Movemeback Pulse

Actionable African insight delivered to you on pulse


Pulse #31 - See you in 2021: Happy Holidays from the Movemeback Pulse Team, and 2020's final edition of actionable insight

Season's Greetings Movemeback,

After 31 editions of actionable insight over 32 weeks, we're looking forward to bringing you more in 2021! Let us know what you would like to see more (or less!) of in the new year; and don't forget to share Pulse with those who would benefit from reading it in 2021. Until then, we wish you a well deserved, safe and meaningful break.

Happy holidays!

Your Movemeback Pulse Team

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The Data Room

Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Rwanda, Tanzania and Ghana have been listed as “Break Out” economies for their speed of digital evolution and use of technology to leapfrog and transform their economies. A new Digital Intelligence Index report remarks that these leapfrogs make for ideal role models for countries which are trailing behind on how to use digital technology as a lever for change. Of the 90 global economies assessed, Nigeria fared the worst, revealing considerable unrealised digital evolution potential, and the opportunity for catch-up in the years ahead.  

Numbers in the Spotlight
(USD4.9bn) needs to be raised by the Covid-19 Covax scheme, to meet its target of vaccinating at least 20% of people in poor countries in 2021

(USD1bn) will be loaned by US to the World Bank to help clear Sudan’s debt

(USD1bn) is estimated to have been invested this year alone, by wealthy Nigerians purchasing overseas citizenships

(USD300mn) is how much the US International Development Finance Corporation is investing in the expansion of Africa Data Centres

2,490,397 cases
of COVID-19 confirmed in Africa (as of last week)

7,020 children and adults in Malawi
should be compensated by British tobacco firms for exploitation on tobacco farms, according to a new legal claim 

344 boys
(at least) were kidnapped from their school in northern Nigeria, and held captive for a week before being released

8 of the 11
highest risk countries in the world for terrorism are in now Africa
On The Continent This Week

Intra-continental connectivity, collaboration & trade

Somalia has cut diplomatic ties with Kenya, accusing Kenya of trying to infringe upon the sovereignty and unity of Somalia before a general election. It came as Kenyan President Kenyatta hosted the leader of Somaliland - the north-western region that declared independence from Somalia in 1991. Somalia is a key export market for Kenya, earning it Ksh12bn in 2019 ($106mn) for its miraa leaf alone. With Kenya housing 200,000 Somali refugees, and contributing thousands of troops to an African Union military operation fighting al-Shabab in the region, Somalia’s decision could have wide consequences for trade and security in the Horn of Africa. With the countries also in dispute over 100,000sq km of maritime territory with prospects of vast oil and gas deposits, the global community may be increasingly pressured to take sides.

Access to financial services and products

The US will loan the World Bank $1bn to help clear Sudan’s debt with the institution. The news follows the US removing Sudan off its State Sponsors of Terrorism list after 27 years, and paves the way for Khartoum to access credit and relief for its massive $72bn of debt from International Financial Institutions. The delisting is equally expected to improve the perception of Sudan and attract new foreign direct investment, especially among American companies such as tech giant Oracle, which last year announced a mobile banking deal with a Sudanese bank. However, the delisting is not the magic bullet to Sudan’s economic situation; the government needs to focus on reforming the banking sector for transparency and rooting out corrupt actors entrenched in the system. 

Home-grown digital infrastructure & platforms

The US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) will invest $300mn in the expansion of Africa Data Centres, the data storage arm of Johannesburg-based Liquid Telecom. It comes after Zimbabwean telecoms billionaire, Strive Masiyiwa (whose Econet Group controls Liquid Telecoms), disclosed that Africa Data Centre has commenced the construction of what it says will be Nigeria’s biggest Data Centre. This week Masiyiwa was also appointed to Netflix's board - giving ample opportunity for Africa Data Centres to position itself as the ideal provider for large tech firms moving into Africa. Although Africa accounts for less than 1% of global data centre capacity, the market is expected to continue growing at >12% per year to $3bn by 2025. With rising internet penetration and adoption of cloud services by companies, localised data storage is becoming an increasingly important arm of Africa’s internet infrastructure. 

End-to-end value chain capture

British American Tobacco and Imperial Brands are facing a legal claim and demands to compensate 7,020 children and adults in Malawi. The British firms, which reported combined earnings of £12.5bn last year, are accused of profiting from child labour, exploitation and dangerous conditions on tobacco farms in Malawi, where up to 63% of children in tobacco districts have been engaged in child labour. Tobacco is Malawi’s main export, accounting for 55% of total exports. However, tobacco farmers are living in poverty - making an average profit of $79 per acre, vs. the average $351 across the agricultural sector (according to a 2016 study). With Malawi recently announcing it was ready to start commercial production of cannabis for medicinal and industrial use, will this recent news give the government the impetus to honour its previous promises to diversify its agriculture sector?  

Exporting culture & identity

Couscous, the Berber dish enjoyed across northern Africa and increasingly the world, has been added to UNESCO’s list of the world’s intangible cultural heritage. UNESCO have described the addition as “a real diplomatic success”, as Algeria and Morocco put aside their diplomatic rivalry to join Tunisia and Mauritania in submitting a joint petition to add the dish to the list in March 2019. With Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia all claiming to be the home of the dish, as with West Africa's furious debate over who makes the best jollof rice, might this be a case study for how recognition of shared culture can help strengthen a sense of common identity across the Continent?

Proportional representation in politics, business and community leadership

This week saw the week-long captivity and release of 344 boys, who were kidnapped from a school in Nigeria’s north-western state of Katsina. Whilst the facts surrounding the event remain unclear, it once again raises concerns about Nigeria’s security, as well as gaps in efforts to protect children. Despite Nigeria’s federal government ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, 11 northern states (of a total of 36 states) object to the Act based on religious and cultural norms. With the kidnapping bearing hallmarks of the 2014 abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls in the town of Chibok, sparking the #BringBackOurGirls movement, pressure mounts on the Nigerian government to better protect its children from its poor security.

Essential infrastructure, personal living-space & utilities

Vodafone and AST SpaceMobile have unveiled plans to launch the first space-based mobile network to connect directly to 4G and 5G smartphones without any need for specialised hardware. The project aims to transform mobile network coverage for 1.6bn people in the 49 largest countries in the equatorial regions from 2023, including Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Mozambique, Kenya, and Tanzania. Mobile internet adoption in SSA is expected to rise from just 26% in 2019 to 39% in 2025; expanding mobile broadband penetration by just 10% in Africa could equate to an increase of 2.5% in GDP per capita. Whilst 3G and 4G land based towers already cover 95% of urbanised areas, connecting rural communities is more challenging. Vodafone’s use of satellites joins other non-traditional methods (including balloons) in an effort to close the digital divide.

Scaleable energy access

South Africa’s President, Ramaphosa, has appointed a 22-member climate change commission to oversee the transition towards a low-carbon and climate change resilient economy. South Africa is the 14th largest carbon emitter in the world, and responsible for a third of Africa’s greenhouse gas emissions, largely due to its heavy reliance on coal; ~2,200 deaths per year in South Africa could be linked to coal-fired generation. However, growing Chinese financing for coal projects could debilitate Africa’s struggle to secure a green future, as Beijing has extended about $6.5bn in finance to coal projects in Africa in the last two decades. Strong resolve is needed by African countries to stay on path to a more sustainable energy future, as was demonstrated by the African Development Bank last year, which despite historically being a major funder of African coal projects, announced “getting out of coal”.  

High value skills development and talent repatriation

Fear of political uncertainty and hope for better opportunities elsewhere are compelling a growing number of wealthy Nigerians to buy citizenship overseas. In the last decade, Nigeria has dropped the most in the ranking of powerful passports, increasing demand for so-called “golden visas” or foreign citizenships-by-investment - with more than $1bn estimated to have been invested by Nigerians into the schemes this year alone. The situation seems to have been compounded by instability triggered by the recent #EndSARS protests. With Nigeria’s diaspora already standing at 1.2mn people, Nigeria urgently needs to address its political and economic woes, to avoid the outflow of more (typically highly skilled and high income) professionals.

Baseline healthcare & disease protection

The Covax scheme to deliver Covid-19 vaccines to 91 poor countries faces a “very high” risk of failure, potentially leaving billions of people with no access to vaccines until 2024. Having raised $2.1bn so far, the program needs another $4.9bn to meet its target of vaccinating at least 20% of people in poor countries next year. It comes as Africa appears to be experiencing a second wave, with 18% of its now 2.5mn total cases occurring in the last 30 days. Countries across Africa are reporting record high levels of infection; resulting in Democratic Republic of Congo implementing a curfew, Nigeria shutting down schools and gatherings in Lagos, and South Africa announcing a new coronavirus variant. With the UK and US already starting to vaccinate their people, and Africa thought to have been previously spared from case rates experienced elsewhere, the Continent needs to start preparing for a turning of tables.

Effective internal and regional security, and foreign policy

Sub-Saharan Africa is the riskiest investment region due to militant violence and abuses by security forces, according to a new ‘Terrorism Intensity Index’ report. The report identifies seven African states - Burkina Faso, Mali, Somalia, Cameroon, Mozambique, Niger, the DRC and Nigeria - amongst the world’s 11 highest risk countries. Violent extremism comes at a heavy cost to not just life, but also economies - costing African countries ~$97bn per year due to damage to physical infrastructure, a reduction in investment, increased informalisation of economies as trade is forced to go underground, and money diverted to security spending. A multilateral and multi-sectoral approach is needed, including regional operations, peace talks, youth livelihood development programming and tailored economic and social interventions.  

Upgrade Your Life

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

  1. 16 songs from across Africa to get you in the festive spirit
  2. The top 20 African books of 2020
  3. You’re on mute + other 2020 lessons
  4. How to collaborate with someone you don’t really know
  5. Fat chance: probability from the ground up - free Harvard online course
  6. Financial inclusion, the digital divide and other thoughts on the future of money
  7. The launching pad course for your great idea
  8. Dakar fashion week takes place in a baobab forest – in pictures
  9. Through the eyes of modern African kings - Arts & Culture
History Class

Before #BringBackOurGirls: A quick history of Boko Haram