Forging a new pathway for the African diaspora
The turn of the century has seen Africans across the globe thrive in various spaces, with record numbers of its inhabitants dominating some of the world’s best Higher Education institutions and most competitive industries. Although this has birthed a wealth of skilled and educated Africans, it is often difficult to maintain connections to alma maters in a meaningful and productive way. With the advent of AlumUnite, we aim to forge a new future allowing the African alumni to invest in shaping a new African vision. In doing so, AlumUnite will transform the education sector across the continent, by ensuring these connections are practically deployed in the creation of infrastructural, curriculum and resource changes which will empower the next generation of African youth.
Tapping into African potential
The ascent of Africa to the international stage as a pre-eminent economic and political entity has been unprecedented in the most recent years of the millennium. Projections estimate that Africa is the continent that will see the most growth over the next few years – by 2050, it is expected that the total population of the continent will double to 2 billion. By the end of the century, just over 1 in 3 people in the world will be African.
However, the problems facing the continent are equally as large, complex and multi-layered as its inhabitants, ranging from public policy, infrastructural concerns, and crucially, education. The ever increasing population continues to pose vast challenges for governments seeking to improve living standards. Presently, Africa has the lowest secondary school rates of enrolment, with over 90 million African teenagers struggling to find employment in predominantly low-paid and physically demanding jobs. Problems persist in many spaces, including Higher Education enrolment and access to higher-paying jobs which demand advanced skillsets.
President Akufo-Addo of Ghana at the 2018 Dakar conference poignantly stated that Africa cannot continue to depend on outsiders to fund education. While progress has been made by local communities, NGOs, international development consultancies and ministries of educations, various African countries still face significant challenges in educating its population. The stark reality is that African educational institutions still lack resources, effective educational retention strategies and adequate access to the best of environments – with Nigeria ranking the highest globally with over 10 million out-of-school children.
There is an evident gap which AlumUnite seeks to work towards closing. Aligning closely with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, AlumUnite taps into the power and resources of the global village – the talented and bright capital of the African diaspora both on the continent across the world. AlumUnite mobilises Africa’s brightest on a central platform which allows budding students to easily process and connect with the most pressing problems facing the continent.
AlumUnite aims to provide tailored consultation and policy review services to various African countries with the intention of improving educational structures and practices specific to several contexts. In engaging with alumni of a particular country, AlumUnite allows individuals who have access to resources and expertise alongside a deep knowledge and care for the country, to get more involved to make impactful change. With ever-present concerns of corruption and lack of political judiciousness, this initiative will allow for some measure of tangible accountability and ensure that the diaspora is actively engaged in the process of power distribution to Africa’s inhabitants. Beyond personnel and expertise, AlumUnite will positively impact the wide-ranging issue of lack of resources and the reality of scarcity. Our community aims to use cutting-edge technology to provide access to online library and courses, as well as aspire towards building online review systems to ensure the continued viability and relevance of our strategies. Adaptability and ongoing assessment of our work is key to success, particularly as we hurtle faster and faster into the future. Coupled with technological advancements, this will ensure that Africa continues to progress at a pace which will ultimately begin to lean out of the primarily extractive economic model, and potentially work at a pace in keeping with the rest of the world. Furthermore, one of the greatest issues facing nations across the globe is how to ensure education provides a legitimate and tangible pipeline into industry and job opportunities. By tapping into our ‘global village’, AlumUnite provides access to mentorship across the world and will carefully analyse job conversion statistics, to evaluate how transferable educational investments are to industry and employment opportunities.
Equality along all lines of identity remains at the heart of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and also remain a pivotal part of the AlumUnite strategy. Ensuring that all genders have the opportunity to succeed, both in education and industry, is essential to progress on the continent. While progress has been made, there are still a great number of disparities between young men and women when it comes to accessing opportunities and progressing to higher ranks within the industry. Our aggregation of data, coupled with our dedication to engaging a range of diverse alumni, will ensure that we can cater to the significant problems which are pertinent to concerns about gender disparity in education. This will allow us to extrapolate gender balance in classes and highlight courses which lack proportional gender participation. As a result, we can factor this into how we decide to distribute scholarships and bursary opportunities and find appropriate mentors, to facilitate a greater gender balance in recipients and participants of opportunities.
Decent work and economic growth
With half the world’s population living on the equivalent of $2 a day and the continued deceleration of growth rates in per capita real GDP, it is more important than ever to make investments in Africa to reverse trends of regression. Ensuring that the economy of African nations increases the living standard of people living both on the continent and beyond is a value that is central to the work of AlumUnite. High productivity, opportunity and the provision of skill-building are all essential tools to seeing a more vibrant and progressive vision of Africa. By tapping into the wealth of alumni, AlumUnite expands the reach of Africa beyond the continent and increases opportunities to engage with opportunities and development across the world. We connect with African-led businesses and organisations, connecting alumni with capable talent, investment opportunities and mentoring opportunities. By giving priority to alumni-run businesses, we ensure that the connection amongst alumni continues to flourish.
Inequality is certainly an issue being faced by Africa, from education to household income, to access to the best spaces in the industry. We seek to close the widening gaps between Africa’s inhabitants through our unique investment strategy. Our crowdfunding investment model means that all our alumni have a direct investment in education budgets and structures on the continent. This direct investment allows greater engagement on the part of alumni and ensures that as many youths affected by these issues are adequately educated and empowered. Additionally, infrastructural changes such as providing necessities – clean water, books and transportation – to more advanced technological resources like internet access, electricity solutions, reduce disparities which contribute to low educational attainment and retention. Alongside infrastructural changes, AlumUnite works to increase opportunities beyond the continent by creating better access to scholarship opportunities, particularly for the most talented and under-privileged people on the continent.
Facilitating sustainable change
In focusing our education strategy in these areas, AlumUnite will inadvertently tackle other issues such as poverty, hunger and health concerns. The breadth of alumni concentrations in varying industries will serve to ensure further essential infrastructural changes which will result in a better standard of living in the communities impacted by AlumUnite’s members. At the heart of AlumUnite is a vision of change, driven by the people who care deeply about their nations. In setting up this initiative, the organisation has the short-term goal of connections and mobilisation, and the longer-term goal of tackling the deep structural issues which Africa continues to face today. By streamlining access, AlumUnite will make it easier than ever before to allow Africans to not only give back to the communities they love – but also help continue to ensure Africans have the opportunities necessary to contribute on an international and global scale.
By Renee Kapuku