Thursday, August 21, 2008

Is Africa coming out of the Dark?

Roger Cohen: During a short stay in Ghana, which will hold free elections in December, Vodafone had bought a majority stake in Ghana Telecom for $900 million (entering a fiercely competitive mobile phone market) and I'd heard much about 6 percent annual growth, spreading broadband, and new high-end cacao ventures.

Accra, the capital, is buzzing. Russian hedge funds are investing. New construction abounds. Technology enables people in the capital to text money transfers via mobile phone to poor relatives in the bush.
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NEW YORK: I got an e-mail the other day from a friend at the New America Foundation, a Washington public policy institute, inviting me to participate in a panel on "whether the media can handle good news - whether it's on Iraq" or whatever.

The media are lousy at good news (a virtual oxymoron).

While I was in Ghana, I read a paper called the Daily Graphic. One day, it had two ads on successive pages, the first about broadband Internet from a company called Care 4U becoming available in the central city of Sunyani, the second about the "high incidence of open defecation in Ghana."

"Most affordable! Feel the speed!" said the first ad. The second, from a Ghana sanitation monitoring agency, estimated that "more than four million people in Ghana defecate in the bush, open drains, water bodies, or fields" and suggested means to stop the practice.

Two images of an African nation - modernizing or primitive:
Africa Ascendant is not yet a slogan that sells. It will be.
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