Big Ideas In February Tiny Talk: The Future Is Africa

by Jessica McKenzie, Assistant Features Editor 

Manhattan College students were treated to a Tiny Talk called “The Future Is Africa” on Wed., Feb. 5 by sophomore early childhood education major, Mamaby Ballo. Tiny Talks are held every other Wednesday in the Multicultural Center.

Ballo is the CEO and founder of Help Kids in Côte d’Ivoire, a non-profit organization that aims to pay for one year of schooling for children in a safe and innovative space. The organization was founded five years ago when Ballo was thirteen years old, visiting family in Côte d’Ivoire, Africa. So far, the organization has reached over 2,000 kids.

“I fell in love with the kids’ energy. They were happy with what they have, running around and playing, and that’s what brought me to start a nonprofit to help them,” Ballo said.

Ballo made it clear to her standing-room audience in the Multicultural Center that though Africa is poor, it is not the jobless, malnourished continent that much of the media portrays it to be. It actually has one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

Since 2000, the number of African children enrolled in primary schools has increased from 6 million to 150 million.

“The future Africa leads to its population growth, technology advancement, infrastructure growth and economy boom,” Ballo said.

Africa contains 54 countries, natural resources that hold 30 percent of the world’s known mineral reserves, over 1,500 languages and about 1.216 billion people. The population of Africa is estimated to increase from 1 billion in 2016 to 3 billion in 2065.

“Africa will start to look like Dubai. It will start to look like Egypt. You will want to travel there,” Ballo said.

Tech startups across Africa have raised over 129 million and investment fundings in 2016.

Africa is home to many entrepreneurs, such as singer Akon. Akon has started his own cryptocurrency and solar panels, creating a multimillion dollar company. Akon owes much of his success to his sister, Khady Thiam Gueye. Countries across Africa will now be changing their currency for the first time since 1954. France will have 50 percent of their reserves.

Another successful entrepreneur is Nigerian Temitope Ogunsemi. He founded Krystal Digital, a fast-growing educational technology company that has reached fifty schools.

South African Mosa is another entrepreneur that Ballo admires. Mosa is the co-founder of a solar business that works to provide clean, affordable energy and West African countries.

Ballo holds an admiration for the successful women of Africa. She shared that the tallest building in Africa is 55 stories, built by 50 female architects.

“Women in Africa have recently found an improvement in governmental equality, they are actually being treated fairly,” Ballo said.

Africa holds notable achievements in medicine and dentistry. Cape Town University has been declared the number one spot for its dentistry and as Western medicine. Countries such as the U.S. and France rely on the continent of Africa for medical issues such as the cure for malaria. 16 countries in Africa report higher ratings of vaccinations than the U.S. alone.

Though Africa has had many astounding achievements that are often overlooked internationally, Ballo acknowledges that the people of Africa are the reason for every one of Africa’s successes.

“The people In Africa are the core to everything. They are the main reasons people travel [to Africa],” Ballo said.

On March 8, Ballo will be hosting a Women’s Day brunch to fundraise for providing menstrual hygiene products to 300 young women of Côte d’Ivoire. This event will take place in The Conversation Room at 653 Malcom X Blvd from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

“Africa is an opportunity that is being shaped by and for the African people,” Ballo said.