Forbes under 30 shows Uganda’s flaw

Forbes Africa Magazine has announced its “30 under 30” list of luminaries for 2019. The listing, now in its 5th edition, is easily the region’s most rigorous measure of young grit, innovation and entrepreneurship. But if this list is anything to go by, then Uganda has a bit of soul-searching to do regarding her young generation’s  innovation and entrepreneurship grit.

Making to the list from Uganda this year are Patricia Apolot, a kickboxer; Jean Seninde a footballer, and Jacob Kiplimo an athlete- meaning that all Uganda’s listers are sports people, running on talent and personal grit rather than benefitting from school acquired technical skill and education.

It also means that although the country is feted as one of the most entrepreneurial in the world, its entrepreneurship lacks grit and resilience,  and therefore most likely tends to die off in infancy, confirming the country’s known high business infancy mortality rate.

Traditionally, Forbes Africa has assessed entrepreneurship in three areas: Technology, business and creatives. However this year, a fourth category of sports was added.

According to Forbes Africa, the list is “the most definitive of Africa’s most promising young change makers who are building brands, creating jobs and representing and transforming the continent. It is a list of young people who are  resilient, self-starters, innovators, disruptors and entrepreneurs who have acumen to blaze the trails.”

To make it to the list one goes through the process of nomination, vetting, vigorous investigation, verification specifically looking out for entrepreneurs with new ideas, taking into account the size of their business, revenue, location, potential, its struggles, social impact and resilience.

From Forbes Africa’s list of 120 (30 finalists for each of the four categories), it is clear that Africa’s young innovation and entrepreneurship hubs are South Africa, Nigera and Kenya which are heavily represented especially in the tech and business segments. Of the 120 finalists, for example, South Africa alone contributed 36, Nigeria 22 while Kenya had 15. This means that these top three shared 73 positions amongst themselves, while the rest of the 51 African countries shared 47 places. In fact many countries didn’t have a single person making it to the list.

In the business category alone, South Africa had 12 while Nigeria had 9 out of the total of 30- meaning that the two biggest economies on the continent  shared 21 of the 30 places amongst themselves.

Forbes Africa said of the list: “You may not necessarily know them now but they could be the billionaires of tomorrow gracing our future covers.”

Last year, Uganda had only one person, Kevin Lubega of Eezy Money making it to the list.

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