It is built certainly through major economic and political orientations (democratic alterations in more and more countries, dynamism of growth), but it also passes through almost imperceptible changes in African societies.
Jean-Yves Ollivier French businessman hired for more than forty years in Africa
AFRICA – The Africa of tomorrow is built certainly through major economic and political orientations (democratic alterations in more and more countries, dynamism of growth), but it also passes through almost imperceptible changes in African societies. As such, the craze of the continent for mobile telephony reflects a true revolution and a clear desire on the part of Africans to be “connected”.
The mobile phone has revolutionized everyday life in Africa. Since the turn of the millennium, within a generation, the number of “small carriers” of mobile communication has increased from 20 million to nearly 600 million on a continent that today has thirty times more mobile than fixed lines. This big leap forward is doubly surprising: first, for once, technology has really helped to “skip the steps”; second, the poorest population in the world has invested primarily in communication. There are, perhaps, lessons to be learned.
Why, from the moment their survival is assured, do poor people spend their money to communicate?
A priori , it is assumed that they would rather seek treatment, better housing or to train more to climb the social ladder through the anabolic that is education. But in reality, the laptop has supplanted emergencies that would be more vital than the need to phone. In other words, the priorities of the needy are not so obvious. We must make an effort to understand that for them, the return on a dollar invested in communication is greater than that of a dollar invested in health or education. Remember that this sum, quite derisory for us, represents for many Africans a day of their life, a turn of the dial in expenses.
The call for help is priceless and, at the end of the cell phone, the “live” control of voting operations is more for democracy in Africa than all transparent ballot boxes sent from abroad.
However, south of the Sahara, nothing is more solidly shared than power cuts and other power cuts: from Senegal to South Africa, passing (almost) everywhere, the machines strangled, the lights s’ faint, refrigerators shake and fans flutter at any time of day and night. At the point where “black” Africa seems to designate a disconnected subcontinent.
In English-speaking countries, word games can not be counted on the power – both electricity and power – which, decidedly, eludes the people.
Is it not time to recognize that people are rarely mistaken about their most basic needs?
I know it’s frowned upon to make fun of charity, which often starts with hospital and school. But by spending their own money, which is at least counted, the poorest reveal other priorities. For them, the energy and the communication routes – the road, the railway, the boats, the plane, the telephone and, more and more, the internet – are their most precious assets.
Africans want their country to “turn around” and to be able to join easily and reach the outside world, from the nearest city to the most distant alien through the capital. In short, they want to be “connected”, without any snobbery.
Who could give them wrong?
The world being what it is, to be big and open, investing in education in Africa is, if successful, to provide skilled labor to the richest countries, where life is good . The “brain drain” is a reality.
Let’s look around: the best trained Africans are our neighbors, always quick to remind us that their “brothers in the country” are suffering for lack of school and health care.
That’s not what the people themselves say. Those who remain know well that the knowledge to get out is not learned on the school-unless “to get by” means to go to the West. They also know that in the hospital we only repair what we would do better not to break at first, namely the little people like them. For that to happen, the country must turn and have their products and information circulating.
I can already hear the cries of goldsmith
No, I’m not an ambulance gunner! I only stick my ear to the ground and try to learn from the mistakes of the past. For a long time, believing themselves to be smarter than everyone else, the “developers” praised the African village – idealized – while the cities of the continent did not stop inflating.
Today, the urbanization of Africa is a fait accompli but poorly lived in inadequate infrastructure. Would not it have been better to trust the interested parties, who knew why they were clinging, no matter what, even to megacities such as Lagos, Kinshasa or Johannesburg?
As tenuous as it is, the chance to be “in the know” in the city is better than the certainty of sticking to the glebe. In the same way, now, it should be clear that the future of Africa is not played in classrooms or waiting rooms.
Of course, school and hospital are essential. But Africa spends her life on the phone.