If you only know Madagascar because of that animated penguins film, you’ve not been using the internet properly.
But that is understandable, because the African island nation has faster internet speeds than you in the UK, France, or Canada.
It has birthed a thriving call centre industry in a country that is also home to 95 per cent of the world’s real vanilla and, even more delightfully, delicious caviar.
But all you probably hear of the nation is how impoverished it is – and that’s the problem with much of the western media’s portrayal of Africa.
When Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg declared in May that sending money should be as easy as sending photos, a lot of Africans couldn’t help laughing at how groundbreaking the idea sounded for his target audience.
Mobile money transactions have been commonplace in many parts of the continent for well over a decade. Millions of rural dwellers who have never had a bank account send and receive money straight to their digital wallets, and they don’t make a fuss about it.
It works with any ordinary SIM card whether they have smartphones or not, and the funds are available to use instantly.
So Facebook’s libra or the countless other European and American companies trying to disrupt the payments space are well behind the curve and trying to invent something that is already mainstream.
Africa has also set another global best practice in environmental protection that the rest of the world is struggling to catch up with.
A staggering 37 countries in Africa have restrictions on the use of plastics which may take up to 1,000 years to break down.
In most parts of the continent, plastic packaging is outlawed, and some countries have had these prohibitions in place for over a decade. The ban on plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds won’t even come into force in the UK until April 2020.
It is easy to caricature Africa and define it narrowly using its wars, famine, and disease, but that is lazy and misguided. Nobody reduces the whole of Europe to just homelessness, racism, and massive inequality so why should Africa be so easily dismissed?
There is an entire generation of African innovators, doers and trailblazers tackling some of the world’s most intractable challenges using homegrown solutions.
Our job is to chronicle their journeys, track their progress, and report on the challenges they face in transforming a continent badly in need of it. At BBC Africa Business, our programmes in English, French and Swahili are the essential guide to this new band of change-makers betting on big ideas to tackle waste, climate change, and other socio-economic issues.
Even 59 years after independence, Madagascar still has a long way to go to get to a country that works for everyone, but it is getting there; Ethiopia is one of the world’s fastest growing economies; Rwanda has more female parliamentarians than anywhere else; and Ghana is becoming a new home for the black diaspora.
Is your internet connection too slow to look that up?
Main image credit: Getty