Monday, 21 January 2013

The African Century

I had introduced myself to a woman on Skype, and after about 30 minutes of that easy web chit-chat the conversation naturally ran out of steam. At this point I don't mind sitting in silence because of what happens next – When the conversation resumes, you will be talking about real things.

Sure enough, the women blurted out – "So what do you know about Africa?". My first response was – "Which part of Africa? Africa is a continent, not a country." Suddenly she became very passionate and said "Africa is not the way you depict it in the West!" What she meant was the stories of roving gangs, military rule, and warlords. Although parts of Africa do have those problems. But as it happens, right now the American warlords are using drone aircraft to rain death upon families in Afghanistan; the tribes of the Canadian Indians are blocking highways and railroads because their land settlement claims have not been negotiated, and everyone knows New Jersey is run by the mob.

But I understood completely what she meant. No more CNN horse manure. And as I conducted my interviews I spoke to women from Botswana, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Togo and Uganda.

And after all that I came to the conclusion that the current millennium will be the African Century. Here's how

First - A charismatic leader must emerge who can unite the most wealthy and powerful nations.

Next - to be African is to believe in God. And while not all Africans are Catholic, an interesting situation is occurring - In Vatican City, it is an open secret that the Holy See intends for the next Pope to be African. And now Pope Benedict XVI has announced his resignation due to ailing health. Current papbili include Peter Turkson as the leading candidate for Pope, with Nigeria's Cardinal Francis Arinze also in the running. Having a global spiritual leader from Ghana or Nigeria would move the entire continent forward.

The power and wealth of the citizens is creating a middle class. Everyone I interviewed had a degree, in fields ranging from bachelor's degrees to economics. Meaning these are very bright people, with very employable degrees. And they will become wealthy in good jobs.

Africa must transform her technology infrastructure. When you can make smart phones at RIM in Canada, Nokia in Finland, or Foxcomm in China, you can make a smart phone anywhere. Or perhaps a Smart car. In 25 years the automobile as North Americans know it will no longer exist. People will toot around in self-driving pod sized Smart cars. Almost certainly built by Tata Motors under a license from Google. Africans have been making steel for 2,000 years. I'm sure they can make it through another century or two.

As everyone knows there is an ongoing scientific research project to terraform the Sahara Desert. The primary motivator is not to turn the desert into a jungle. The primary motivation is to stop the sandstorms that threaten large blocks of Africa including air travel. And secondly, to contain the desert at its current size. It's visible from space – that's big enough.

Another factor that brings us into the African Century is the MeerKAT Square Kilometer Array (aka SKA)  The world Astronomy Scientific bodies have decided that the next telescope complex must go in Africa. This of course complements the Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory west of Johannesbug. The factors include: Better night vision, the rising class of well educated science minded youth, and the fact that Astronomers currently cannot view that night sky hemisphere with the newest state of the art instruments.

And finally – Ubuntu. D'uh.

One more thing on the subject of the Square Kilometer Array, or SKA. The Selector Cool Blue Lady 

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