Movemeback Pulse

Actionable African insight delivered to you on pulse


Pulse #26 - Solve for Connectivity: Pfizer’s Covid vaccine cold-chain challenge, a new West African super-fast broadband network, countdown to AfCFTA

The Data Room

Implementation of The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is scheduled to begin on 1 January 2021 (having been delayed from the original 1 July 2020 date). With 54 of Africa’s 55 countries being signatories, only 34 have complied with the domestic requirements for ratification, whilst just 29 have ‘deposited their instruments of ratification' (a letter, marking the final state of the Treaty ratification process). As AfCFTA has the potential to boost regional income by $450bn by 2035, and Covid-19 is expected to cost Africa $115bn in lost output this year, many pinning hopes on AfCFTA as key to a post-COVID recovery.

Numbers in the Spotlight
($180bn) is the potential size of Africa’s Internet economy in 2025 (up from $115bn in 2019)

EUR 220,000,000
(EUR 220mn) in financing will go to Egyptian SMEs to support green investments in energy and water

1,963,702 cases
of COVID-19 confirmed in Africa (as of last week)

690,000 software developers
is how Africa has in its still nascent developer ecosystem

of land and sea cable is being used to create a pan-West African, unified super-fast broadband network 

50 people
have been beheaded in northern Mozambique, by militant insurgents

34 African countries
of the 54 signing countries have complied with the domestic requirements for AfCFTA ratification

25% of vaccines
are thrown away due to problems in cold chain logistics - this could be much higher for the Pfizer Covid vaccine in Africa

Essential infrastructure, personal living-space & utilities

French telecoms company, Orange, has announced ‘Djoliba’ - dubbed the 1st 'pan-West African' unified super-fast broadband network based on 10,000km cross-border terrestrial fibre optic network and 10,000km of undersea cables. Meanwhile, Alphabet’s X ‘Moonshot Factory’ announced that its 'Project Taara' is working with internet provider Econet, to begin rolling out its high-speed optical wireless broadband technology across SSA - focusing its efforts overground to avoid the high cost and difficulty of laying fibre cables underground. Whilst international efforts will help increase SSA’s internet penetration from just 20%, concerns remain over 'digital-colonialism' - foreign control of Africa's digital ecosystem and movement of data for the Continent. 

Baseline healthcare & disease protection

News of Pfizer’s vaccine, that is 90% effective against Covid-19, has raised global hope of the end to the pandemic. However, the drug may not be a viable option for the Continent due to anticipated logistical challenges of distributing across Africa's largely rural population. The drug needs to be transported at -70 degrees Celsius and stored in a low-temperature fridge for a maximum five days. Hope for Africa most likely lies in either the development of vaccines that can be distributed at warmer temperatures, or in the ensuring a ‘cold chain’ - mapping out a network of refrigerators and cold chains, as are being implemented by UNICEF. Currently >25% of drugs get thrown away due to problems in cold chain logistics. Without a solution fit for the Continent’s warm climate, this percentage could be higher for the Pfizer vaccine in Africa.

Access to financial services and products

Whatsapp Pay has launched in India - Whatsapp’s biggest market - reigniting speculation of a future launch in Africa. With 102mn active mobile money users in East Africa alone, the region is likely an attractive prospect for Whatsapp’s in-chat payments solution. However, the African Continent has just half the number of Whatsapp users as India, and Nigeria’s focus on protecting commercial banks has created challenges for telcos to participate in payments. Still, with tech companies often using Asian markets as testing grounds before launching in Africa, expect more speculation, and potential collaborations with existing payment gateways in Africa. 

Intra-continental connectivity, collaboration & trade

Nigeria has ratified AfCFTA - taking Africa one step closer to realising its free trade area, due to be implemented on 1 Jan 2021 (delayed from the original 1 July 2020 date). Nigeria is expected to see a 4% boost in income by 2035 as a result of its participation. Ironically, its borders with Benin, Niger and Cameroon remain closed - a year-long protectionist measure aimed at reducing smuggling and boosting local production. With Dangote Cement and BUA Group - two of Nigeria’s largest businesses - being granted exemptions to resume exporting across borders, is this just favouritism, or a sign that Nigeria will soon fully resume trading with its neighbouring countries?

Effective internal and regional security, and foreign policy

Militant insurgents have killed more than 50 people in the gas-rich Cabo Delgado province of northern Mozambique. It is the latest in a series of attacks carried out since 2017. With 2,000 people killed and 430,000 left homeless, members of the Southern African Development Community have expressed their support. Thought to be linked to the Islamic State, the attacks give the group a southern African foothold. Facing their own spate of terrorist attacks, France has called this an “international threat that calls for an international response”. The international community will also be keeping a watchful eye as Cabo Delgado is home to a $60bn natural gas development, involving multinational companies Exxon Mobil and Total. 

High value skills development and talent repatriation

Africa has nearly 700,000 professional developers, according to the e-Conomy Africa 2020 report released by Google and the IFC. This is a small number when compared to Latin America’s 2.2mn developers, and 628k in California alone. 21% of Africa's developers are female, making it more gender-equal than the US's 15% female developer population. Of concern is the junior level of Africa’s developers - with 43% having 1-3 years of experience, compared with 22% in the US - as felt by Andela when it had to recruit more experienced talent from the US to meet client demand. However, with 50% of Africa’s developers in just five key markets (Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa), and a burgeoning youth population, huge opportunities remain to increase the Continent’s tech talent. 

End-to-end value chain capture

Nigeria’s agriculture sector received another push as the Central Bank launched the Private Sector-led Accelerated Agriculture Development Scheme, to engage 370,000 youths in agricultural production. With 70% of Nigerians engaged in subsistence-level agricultural production, and Nigeria importing almost $4bn of food per year, great opportunities lie in value-added production, food security and job creation. However, with a previous World Bank study showing that a 10% increase in agriculture production decreases the likelihood of being poor by just 2.5-3%, the benefits should not be overstated.

Scaleable energy access

Egyptian SMEs will receive EUR 220mn in financing via two climate action programmes - the ‘Green Value Chain’ and the ‘Green Economy Financing Facility’. Funded by The Green Climate Fund, the EU and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the programmes are designed to support green investments in energy and water efficient solutions. Egypt - Africa’s 3rd largest country by population - is unique with respect to its water resources. Although the Nile delta and valley comprise 5.5% of the area of Egypt, it has over 95% of its people and its agriculture. As a result, agriculture, large cities, aqua-culture, industry, tourism and human life are all vulnerable to climate change and the potential impact on sea level rises.

Exporting culture & identity

Nigerian born author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, has been voted the best book to have won the Women's Prize for Fiction in its 25-year history. Chimamanda, celebrated as "attracting a new generation of readers to African literature”, is perhaps one of the most well-known African authors to achieve global recognition. However, more sceptical critics fear that many of Africa’s most successful writers owe their commercial prominence to telling an overly diasporic or Western-focused vision of the Continent. Chimamanda herself broached the topic of lack of diversity in story-telling in her TEDtalk “The Danger of the Single Story” (see below for link to video).

Proportional representation in politics, business and community leadership

In celebration of the African Union’s ‘Africa Youth Month 2020’ (taking place this November), a list of Africa’s ‘100 Most Influential Young Africans’ has been announced - recognising their contributions towards the Continent’s development. The diverse list covers 29 countries, and includes 49 females and 7 young ministers. With three quarters of Africa’s youth below age 35, but 2/3rds of young Africans unemployed, perhaps it falls on Africa’s young leaders to steer the Continent to increase economic equality.
Upgrade Your Life

Our selection of online courses, tools, offers and ideas to boost your professional and personal repertoire.

  1. The danger of a single story - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  2. There’s more to homegrown African literature than what Western publishers favor
  3. Designing your career - Free online course from Stanford
  4. How technology is shaping democracy and the 2020 election - Free online course from Stanford
  5. The energy Africa needs to develop - and fight climate change - TEDtalk 
  6. Managing parents working from home during the pandemic
  7. Basic first aid - How to be an everyday hero
  8. The Face of Ritual - Explore Africa's various ritual masks
  9. Enjoy a virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel
  10. Riddle of the week
History Class

Jerry John Rawlings, in his own words - Ghana's ex-President dies aged 73

Why is Africa building a 'Great Green Wall'?


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: