A Grant, A CMS and AfCFTA

by Dec 11, 2019Life2 comments

Earlier this year I had the privilege of attending the 2019 instalment of the CMS Africa Summit in Cape Town. Because I was volunteering to help, I got a chance to meet some incredible people, including the TYPO3 team. Spending a few days with these people taught me quite a few things which I highlighted in the post linked above. Since then, TYPO3 has continued to impact my life in a way I could not have imagined.

The first, most obvious and perhaps quite miraculous impact TYPO3 had on me was an offer for a grant towards my living expenses while I study here in Cape Town. My favourite book in this whole world is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, and in it, he talks about the universe conspiring to help the person who goes in pursuit of their Personal Legend. This grant is a perfect example of that. 

I came to Cape Town with no idea how I would achieve my dream of graduating from film school and one month in I got this big boost from people I’d only spent a few days with. What did I have to do to get this grant, I hear you ask. Well, over the course of the summit, I had several conversations with the TYPO3 team, and they seemed to see very high potential in me. 

They asked me to apply for a grant from the TYPO3 Association as they sought to set up some kind of scholarship for young people like me who were interested in the open-source technology and had potential to make a positive difference in their communities. I applied and got the grant, and there is no way I can explain how grateful I am. My life in Cape Town would have been significantly harder had it not been for their generosity.

Of course, after getting the grant my interest in TYPO3 spiked. I began looking into why the content management system (CMS) wasn’t popular in Africa. From what I’d gathered about it during the summit, TYPO3 seemed to be perfect for Africa. The platform supports multi-lingual sites which is something we could benefit from, seeing as most African countries have more than two languages used within their borders. 

TYPO3 is not just an open-source CMS, it is specifically designed for large organisations like multinational companies, universities and governments. This probably explains why it isn’t widely used on the continent – although that could change as Africa moves into a new era of free trade. Right now, Rwanda is the biggest user of TYPO3 on the continent. Rwanda is also where the African Continental Free Trade Agreement was signed in March 2018. Now, these two facts have absolutely nothing to do with each other (as far as I can tell), but they just make Rwanda a place where things happen (in my mind anyway). Needless to say, it’s definitely on my bucket list.

The African Continental Free Trade Agreement is set to take effect in July 2020 and it promises to bring a significant boom in the African economy. Having powerful tools such as the TYPO3 CMS at our disposal, we may be able to develop infrastructure that can help facilitate the growth of African businesses into new territories (would it be too ambitious to even hope for African businesses to expand outside the continent itself?). 

I have been extremely fortunate to be impacted by TYPO3 in such a real and positive way. My sincere hope is that I can be even more fortunate and help spread the word as well as get more people like me – people with ambition and a deep desire to turn the story of Africa from that of strife to that of prosperity – to find the resources they need to make life happen.