Movemeback Pulse

Actionable African insight delivered to you on pulse


Pulse #15 - Coup in Mali, Egypt’s fintech unicorn, South Africa’s hydrogen potential, Morocco’s tomato success irks competition,

The Data Room

The share of large family-owned businesses in Africa significantly lags that of other emerging market regions - only 20-30% of large companies are family owned. It’s argued that family businesses, many of which are listed on the stock exchange, have played a key role in shaping economic and political integration in Southeast Asia, as family trust enables speedy decisions, increased flexibility and lower overheads, especially in settings where governance is weak. Southeast Asia family-business-driven success may present a useful case study for The Continent.

Numbers in the Spotlight
($1bn) is the valuation surpassed by fintech, Fawry - the first Egyptian tech startup (and Africa’s 3rd) to attain unicorn status

($1bn) is close to what France spends on military operations in Mali, per year

50,000,000 women
(50mn) in Africa will be targeted for access to business information and resources, through the 50MAWSP initiative

1,169,670 cases
of Covid-19 confirmed in Africa (as of last week)

588,000 tonnes
of tomatoes were exported by Morocco (the world’s 4th largest exporter) in 2019

of waste collected in Mozambique is recycled
On The Continent This Week
Effective internal and regional security, and foreign policy

Mutinous soldiers in Mali have toppled the government of President Keita, forcing him to resign, following months of mass protests against alleged corruption and worsening security. The AU alongside other international powers have condemned the mutiny, fearful that the fall of Keita could further destabilise the former French colony and West Africa's entire Sahel region. The coup risks jeopardising counter-insurgency efforts led by France (spending almost $1bn per year on the operation), and the US, which is concerned about Mali being a nexus for Islamist insurgent groups in the Sahel region.

Access to financial services and products

Leading Egyptian e-payment platform, Fawry, has become the country’s first tech startup to attain unicorn status (valued at over $1bn). The publicly listed company has seen its stock price increase 300% since it went public last year, accelerated by Covid-19 lockdowns. In 2019, Egypt ranked first by number of investment deals in fintech in the Middle East and North Africa region, with the rise of fintech in Egypt catalysed by smartphone proliferation, technology-reliant consumers and easing of some regulatory barriers. The Central Bank of Egypt has also played a facilitating role via a number of initiatives, including setting up a $57mn fund for fintech startups last year.

Scaleable energy access

South Africa plans to roll out the use of hydrogen fuel cell technologies to supplement its electricity grid. South Africa’s reliance on fossil fuels for electricity makes it the 14th largest producer of carbon emissions in the world. Hydrogen fuel presents a huge potential to South Africa due to its natural comparative advantages in wind and solar power, and its abundant platinum resources - a catalyst to convert hydrogen into electricity. Hydrogen power is globally recognised for its potential as the ‘sleeping giant’ of clean energy - evident by the EU’s plan to prioritise hydrogen in their energy mix.

Essential infrastructure, personal living-space & utilities

Mozambique plans to ban use of most plastic bags from 2021, joining the growing list of countries taking action against plastics. Across The Continent, ~70–80% of Africa’s municipal solid waste (MSW) is recyclable; however only 4% (and 1% in Mozambique) is currently recycled. 13% of MSW generated in Africa is plastic, with total MSW expected to double from 2012 to 2025. In low-income countries, effective waste management is expensive, gobbling up 20-50% of municipal budgets; and many African countries lack proper waste management policies - leading to clogged waterways, choked marine life, and a breeding-ground for malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

End-to-end value chain capture

Morocco’s tomato exports to Russia face jeopardy as competing Eurasian exporters decry unfair competition from Morocco's better and cheaper produce. Morocco is the world’s 4th largest exporter of tomatoes with 588,000 tonnes in 2019. The country’s competitiveness in agricultural exports is partly attributed to its national policy, the Green Morocco plan. Morocco may serve as a case study for Nigeria, which despite being the 2nd largest producer of tomatoes in Africa, is The Continent's 3rd largest importer of tomato paste. Nigeria has previously resolved to ban tomato imports by 2021, as the 2017 partial ban has proved insufficient in boosting local processing of tomato products. 

Home-grown digital infrastructure & platforms

Cassava Fintech International (CFI), a company driving financial inclusion through digital transaction platforms, and the Liquid Telecom Group (LTG), an independent fibre network and connectivity company, have launched the Sasai Wi-Fi Finder app to spur internet adoption across Africa and promote social, digital and financial inclusion. With internet penetration averaging 39.6% percent in Africa in 2019, compared to 62.7% in the rest of the world, addressing infrastructure gaps and internet access can set the path for not only more inclusive financial development, but also the development of new markets across e-health, e-education, e-agri services and more.

Exporting culture & identity

A new film series by UK-based writer, Afua Hirsh, 'African Renaissance: When Art Meets Power' is showcasing the diversity of African countries' art, music, culture and history. The film explores Ethiopia’s rich 3000 year history and how it became a beacon for African pan-Africanism. Senegal’s dynamic hip hop scenes, film and fashion, and their link with historic power struggles between ancient empires and French colonisers is charted. Finally, Kenya’s story of confronting British colonialist ideals, and the role of art and culture in the reclaiming of identity after independence is told. Featuring the three unique civilisations in the series challenges the western conceptualisation of a romanticised single  'African Story'

Baseline healthcare & disease protection

WHO chief, Tedros Adhanom, has warned against Covid-19 'vaccine nationalism', urging member states to join the COVAX Global Vaccines Facility to guarantee fair access for all countries. As research continues, rich countries have already signed deals for hundreds of millions of vaccine doses, sparking concerns that vaccines will be hoarded by rich countries at the neglect of poor ones. Global solidarity will be needed, as the history of pandemic and epidemic diseases shows that years / decades of delays in vaccines becoming accessible to African countries has cost millions of lives.

High value skills development and talent repatriation

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) has begun conducting national launches of its 50mn African Women Speak digital platform (50MAWSP). The initiative aims at empowering 50mn women in 38 African countries with business information and skills. SMEs are Africa’s main engine for job creation, accounting for 90% of businesses and providing 60% of jobs. However, women-owned SMEs are more likely to have lower turnover and fewer employees than men-owned enterprises. Providing digital skills training is critical in bolstering the sustainability of women enterprises, which have been worst affected by Covid-19.

Intra-continental connectivity, collaboration & trade

Manufacturers in Kenya have intensified the push for increased taxation on finished products imported into the East African bloc, citing unfair competition for local manufacturing. Although market protectionism can provide a temporary reprieve to domestic production, it is argued that it obstructs competitiveness in the long run. In fact, across the Continent, removing import duties could boost intra-African trade by over 50%, while reduced non-tariff barriers could double trade volumes. Moreover, if implemented successfully, free trade in Africa via AfCFTA could double Africa’s manufacturing sector, increasing output to $1trn by 2025 and creating over 14mn jobs.

Proportional representation in politics, business and community leadership

Ireti Samuel-Ogbu becomes Citigroup Nigeria's first female chief officer, whilst Carol Koech becomes the first Kenyan woman to head Schneider Electric East Africa. Africa has made notable advances in increasing female representation at board level - outperforming any other region with a 25% rate versus a global average of 17%. However, this may not be trickling down to top and middle-management positions, as gender parity for such positions was, as of November 2019, lower than the global average.

Upgrade Your Life

Our selection of online courses, tools and offers to help you build your professional and personal repertoire.

  1. Digital skills: artificial intelligence - free online course from Accenture
  2. Top 35 women empowerment podcasts to follow in 2020
  3. It's not about routine, but about practice
  4. Chimamanda Ngozi: The danger of a single story - TED Talks
  5. Business books of the year award 2020, from FT and McKinsey
  6. Stories of black leadership II: Breaking barriers - online exhibition
  7. The Family Business Summit - Africa CEO Forum
  8. Can you solve our riddle of the week?
History Class

African Renaissance: When Art Meets Power - A documentary showcasing the diversity of Ethiopia, Senegal, and Kenya, through art

How early Africans in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa made comfy, pest-free beds

Movemeback - if you have a something you would like to share with the Movemeback community please get in touch so we can include in this or another one of our regular Member publications: