Impulses from the Cradle of Humanity “What We Need to Learn from Africa”
Senegalese economist, author and musician Felwine Sarr is one of the most active contemporary African intellectuals. During the Tipping Point Talks in Vienna, which were organised by the ERSTE Foundation in 2019, he explained how a satisfactory level of prosperity can be achieved for the majority of the world’s population.
By Christine PawlataIn his recent book, Afrotopia, Sarr presents a holistic future scenario for the African continent: Africa must find its own way by reflecting on its cultural, political and economic roots, and breaking free from the colonial structures.
The world is suffering a legitimation crisisThe predominant economic order with the paradigm of constant growth and the organisation of the world into developed and under-developed countries does not, however, cripple the African continent, according to Sarr: “The whole world is in a state of permanent crisis. By that I don’t mean the financial crisis that repeats itself every ten years, but the inability of the global economic order to satisfy the basic needs of the majority of the population. The areas that generate profit are privatised to benefit just a few. The costs are then put upon the majority of the population. It’s a crisis of legitimation, and we need to consider how we can get away from this system in crisis.”
Africa in first placeOne of the fundamental problems of the dominant economic order is rooted in the lack of environmental sustainability, believes Sarr. It would be a worthwhile exercise to take a closer look at the principles of African societies with regard to their relationship with Nature. “Although the continent is being hit hard by the consequences of climate change, it contributes the least to global warming, with four per cent of world carbon dioxide emissions. There’s probably something to be learned here. Going by these criteria, Africa’s in first place for once, not last.”
One of the first advanced civilizations in the world originated in Egypt. The avenue of ram head sphinxes at the 4,000 year old Karnak temple near Luxor.
Thanks to the invention of the hand wedge as man's first tool, 1.5 million years ago Homo ergaster, "the craftsman", was able to leave his native Africa and settle half of Asia.
Writing on papyrus: Long before the invention of paper, as early as 2900 B.C., papyrus was produced and inscribed in Africa from the dried pith of the perennial plant of the same name. The village of Qaramos in Egypt is today the main production site for papyrus in the world and is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Innovation for Africa: An employee of the Silicon Valley company Zipline in Rwanda is preparing a drone that will fly life-saving blood supplies to a remote clinic in East African Rwanda.
Jumia is the first African technology start-up company to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The online trading platform was founded in Nigeria in 2012, has offices in 13 African countries and is already known as "Amazon Africa". Jumia co-CEO Sacha Poignonnec, left, applauds as Jumia Nigeria CEO Juliet Anammah, center, rings a ceremonial bell when the company's stock begins trading, April 12, 2019.