Africa: A Mysterious Continent

Western Africa (UN Statistics Division subregion) [In dark green color]

Western Africa (UN Statistics Division subregion) [In dark green color]

Why mysterious?
2 simple reasons, either there is no information or there is mostly the negative information about Africa. We may know a lot about it, but maybe nothing accurate at all. So I have started exploring Africa and this text is a small effort to help others understand this continent.

Why Africa?

Africa is fascinating for every curious person. It is a continent where mankind has been suggested to be born, ancient civilizations were flourished and maybe the world’s first language has been developed. Since the time I started studying History in the school, Africa gave me a clue to understanding. Especially the Egyptian civilization and innovation that were made that are still relevant today.

Yet, most of the time, any news coming out of Africa is filled with negative information. On the request of a good friend of Africa, I am sharing some general information about Africa for those who don’t really know this continent. It is entirely based on my 7-8 years of continuous study of this region, talking to individuals in Algerian Government to an individual in war stricken Somalia, this region has lot of offer for explorers and allow me to share my own insight.

My link with Africa

My connection started with a project on South Africa, that I did for UNDP in the year 2008. Later, during my master’s study in Denmark, I personally met individuals from Somalia, Ghana, and South Africa; countries about which I only heard or read in the news. But, my connection has become strengthened through ‘Zero Cost MBA’ project.

I studied every sub-region of Africa in great detail, mapped out economic differences, and interacted with citizens, NGO’s, and even governments professionals for voluntary translation of my work. Indirectly helping NGO’s from Somalia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone in fund-raising and other self-designed projects allowed me to understand ground realities even better. During this duration, I met someone from Sudan in a restaurant, from Nigeria in an online course, a journalist from Kenya to study Swahili, a German learner from Eritrea, to my language exchange partners from Arabic speaking regions of North Africa. All the interactions were fruitful and helped me to understand things better.

My observations

1) Diversity:

Be it languages, geography, ethnicity, or cultural traditions, Africa outnumbers every other part of the world. From the forest in Botswana to desert in Sahara, from a small country in the east like Guinea to recent peace ties between Ethiopia and Eritrea, this continent is rich in diversity. In Nigeria alone, there are 3 different regions with 3 different languages and cultural practices. Talking about the lifestyle, some of the tribes in Africa are still practicing nomadic just life like their peers in Amazon forest.

2) Economic variation:

Contrary to the perception that Africa is poor, the reality is quite the opposite. On dividing this continent into sub-regions, the answer becomes much more clear. Several regions of Africa have grown substantially and witnessed impressive growth outperforming many developed countries. There are many regions, but Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique are countries worth remembering other than already established economies of northern Africa.

3) Connection with the outside world:

It can be either in-person or through the internet. This is one aspect where I agree with a lot of economic survey reports. Africa fairs very low on internet penetration and I have experienced it first hand when trying to find individuals in some regions of Africa. Cities may fair-good but connectivity is still poor in many rural areas, though it is growing and huge growth in mobile payments shows a positive story. As the time of writing this article, more people have added to digital space than the number of words in the entire text.

4) Demography:

It’s most easily available information. The population of Africa is growing at a higher pace than slow growth rate countries like Germany, Japan etc. With lack of economic opportunities and conflicts in some regions, every now and then, migrant boats from Northern Africa are making headlines. Conditions of drought year after year have also made things difficult. A higher population can be advantageous or disadvantageous, but it is mostly disadvantageous so far in the case of Africa. It has been most visible in the healthcare sector when I happened to see a few numbers while helping out an NGO’s in Nigeria.

5) Politics:

It is the least interesting yet most important theme during my studies of Africa. Contrary to popular perception, stable democracies are present in East, South, North, and West part. Countries like Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Ghana, Morocco, Algeria have always growing in past despite problems. I prefer to write more about this as every region has its own specific challenges.

Conclusion:

Untapped natural resources, the geopolitics of development, growing entrepreneurship spirit, and rising youth population are some of the themes which cannot be summarized without exceeding word limit. Therefore, I suggest the reader to either explore it by themselves or just contact me personally.

As I have said in the start, in may ways Africa is still a mysterious continent, yet to be discovered, yet to be known, and yet to make its distinct mark in the global space other than what is it not known for yet. I can only hope, my journey will make you to analyze better and encourage you to explore about more about Africa.

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