Group Chief Commercial Officer of MTN, Mr. Selorm Adadevoh has called for a change in mindset from Africans if the continent intends to be a frontrunner in the world of technology in order to achieve the level of development it hopes for.

“I would start off with something which is very simple which our mindset and I say mindset because the chain of influencing infrastructure transformation start off with how we ourselves believe in the journey that is required for what sacrifices we are willing to make to get Africa to turn around in terms of infrastructure;

Mr. Adadevoh suggests that for Africa to achieve the full benefits of investing in technological infrastructure, there must be strong interest generated within our educational system, centred on the youth and their skills acquisition.

“If you look at our educational system, trying to build a demand for technology, innovation and solutions; I would actually start that journey with an investment in education and significantly transforming our education system and education infrastructure towards a more digital one. We talk about the power of our youth and looking at the over 70% of our population that is below 25 years and that is a very powerful tool. If we invest in the infrastructure without investing in the skills then we will never seek to derive the benefits from investing in the infrastructure to enable us to continue to invest in infrastructure.

Continuing from tailoring Africa’s education system and investing in technological infrastructure, Mr Adedavoh spoke about the opportunities available in Africa in terms of facilitating trade and prosperity.

“When we think of an African single market, one of the biggest opportunities we have is trade facilitation across borders. We have payment systems to enable payment across borders. Today MTN exists in Nigeria and in Ghana, but I can’t complete a transaction between my Nigeria mobile money wallet and that of my Ghana mobile money wallet because there is a barrier in-between, which is a regulatory barrier”.

Speaking on panel at the on-going three-day African Prosperity Dialogues  at the Peduase Presidential Lodge, Aburi Hills, the Group CCO of MTN added that,

“We can do a lot in the market, what we are doing is providing the platforms so that these transactions can be facilitated. But MTN on its own cannot complete the entire chain that is required to complete the transaction. Everything else has to fall in place, and this is what I mean by the mindset has to change”.

Yesterday, at the first day of the Prosperity Dialogues, other leaders present argued for the private sector to lead the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). But this can be achieved with the help of the public sector and the private sector partnering to ensure the smooth facilitation of these AfCFTA objectives.

“In other markets, where we take regulatory frameworks from Europe, from US and other markets, all of these markets have advanced to pull down the barriers of trade across borders. But somehow, in Africa we insist on having these barriers exist and yet have ambitions to leapfrog what’s happening in other markets that did what we should be doing 15, 20 years ago. I did not know when the right time is for us to make some of these bold decisions that will allow us to facilitate trade amongst ourselves”.

Mr Adedavoh lamented on how Africa has not appreciated the works and talents of its talented generation in the field of technology for our development. He believes the best way to move Africa forward, then our mindset on investing in the continent must change. 

“Today we have sold our birthright completely. If I take all the payments systems and the payment companies that have had IPOs and that have had big investments come in. Talk about Flutterwave, talk about Paystack; all these guys have taken a product and service that was built within the Continent and have sold it outside the Continent because invariably their opportunities have not been appreciated by ourselves”.

“So I mean how do we take what we have, and brace what we have and enable ourselves amongst us to leverage the power of what we have. I Will end by saying let’s not continue to sell our birthright, that is; a mindset shift will be required. If we’re really serious about creating innovation from within and expanding infrastructure, then our mindset of investment into the country and Continent also has to change significantly”.