Pulse #36 - Breaking barriers: Mobile money to shop abroad, Africa's emerging leaders shaping the world, & 9 countries to join 'Gigawatt Club' #BeLikeNgozi
In this week's Pulse...
Several Africans featured in 2021 TIME100 Next list, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala becomes first African and woman to head WTO (and a cultural icon), 9 African countries poised to join small group of world’s leading solar energy producers, possibility of shopping abroad without bank account, and more.
The Data Room
Logistical challenges for Africa’s vaccination drive. Africa is projected to receive 600mn doses of Covid-19 vaccines, only second to Asia’s (excluding India and China) 1,115mn doses. But for a Continent whose supply chains remain underdeveloped or neglected, Africa is bracing herself for significant logistical challenges. Particularly challenging will be airport handling, warehousing, dry ice facilities, and reaching the last mile in rural areas. There’s also a risk of deviation and counterfeiting, and the challenge of distributing ancillary vaccine supplies. Effective multilateral coordination and collaboration will ensure timely delivery across the transport ecosystem.
Numbers in the Spotlight
(USD39.4bn) is being invested into an infrastructure development company by Nigeria, to improve the country’s ailing transport network
(USD1.9bn) is being sought by Tanzania and Burundi to construct a 118mile railway line
Ebola growing in the shadow of Coronavirus. As the world directs all its firepower towards fighting Covid-19, the deadly Ebola virus is silently making a comeback in both Central and West Africa. The WHO has confirmed the re-emergence of the lethal virus in Butembo, northern DRC, and N’Zerekore, in southern Guinea. While fatalities and infections are yet low, public health officials are likely to be alarmed as DRC and Guinea recorded two of the worst Ebola outbreaks in history. The DRC outbreak ending June 2020 caused 3,481 cases and 2,299 deaths in nearly two years. The 2014-2016 West African outbreak started in Guinea before spreading to Sierra Leone and Liberia - accounting for 28,000 cases and 11,000 deaths. Given there’s already an Ebola vaccine, the world ought to redirect some of its epidemiological artillery towards containing the contagious disease before it spreads widely.
Proportional representation in politics, business and community leadership
Beyond leadership, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is an African cultural icon. Becoming the first African, woman to lead the WTO aside, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is also inspiring a cult fashion with her trademark dressing which always blends an ankara and gele (headtie), elegantly worn upon a crown of luxuriantly grey hair. Fellow Nigerians are revealing how they’ve taken to her fashion taste by participating in an online challenge to dress like her named the #BeLikeNgoziChallenge. Like her career path, many have quickly realised that Iweala’s style of doing her headtie is quite challenging. But the gist of the matter is that “the challenge has been a good way of collectively reminding Africans that we can retain our heritage and still be trailblazers.” May Iweala inspire more Africans to proudly wear their culture.
Nine African countries to join top league of solar energy producers. Algeria, Angola, Botswana, DRC Morocco, Ethiopia, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia have made investments significant enough to admit them to the small club of nations that have installed at least one Gigawatt (GW) of solar. Unofficially named the 'Gigawatt Club', the group that boasts 37 countries currently has only two African nations - South Africa and Egypt. This solar boom is largely driven by erratic power supply, declining costs of installation, increasing foreign investment, preferential treatment by governments, and reduction in energy storage costs. While this is a promising outlook, almost 600mn people in sub-Saharan Africa live without electricity. To rapidly industrialise to match the needs of her growing population, Africa needs to escalate electricity production.
Tanzania vs. Kenya: Railways for regional economic supremacy. Tanzania and neighbouring Kenya are instrumentalising rail links in competing for East Africa’s inland trade. For instance, Burundi and Tanzania are seeking to raise $1.9bn for a railway running from Dar es Salaam to Bujumbura, as part of a larger $7.5bn project (dubbed the ‘Southern corridor’) which will later continue to Rwanda. In Kenya, a rival project is taking shape - the ‘northern corridor’ rail system envisages a link from Mombasa and extending through Uganda to Rwanda, DRC and South Sudan. But as rail links play a huge role in the struggle for economic supremacy, regional trade is the ultimate winner, especially as freight costs here are steep. While this competition is healthy, the region’s two largest economies need to collaborate to ease and grow intra-bloc trade.