Approchement to the Sub-Saharan Africa reality

I am fascinated with the predisposition of Casa Africa‘s Secretary General Arianne Hernández González. Although it was not a face-to-face contact due to the Casa Africa’s headquarters in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria; I soaked up the e-mails and the phone call in detail.

Arianne Hernández 2 [141944]

Arianne Hernández Gonzalez is the Secretary General of Casa Africa


Arianne Hernández, who has a Bachelor Degree in Economics and a Master in International Solidarity Actions in Europe by the Carlos III University, is a qualified professional in her area. In fact, she also experienced cooperation in Africa, acquired in the University Centre for International Cooperation Development (CUCID), University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and the University Foundation of Las Palmas.

Casa Africa is integrated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, the Government of the Canary Islands, the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation and the Town Council of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. It is defined as economic and public diplomacy tool to promote and consolidate Hispano-African relations. Their headquarters in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is used to strengthen the role of the Canary Islands as a political, economic and logistical platform to Africa.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Sub-Saharan Africa is famine, conflicts, failed-states. “It is just sold one narrative story. It is important to be aware of its greatness, its variety, its wealth, its power, its potential”. Arriane added, “It is essential to try to understand African continent from the complexity and far from easy speeches, cliches and noise. And see it through our eyes”.

In terms of the relationship between Spain and Sub-Saharan states, it is a priority to Casa Africa, Spain Brand, Spanish and Canary government as well as many other public institutions, firms and civil society organizations. “There is an enormous interest in the opportunities that this region offers to Spanish entrepreneurs, who are conscientious of its relevance”. For instance, “we have opened embassies, offices, Cervantes institutes”, she said. They have more than 200 events each year that cover all fields and have the basic objective to approach the African continent.

Sub-Saharan Africa has 54 states; each one has its own economy (different history and development). It cannot talk of unity because of rent per capita, exportations and indebtedness. However, more and more media is informing about the prosperity. “How has Africa gone from being globally considered as an almost cursed continent to occupy the cover of Time Africa grows?”, she asked. “One answer is the export of raw materials which are enormously rich. For example, the African continent has 95% of world reserves of platinum, 90% of chromite reserves and 85% of phosphate rock reserves and more half the world’s cobalt and bauxite third. At the same time, the known oil reserves on the continent have increased by 40%”, she answered. “Moreover, the importance of African agriculture increases due to growth in demand by developing countries”, she added.

“Africa is not a technological desert. Quite the opposite”, she said. They publish an essay on new technologies in Africa. “ We use the examples of Senegal, Angola and Kenya to illustrate diverse social platforms where citizens act as activists, journalists and even election observers”, she informed.  What most sock me is that according to the report most Africans have mobile line, they use innovative SMS technology to create applications that respond to their needs and interest such as birth registration in remote areas, market prices and innovation to improve crops, pregnancy control and mobilization in case of need to organize elections.  Moreover,  she mentioned. I completely agree with her statement “lack of resources and young population sharpen ingenuity, the desire and the choices”.

Arianne highlighted that insecurity is clearly a problem, not only because it affects in the worst way to people, but also because it leaves terrible sequels and traumas in a society. Moreover, it affects the economy of a country. “It is like killing two or more times a people”, she said.

A true fact is that the situation has improved in Africa since the 80s and 90s. There are fewer conflicts than before, better governance and greater democracy. In fact, African GDP growth was 5.7% in the last decade (2000-2010), which indicates that, in recent years Africa has been growing at a higher rate than Europe (2.5%). Africa is one of the regions that better and faster has recovered from the global economic recession of recent years.

On balance, “at present some African countries are looking for alternatives to natural resources to maintain sustainable growth. Many speak of a theoretical emergency by 2020. The challenge is not to rely solely on those resources such as tourism, is to diversify the economy”, she said.

Written by Celia Hernández Arbella


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