I am returning from one more stint in Africa, or in this case Mozambique, where I came first time almost 5 years ago. I have been involved in developing and establishing the first design and art school in the country on university level, where we just finished the 5th semester of teaching aiming for the first graduates with a BA degree in design around this time next year. The experience has been inspiring for someone like me who has been working in design schools in 3 countries in Europe and establishing the first design school in Iceland over 10 years ago. But  that is not really the issue of my blog this time.

What is inspiring to read this week is the journal The Economist where the image shows the subject: AFRICA RISING. I must admit that there are raised issues that I have been experiencing a lot. There they say that after decades of slow growth, Africa has a real chance to follow in the footsteps of Asia. When I decided some years ago to go somwhere where it would matter what I teach I did evaluate Asia and other global locations and came to the conclusion that there is no need for my support or educational knowledge in those regions. There are loads of designers in other global locations while in Maputo when we started the school we found only 3 people with university education in design and of course not all of them were available for teaching or able to. Anyway we started the design teaching and have brought in Nordic teachers and from other countries and at least now the atmosphere in Maputo is stimulating with the design students. (A comment from my student Tabea in Laos is that the situation is the same as Mozambique there in Asia, so I should not generalize whole of Asia and she is right).

The Economist states knowledge that over the past decade six of the world’s ten fastest growing countries in the world were African and in eight of the past ten years Africa has grown faster than East Asia, including Japan. African communities have started to grow very fast in manufacturing and service economies. This is something I have experienced in Mozambique. When I arrived to Maputo to live there only one student in the pre university art school had an email and none of them had a computer. Today in my school in Matola every student in second year has a computer, we use them just like in Europe, testing ideas and promotion in images and structure, using all kinds of old software. The students are learning very fast as is so common when they have available computers in their hands. Our school also has available access to the Internet, a fundamental issue in learning design and understaning it as part of use and internationalization. I link my students in Maputo to Facebook friends in other locations and we all help each other globally on the internet. The teaching itself is like in all design environments, not so formal but explorational where everyone learns together through testing and distributing the latest tricks etc.

The Economist states that Africa now has a fast growing middle-class. According to the World Bank, around 60 million Africans have an income of $3000 a year and soon will be 100 million in 2015. The rate of foreign investment has soared in the past decade and for example China’s arrival has improved Africa’s infrastructure and boosted the manufacturing sectors. Other non-Western countires like Brazil (very active in Mozambique since they have the same language culture), Turkey, Malayzia and India are moving into business in Africa.

The Economist also states that Africa’s ethusiasm for technology is boosting growth and my experience in Mozambique is that they are jumping over development steps, for example going directly into 3G mobile use skipping land telephone systems. Today, Africa has more than 600 million mobile users which is more than America or Europe. Mobile banking and digital economic advances have moved incredibly fast.

All of this is what I have been feeling in my time in Mozambique, the young are moving incredibly fast to our world of living in internet world supporting all services and development. It has been great to follow this development and feel how the coming generations are coming into being as modern activists. I am proud of my students and see nothing but positive future.