“Africa’s story has been written by others; we need to own our problems and solutions and write our story” - Paul Kagame (President of Rwanda)
Africa is so beautiful. The motherland. The true origin of modern humanity. A highly underrated continent that is so rich in culture, resources, skills and more. Even though I am a Nigerian, born in the UK, I still had many misconceptions that I had to face about my country and the continent. Here are the five biggest misconceptions that I have seen Africans in the diaspora have about the motherland.
1. There is no middle class.
The images they feed us of malnourished children on TV who need a £2 a month donation subconsciously affect us. Or what about those every five-year BBC documentaries filmed in the slums showing people living in refuse dumps? Until you get here, you assume most people live in dire poverty, which is not valid. Poverty exists everywhere, and yes, some African countries do have above-average levels. However, there is also a thriving middle class, and this group will only continue to expand as wealth grows across the continent. According to the World Poverty Clock, Ethiopia, Gabon, and Mauritiana are on track to meet the UN’s first Sustainable Development Goal (SDG1) of Ending Extreme Poverty. Other countries that were on track but were significantly affected by the pandemic include Ivory Coast, Djibouti, Gambia and Angola.
2. There is poor access to technology
This is also false. They have TVs in the village. Low-income workers also have access to smartphones and data (they may not be able to afford to have data connected 24/7, though). It’s often said there are more mobile devices in Africa than access to clean toilets and water. The latest statistics show that 89% of web traffic in Sudan is from mobile phones, compared to PCs and tablets. Over 75% of Africans are expected to have internet access by 2030. What about the billions of dollars African tech startups are raising, with over four unicorns raising $100 million in 2021 (Wave, OPay, Flutterwave and Chipper Cash).
Smart Cities are also being developed over the continent. The multi-billion project Konza city in Kenya, which started in 2018, is projected to be Africa’s digital hub and centre for technological advancement, with over $800 million in commitments. Kigali Innovation City has begun fundraising, and it is estimated to cost $300 million to build the technology innovation hub with four universities, office spaces and more. In Lagos, they are building a new Silicon Valley within Alaro City.
3. It’s all bushland, mud houses or Savannah
I know one of the reasons Detty December became so popular in Lagos was because of how shocked a lot of us were at how developed and lit the environment was! However, Lagos is one of the least developed and beautiful cities on the continent. Tayo Aina, Steven Ndukwu and Wode Maya are doing great work on Youtube to take you across Africa and show just how advanced some African cities are already.
Have you seen the beautiful desert dunes of Namibia that could rival Dubai? Or have you seen the ski resort in Lesotho? Everyone is rushing to the Maldives these days, but there are some gorgeous clear blue water locations all over Africa. Have you taken our Where are these beautiful places in Africa quiz? That could help guide you.
People are moving from London back to Zimbabwe. In my head, I’m like Zimbabwe!?!? I thought people were suffering over there? It turns out that’s not the case at all. It’s sheer ignorance. In fact, after speaking with some friends there, I am planning to find my way there for the next Victoria Falls Carnival!
4. Africa is always hot
Africa is the largest continent globally. Thus, the climate is incredibly diverse. Nigeria is on the equator, yet depending on the region you are based in, you may experience sweltering heat, intense raining season, or as low as cool 7°C during harmattan in the Northern states. Namibia has hot desert weather almost all year round, whereas other places like South Africa have four distinct seasons.
5. It’s completely unsafe for tourists
Africa is genuinely slept on when it comes to tourism. Only Northern Africa seems to be consistently attracting tourism from travellers all over the globe. When people find out I moved back to Nigeria, the first thing they always ask me is, “Is it safe?”. There are certainly some no-go areas, and you need to be careful at night. However, the statistics also don’t lie. You can easily find yourself in danger in Detroit, Brazil, Mexico and many other places. They all have cities that rank higher than any African city in terms of the most dangerous places to visit as a tourist. Kigali, Rwanda, is the safest and cleanest city in Africa. Other safe places to consider are Tanzania, Seychelles, Mauritius, Uganda, Ghana, etc. Remember, you can find danger anywhere, so safety isn’t a reason to not travel to Africa.