On Sunday, July 13th, technologist, philanthropist & business leader Bill Gates delivered the 14th Annual Nelson Mandela Lecture to a packed house of over 3,000 at the University of Pretoria, Mamelodi Campus. Ninel Musson, Director, and Idil Issa, Communications Manager with the African Leadership Network Foundation, were in attendance. The subject of Gates’ lecture, Living Together, was timely and appropriate in such fractious and contentious times. Gates began his lecture by chronicling his interactions with Nelson Mandela.
“I can’t think of a greater honour than giving a lecture named after Nelson Mandela,” said Gates. “Living together was also the theme of Nelson Mandela’s life.”
Gates set out to explore what South Africa, Africa, and the world could become and what needs to be done to create that positive change.
Referencing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Gates noted that these benchmarks laid a foundation that enabled the world, including Africa, to achieve extraordinary progress over the past 15 years. The revamped Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set even more ambitious targets for creating the better world we all want. Gates noted that child mortality has been reduced by 54% in Sub-Saharan Africa since the MDGs were first set. Despite the economic growth detectable in Africa, the Africa Rising narrative doesn’t tell the full story. Because of economic inequality, within countries and between countries, the ideal of living together remains elusive.
Nevertheless, Gates said he is optimistic about the future of the continent of Africa. A specific bright spot for Gates, is the startup scene.
“The African entrepreneurs driving startup booms in the silicon savannahs, from Johannesburg & Cape Town, to Lagos & Nairobi, are just as young in chronological age, but also in their outlook. The thousands of businesses they are creating are already changing daily life across the continent.”
For Gates, Africa is the world’s youngest continent, and its youth can be the source of a special dynamism. The greatest contributor to Africa’s economic growth is grey matter infrastructure, which can only be built when the basic needs of Africa’s youth are fulfilled. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has already invested 9 billion in Africa, and plans to invest an additional 5 billion on the continent to address some of these basic needs.
Next, Gates shifted to the importance of education to the future of Africa.
“A good education is the best lever we have for giving every young person a chance to make the most of their lives.”
High quality public universities are needed to launch the next generation of scientists, entrepreneurs, educators, and government leaders.
Gates ended on a positive note;
“If there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s this; Africa can achieve the future it aspires to….Let’s do everything within our power right now to help build the future that Nelson Mandela dreamed of and the future that we will achieve together.”
To watch the full lecture, click here.
How are you spending your #MandelaDay? Will you contribute #67minutes to social causes today in memory of Nelson Mandela?