Africa’s ‘national heroes’ leave for greener pastures

Africa is losing two of its leading mind experts and experts on innovation who have put the continent on the world map. In 2014 Nelson Mandela was named the UN’s first global Goodwill Ambassador for Global Innovation. Nelson has only been away for two months. And these are just two examples.

Over the past 12 months, Dickson Nyakundi and John Claude Mudangwa have both left Africa to pursue their interests. Dickson, 66, is leaving Uganda, his country of birth. He is settling in Europe where he has already launched a project to create a cleaner energy project where solar panels take over from power lines in Uganda. John, a 44-year-old leader in the technological world, is going for a job in Silicon Valley. He founded Africa Exchange and according to the company website this is “an organisation driven by the realization that certain business models enable us to invest in innovation and growth and these business models can benefit Africa and its people”.

Both parties have given the following reasons for their decisions: their abilities, ambitions, jobs and the opportunity to have a life outside the continent, said Nyakundi. Now that he is no longer thinking about Africa or helping his community, he feels free and is finding the term “national hero” funny, he adds. He leaves behind a home which is suffering as more and more young people leave to find jobs abroad.

Nyakundi has argued for the need to build Africa’s capacity in science, technology and innovation. His “America for Africa” project aims to strengthen Africa’s financial capability to be able to finance innovative projects.

John Mudangwa, who is from Harare, says this job that he had was just not a good fit for him. It was a job that he was assigned to and the one that seemed to fit into his mission for African invention, and perhaps there was something he needed to put on the back burner because it was not ‘his field’, Mudangwa stated.

The feeling of loneliness is not far away for his wife who is still worried about his disappearance. John is completely dedicated to his work and he now says the progress of his employers was more important than his wife at the moment.

Uganda at the Global Energy Forum

During his stay in Kampala, Nelson Mandela participated in the ITU Global Energy Forum and co-chaired the issue of energy innovations. The former President of South Africa published his special report at the Forum on how the energy revolution can change the future for people everywhere. He continues to inspire young people today, Nelson Madikizela-Mandela has since become a mentor for many innovative technologies.

Nelson Mandela has declared that science and technology and innovation is the path to addressing the challenges of our planet, country and people. His vision is to transform Africa from being a nation of subsistence farmers and tea pickers to a knowledge-based society, one which produces and exchanges information and technologies in order to achieve economic, social and political emancipation.

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