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What I Did This Summer?

I spent my summer working and traveling in Africa. I visited four countries, including my home country Senegal. Two years ago, after 10 years living in the United States, I had the lingering feeling that it was time for me to start finding my way back home to Africa. I decided to use this summer to find out whether the desire to move back would still be around after three months on the ground.

I took an internship in the Johannesburg office of my old employer (Emerging Market Partners – a private equity fund investing in infrastructure and telecoms in Africa). My first week on the job, I flew to Maputo, Mozambique for the Fund’s semi-annual board meeting. I met many members of the government and I felt very encouraged by the tangible level of economic activity taking place in this tiny

Portuguese-speaking nation struggling to rebuild after years of civil war.
Back in Johannesburg, I was at home in a country where the majority of the people had gone through a lot but somehow found the will to move forward as one nation. There is a resilient spirit in South Africans that I admire. After two months in South Africa, I traveled on to Nigeria, the second major economy in Sub-Saharan Africa. While in Nigeria, I flew to Port Harcourt in the Delta where the bulk of oil exploration and production takes place. There I saw natural gas being flared in the open, illuminating the night sky and visible from miles away. Such disregard for the people and the environment (not to mention waste of a natural resource) would be unacceptable in any of the countries that the major oil companies call home. It just reminded me of how much further our continent had to go.

Overall I am incredibly happy to have taken time to get back in touch with the realities of life in Africa. I ended my summer more grounded and purposeful.

September 15, 2003
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