Crushing Dreams - On Leaders Today in Developing Nations
Upon achieving adulthood, and in some cases teenhood, and thus independence (and its responsibility), young people quickly realize and in most cases are forced to realize being "on your own" isn't especially rewarding unto itself, and friendships are a result of a series of necessary decisions related to survival. While possibly enjoying their unique growth under a familial yet authoritative roof, dreaming of a happy life ahead, most individuals entering maturity are not prepared and do not have a plan to achieve their dreams.
The astute among us will advise there is no reward without risk, but know most humans will not enter the realm of the unknown alone. Across the equatorial belt of our world, many nations have similarly gained the power to choose their own fate. No longer are they required to contribute to their protective overlords, and taxes (fees) once levied to cover the costs of extracting and distributing their earthly resources are now at their disposal, as well as the cumbersome administration of those tasks resting squarely in their hands, as they now expect to keep their own house in order.
To compete and survive, business partnerships aka strategic alliances are formed for the same basic reasons; some for the short-term and some their long-term benefit. In this modern era of nations achieving independence - well, actually leaders finally proclaim the state independent - and becoming free, they too soon find themselves quite unprepared for the cruel reality of competing in order to survive. They need energy, and energy is not freely obtained.
Public Private Partnerships are a clue to success.
When a corporation chooses a partner, it offers a piece of an existing pie as an incentive, a slice of profits at the end of the day, or a willingness to pursue new dreams together based on a collective proprietary asset strength - yet a vision of success conceived due to the mutually recognized discovery of new product buyers, likely simply too many buyers to manage single-handedly and a bureaucratic process of selling deemed undoubtedly too onerous.
Nations becoming free are freed to compete against other nations alone, and attempt on an economic scale to increase their Gross National Product and others numbers that matter to administrators of governments and banks and, of course, private individuals who benefit most from manufacturing cars, computers or coffee, both their export and sale on a global level.
I've found people around the world - though admittedly specifically men - enjoy two seemingly opposite things: breeding and fighting. Generalizing, men and women also seem to enjoy watching people breed and fight. It seems to me we derive pleasure from both rather obviously competitive activities, and either can be planned carefully or occur spontaneously. As we continue to do both (as we have and will forever), at their conclusion, however satisfying, success is a relative term.
Developing nations' leaders must plan to share newfound wealth.
As has been plainly stated by many an actor in many a movie about tyrants, despots and dictators, people at their best have the ability to offer life and then at their worst in an instant take it away. I'm sure there are many professional arguments that explain clinically why we humans do both to each other, and so it becomes crucial to examine the time we humans are given between birth and death, and how we choose to spend it.
One day we can be loving and caring, the next quite spiteful and selfish.
People will fight for their rights, fight in the schoolyard and fight for money; corporations will fight for shares, marketshare and mindshare, while nations will fight to acquire land, control resources and vanquish people. As we all know, in each case, it's about exercising power and (aforementioned) freedom. Across the several continents visited these past few years I've noticed a few things about people: men, women, young, old, fortunate or less fortunate, rich and poor.
Balancing their time and my own, I've learnt a lot from the billionaires and millionaires I've met along the way, whether educated at our world's finest institutions or The School of Hard Knocks, living life to the fullest or living on the street, standing upon a mountaintop and sitting on a parkbench, as well as listening to the urban downtrodden and occasionally depressed, who all had something intelligent to say, an experience to share and a lesson to impart.
Between the respected truisms of your parents and incredibly witty lyrics, I was once taught The Golden Rule by the owner of an ad agency in Toronto, and of course everyone knows the golden rule: He who has the gold makes the rules. Yet this piece of sage advice is and has always been balanced by a few other gems, like, money doesn't grow on trees, you get what you pay for, nothing in this life is free and crime doesn't pay.
As an aside, regarding the latter, when completing a Risk Analysis for a client in the investment world and applying this to the launch of a new nation or the maturation of an old company, I found that people are singularly the biggest risk in any business plan. This is offset by two others: if you want something done right, do it yourself, and if you want something done, give it to a busy person.
The growth of nations requires balancing time, energy and effort.
Reverting to nations, in 1962 Jamaica gained its independence from Britain. I've visited many times - the first as a 17 year-old lad, when the nation was at war with each other: the forces of Manley versus those of Seaga (between them was Bob Marley). Three years ago, as CEO of Solamon, I visited again and on behalf of the people pitched solar power on a commercial scale, both grid-tied and off-grid solutions to hopefully solve their energy crisis, which was prompting violent civil unrest - due to a lack of power - particularly in Kingston, the capital.
Nicaragua achieved its independence from Spain in 1821. Upon being invited (and being a fan of The Clash and their album Sandinista) I visited that country a few years ago and pitched large-scale solar arrays to their leaders, due to the availability of land on a very large scale - in fact so much land was available I suggested the nation could one day become a net exporter of energy via the SIEPAC line. Still at odds, the Ortega family run the Sandinista government, while the Pellas' control the corporate world and over 600 businesses.
Shortly after the conclusion of World War II, in 1948 Britain granted Ceylon its independence, which then in 1972 became the Republic of Sri Lanka. I visited the island shortly after their recent catastrophic tsunami and, alongside several business partners, fervently discussed with their Minister of Energy - who had written the book on Green Energy - the implementation of a series of local solar farms to support growing communities and provide energy across an island reeling from a disastrous civil war that had lasted 26 years, ending in 2009.
This past year I've had the pleasure of visiting Ghana twice, a country that gained its independence - the first black African country to do so - in 1960 (also from Britain), when visionary Dr Kwame Nkrumah declared the country a republic, though then a few years later in 1964 declaring himself president for life and banning all opposition parties. A peaceful movement toward an independent Ghana had actually begun in 1957, and in her speech by The Duchess of Kent relaying a commonwealth message from the Queen said:
"The hopes of many, especially in Africa, hang on your endeavours. It is my earnest and confident belief that my people in Ghana will go forward in freedom and justice." In reply, Dr Nkrumah said: "My government fully realises both the advantages and the responsibilities involved in the achievement of independence. It intends to make full use of these advantages to increase the prosperity of the country."
In addition to their independence and lying in an area of the world called the Sunbelt, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Sri Lanka and Ghana share something else in common today: a lack of energy, specifically electricity. Their governments cannot supply power to the people that they truly need. The young people I've met in these four countries all believe in "the dream" of being happy, owning their own house, likely a car, most importantly a cell phone, and perhaps a television and in their wildest dreams a fridge, one with a bounty of food.
From a Ghanaian I learned the (blunt) phrase "no food for the lazy man", while in Nicaragua: "We need to feed our children"; a Sri Lankan told me "when the flame goes out, there is nothing," and a Jamaican once sang proudly: "Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights. Get up, stand up, don’t give up the fight.” Indeed, the last is a lyric of the late Bob Marley, though contains a universal message of unity and hope for all nations, now independent and facing the challenges of competing on a global level, offering a share in their natural resources.
The content of their character is driven forward by leaders.
Nations - in particular so-called leaders - derive their power from the people, and hence have a duty, and a responsibility to hand it back. The sun's rays are free, and when absorbed can be transformed into energy, electricity and power, and the sun's rays are plentiful in the four countries mentioned. Coal and oil are not free, yet certainly are offered today as an incentive to attain short-term growth.
If the leaders of these governments truly believe otherwise then the people should choose to deliver power unto themselves, and build their own off-grid solar power plants; microgrids to power their homes, offices, factories, schools or hospitals and simply stop their developing nations from relying on foreign businesses to sell them a carbon-fueled and obviously unsustainable future for their children.
I have a dream: that the leaders of developing nations - filled with promise and hope, and people with great character - will share their power and not merely sell it, or worse sell out their nation to the highest bidder.