Movemeback Pulse

Actionable African insight delivered to you on pulse


Pulse #30 - Enable the future: Leaders commit to halve internet costs, PayPal & MFS target underbanked, renewable powered data centers & a Sickle Cell cure?

The Data Room
As African leaders commit to reduce internet cost by 50% (more below), we look at the cost of 1GB of mobile data. 4 of the 5 countries with the most expensive mobile data are in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). This is driven by lack of infrastructure and lack of market competition - as countries with multiple competing networks, such as Nigeria, tend to pay less. As a result, the Continent has some way to go before achieving the goal of making internet access affordable.
Numbers in the Spotlight
(USD4.5bn) is the cost of the new Batoka Gorge hydroelectric project that will soon begin construction along the Zambia-Zimbabwe border

(USD1bn) of drones and precision-guided weapons will be sold by US to Morocco, following US’s recognition of Morocco’s claim over the Western Sahara region

>12,000,000 people
(more than 12mn) in Africa suffer from Sickle Cell Disease - scientists have a made big steps towards finding a new cure

2,361,271 cases
of COVID-19 confirmed in Africa (as of last week)

66% more
Nigerian developers contributed to code hosting platform GitHub this year - the biggest growth from any country

is the reduction in internet costs committed to by 31 African leaders under the Smart Africa Alliance (target date TBC)
On The Continent This Week

Effective internal and regional security, and foreign policy

Israel and Morocco have agreed to normalise relations, adding to US President Trump’s legacy as the fourth Arab-Israeli agreement in four months. As part of the deal, US has agreed to recognise Morocco’s claim over the long-disputed Western Sahara region, and will sell $1bn of drones and precision-guided weapons to Morocco. Fears of instability in the region are now mounting, as neighbouring Algeria are the key foreign backers to the Polisario Front (who have fought for independence over the region for years). With the African Union recognising Western Sahara as a non-self-governing territory, the US's decision may also increase pressure on the AU’s member states to now take sides. 

Access to financial services and products

Global online payments system, PayPal, is partnering with Africa’s largest mobile money hub, MFS Africa, to expand its money transfer service, Xoom, into underbanked segments of Africa. Remittances to Africa are more expensive than to anywhere in the world - averaging 9% in the last quarter of 2019 (based on the cost of sending $200) vs. the global average of 6.8%, and well above the Sustainable Development Goal 10 target of 3%. The partnership will allow customers in the US, UK, Canada and Europe to send money to mobile wallets across the Continent, reducing the average remittance fee in some regions to 2-4% (according to Xoom). With SSA registering $48bn in remittances in 2019, but expecting a 23% decline in 2020, reducing the cost of remittances could help support a post-Covid economic recovery.

Exporting culture & identity

Disney Animation and pan-African entertainment company Kugali, have partnered to create a new science-fiction series launching on DisneyPlus in 2022 called Iwaju (roughly translated as “The Future” in the Yoruba language). Iwaju is adapted from Kugali’s comic book collection of the same name, and appears to be set in a Wakanda-like futuristic Lagos. Kugali was created by three friends from Nigeria and Uganda, apparently fed up with non-Africans telling African stories. This watershed moment marks the first time Disney has partnered with a comic studio outside of Marvel. With Disney announcing they will not recast Chadwick Boseman’s role as T'Challa in Black Panther 2, it seems the search for new authentic African heroes and stories has started.

Scaleable energy access

Amazon will generate its own electricity for its data centers in South Africa, through new wind and solar projects. The project is part of Amazon’s expansion from 127 to 153 global solar and wind projects, making it the largest-ever corporate purchaser of renewable energy. Amazon will generate electricity in South Africa through the grid of struggling state-owned power utility, Eskom - whose power cuts cost South African an estimated $8.3bn last year alone. Data centers are energy consuming - using up to 1% of the world’s electricity. With Amazon, Google, Apple and Microsoft all aggressively competing to own the Cloud, this approach may give Amazon a competitive advantage for scaling effectively in Africa.

End-to-end value chain capture

Rwanda has launched the African Centre of Excellence of Sustainable Cooling and Cold Chain (ACES) to advance sustainable cooling and cold chain systems across the Continent. The collaboration between the governments of Rwanda and UK, plus commercial and university partners, comes at a time when the world is preparing cold supply chains required for the safe transportation of Covid-19 vaccines (25% of vaccines are thrown away due to problems in cold chain logistics). ACES will not only support Covid vaccine deliveries, but also help reduce the estimated 30% of food produce that is lost due to poor post-harvest handling

Intra-continental connectivity, collaboration & trade

Construction of the $4.5bn Batoka Gorge Hydro-Electric Scheme (BGHES) in Southern Africa is set to begin after the recent completion of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment. The dam and power plant project along the Zambia-Zimbabwe border, will be constructed by USA’s General Electric and China’s Power China. 2,400MW of expected generated power will be equally distributed between the neighbours - a considerable amount given Zambia’s current 2,800MW and Zimbabwe’s ~2,000MW of installed electricity generation capacity. However, with the reservoir extending ~1km along the Victoria Falls basin (a UNESCO World Heritage Site that attracted ~1mn tourists in 2019), there will be a cost to local populations who rely on tourism. 

Essential infrastructure, personal living-space & utilities

New South African airline, Lift, has completed its first domestic flight, launching just in time for the South African summer season. The airline took advantage of a thinning in competition (with the grounding of South African Airways), and an apparent 40% decline in airline cost structures due to an oversupply of idle planes and lower oil prices. Bringing to life South Africa’s domestic and international aviation will be critical to its post-Covid recovery, as prior to the pandemic, the sector supported 472,000 jobs (across aviation, tourism, supply chain and employee spending), facilitated $150bn in foreign direct investment and $104bn in exports, and contributed $5.2bn to GDP in South Africa. 

High value skills development and talent repatriation

Nigeria saw the highest growth in the number of contributors to tech code hosting platform, GitHub, in 2020. Global collaboration among developers on the platform reached an all-time high of over 60mn, 35% more than the year prior. With over 25 companies in Nigeria focused on growing technical talent, the rise of developer internships in 2020, and a growing youth bulge (40% of the population are under 14 years old), Nigeria is a potential hotspot for global tech talent. As Nigerian developers are showing an appetite to collaborate to advance their skills and find solutions to problems that arise, it falls on policy makers to invest in continuous education and infrastructure to create an enabling environment for their continued development.

Baseline healthcare & disease protection

Scientists have seen promising results from studies using gene editing to cure Sickle Cell Disease (SCD). 10 participants who were given the one-time treatment several months ago have since not needed hospitalisation or blood transfusions, and are crisis-free (intermittent extreme body pain). Currently disease management is the most likely option for sufferers, as the only known cure is a bone marrow transplant from a closely matched donor without the disease (e.g. a sibling), which most people don’t have. With 20-25mn people globally suffering from SCD, 12-15mn of which live in Africa, and 50–80% of the infants born with SCD in Africa dying before the age of 5 years, the result of a planned wider study could be considerable for the Continent, and sufferers globally.

Home-grown digital infrastructure & platforms

African leaders under the Smart Africa Alliance (with 31 participating countries) have committed to reduce internet cost by 50%, in a virtual board meeting chaired by President Kagame of Rwanda. Africa’s Internet economy has the potential to reach 5.2% of the Continent’s GDP by 2025, contributing nearly $180bn to its economy (according to Google & IFC). However, internet access and affordability remain constraints to the economic benefit that could be derived from the internet, as the average cost of 1GB of data in a majority of countries is prices above the UN Broadband Commission’s target of 2%. The project could therefore be a crucial move towards this. With a framework for implementation due to be complete before year end, we await to hear about the deadline of the 50% reduction target.

Proportional representation in politics, business and community leadership

Two Nigerian women have been recognised for their work in raising awareness of sexual abuse. Journalist Kiki Mordi, has been named the 2020 winner of the Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling, for her Emmy nominated documentary “Sex for Grades”, which revealed sexual harassment facing students in universities in Nigeria and Ghana. Meanwhile Oluwaseun Ayodeji Osowobi has won the 2020 Global Citizen Prize: Nigeria’s Hero Award for her Stand to End Rape Initiative - a youth-led social enterprise advocating against sexual violence. In Nigeria, one in three girls are thought to have experienced at least one form of sexual abuse by age 25. Their work raises awareness of the need for comprehensive policy action and legislation against rape, and to ensure victims get the justice they deserve.
Upgrade Your Life

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

  1. Barack Obama - How I approach the toughest decisions
  2. Bill gates: 5 good book for a lousy year
  3. Creating space for religious diversity at work
  4. Everything you need to know about product led growth
  5. Practicing gratitude teach-out - free online course
  6. How to love: legendary zen Buddhist teacher on mastering the art of “interbeing”
  7. Globalisation is ending; what next? TedTalk
  8. Dance, water and prayers: celebrating the goddess Yemoja
  9. John Edmonds (photographer) and the allure of Africa
  10. Sex for Grades - award winning documentary exposing sexual harassment in African Universities
History Class
Will Morocco and Polisario go to war? A thirty-year old ceasefire is over in the disputed territory of Western Sahara.
Faces Of Africa - Mwalimu Julius Nyerere - Tanzania Independence leader (independent since  9. December 1961)

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