Energy, Trade, Manufacturing, Logistics, Agriculture, Large Infrastructure, Education, Employment, Entrepreneurship, Wealth creation and so much more. There were synergies considered and exploited for good and a continental GDP to grow. It was a massive undertaking, but it got done and done well!
- The Evaluation Phase – In this phase there was critical review in all forms and formats to ensure that the implementations were robust. The checks and balances calibrated as success triggers and detractors were evaluated. The scope of objectives met and desired impact, reviewed. They involved civil society, government, and 3rd party consultants from all parts of the continent in 360-degree reviews. Data collected from learnings was fed back into the iterative system as the reach and scope of implementation expanded to every area of the continent. It is breath taking to see the impact in every sector, literally!
As I write you, good regulations are in place all over Africa, they are seamlessly integrated into the fabric of core sectors and guide actions flawlessly. Citizens can interrogate them and make suggestions for adjustments and through an accelerated Policy Adjustment Process (PAP), they can be updated. You will be in total awe of the Africa you will meet. Our monetary system has changed, it is seamless and easy and convenient for all. Our judicial system is unified around core principles and morals, no more off the rail considerations based on bias and tribalism and bribery. Using iDLT all transactions are tracked and retrievable when you engage with government or the private sector, so no one is afraid to engage. When you work, you get compensated on time. The healthcare system is best in class and uniform but flexible. If you elect for extras you pay for it, but robust wellness and treatment has been made an African citizen right. The education sector has done the same. The seamless integration of learning and outcomes has been a delight without cramping the need to learn just for the sake of learning. I can go on and on. I am excited for Africa, and this is not the end. From what is in play the next phases will make things more spectacular. Remember the pollution problem Africa had, it is a thing of the past now. Everything is repurposed for energy or some form of reuse. Streets are clean and serve as the power source and sensory control of traffic for vehicles and trains. There are ample safe walkways now. The air ways leverage organic forms of carbon sequestration organized by the people to remove pollution like smog from the atmosphere. Air vehicles are for the most part electric, and other forms of clean energy. They are also equipped to auto clean any greenhouse gases extruded into the atmosphere, as that is part of the policy on license agreement for air vehicles.
Many mornings I climb these beautiful flat rocks on the edge of my ancestral town Orogwe, the view is clear and long, I can literally breathe in large amounts of what feels like rarefied air that clears my lungs and causes my singing voice to ring for what seems like miles. Because of this, I was tempted to take on the opera until I went to one recently, and after listening to long term trained opera singers, decided to sit that dream out.
In summary, Ngozi, I do want to warn you that, many African country status have changed from what you know today. The political landscapes are different. The 54 countries are no longer 54 in number, nor the same. Some nations have broken up peacefully, some formats of governance have morphed into ones that are significantly different but work better. The attitude of Africans towards one another regardless of artificial borders or not has changed drastically.
You will be proud to know that the people have emerged truly united, stronger, richer. You know how in the Bible in Deuteronomy 15– the Jews were told that there should be no poor among them because of the wealth of the land, God was giving to them and so no one was to harden their hearts towards their fellow Israelite, but to help them–sister-girl, Africa has literally achieved this! Groups support groups, nations support nations, they are trading with each other, serving each other, harnessing all the hidden and known treasures of the land for the benefit of all people.
You should see the people of the future. Because of the inter-marriages and the myriad of diverse looks, the tapestry of the African person has become a thing for artists who flood here from all over the world to capture the beauty of our people, our land and work ethics, our achievements, landscape and more. Did I tell you we have more than 20 space explorations, with 20% ahead of the rest of the world? The thing that grasps me most is the Trust factor. Africans in the future trust each other. Leaders are trustworthy, systems are dependable. I really feel this is the secret weapon along with the youths that seem to be enhancing every system for good every day. I am sitting in an observation pod in a lab east of River Niger, while this is the heart of igbo land, every type of person is here. A young 24-year-old man and a 15-year-old are running experiments on neuroscience and cognitive science exercises for the severely disabled. Their work has advanced the brain-computer integration in very significant ways. Their project is part of GLADEM (Global Accelerated Demonstration of Enabling Machines), it is on the scale of the Human Genome Project that took ten years and gave us the ability to sequence genes and all kinds of targeted treatment possibilities. This one has taken only a couple of years to get to the stage they are in. The disabled people they have outfitted with their gadgets have regained 80% of all their brain functions. They are literally working on the last 20%. By the way, you know one of the minds behind most of the technology, it is Okezue. Yes, “Okez the great” as you know him!
Earlier today, the World Index of Industrial Utility (WIIU) placed Africa at number one. The premise being that all the industrialization realized here has been meticulously focused on the betterment of all. Summits around the world are understudying and quoting Africa. Everyone tries to vacation and do business or live here, even though the wider African borders are strictly protected, what I love is the compassionate diplomacy to immigration and migration that Africa is practicing. As for GDP, need I spell it out? Africa is #1, (the DigCoin number dwarfs the global GDP of your 2021 reality), the next country or continent is a distant second. I look forward to welcoming you here!
About Ngozi Bell
Inspiration, Hard Work, Innovation. These three foundational elements anchor Ngozi’s core belief that manifesting the extraordinary is always within reach. Inspired by her mother A.C.Obikwere, a scientist and author, she learned the privilege of living at the edge of important encounters and dedicating herself to robust and perpetual learning. Ngozi’s background is a combination of Physics, Engineering, Venture Capital/Private Equity, regulations, and business where she has managed over $1B in cumulative revenue. Ngozi is a speaker, storyteller, and writer on a diverse set of topics including AI, iDLT, ML, Signal Processing, iOT, women, entrepreneurship and more. She contributes regularly to VOA, has been a TEDx speaker and is published on tech and non-tech platforms. She is a champion of STEM, women, youth, art and the Africa we must engage. Ngozi is an adjunct professor of Physics and management with work
experience in Asia, Europe, Africa, Middle East, and North America. She is a founder of a number of a number of enterprises and host of the podcast Stem, Stocks and Stews (https://anchor.fm/stemstocksstews-podcast).