hat jumps to your mind when you hear "Africa"? I immediately think of the reasons for the ongoing exodus, and how we might all get to the roots of the problem. It's been that way since the refugee crisis in 2015, when new images of desperate people crossing the Mediterranean headed towards Europe were added to the old pictures of starving children. Africa is three times bigger than the USA, and yet we see the continent as one country and thus fail to look closely.
Africa is made up of 55 countries: more than one billion people live here, and that number is expected to have doubled in 2050. Africa is young, and in fact there is hope, even if from an angle of which I hadn't been aware: the continent is being digitalized at a revolutionary rate. By the year 2020, plans are to have 60 percent of users linked to the broadband network and 700 million smartphones online. According to the World Bank, this boom will for the first time provide the continent with the impetus to develop from within. In Kenya, for example, apps are being developed for portable phones, be it for online payments or education. In Rwanda, this being flanked by conferences such as "eLearning Africa" at the new Kigali Convention Centre, and in South Africa the tradeshow „Meetings Africa“ is a regular at the Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg.
The Africa Summit 2018 at the Austria Center Vienna in context with the EU Council Presidency was titled: 'Taking cooperation to the digital age'. Austria's chancellor Sebastian Kurz talked about cooperating with Africa on equal terms, when he emphasized that "we need to take a new look at Africa without consistently focusing on poverty, imminence of migration and a disregard of human rights. We need a culture of understanding, an honest partnership." While some are talking about it, others are doing exactly that:
The re:publica, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, and Impact Hub Accra are establishing dialogue between Germany and Africa on digital issues and staged re:publica Accra in Ghana. It's due to the community that 2,000 participants attended: not only members in Ghana put in a lot of effort, teams in Nigeria branded their Facebook pages and profiles in the colors of re:publica Accra. Facebook and Whats-App are strong in Africa and disseminate the call for paper and the conference throughout the network. I had a look myself and I returned home with new images: keynote speaker Nanjala Nyabola and self-confident men and women over digital inventive spirits, enormous curiosity and openness all the way to pure joy of living.