“If you ‘found yourself’ in Thailand or any other non-English speaking country, swipe left.” This sentence used to sit at the top of my dating profiles and is the perfect microcosm of how modern colonialism works. White people travel to a country populated by those of a different race and/or culture, and this new culture “inspires” them to take foods, medicinal beverages, and even spiritual practices back home and profit from them.
As Africa recovers from the ripples of colonialism grounded in slave labor, rapid technology adoption has renewed the continent’s value in the eyes of “developed” countries.
So when Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey, a fan of ancient meditation techniques, says he’ll spend up to six months in Africa next year, that should “inspire” concern. Dorsey, a Bitcoin and blockchain advocate, is in the middle of an African tour partially laying the groundwork for Twitter expansion while also meeting with local tech entrepreneurs.
The business side is unfair – American and European companies are granted more capital and room to fail with Africa-focused tech products than truly African-born companies.
And the West is not alone. Chinese companies have quietly and aggressively created a foothold for themselves in the commercial and technological development of several African countries for years.
See Jack... do what exactly? – As with many entrepreneurs working in the cryptocurrency space, it’s unclear how exactly Dorsey plans to invest in African talent. While in Nigeria, he said: “I want to understand the challenges of starting a company here and figure out a way I can support.”
Dorsey could find ways to help these companies be successful on their own. As the CEO of Square, he could just as easily acquire a local fintech company or just hire African talent. If support is self-serving, it prevents Africans from catching up in a race many started in chains.