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Way-C touchpad by Congolese inventor Verone Mankou

Semhar Araia is Founder and Executive Director of the Diaspora African Women’s Network (DAWN) and she recently tweeted: ‘By 2050,Africa’s population will reach 2 billion. By 2040, its workforce is expected to reach 1.1billion. Whos pushing govts to create jobs?‘. That’s a very good question and hopefully, there are already many talented and creative entrepreneurs in Africa, just like Congolese inventor Verone Mankou.

Last year I read several articles about him and I thought it was perfectly illustrating how many countries in Africa are undergoing a profound transformation. In this article on we can read: ‘Verone Mankou, a young Congolese inventor aged 25, is the designer of a touchpad called “Way-C” for which the entire design and architecture have been conceived in Congo-Brazzaville.’ On a side note to some people I know who still don’t know the difference:  do not confuse the Republic of the Congo, commonly referred to as Congo-Brazzaville, with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) or Congo-Kinshasa.

For his project, Mankou had to learn not to rely on local banks: ‘Because it is not quite common in Africa, it is important to point out that the Way-C was backed up financially by the Congolese government through the Ministry of Industrialization that put up 50% of the amount, as well as by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, a few African businessmen and the Chinese assembly plant in the form of an advance. This is how the first 5,000 devices have been assembled in China.’

China is very present in Africa, and almost everything carries a “Made in China” label. Factories should be built if we want to produce locally and provide jobs to local people, to create and sustain a thriving economy. In an article published on GlobalVoices, Julie Owono underlines: ‘In November 2010, a Zimbwabean company announced that it would sell a locally manufactured, assembled and produced laptop at the price of 200 dollars. Many Zimbabweans purchased the device to support a local initiative and the economy. Disappointment was great when it transpired in February 2011 that the Nhava laptop was “imported from China, and only rebranded Nhava“.’ Dishonest and totally counterproductive.

Since last year, I didn’t hear much about the touchpad but I hope Verone Mankou will be able to complete his project. There are many initiatives in Africa, great talents and a youth willing to exist by itself. Africans should trust in them and not wait for hypothetical or providential help. Semhar also tweeted: ‘If you’re in the US & want to support Africa, here’s an idea: LISTEN TO AFRICANS. #CivilSociety’. I listen to Africans and I can tell you, they don’t need anybody else but them to succeed. And no-one across Africa should ever doubt that!

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