Pulse #35 - Make tough choices: Covid-19 vaccine hitch, Nigeria’s crypto ban, Sudan appoints ex-rebels, cancelling MTV Africa Music Awards
In this week's Pulse...
Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine hitch, appointing ex-rebels to cabinet in Sudan, confusion over Nigeria’s crypto currency ban, whether to start or ground a national carrier, postponing MTV Africa Music Awards, tackling adverse effects of the renewables surge, and more
The Data Room
Who were the winners of Africa’s venture capital market in 2020? Amidst a global pandemic, Africa remained the fastest growing venture capital (VC) market in 2020, with a 44% increase in equity rounds, despite a 29% decline in total funding. Whilst Fintech remained the top winner with 25% of funding, Enterprise, Agritech, Logistics & Mobility, and Healthtech also performed well. But further data disaggregation reveals a concentration of funding in a few countries. Fintech investment was largely concentrated in Nigeria (38%), Egypt (28%) and Ghana (13%). About 79% of Agritech went to Kenya alone, whilst nearly half of Enterprise funding went to South Africa. Egypt monopolised funding in Logistics & Mobility, and Edtech with half of the investment in these categories going to the land of pharaohs.
Numbers in the Spotlight
(USD500bn) is being sought from the IMF by Africa’s finance ministers to aid post-Covid economic recovery
(USD3.5bn) was provided by the EU for peace and security in Africa between 2004 and 2019
~$600,000,000 in Bitcoin
($6000mn) was traded by Nigeria in the last 5 years - making it the 2nd largest Bitcoin trader in the world
(500mn) of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine have been ordered by the African Union - it gives minimal protection against mild-to-moderate Covid-19 caused by the South African variant
(USD100,000) will be given to each of the 26 non-profits and social enterprises selected to fight cybercrime in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa
37 African countries
have access to Isgubhu, Apple Music’s new platform for African homegrown electronic dance music
have been appointed to Sudan’s new cabinet in fulfilment of a key component of a 2020 peace deal
On The Continent This Week
Effective internal and regional security, and foreign policy.
EU seeks to directly impact African security. In changing its peace and security financing to Africa, the EU is empowering Brussels to bypass the African Union (AU) and directly pay for national and sub-regional military initiatives. For 16 years, the EU has channelled this sort of financing, about €2.9bn (about $3.5bn) between 2004 and 2019, through the African Peace Facility (APF) jointly run with the AU. The new strategy also empowers Brussels to finance lethal equipment for African armies. This will equally enable the EU to finance security initiatives of member states and increase support for multi-state military plans. The change follows concerns about Addis Ababa’s use of EU money for peacekeeping. Brussels nonetheless needs to conduct thorough risk assessment before financing military training and equipment for African armies and avoid equipping fragile states. Such a move also raises concerns about neo-colonialism.
Proportional representation in politics, business and community leadership
Can the appointment of ex-rebels to new Sudan cabinet bring lasting stability? To build political consensus and achieve sustained stability, Sudan's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has appointed seven ex-rebel chiefs as new ministers, including veteran guerrilla leader and economist Gibril Ibrahim, who played a major role in the Darfur conflict. The new, expanded cabinet results from a 2020 peace deal signed with some rebel groups; it aimed at ending conflicts, awarding rebel groups posts in transitional institutions, and resetting the clock on a 39-month transition to elections. The cabinet is, however, gender imbalanced, and whilst it reflects political and regional diversity, it could result in difficulties in reaching consensus and building a shared vision for governance. Conflict has plagued Sudan for decades - killing over 1.7mn people and displacing more than 2mn.
Essential infrastructure, personal living-space & utilities
A surprise in Africa: Air pollution falls as economies rise. Rapid economic growth is often associated with increased air pollution; but a new study shows that one of Africa’s fastest growing regions is bucking this trend by becoming less polluted. Levels of dangerous nitrogen oxides - by-products of combustion - in the northern part of sub-Saharan Africa were found to have declined sharply as wealth and population in the area increased. Researchers attribute this rare occurrence to the fact that an increase in pollution from industry and transportation in the area studied (from Senegal and Ivory Coast in the west to South Sudan, Uganda and Kenya in the east) was offset by a decline in the number of fires set by farmers. Bush burning is the cheapest and most efficient method African farmers use to clear land for farming. But these findings shouldn’t make authorities complacent, especially as pollution through industrial activity is likely to rise to meet the consumption demands of Africa’s growing population, expected to hit 2.2bn in 2050.
Scaleable energy access
Renewables surge causing environmental and rights decline. As your mobile phone and laptop power on, a cobalt mining community is slowly powering off in Africa. Crucial to the shift from fossil fuels to renewables is the intensified use of rechargeable batteries to power electric vehicles and electronic devices. Ironically, this shift carries its own risks of additional environmental harm and abuse of human rights in Africa and the rest of the global south, according to a new study. The rechargeable lithium-ion batteries contain minerals such as lithium, cobalt and nickel. Poorly regulated industry practices mean that the adverse effect of the battery boom such as ecosystem destruction and human rights abuses are felt by communities in mineral-rich areas like the cobalt-mining region of the DRC, which produces over 60% of the world’s cobalt. More than 60 international organisations want businesses and governments to tackle product design, operation and waste management, accountability for clean-up and remediation in the battery supply chain.
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