Monday, September 14, 2009

Ever since getting my first taste of traveling at a young age, I developed a list of top places I felt I needed…well, more so wanted, to see. I can’t quite put my finger on exactly why Africa (in general) has always been number one. Maybe it was from my younger days of, yes, as cheesy as it sounds, being an Oprah fan and watching her visit and build schools there. Perhaps it was seeing my older brother’s African safari pictures when he returned from spending a summer there. Or, it could be due to avidly watching the Discovery Channel’s programs displaying the continent’s beyond-beautiful wildlife. Another contributor may be hearing stories of those who have done volunteer work there and who have come back changed – for the better – as a result. In any case, I jumped at the opportunity to take part in the African Democracy Project. However, I must admit, Mozambique was not necessarily one of the countries I had always heard about. Upon researching and reading more about it, though, I couldn’t believe just how much knowledge and information I lacked. Mozambique’s rich history, the struggles it has overcome, and its current successes all make it a fascinating place to study. Clearly, I still have A LOT to learn and, fortunately, my African Democracy Project course will provide the encouragement and resources to do so.

Part of this learning, as I discovered the first day of class, revolves around focusing on one topic of particular interest. Plenty of preparation will go into this subject before getting to research it, first-hand, in Mozambique. The overwhelming question, “Where to begin?” immediately came to my mind.

Through lots of brainstorming since, however, I realize my main interests tie in to what I am studying in school – Business. Economic development and investment (foreign and national) are clearly vital for any country to prosper. Although Mozambique is making improvements, its population’s low literacy rates and high levels of poverty demonstrate there is still a lot of work to be done. My questions, therefore, stem from wanting to know how the country’s economic development can improve:

How can Mozambique create a more-efficient self-sustaining economy? Who is and is not investing…and why? What is the government doing to encourage positive business growth?

Although my questions are still broad, I hope to narrow my research down through continued inspiration. So far, I have found broad articles explaining Mozambique’s most recent business developments, such as increases in banks, telecom and tourist firms. Additionally, I have briefly studied entrepreneurs (such as Greg Carr, who is restoring Mozambique’s Gorongosa Wildlife Park), who are investing in the country’s development. My research goals prior to traveling, therefore, are to get more detailed information regarding new companies and investors in Mozambique. Upon doing so, I will be better prepared to get my questions answered once I am there. The most effective approach in Mozambique would be to interview citizens from all walks of life (i.e. business developers, governmental officials, individuals working for new companies, etc.) to observe market trends, if any. Upon returning, my goal is to present my research through text or, even more preferably, video. Although I have little background in film production, I would like to expand my creative side, as I feel a documentary would ultimately interest a broader audience…perhaps it could inspire in others a similar passion I have to travel to Africa?