My Africa: The Competing Visions of Africa’s Future

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“I have to start creating that pan-African vision I have in my head by actually doing something pan-African. By getting this content into homes in Ghana, the DRC, into bars in Zimbabwe – that is going to change the future.”

Isaac Oboth, the 26-year-old is the CEO of his own successful TV production company, having risked it all by quitting university to start Media265 in 2010.

Isaac’s business career started early. Both his parents had died by the time he was seven, leaving him with his brother Ivan, just a few years his senior. Then Ivan lost his job. Isaac remembers the day his brother came to school and asked him to start making money.

“It was a pivotal point for me, Ivan was my sole provider,” Isaac recalls. At rock bottom, as Ivan puts it, Isaac turned to rock buns – crumbly, fruity snacks also known as rock cakes. “This was my very first business venture – making these rock buns and selling them to kids from my school,” Isaac says. “I was 16 at the time and I’d make 400-500 every night.”

From rock buns Isaac turned to selling DVD photo albums, then pork and beer at rugby games, before eventually finding his niche in video production.

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“If you asked me if I’m a profit-maker or a film-maker, I’d say I’m a profit-making-film-maker,” he says. “The new Africa is made up of people like me – young businessmen that have started businesses from nothing and are paving a way with no template.”

This was the 1990s – before technology like mobile phones and the internet made the world seem both smaller and more accessible. It’s allowed people like Isaac to dream bigger. But young Africans are aware that the perception of Africa – especially in business – needs changing.

“My vision for Africa is one that is not corrupt,” Isaac Oboth says, “where business leads the way, where people get work on merit – not because you’re well-connected or you’re willing to give kickbacks – and where failure is punished.

“My vision for Africa is international,” he adds, “[but] an Africa that is self-reliant.”

Isaac is currently trying to produce an ambitious TV series called Discover Uganda, hoping for it to be screened across the entire continent.

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(Courtesy of Alan Kasujja:

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