The recent flow of events has shown that the Silicon Mountain community has a friendly relationship with the French Government. Let’s look at the French donations to Silicon Mountain community in this post.
It is common for a place like Fako, where the burgeoning tech ecosystem is to stay for more than 12 hours without power supply. Its either the supply is erractic or not at all. The Silicon Mountain community has suffered so many losses due to this problem.
Startup founders and those working on individual projects cannot meetup with deadlines. This contributes to more money, clients and contacts lost. However, it is somehow in the past now with the recent French donations to Silicon Mountain.
How the French donations came to Silicon Mountain
Barely 5 months ago the French Ambassador to Cameroon H.E Christophe Gilhou visited the tech community. He came to understand the ecosystem and see possible ways of collaboration. Though he promised to come back, he didn’t mention he will return with anything.
Five months later, we see him in another scene with French Business Men in Cameroon coming to the same community to donate 2 heavy duty generators. This is a gesture the community has not seen even from their own government. The French donation has received a lot of media attention.
This great event happened on Ferbruary 21, 2020 at ActivSpaces in the presence of more than 30 Silicon Mountain community members.
Reactions from Silicon Mountaineers
Many have questioned and are still questioning the motive behind the French donation to the Silicon Mountain community .
One of the Startup founders in Silicon Mountain questioned the Ambassador on the implication of their gifts. “This is because we believe France is well known for exploiting African countries and leaving them underdeveloped”, Laye Mbunkur, founder of Bluemoon Consulting said.
Laye’s worry over the issue prompted hin to tell the Ambassador without mincing words that Cameroonians believe France is the cause of the problems they are facing. It was a tough one.
The Ambassador’s response to Silicon Mountain Community
However, H.E Gilhou and the French Business men have explained it was a harmless donation. They were reiterating the need for Cameroonians to change their mindsets on the old stories told by their parents.
“The focus is more on forging ahead. This is a new era. Let’s froget about what happened in the past and put more effort in building our countries. Germany and France have been great enemies in the past, but today, they are the highest partners”
The community now understands France is spending millions of Euros on Cameroon. “These huge sums of money are for the development of different sectors like roads, vocational training etc”, he added.
He maintained, the French business community was very excited to learn about the marvelous works in the Silicon Mountain community. And it was the reason why the French Business men took the responsibility to tackle one of the problems the community is facing (constant power outage). Providing generators has been the best solution they have thought of.
As at now, two Silicon Mountain Hubs- ActivSpaces and Jongo hub have standby generators at their premises to serve Silicon Mountaineers in case of power failure. Thanks to the Ambassador and the French business community in Cameroon.
It will marvel you to know that the entourage of more than 10 comprised of officials and managers of giant companies in Cameroon like Brasseries du Cameroon Mayor, Cami Motors, Kraft sarl etc.
As at now, thee community is happy to receive the donations. The dialogue with these officials made them happier. This is because they have come so close to find out what happens at the foot of Mt. Fako in terms of technology development.
However, the question pertaining to whether the French donation to Silicon Mountain is the beginning of a win-win relationship and not exploitation is yet to have answers We guess, the later days will have the answers to that.
Looking at tweets concerning the recent visit, one will say Cameroonians have mixed feelings as per the issue on ground. However, “A bird in hand not worth more than 20 in the bush.” The community faces many challenges, most of which the Cameroonian government can solve easily. While waiting for a response from the Cameroonian government, let’s do justice with the support from the French embassy.
The big question
Seriously, the sustainability of the generators remains a worry to most people concerned about the Silicon Mountain community. Their main concern is the means of fueling and maintaining the gens. Will the community be able to take care of these given the economic situation in the country and the difficulties startups face?
Talking with the hub managers of ActivSpaces and Jongo Hub, Valery Colong and Ashu Gabriel Arrey respectively, they haven’t carved out any means of sustaining the gens. They rely on the community for possible solutions.
For now, the community enjoys the kind gesture from France and is thankful to the initiators of the idea. It expresses excessive happiness as presented by Valery Colong, Hub Manager at ActivSpaces during the occasion.
Tell us how you feel about this French donation to SM community in the comments section.
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