It would be funny in a macabre way if it wasn’t so damned annoying and holding back commerce in Sub-Saharan Africa. Naturally, I’m talking about electronic banking transactions and how you run in to so many roadblocks along the way. For me, it’s more of an annoyance as I have European and American citizenship which my banking credentials are based upon. I can always refer back to these documents when needing to prove whatever it is that the banks need me to prove.
For someone in Africa, it’s tremendously more difficult to complete online transactions, as banks and anyone other site with heavy security protocols assumes that Africa is full of scammers and frauds. Naturally, this chases away all the normal people and leaves just the scammers and frauds deceiving away, thus self-fulfilling these assumptions. And yes, it really is targeted at Africans. For instance, I had a couple of hour layover on my trip to Abidjan and I spent it catching up on things on airport wifi in Charles de Gaulle. No problems there, but the minute I fired up my machine to access the same sites in Côte d’Ivoire (in this case Facebook and my bank) all of the sudden the extra security verification greets me. This is obviously much better than an outright block, but still, it’s incredibly frustrating. And again, this is because I have an established history with these sites in the US. If I were a new user, all kinds of other problems would arise, especially with Google, which I’ll get in to in a later article.
But what makes me really crazy is when companies aren’t honest about it. While I’m not sure if it’s still the case, as they just launched a large redesign, Air France US would simply not allow you to buy tickets from from Côte d’Ivoire. And they fly to the main city of Abidjan as well as own a large stake in Air Ivoire! They don’t admit it though. You encounter a generic “there was a site error” message every time you try to access things on the site, when someone accessing from Europe or North America at the exact same time has no problem. It’s quite crappy and I would assume that this is not a problem when using Air France CI.
I’m not saying anything terribly new in all of this. These problems get twitted about often. They’re just backwards thinking and the reason why the importance of European an American financial interests are on the wane in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Chinese and other Asian countries realize the huge market that is here and are approaching this continent as equal business partners as opposed to former colonies. Needless to say, they’re finding a lot more opportunities.
And let the online security crackdown begin