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.
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.
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.