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Julius Gatune Kariuki

Futurist Profile

 

Julius Gatune Kariuki

Julius Gatune Kariuki, a policy advisor at ACET, is a Kenyan national passionate about Africa’s future. He has a multi-disciplinary background covering engineering, computer science, business administration and policy analysis.

Julius has particular interest in investigating the drivers of Africa futures and in understanding what leverage Africa has in shaping desired futures. His other interests include knowledge diffusion, the role of ICTs in development and what strategies are needed to embed inclusive business practices in Africa.

Julius Gatune Kariuki answered a few questions about his perspective and on being a futures thinker.

ABOUT YOU AS A FUTURES THINKER / PRACTITIONER

You identify yourself as an African futures thinker or practitioner. How would you describe to the woman or man on the street what it is that you do in this regard?

I think about what is happening on the ground (what I see and what I hear). Then I try to think what is driving these trends and then from there I envision how these trends could play out in the future.

How many years have you worked as an African futures thinker / practitioner?

Five Years

In which countries or places have you had working experience as an African futures thinker / practitioner?

US, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Liberia.

In what languages have you undertaken futures / foresight related work or research?

English

What is it that motivates you to work or participate in the foresight / future studies / related field

Because I think transformation that is beneficial to human livelihood can only come from long term thinking.

What goal/s would you most like to reach with your work as an African futures thinker / practitioner?

I want to influence development of institutions that entrench long term policy analysis and long term visioning in development planning.

Who or what most influenced your thinking as a futures thinker / practitioner, and how?

Fred Pardee, Jim Dewar (Rand), and Barry Hughes ( University of Denver), Adil Najam (Boston University).

What is your main disciplinary background? (i.e. your primary training / qualification)

Engineering, computer science and Policy Analysis. And working at the RAND Corporation.

How do other people describe you and how do you describe yourself?

Others describe me as… a think-tank

I describe myself as… bold

 

YOUR PERSPECTIVE

What is one of your favourite quotes about the future?

"If we do not know the consequences of our choices, our freedom to choose is an illusion. Hence, no freedom exists without forecasting."

How would you describe the state of African futures thinking right now?

Nascent but developing rapidly. There is a wave of visioning exercises being done. We have people expanding their planning horizon. Though this could be a fad for now at the end of this enthusiasm we should have a core group of future thinkers to move to sustain the trend.

What is, in your opinion, the main barrier to uptake of futures knowledge by African institutions and organisations?

  • Lack of understanding what futures knowledge is.
  • Confusion of futures thinking and prediction.
  • Political economy that entrenches short term thinking.

If you were to give advice to someone who wants a career in African foresight / future studies, what would you say to him or her?

Be an expert in a traditional field first to get the respect of a serious scholar. Then learn the tools and methods of foresight and integrate them to your background. So be a future researcher using your specialized expertise as the launch.

What are your recommended readings for every African futures thinker / practitioner?

  • History books (Africa and the world) to get a solid understanding of how we got here.
  • Current (International) affairs magazine to understand current trend.
  • Economics, demography and developments in technology.

What are your recommendations for other favourite futures resources: websites, newsfeeds, mailing lists, associations, etc.?

  • Futures Journals
  • Foreign Affairs magazine
  • Economist
  • African business
  • Africa confidential

 

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