Sunday, February 13, 2011

A distrust for Africa.

Not sure how many of you have checked out my bridgetoadventure blog in the past 2 months and did not find it. Rather, graced your screen. I received number lots of emails asking why. The best answer is TIA. This is Africa. Seems like an odd response given the website is virtual, but actually, the series of events that led to my blog being taken over, is a great demonstration of why people say TIA and often why is it not Africa's fault. 

It all started in some shop in Kenya likely around mid August. I purchased some sandals and running shorts with my credit card. It was the first time I had used my card in a while. No problem with the purchase, but Bank of America saw the transaction as risky. They KNOW I am in Africa but regardless, they froze my card. I called, after much persuasion, they released the hold. A few weeks later, I bought lunch at one of the few hotels that take credit in Ghana. Same story. Card frozen, except rather than freezing, they decided I my card was too risky. Without telling me, they cancelled all my cards with them and issued new cards with a new number. 

In the coming weeks, I was tipped off that something was up as emails rolled of late charge warnings from all my auto-bill pays. I called the bank who had sent the new cards to my parents who do not open my mail. After explaining for about 20 minutes where Ghana was, they finally agreed to issue new cards, send them to Google and Google would forward them to me, likely arrive in a few weeks. In the mean time, I went online and changed all my auto pays to my debit card. But then, my debit card suspected "suspicious activity" and decided to follow suite from the credit card company. Thus here I was traveling around Africa, stuck without card, or cash in for around a month. This was going to go great. 

During this period, my domain purchase came up for yearly renewal - $10. It tried to charge my credit card, which was no longer active. No luck. It sent me a link to enter another card. With some creative practices, I got another card, added it to my account. But then, their payment system noticed my IP address - Nigeria - 'country denied. I tried again the following week in Ghana, same message "sorry, we can not complete your transaction." Awesome. There was an option to use Paypal. So I tried that "sorry, PayPal your account is suspended, please send full verification of identity." 

Thus, my domain lapsed. Not for lack of effort but because I am in Africa. Often things lapse, or just never happen, not because you aren't capable or don't have the means, but because of where you are - your circumstances. I probably work about four times harder living here than I did in the US to do simple things, and get about a half as much done. Everything takes longer, and unpredicted barriers pop-up in life like pot holes in late at night. And just like hitting a pot hole at 40 miles an hour, it does damage and is expensive. Rather than costing me $10 a year, I now I will have to pay $65 a year for the exact same domain. Imagine I was a business and not just a blogger. I would have lost my website and paid more. 

People frequently look at Africa and consider its condition as something created and perpetuated by Africans. And yes, there are lots of examples, especially in leadership (see Ivory Coast), government policy, and import duties. But what people often don't see is that the global systems exclude Africa from accessing much of the infrastructure that enables economic growth. For example, online payments. I await the day I can make an online purchase, watch NetFlix, enjoy Hulu, listen to Pandora or open a merchant account in Ghana to start my own eCommerce business. For now, its simply not possible. Why? because this is Africa and the rest of the world has sent an auto response has been 'your country is unsupported.'  


  1. TIA -- This is where you put more effort in trying to get something done than getting it done!

  2. Sad to hear that. Here, we say, "This, too, is Liberia!"

  3. Nice insights into why TIA. It really pisses me off when I have to put in so much EFFORT just to get those little things done.

  4. You could not have said it better Sis! It's such a load of hypocrisy. It makes it easy for many to see the west as still interested in keeping Africa in slavery while they come with their businesses to rip off our resources and wealth knowing there is vast needs and market potential here. Keep them in need then supply those needs at a high cost.