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Agence Future Logo Agence Future Travel log 3.1: Africa - The Research in West Africa

The future is behind us

In West Africa, the application of the research design was distinctive in two important aspects: the methodological approach and subjects covered. The interview stages showed the greatest methodological particularities. Ways of contacting expert interviewees, interview techniques and conversational styles needed to be adapted. Some questions needed to be rephrased but the overall content and structure of the questionnaire was retained. We found that definitions and understandings of what it means that I (a European woman) am asking questions are quite mixed, sometimes surprising.

Maya van Leemput Looking in many ways

Topics of the conversations sometimes broadly covered the same ground as in the European interviews. Religion and family came up much more often and some that we had also encountered in Europe, such as the importance of communication and road infrastructure, were discussed in diverging ways. Overall expectations of change came up more frequently here than in Europe. It is a thin line between hope and expectation.

Who wins the race?

We had conversations with fifteen specialist respondents and many more with members of the general population. The first group consisted amongst others of: Tidiane Ba, the Senegalese vice chairman of the UICN and Director of the Institut de Science et Environement in Dakar; Bachir Kanoté, urbanist with ENDA, an NGO for urban development; Dr.Inkum and Michael Ashanti of the 'Computing Science' department of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi (Ghana); the Dutch entrepreneurs of 'X-plainer DC' in Accra; a leading journalist in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso); an American entrepreneur in Bamako; the director of the rural radio of the region of Kayes (Mali) and the director of a centre for street children in Mopti (Mali).

The future is unknown The second group of respondents was as varied: young men from the urban environment of the Senegalese coastal area, a prefect from the North of Senegal near the Mauritanian border, the African fieldworkers of ENDA, two street boys and one of their monitors in Mopti, men from the Dogon villages of Mali, the (sometimes European) co-operators of international development organisations or NGOs and diplomatic representatives.

Women hardly featured. We propose still to approach a group of women in these countries through a cooperation with specialised local or European colleagues. For the next sections we want to use more local professional interpreters to reach a bigger group of unschooled respondents to which women often belong.

Logistic and theoretical aspects of the project keep developing on the basis of the original starting points, questions and structure that have been consolidated during the West African section of the field research. For the media component of the project several articles were published in "Science and Technology" and "Akademos". Because electronic communication was extremely awkward, no periodical articles appeared in "De Morgen".

Read more on Agence Future's African loop:

Index | 3.2: Dakar >>

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