Uyi Stewart

Let’s start by surveying the trajectory of the U.S.A. real quick. With rudimentary education standards on the decline, soaring costs of higher education combined with the shrinking number of well-paying gigs (and the slow erasure of the middle class), scientist Uyi Stewart presents an invitation filled with promise.

The Nigerian-born scientist has lent his genius in countries outside of the continent for more than 20 years, but he’s since come back as part of a tidal wave of talent returning to Africa. African Voices cites a new report from the African Development Bank that states the vast continent is the fastest growing in the planet.

Innovative giant IBM finally got hip to the game and opened its first research facility in Africa – Nairobi, Kenya to be exact. Otherwise known as the “African Silicon Savannah,” IBM joins a slew of firms shaping the scientific & technological landscape. Stewart’s currently holding it down as head of IBM’s Innovation Lab where he hopes to leverage the rapid growth of Africa’s emerging markets and continue IBM’s longstanding tradition in research breakthroughs, African Voices reports.

“As I build and design I have got to understand that the majority of my people live [on] under less than two dollars a day,” he says. “[The] majority of my people only speak one language — so think about those things — that whole holistic view allows technological innovation to be relevant to the community. That is what we’re calling Africanized solutions.”

Stewart is one of many exceptionally accomplished and motivated individuals returning to the land of their birth. This process has aptly been referred to as the reversal of continental “brain drain.”

“All innovators in the continent of Africa should be problem centric,” Stewart asserts. “What problems are we trying to solve and ask yourself, at the end, ‘who is going to use it?’ If you ask those two questions then we can begin to talk about sustainability.”

“It’s easy to talk about giving back but when the opportunity presents itself — such as IBM Research Africa that allows you to create innovations in science and technology to begin to make a proper impact in the lives of more than a billion people — I don’t know what more can stop anybody,” Stewart says.

Rapid growth is tied to a rise in innovative and prosperous career paths in Africa. Opportunities in business, marketing, design, entertainment, and more, are burgeoning. Outside of Nairobi’s “Silicon Savannah,” cities across the continent host exciting prospects for those looking to get on the ground floor of something meaningful, inspiring – and very likely – lucrative.

“I am part of the Diaspora and I am home… And I am saying ‘let’s come back, there is just so much’; the winds of change [are] massive — let’s come back and make a difference… There is a tremendous potential for skill of impact when you innovate.” The invitation extends not only to those born in the continent, but to all members of the Diaspora, and beyond: With open arms, Africa rises.

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