From Cape Canaveral to Cape Town
What if you could actually get rid of the whole notion of national diasporas as we know it? If Elon Musk succeeds in his goal of sending a million humans to Mars, he will create the first interplanetary diaspora. Quite a turnaround for a kid who remembers being bullied in schools in Pretoria, South Africa, and who moved to Canada when he was 17. The rest of his story is better known: earning billions after starting the company that eventually became Paypal, launching the Tesla electric car company, and, of course, Spacex, which has a $5.7bn contract with NASA to resupply the International Space Station, and which is developing the Mars mission. By the end of August, Spacex hopes to launch its Falcon Heavy rocket, which its says will fly two paying passengers around the moon in 2018. Throughout history, diasporans have brought crucial capital and skills back to their home economies. The Chinese economy owes its stellar take-off in the 1990s to the legions of Hong Kong investors who married their sense of home to their newlyminted millions. They started pouring money over the border into the tiny backwater fishing village of Shenzen, seeding what was to become the huge factory cities on which China forged its reputation as workbench of the world. Musk appears happy in Los Angeles for now, but his business may make an appearance on the continent. Tesla autos already has an office in South Africa. Musk is believed to be pondering a ‘gigafactory’ in Cape Town to build the Tesla Powerwall, a home-sized battery unit. Currently, the Italian electricity utility Enel, which has already built renewable power plants in South Africa, is testing the Powerwall with customers in Cape Town. The kit costs about $10,000, and attaches to solar panels, with the whole thing managed through your television. These early models are meant to pay for themselves in eight years, and expected to last for two decades.