Movemeback Pulse

Actionable African insight delivered to you on pulse


Pulse #32 - Welcome back from the Pulse Team, and 2021's first edition of The Continent-wide insight

The Data Room

While the implementation of the Great Green Wall initiative (combatting desertification by growing an 8,000km natural wonder of the world across the entire width of Africa) has created 350,000 jobs, generated $90mn in revenues and restored 18mn hectares of land, success varies across participating countries, a status report reveals. Ethiopia has achieved the highest success with 2mn hectares of land restored compared to Djibouti’s tail-ending performance of 130 hectares. 

Numbers in the Spotlight
(USD22.1bn) is the value of intra-bloc trade that the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) expects to boost with its integrated digital payment system for cross-border transactions

(USD14.3bn) pledged by the African Development Bank, France and the World Bank for the implementation of the Great Green Wall initiative

1,300,000,000 people
(1.3bn) have been brought together by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), launched on 1. Jan 2021

1,200,000 tonnes
(1.2mn) is the estimated volume of Nickel deposits in northwest Tanzania - the world's largest development-ready, high-grade nickel sulphide deposit

3,391,198 cases
of COVID-19 confirmed in Africa (as of last week)

750,000 Nigerian youths
will get paid placements under a new job creation scheme

5,100 French troops
fighting Islamists in the Sahel region of Africa are being considered for withdrawal by President Macron

years since President Yoweri Museveni captured power in Uganda after waging a five-year guerrilla war against the then government
On The Continent This Week

Proportional representation in politics, business and community leadership

A week after presidential elections, Ugandans are gradually returning online following five days of internet blackout imposed by the state. Whilst long-serving president, Yoweri Museveni defied Covid-19 deterrence rules to organise a victory parade stretching hundreds of kilometers after being declared winner of the disputed election, his closest challenger, Bobi Wine continues to be surrounded by army and police while being held under house arrest from where he says he is “worried about my life and the life of my wife”. Bobi Wine, 38, plans to challenge the victory of Museveni, 76. With Bobi Wine and his National Unity Platform party securing landslide victories in his ancestral region of Buganda, and Museveni achieving a similar feat in Western Uganda where he hails from, the election has exposed ethnic fault lines. It remains to be seen if Museveni, who has been in power for 35 years, will preside over Uganda’s first peaceful transfer of power.

Baseline healthcare & disease protection

Concerns that Africans will be at the end of the vaccine queue have been allayed as the Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP) begins its Covid-19 vaccines pre-order programme for all African Union member states. The pre-order is being facilitated by the African Export-Import Bank, which will advance procurement commitment guarantees of up to $2bn to manufacturers on behalf of the member states. The African Union has secured a provisional 270mn vaccine doses for Africa from Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson and AstraZeneca through its African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, that will be equitably allocated to member states through AMSP for pace, transparency and cost-effectiveness. It is important to note that Covid-19 vaccine will not be a magic bullet for the ailing healthcare systems in Africa and vaccines may be less effective against the new South African variants.   

Intra-continental connectivity, collaboration & trade

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) launched on New Year’s day against a backdrop of border closures and travel restrictions due to lockdown measures aimed at stemming the spread of Covid-19. The largest free trade area in the world, AfCFTA aims to thread together 1.3bn people in a $3.4tn economic bloc. The bloc is expected to boost intra-continental trade and pull tens of millions out of poverty by 2035. However the recent launch was largely symbolic, as full implementation will take decades. Obstacles abound - poor infrastructure, insecurity, border bureaucracy, petty corruption and protectionist tendencies - will need to be overcome if the bloc is to flourish. Additionally, although the launch of the single passport - a crucial element to allow for the free movement of people and goods across the Continent - is expected to occur this year, continued lock-down travel restrictions may push this further away from its original July 2020 target date.

Exporting culture & identity

To revel in the birth of a new US administration, millions of Americans had the rare chance to hum, whistle, sing or dance Afropop when Nigerian artist Burna Boy featured on the official playlist for the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Whilst the creators attempted to reflect the diversity of America through the playlist, the inclusion of Burna Boy’s song ‘Destiny’ is testament of the barriers African artists are breaking. Africa's entertainment sector raked in about $480mn a year from exports by 2015, according to Politifact. But the industry could earn much more with better intellectual property protection. 

End-to-end value chain capture

In a bid to restore degraded landscapes, improve agricultural productivity and bolster the livelihoods of populations, the African Development Bank, France and the World Bank are pledging $14.3bn for the implementation of the Great Green Wall initiative. As the world’s most ambitious reforestation project, the initiative aims to raise a 15km wide and 8,000km long cross-continental green barrier stretching from Senegal to Djibouti. Conceived in 2007 by the African Union, the objective of the Great Green Wall is to hold back the deserts of the Sahara and Sahel, capture carbon dioxide and reduce conflict, terrorism and migration. This funding will boost the initiative, which has covered only 4% of its target area but is more than halfway towards its 2030 completion date

Scaleable energy access

Tanzania is poised to wield major influence over the electric car industry after she signed a deal with British miner Kabanga Nickel Limited, to jointly develop the world’s largest battery-grade nickel sulphide deposit in the country’s northwest. Nickel, a key electric car battery material, is estimated to manifest in the volume of more than 1.52mn tonnes in Kabanga, the world's largest development-ready, high-grade nickel sulphide deposit. However the deal comes at a time when trust between mining firms and the Tanzanian government is thin following acts of adhocism and unilateralism (e.g. in 2017 President John Pombe Magufuli, nicknamed "The Bulldozer", cancelled all mining retention licenses and suspended the issuance of new licenses until a new mining commission was in place). 

Essential infrastructure, personal living-space & utilities

In a rare legal victory for victims of negative externalities of mining, UK-based mining firm Vedanta Resources, and its Zambian subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines, have agreed to settle all claims brought against them by Zambian villagers concerning pollution by a copper mine. In the case filed in 2015 in UK courts, 2500 Zambian villagers, including children, sought damages, remediation and cessation to the alleged continual pollution that they say is gravely impacting their lives. Although the mining firms have not admitted liability, commentators say the outcome of the case “is likely to embolden more potential claimants to seek access to judicial remedies against multinational corporations in their home jurisdictions.” This case sets a costly precedent that could make it difficult for parent companies to claim immunity against subsidiaries’ liabilities. Multinationals, particularly in extractive industries, ought to develop robust rights and enforcement policies, to protect local communities in poorer countries.

High value skills development and talent repatriation

In light of worsening youth unemployment, Nigeria has launched what it calls the 'biggest job creation scheme' in its history. Under the scheme named the Special Public Works (SPW) programme, the government will finance 750,000 paid placements for young people. While the scheme will offer three-month job placements starting October, the 20,000 naira ($53) a month salary will be less than the minimum wage of 30,000 naira. Additionally, temporary jobs, while offering the much-needed cash support and experience, do little to dent long-term unemployment and poverty. Figures from Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics show 14mn youth aged under 24 years are unemployed

Access to financial services and products 

To boost intra-regional trade among its 21 member countries currently at a lowly 7%, Africa’s largest regional trading bloc, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), is developing a system that will enable Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to make instantaneous digital cross-border payments. The system is expected to facilitate the transition of MSMEs to a cash-lite economy, and increase access to, and uptake of digital financial services by this previously underserved market segment, particularly those participating in cross-border trade. COMESA boasts a market of 583mn people with intra-bloc trade of $22.1bn in 2019. It remains to be seen if MSMEs, which often avoid huge cross-border taxes, will not perceive this as a formalisation drive aimed at reining them in. 

Home-grown digital infrastructure & platforms

More Africans can now tell their untold tales on the international stage, after a Ghanaian tech entrepreneur developed an audiobooks app to serve this purpose. Named Afrikan Echoes, the app is due to launch in March, featuring up to 50 original and unpublished African works that have been translated into multiple African languages, including Yoruba, Amharic and Swahili. The work of Herman Chinery-Hesse, known for establishing SOFTtribe, Ghana's largest software company, the app is expected to facilitate the continuation of Africa’s longstanding tradition of oral storytelling, used to entertain and educate younger generations about culture and history. But with each story costing $1 to download, and one in three Africans (490mn people) living in extreme poverty, millions will find the app too expensive to use.

Effective internal and regional security, and foreign policy

France is mulling troop cuts in Africa’s Sahel region, after President Emmanuel Macron announced he could “adjust” their operations following successes against Islamist militants and the arrival of more European forces. Whilst it is unclear when and in what numbers adjustment to French troops will be affected, any drastic tinkering could fuel militants and sink the region into deeper fragility. France maintains the largest Western force in the region with 5,100 of its troops battling militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State as part of Operation Barkhane supporting the armies of Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad. But with 51% of the French opposed to the Sahel intervention ahead of the 2022 presidential polls, withdrawal of some troops remains a matter of when not if. 

Upgrade Your Life

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

  1. 55 Anticipated African books of 2021
  2. How to be a “glass-shattering” organisation
  3. When should you collaborate with the competition?
  4. Too busy to learn a language? Here are 7 simple ways to start today
  5. TED: 6 Essential lessons for women leaders with Dr Okonjo Iweala
  6. Consumer behaviour and psychology - free online course
  7. Introductory class to entrepreneurship - free online course
  8. Introduction to corporate sustainability, social innovation and ethics - free online course
  9. Enter the VOMA, the world's first fully virtual museum
  10. DA YIE - Ghanaian BAFTA shortlisted film
History Class
The road to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) - the world’s largest free-trade area

A ‘wind of change’ that transformed the African Continent. 


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