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Aidan Eyakuze

Our monthly profile of a futurist from the African continent

Aidan Eyakuze, futuristMeet Aidan Eyakuze, African futurist.  Interesting is how others describe him; curious is how he describes himself.  "I am naturally curious about the world around me," he says.

 

Born in Tanzania in 1969, Aidan has been a futurist for twelve years.  Yet he didn’t choose foresight; it chose him.  Says Aidan, "I was found by the opportunity to explore the world of global economics in a paper, and found myself going down the proverbial rabbit hole of possibilities and alternative futures."  That rabbit hole revealed itself when Betty Maina, the current Chief Executive Officer of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers, asked him to write about the impact of globalisation on Kenya’s economy.

 

Next came a workshop facilitated by futurist Barbara Heinzen, and Aidan jumped headlong into the rabbit hole, ruffling a few feathers as he went.  By 2001, he was playing a major role in the Tanzania Scenarios Project. "I have not looked back since," he says.

 

Aidan’s goals for his own foresight work are:

  • To inject real futures-thinking into the decision-making processes in African countries.  "The forecasts and plans that are constantly displayed seem to fall way short of the fast-changing and complex world that they are supposed to succeed in," he explains.
  • To use futures work to infuse a little more humility, combined with some informed opportunism, into African policy-making.

     

    The main barrier to uptake of African foresight knowledge, Aidan tells us, is old-fashioned thinking that classifies and boxes phenomena too much, without exploring the unexpected connections between them.  African foresight production is expanding and its community growing slowly but application remains a challenge.  Influence on decision-making is where foresight application lags.  "I think it is more advanced in South Africa compared to most of the continent," opines Aidan.

     

    For those young Africans who dream of becoming futurists, Aidan has this advice:

    • Stretch your intellect, but feed your inner child's wonder.
    • Think in wide and unexpected directions.
    • Read as widely as you can, especially books by good storytellers such as J.R.R. Tolkien, Chinua Achebe and Mark Twain, because you will need to develop great imagination and word craft to succeed.
    • Read Three Uses of the Knife by David Mamet.  It’s a book about writing good drama, but it is also a great primer for how to think about and handle life itself.

       

      Asked about when and where he does his best thinking, Aidan offered this response: "I do my best thinking at home between 5.30am and 7am in the mornings, and on long flights sitting at a window seat looking at the clouds beneath me."

       

      Aidan Frederick Eyakuze is project director of Society for International Development and a Director at Serengeti Advisers Limited, a Tanzania-based consultancy.  He has a Master of Arts in Economics from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada.  Email Aidan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

       

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