The Questionable Narrative Of Africa Rising

You've probably heard this phrase quite a number times irrespective of where in the world you are or which industry you work in,


Have you ever stopped to ask yourself; for whom?

Africa is definitely not rising for the students in South Africa given the #FeesMustFall national mass action that took place in October 2015 as students took to the streets to request the scrapping of an increase in university fees and furthermore calling on the government to fulfill its promise of "free quality education" by making university education free.

Fees Must Fall March Students Marching | Wits Fees Must Fall

"Africa Rising" is also something you hear quite often around the continent's technology ecosystem, with "pundits" and "experts" citing how mobile technology is transforming lives in Africa, how more tech entrepreneurs are sprouting and thriving as a result of this, with some going as far as suggesting that mobile technology is helping alleviate poverty.

But as Daniel Mwesigwa points out, this all seems to be smoke and mirrors especially in Uganda where it seems it's all about enticing donor funding and winning awards.

There's also a report comissioned by former President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, on "Tackling Illicit Capital Flows from Africa". Among the top countries experiencing the most outflow of capital are Africa's richest countries:

  • Nigeria ($89.5 billion)
  • Egypt ($70.5 billion)
  • Algeria ($25.7 billion)
  • Morocco ($25 billion)
  • South Africa ($24.9 billion)

It is quite obvious that these illicit outflows of capital rob the continent of much needed tax revenues (to name a few benefits) that could be paying for things such as free basic education.

Furthermore, in Kenya, Alex Muriu illustrates how Kenyans are not downloading Kenya developed mobile apps (contrary to popular belief) leaving many developers distraught.

As such, Mabale Moloi who hosts the "Between 2 Femmes Show" on CliffCentral, invited Daniel Mwesigwa and I to discuss this topic and how it relates to Africa's tech ecosystem. Listen to the interview on Cliffcentral.

Below are some of the highlights and quotes from the interview, discussing the topic of "Africa Rising, for who?" in the context of Africa's technology ecosystem with Mabale Moloi and Daniel Mwesigwa.

Mabale Moloi: "You might have heard about a lot of people tallking about all these opportunities, in fields such as technology. But the question really is who these opportunities are benefitting? Are they benefitting us as Africans or people from first world countries who see this potential, greatness and apparent wealth and then they come to the country and take advantage of that."

Mabale Moloi: "Students in this country (South Africa) . How is Africa rising if we're not able to provide students with what they consider fundamental to them having a great future."

Daniel Mwesigwa: "94% of software developers in Uganda don't make money according to a research paper not published by an innovation hub here in Kampala. So, when we say Africa is rising, who is it benefitting? Is it the 6%? or for the majority?"

So, next time you hear glowing growth numbers and the phrase "Africa Rising" being hyped, ask yourself: FOR WHOM?

Cover Image | Wits Fees Must Fall