Movemeback Pulse

Actionable African insight delivered to you on pulse


Pulse #18 - Feed our youth: Paying to share, Bitcoin's African renaissance, black hair ≠normal, and still waiting for Eco,

The Data Room

In Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), youth aged 15-24 make up about 35% of the working-age population. Despite 18mn people entering the working-age population (aged 15-64) each year, a missing jobs crisis has meant a low assimilation rate into the workforce. The youth share of the working-age population in SSA has been declining for some time, albeit at different rates in different countries, in part due to lower labour force participation of school-aged youth, and is expected to fall to around 30% by 2050.  

Numbers in the Spotlight
($750mn) has been secured in financing by Kenya from the World Bank for the Horn of Africa Gateway Development Project (HoAGDP)

($316mn) cryptocurrency transfers to and from Africa of under $10,000 were made in June 2020

1,339,171 cases
of COVID-19 confirmed in Africa (as of last week)

535,000 children
are suffering from severe acute malnutrition in Burkina Faso, due to a dire food shortage

50,000 students
from universities and colleges across SSA have participated in the Huawei Global ICT Competition

40 years
of deliberation over the Eco single currency for ECOWAS will continue, as its launch is again postponed

$27 per annum
is Uganda’s new ‘social media tax’, required for all those who wish to broadcast online
On The Continent This Week
Effective internal and regional security, and foreign policy

Ethiopia's northern Tigray region held regional elections, defying PM Abiy's administration which is struggling to hold together a federation that stitches Ethiopia's 80-plus ethnic groups into one nation. Meanwhile, Cameroon plans to hold the country's first regional elections across its 10 regions in a decentralisation move. This may help quell tensions between the government and separatists from the Northwest and Southwest Anglophone provinces, where agitation against political and economic discrimination has cost some 3,000 lives. While federalism lacks a stellar record in postcolonial Africa, could it be the panacea for the many African countries struggling to manage their ethnolinguistic diversity?

Home-grown digital infrastructure & platforms

Uganda has announced new rules to regulate online media, requiring people who broadcast online (e.g. blogs, online radio, newspapers) to register with the government and pay an annual fee of $27. This is an extension to the 2018 social media tax, which the government hoped would increase revenue to turn the country into a middle-income one by 2020. With only 17% of forecast revenue collected, the move has been criticised as an attempt to stifle dissenting voices in the run up to the national election. However with 191mn Africans using social media platforms, and increasing youth demographics using social media as an income source, is there any merit in these policies for nations who have typically struggled to capture tax revenue?

Baseline healthcare & disease protection

Over 535,000 children in Burkina Faso under the age of five are acutely malnourished, as the country faces dire food insecurity. Nutrition-related factors contribute to about 45% of deaths in children under-5’s globally. The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated food insecurity on The Continent, making 73mn people in Africa acutely food insecure. In alleviating the suffering of the poorest and most marginalised communities whose children bear the greatest burden of undernutrition, Africa's budget makers will need to strongly consider how to prioritise children’s nutrition.

Proportional representation in politics, business and community leadership

A hair shampoo advertisement carried on the website of South Africa's pharmacy chain, Clicks, has ignited an uproar for promoting racist stereotypes about black women's hair, with an absence of representation and diversity within the organisation cited as the cause. Inequality based on race persists at the workplace across The Continent, with expatriates are sometimes paid 3-4 times more than African staff filling the same roles. In the worst cases, some Africans are undignified by foreign employers as happened when a Kenyan employee was flogged by his Chinese boss. While Clicks attempted to make amends for the offensive advert, more needs to be done to address racial injustice at the workplace and beyond.

Scaleable energy access

Egypt intends to export its surplus 10Gw electrical energy to Europe and Africa. From a base of not being able to meet energy demand in 2013, Egypt has bolstered capacity in recent years via three power plants, a $4bn solar park (one of the world’s biggest), a wind farm, and a $30bn deal with Russia to build North Africa’s first nuclear power plant. Egypt’s focus on meeting burgeoning energy demand via a diversified strategy is a case study for nations inside and outside of The Continent.

End-to-end value chain capture

Ethiopia plans to start manufacturing Covid-19 test kits and become a net exporter to African states. The uncertainty of the pandemic has led to nearly 80 countries restricting the export of medical supplies, further compromising Africa's fragile healthcare system, and contributing to a woefully low one test per 1,000 people across The Continent. This is an impediment for healthcare stakeholders on The Continent in accurately capturing the virus spread and deciphering the best mitigation measures.

Access to financial services and products

Cryptocurrency transfers to and from Africa of under $10,000 increased 55% annually to reach $316mn in June (700,000mn transfers), according to new research. Crypto, considered as for a niche audience, is starting to reach 'the man on the street', as small businesses seek workarounds for weak local currencies and complex money movement rules, such as in Nigeria, which has recently outperformed the rest of the world in terms of levels of interest. Despite crypto's allure, the largely unregulated mechanism presents a huge challenge to The Continent's already challenged financial transparency, and adds additional risk for the consumer, with the CBN in 2018 having issued warnings to banks “not to use, hold or transact in any way with the technology.

Essential infrastructure, personal living-space & utilities

Kenya has secured $750mn (Sh 81bn) World Bank financing for the Horn of Africa Gateway Development Project (HoAGDP). The loan will go into the tarmacking of close to half of the 740km Isiolo-Mandera Regional Road Corridor, the laying of a fiber optic cable, trade facilitation measures, the provision of basic socio-economic infrastructure, and institutional strengthening. Kenya's north eastern region is one of most neglected in the country. Exploring its potential as a transit and regional trade facilitation zone will, while fostering inclusion, strengthen Kenya’s transformation from a low middle income to a middle-income country by 2030.

Exporting culture & identity

Authorities in Sudan are trying to protect the Al-Bajrawiya archaeological site from floodwaters threatening to swamp this UNESCO World Heritage site. Africa's rich cultural heritage is endangered, with 15 World Heritage sites in Africa currently placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger due to challenges such as extractive processes, armed conflict, climate change, and population expansions. With Africa historically suffering a lack of investment towards the protection and renewal of heritage sites, pragmatic, sustainable and stakeholder driven solutions for effective conservation efforts are required.

High value skills development and talent repatriation

The SSA finals of the Huawei Global ICT Competition have kicked off, covering 14 countries and involving over 50,000 students. The event is part of the Huawei talent ecosystem campaigns aimed at upskilling more than 700,000 ICT professionals by 2023. In SSA 650mn people will need digital skills to meet expected demand from ‘digital jobs’ through 2030, at an estimated cost of $130bn. One route to bridging the gap is for education providers to partner with technology companies to implement hands-on, innovative teaching models - such as Huawei’s ICT competition.

Intra-continental connectivity, collaboration & trade

ECOWAS has postponed the launch of its planned single currency (the Eco), following failure to meet the convergence criteria between states necessary for its establishment. This setback further derails deliberations that have ensued for nearly 40 years, on the integration of the eight member states using the CHF Franc (backed by France and pegged to the Euro) with the other seven that have their own currencies. The slow establishment of the Eco (its launch having been postponed 4 times now) has forestalled its potential to transform the region’s economy through facilitating trade, lowering transaction costs and facilitating payments among ECOWAS's 385mn people.

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