Movemeback Pulse

Actionable African insight delivered to you on pulse


Pulse #22 - Mobilise globally: Nigerians worldwide protest to #EndSARS, Ethiopia calls upon its diaspora, UK celebrates black history month

The Data Room

Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) will have ~30mn mobile 5G connections by 2025, equivalent to ~3% of total connections in the region. While several attempts have been made to introduce 5G on The Continent, mass adoption is not imminent. Vodacom and MTN launched the first major 5G networks in SSA in 2020, offering 5G mobile and fixed wireless access services in several locations across South Africa. 5G trials have also been conducted in Gabon, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda. With significant unused 4G capacity, and 4G adoption still relatively low, the focus in the near term for operators and other stakeholders is to increase 4G uptake, through strategies such as making 4G devices more affordable. 

Numbers in the Spotlight
($1.9bn) will be the cost of constructing the Nairobi-Mau Highway in Kenya under a public private partnership deal with France 

($611mn) is needed to bail out state-owned South African Airways

($500mn) will be the cost of building Trinity Energy’s crude oil refinery in South Sudan

1,547,506 cases
of COVID-19 confirmed in Africa (as of last week)

100 people
is the minimum number of social media followers warranting a special social media license according to Lesotho's proposed cybersecurity law

of payments for agricultural products were in cash (in 2016)

of total mobile connections in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2025 are forecast to be on 5G
On The Continent This Week
Effective internal and regional security, and foreign policy
Thousands of Nigerians have been protesting in Lagos, against the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), accusing the police unit of harassment, extortion, torture and even murder of young Nigerians, targeted for using status symbols like iPhones, laptops and luxury vehicles. Whilst young people have been posting about this online for years, marches began after a video of a man allegedly being killed by police went viral. Celebrities across Nigeria and its diaspora are joining the #EndSARS movement, including Star Wars actor, John Boyega. Nigeria’s police force has a notably poor reputation, ranking the worst of 127 countries in the 2016 World Internal Security and Police Index. Whilst Nigeria’s president has now committed to ending police brutality, this may fall on deaf ears, given a similar promise 2 years ago, with little resolution. 

Scaleable energy access

South Sudanese oil marketing giant, Trinity Energy, plans to build a $500mn crude oil refinery with a capacity 40,000 barrels per day, to serve the region with refined petroleum products. Although South Sudan has the third-largest oil reserves on The Continent (~3.5bn barrels), much of this is yet to be explored. The country has one of the lowest electrification rates in the world, at 9% in 2016. As such ~70% of the population depend on traditional biomass fuels e.g. wood fuel, charcoal for their cooking and heating energy needs. The proposed oil refinery may improve access to a wide array of energy products for household and commercial use. 

Intra-continental connectivity, collaboration & trade

Three East African Community (EAC) member states are seeking to introduce provisions on peaceful resolution of disputes related to shared, transboundary natural resources into the EAC’s Protocol on Environment and Natural Resources. With Africa’s burgeoning population expected to triple by 2050, further putting a strain on shared natural resources, transboundary disputes are bound to increase (e.g. as observed with the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam dispute between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over the Nile’s waters). Strengthening local dispute resolution mechanisms may help avoid escalation into violence. 

Essential infrastructure, personal living-space & utilities

Kenya has entered a €1.6bn (~$1.9bn) deal with France for the construction of the 175km Nairobi-Mau highway, which will link the port of Mombasa to the Great Lakes region, in one of the largest public private partnership projects in Eastern Africa. France has been stepping up its push for influence in Africa, with President Macron’s visit to Kenya last year (the first visit by a French President since Kenya’s 1963 independence), marked with the announcement of 3bn worth of deals. With African countries struggling to pay Chinese loans (~20% of all African debt), we may see more African countries turn to the West for financing. 

End-to-end value chain capture

Administrators have suspended South African Airways’ (SAA) operations, amid mounting pressure on the government to liquidate the state-owned airline. Having been bailed to the tune of ~$1.2bn over the last 3 years, SAA is struggling to raise the 10bn Rand (~$611mn) it needs for its bailout plan. As South Africa’s largest airline, the demise of SAA will have ripple effects across the country. South Africa’s aviation industry is critical to its internal and external supply chains and the economy at large, providing 472,000 jobs (across aviation, tourism, supply chain and employee spending), facilitating $150bn in foreign direct investment, $104bn in exports, and contributes $5.2bn to GDP. 

Home-grown digital infrastructure & platforms

Lesotho’s government is seeking to regulate social media use, due to concerns about use in the spread of misinformation. It follows a recent resolution by Southern Africa leaders to take pre-emptive measures against the abuse of social media, particularly in electoral processes. Unease about digital platforms has been growing in some African countries. The concern over social media misuse may have legitimate roots - last year, Facebook removed a network of 200 Russian-linked Facebook profiles spreading disinformation in eight African countries, actively attempting to influence domestic politics in Africa. However, as anyone with at least 100 social media followers may be affected in Lesotho, concerns over free speech online are being raised.

High value skills development and talent repatriation

Ethiopia plans to open up some sectors of its economy, once reserved for domestic investors to diaspora and foreign investments. Ethiopia’s diaspora, ~2mn in size, are notably influential, funding opposition groups and organising large scale physical and social media protests against government oppression, albeit overseas. The country appears to be looking to tap into them more, as also evidenced by the dine for Ethiopia project, through which the Ethiopian Diaspora Agency plans to raise ~$1.4mn towards development projects. With African migrant annual savings amounting to $53bn, and annual remittances of ~$48bn, increased engagement with her diaspora can have great implications towards the value of African investments.

Exporting culture & identity

October marks black history month in the UK, first launched in London in the 1980s to celebrate the contributions that people of African and Caribbean backgrounds have made to the UK. Despite the UK being home to ~2mn black people, and black people featuring in British history for the last 400 years, black history and representation continues to struggle e.g. no modules in the GCSE syllabus for the most popular exam board, Edexcel, mention black people. Whilst this marks an important milestone in the British calendar, more can be done for black history and culture to be better represented all year round.

Access to financial services and products

A new report argues that the digitisation of agribusiness can help advance financial inclusion of farmers in SSA. In 2016, 85% of payments for the sale of agricultural products were in cash. Lack of access to formal financial services makes it difficult for farmers in SSA to save, invest and take advantage of growth opportunities. This partly derails the realisation of Africa’s full agricultural potential of adding 20% more cereals and grains to the current worldwide ~3bn tonnes of output. With more than 60% of the population being smallholder farmers, financial inclusion is highly dependent on this sector. Increasing access to mobile money accounts held by farmers, and the number of digital finance agents in rural areas are key drivers of farmer financial inclusion.

Baseline healthcare & disease protection

The World Health Organisation, together with partner organisations, is calling for a massive scale-up in investment in mental health for this year’s World Mental Health Day (10th October, 2020). With only 1.4 mental health workers per 100,000 people, Africa lags behind the world in mental health care services (vs. the global mean of 9). The number of psychiatrists, hospital beds for patients with mental illness, and the coverage of outpatient facilities are also relatively low. With mental health historically neglected on Africa’s policy agenda (albeit, in places due to focusing on other challenges such as poverty, disease and conflict), and global anxiety of a “second pandemic of mental health problems related to Covid-19”, The Continent may want to turn its attention to this area of concern.

Proportional representation in politics, business and community leadership

Mbali Ntuli, the first black woman to contest the leadership of South Africa’s main opposition party, Democratic Alliance (DA), has warned that unless the party increases black membership, it may not mount a credible challenge to the ruling African National Congress (ANC). South Africa’s party formations continue to be marred by racial prejudices, even after apartheid e.g. in 2018, while the DA had an 80% favourability among the whites, only 3 in 10 blacks held a positive view of the party. In contrast, while ~75% of blacks held a favourable view of the ANC, only 27% of whites did. The two leading parties can do more in fighting racial prejudices in the country e.g. by seeking long-lasting solutions to the redistribution of wealth in the country, as white privilege and high levels of poverty among blacks continue to dominate political rhetoric.

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History Class
UK black history month, October 2020

Mali's Mansa Musa, one of the wealthiest people who ever lived!


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