What inspired you to write this book?
Dr Richard Munang: The paradox of desperate lack amidst plenty in Africa was the primary motivator. Over time I have come to realise that the biggest causative factor is that, in Africa, attention has always been on physical resources – the minerals, oil, etc. – as the greatest resource the continent has to offer; the continent’s greatest capital. This is a big misconception. Attention has to be on the people and what they can do to drive the continent’s transformation. So, taking the spotlight away from minerals and directing it squarely onto the people as the sovereign capital, and what they can, need to and must do to accelerate the continent’s transformation to erase this paradox is the inspiration behind this book. To make this book readable, I weave in my own story – of facing odds and how, through the application of simple principles of success, I overcame them. I encourage readers to also face their odds boldly and overcome them for their own sake and that of the continent.
Can you summarise your book in one or two sentences?
RM: Look not unto Africa’s physical resources only to accelerate socioeconomic transformation under the changing climate. People, especially the youth and the talents, skills, energy and creativity they represent, is the sovereign capital to be invested in catalytic sectors for this acceleration to happen.
Why do you think this book will appeal to readers?
RM: The book seeks to answer a common question in the minds of diverse people – researchers, practicing development economists and policy makers, climate scientists, political scientists, diplomats, politicians, ordinary private citizens: How can Africa pull itself out of the paradox of desperate lack amidst plenty, under the cloud of the changing climate, and what is it I can do? The book is also written in a readable form for both technical and non-technical audiences by personifying my life and the basic principles of success I used to change my fortunes, which makes for an interesting human story.
How is this book relevant in today’s society?
RM: It speaks to relevant development issues in which the entirety of society today holds a stake in: the need to create socioeconomic opportunities amidst a changing climate. It assigns society the responsibility for solutions.
What makes your book different from other books like it?
RM: A lot has been written about Africa’s development. But I have yet to see a book that steers away from physical resources to combine the people and what they do and apply this to the maximising of the productivity of catalytic sectors as a solution. I have also yet to see a book that tells an interesting human story to personify the basic principles of success that can be mirrored to drive country or continental development.
In this book, I share what each and every one of us can do, using what they have, to build this shining city on the hill. I use my own life story, where, faced with stark odds to start with, I overcome them at every turn. This is what millions of other people across Africa and the globe are doing every single day and will continue to do for years to come. So, take courage, my friends, challenges are there to be overcome. Don’t you dare capitulate!
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Dr Richard Munang is Africa Climate Change & Development Policy Expert. He tweets as @RichardMunang