Movemeback Pulse

Actionable African insight delivered to you on pulse


Pulse #38 - Test for diversity: Tackling youth unemployment, SA's race row, kidnapping-for-ransom, plus black billionaires & a cure for HIV? #WomensDay

In this week's Pulse...
Love Island's race row rocks the 'rainbow nation', federal vs. state solution to kidnapping of children in Nigeria, another critic of Rwanda's president killed in exile, another International Women's Day with few African female billionaires, and should the Continent seek conventional industrialisation or save the planet? 
The Data Room

While the number of black billionaires has nearly tripled in the last decade, they still make up less than 1% of all billionaires worldwide. That’s a poor return for a people who account for more than 15% of the world population. While only 5 of the 15 billionaires live in Africa, they own 55% of the $48.9bn total wealth of the group. With 8th March marking International Women’s Day, one also wonders when we might see more women on the list.

Numbers in the Spotlight
(USD148bn) in 1,077 loans obtained from China by Africa between 2,000 and 2018

(USD7.1bn) is the projected value of Africa’s cannabis market by 2023

(USD1.6bn) worth trade signed in a Trade Partnership Agreement between Ghana and the UK

(USD266mn) sought by UN agencies to feed refugees in eastern Africa

279 Nigerian schoolgirls
were released following their kidnapping at gunpoint in north-western Nigeria

263 NGOs
seek to dissuade lenders from investing the $3.5bn oil pipeline in East Africa over environmental and social risks

 4% of HIV carriers in DRC
were able to suppress the virus and yet typically less than 1% of people with the virus are able to do so

3 black people
were selected in a largely white 10-person group for Love Island South Africa, sparking a diversity row
On The Continent This Week


Love Island South Africa: Too white for the ‘rainbow nation’. As audiences increasingly cast a keen eye over representation, the South African version of the reality show Love Island, has been accused of failing to represent the diversity of the ‘rainbow nation’ by selecting a predominantly white line-up and white presenter. Of the 10 contestants only 3 were black, despite 80% of the country’s 58mn inhabitants being black African and only 7.9% white. Whilst the line-up may be reflective of the show targeting a predominantly white, female audience, it highlights the underrepresentation of Black South Africans on both socio-economic and cultural platforms, despite the end of minority rule nearly 30 years ago. It’s time for Pretoria to take bolder steps to ensure diversity in representation on all platforms, lest it risk exacerbating inequality. 

Baseline healthcare & disease protection

HIV findings in DRC ‘give hope for cure’DRC is believed to have been the origin of HIV and it could now prove to be the pathway to its end. A 32-year old study has discovered a large group of Congolese, whose bodies naturally control HIV without taking medication, leading to hopes of an eventual cure. The study found as many as 4% of HIV carriers in DRC were able to suppress the virus, whilst typically less than 1% of people with the virus are able to do so. Approximately 26mn people in Africa are living with HIV (vs. 38mn globally), with the virus disproportionately affecting women in Africa. While it’s not yet known how the so-called ‘elite controllers’ in DRC are able to suppress their HIV infection, scientists are optimistic the findings could serve as springboard for further research. In the interim, with the Continent far behind reaching it’s HIV testing and condom use targets for 2030, there is still much that can be done to tackle this virus.

Effective internal and regional security, and foreign policy. 

Are Nigeria’s state governments escalating the abduction of children? Abduction of school children by armed groups marauding north-western Nigeria have increased in recent months. Most recently, 279 schoolgirls were released following their abduction at gunpoint in the state of Zamfara. The attacks in the northwest, along with Boko Haram in the northeast and Covid-19, signal a triple assault on education in Nigeria. Security experts say criminal gangs prefer children because they guarantee “publicity and government involvement in negotiations, which could mean millions of dollars in ransom payments”. Often, the government caves in to demands, with state governors offering housing, cattle, cars, money and livelihood support in exchange for ‘repentance’ by the perpetrators. But state governments need to re-evaluate this approach whilst investing more in school security, as paying ransom seems to be escalating the crisis.

Home-grown digital infrastructure & platforms

Blockchain: Ghana sniffs opportunity where Nigeria sees crime. Ghana has launched a safe space, a sandbox, for testing innovations using blockchain - the database on which cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are developed and operated. The sandbox launched by Ghana’s central bank covers a broad spectrum of fintech innovations, particularly targeting women and improving financial inclusion. The bank is prioritising innovations facilitating remittances, crowdfunding, know-your-customer platforms, and merchant payments for small to medium-sized businesses. While Ghana is intent on exploiting the benefits of blockchain, not far along the Atlantic coast, in Nigeria the central bank has banned cryptocurrencies. Perhaps, like Ghana, Nigeria could explore the benefits of blockchain technologies rather than banning them outright.

Essential infrastructure, personal living-space & utilities

Should Africa prioritise climate change over economic development? The $3.5bn Uganda-Tanzania pipeline project has been thrown into jeopardy after 263 NGOs sought to persuade potential financiers against investing in it over environmental and social risks. Perhaps they’re trying to tap into the climate agenda of new US president Joe Biden. Ironically, developed (Western) countries that have benefited from centuries of polluting industrialisation now want developing countries to abandon the pathway. While Africa is hardest hit by climate change despite contributing the least to global warming, it also needs to alleviate underdevelopment. But ultimately, with Africa’s portion of GDP vulnerable to climate change projected to rise from $895bn in 2018 to about $1.4trn in 2023, the Continent now faces the dilemma of having to invent a novel growth path that meets its development needs while adapting to, mitigating and reversing the adverse effects of climate change. 

Intra-continental connectivity, collaboration & trade

Another Rwandan dissident killed in South Africa: Implications for diplomatic relations. Seif Bamporiki is the latest leading Rwandan opposition politician to be killed in South Africa. He was the local coordinator of the Rwanda National Congress (RNC), accused by Kigali of plotting to overthrow president Paul Kagame. RNC has already blamed Rwanda for killing Bamporiki. South African police are still investigating the matter but the last time Rwanda was linked by Pretoria to attempts on the life of another RNC politician, co-founder Kayumba Nyamwasa, diplomatic relations between the two countries collapsed. Both countries expelled one another’s diplomats, while South Africa stopped issuing visas to Rwandans. But with Kagame and South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa ordering their foreign ministers to normalise relations in 2018, will relations between the two countries survive yet another test? 

High value skills development and talent repatriation

South Africa to remove experience for entry-level jobs: A model for youth employment in Africa? Young South Africans aged between 14 and 35 years will soon have access to unemployment income and entry jobs without prior experience, thanks to the country’s new National Youth Policy (NYP). Pretoria says the move that will cover 20.6mn people or 37% of South Africa’s population is aimed at addressing “historical imbalances.” If successful, South Africa could present a timely model for youth employment interventions in Africa where the young people account for 60% of all joblessness. With Africa’s youth population expected to reach over 830mn by 2050, whether this spells a promise or peril will depend on how the Continent manages its ‘youth bulge’. About 10-12mn youth enter the African job market annually, but the Continent creates only 3.7mn jobs. The South African model could prove the game changer. 

Exporting culture & identity

Can ‘Coming 2 America’ portray Africa accurately, at the second time of asking? When ‘Coming to America’ premiered in 1988, many attempts at capturing Africa’s social-cultural nuances therein were wide off the mark; from the prince’s over-the-top “good morning my neighbours” greeting, to the fashion, to ignorance among the characters, to an imperialistic notion of royalty, etc. But through the sequel, the film has been given a chance at redemption. It can now tweak the storyline, costumes, scenes and set lighting. And they seem to be on the right track, especially in costumes. Tribal streetwear, barely-there beaded bathing suits, a kente cloth kilt, cowrie shells on lapels and a wedding gown of Ankara fabric are just a few of the visual delights in ‘Coming 2 America’. But only premiering will tell if part 2 can make amends for 1.

Scaleable energy access

East Africa’s transition to electric motorbikes is a big deal. Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda are piloting hundreds of electric motorbikes with the view of transiting the region’s fleet from fossil-powered to renewables. The initiative is part of UNEP’s Electric Mobility Programme, which is the only worldwide intervention supporting electric mobility for developing and transitional countries. Shifting to electric bikes will reduce costs, air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as create jobs in East Africa. Motorbikes are the most popular means of transportation because they’re a cheaper and faster way of navigating Africa’s congested roads. But their toll on the environment is projected to rise with the region’s stock of two-wheelers doubling annually. With Africa hardest hit by adverse effects of climate change, a rapid transition to renewables is long overdue to reverse the trend. 

Access to financial services and products

Hypocrisy in the EU tax haven listing. Morocco and Namibia have been removed from the EU’s list of tax havens but Botswana, Eswatini and Seychelles remain. Listing criteria includes tax transparency, tax justice, and real economic activity. There are two lists, grey and black. Greylisting gives countries time to reform their tax system while blacklisted nations face difficulties accessing EU program funding and doing business with European companies. But Oxfam has called the EU out for hypocrisy in its listing - Cyprus, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta and the Netherlands would be blacklisted if EU member states weren’t exempt. Multinationals shifted $600bn in profits to tax havens in 2015 with a third of this going within the EU. As the EU protects its members against the rule’s encumbrances, the decision could be treated as impetus to develop other attractors to capital inflows beyond tax savings. 

Continent on a high: should Africa capture more of the cannabis market? In an increasing number of African countries, you can now grow cannabis, but not light it for recreation. Only five countries - Malawi, Lesotho, South Africa, Zimbabwe and now Zambia - officially permit cannabis for medicinal or industrial purposes. A few others allow for export. But the UN says cannabis production is taking place in at least 43 African countries. Africans have been smoking pot for generations: traces have been found on 14th-century pipes in Ethiopia. Now governments sniff an opportunity in the international market for legal marijuana, which is expected to reach $73.6bn by 2027. With only $7.1bn of this expected to be captured annually by Africa (by 2023), opportunities exist for governments to universalize production for ordinary farmers to distribute value, whilst also seeking ways to increase value addition within its borders.

Upgrade Your Life

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

  1. 11 Oscar-worthy African feature films to watch
  2. Business ethics: An introduction to ethics for business leaders - free online course
  3. Endangered vultures: A species on the 'brink of extinction' in Kenya 
  4. How and why leaders should prioritize wellness within their remote teams
  5. The Dos and Don'ts of venting in the workplace
  6. South Africa: An explorer's paradise
History Class
International Women’s Month: Facebook Africa celebrates African women leaders
Ten exceptional African Queens we all should know
If Movemeback can be supporting you or your organisation, or if you would like to share something with the Movemeback community please get in touch.

If you are not yet a member of Movemeback, and you like what you're reading - join Movemeback for more (it's free)!