How Cheetahs are Bringing More Transparency to Africa

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The current rise of a technologically savvy, socially conscious generation across Africa is forcing local governments and institutions to become more transparent and less corrupt, according Jon Gosier, director of “The Cheetah Code,” a documentary about technological entrepreneurs in the continent.

The film chronicles Africa’s young entrepreneurs, creative class, and emerging technology sector.  The name of the movie stems from a reference by Economist George Ayittey, who dubbed these young innovators and entrepreneurs as “Cheetahs” because of their ability, like the animal of the same name, to adapt and act quickly amid rapid change.

“The movie presents success stories in innovation and entrepreneurship, the rise of a new business class and what it means for the future of Africa,” Gosier said.

These changes can be seen in new laws promoting more transparency in business dealings, constitution of companies, taxes, insurance and access to public records. According to Bahiyah Yasmeen Robinson, Executive Director of Appfrica, a Uganda-based consulting firm that helps companies penetrate the African market, “there is a strong correlation between technology entrepreneurship and the shaping of policy in some African countries. Governments cannot deny or ignore the advent of new technological platform and widespread access to low-tech and high-tech solutions is changing the political landscape.” Ms. Robinson is co-producer of the film

“In Africa, there is an absence of the private sector in policy discussion but now NGO’s and local governments are starting to wake up that oversight,” Gosier, who was on hand for Appfrica’s screening of the film August 7 at our home, the OpenGovHub, added. “One of the reasons why the U.S. and European governments are so supportive of entrepreneurship in Africa is because it also brings new, young voices to the discussion on governance. Only through economic engagement these voices will be heard.”

Gosier expects his film will help change the perception of Africa as a corrupt, chaotic place where it is hard to push any type of innovation.

“If you want to change that [perception], you have to provide other examples,” he said. “Hopefully this film one among many things that showcase this alternative picture of what Africa is and what Africa could be.  It is not just about economics:  If you start to see people at all levels not being corrupt but instead building structures and organizations that look out for everyone’s best interest.”

— by Julio C. Urdaneta.