Pulse #39 - Make moves: Kenya leapfrogs with electric mobility, Flutterwave flies to unicorn status, Africa’s first US meat export
In this week's Pulse...
ICC compensates DRC war victims, Kenya leading world in electric mobility, Africa’s first meat export to the US, stolen Nigerian money returned, Flutterwave flies to unicorn status, AU backs culture and creative industry, training more epidemiologists and biostatisticians, and more.
Proportional representation in politics, business and community leadership
Implications of the Meghan & Harry interview for the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth (the group of former British colonies and the UK) is embroiled in a racism row after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex revealed that a royal figure commented on “how dark” their future son’s skin could be. The consequences of the explosive exposé by Harry and Meghan could be far-reaching for the unity and future of the Commonwealth, many of whose citizens are people of colour. While some people in Africa have expressed anger and described the revelation as insulting, senior former Commonwealth officials warnit would deepen schisms in the group with many countries that have the Queen as their head of state now mulling becoming republics. Although it's easy for some countries such as Barbados to get rid of the Queen as their head of state, it's a bit difficult for others that require a referendum to do so. For instance, such referendums have recently failed in Antigua, Grenada (twice), St Vincent, and Australia. Might this row over alleged racism within the royal family itself swing voters in support of republics in the Commonwealth?
Exporting culture & identity
AU commits to growing Africa’s culture and creative industries. In a bid to reboot the African economy post-Covid, the AU plans to throw its weight behind the Continent’s culture and creative industries (CCI). Whilst Africa’s CCI exports grew from $740mn to $2.2bn between 2002 and 2008, the Continent’s contribution to the world market remains less than 1%. This is attributed to Africa’s limited supply capacity, inadequate IP protection and enforcement, underinvestment, and poor infrastructure. Now, having declared 2021 as the year of arts, culture and heritage, the AU pledges to ensure member states increase budget allocation to CCI by 5%, increase technologisation by 5%, raise copyrights compliance by 10%, increase intra-trade by 5%, grow contribution to global trade by 10%, and help build world-class infrastructure. Yet such pronouncements of the AU need the support of member states to translate into action. Perhaps with AU backing, CCI may become a major driver of economic growth in Africa and generate significantly more than the $4.2bn revenue and 547,500 jobs it did by 2015.
High value skills development and talent repatriation
Africa trains more epidemiologists & biostatisticians to prepare for future pandemics. In a bid to organise for better and quicker pandemic response, Africa CDC and the EU have partnered to train 150 Africans into expert epidemiologists and biostatisticians through tailored master’s degrees. The numbers sound statistically low, but candidates can be facilitated by their countries to pass the specialist knowledge on to more people. This is a timely intervention because Africa struggles in responding to public health emergencies such as Ebola and now Covid-19, and is often encumbered by lack of epidemiological data or severe shortage of skills. A skilled epidemiological workforce helps wean Africa off dependence on foreign expertise, as well as support the implementation of multi-disease surveillance. Africa has the most severe health workforce shortage, estimated to reach 6.1mn by 2030.
Africa’s beef with America? Namibia has shipped Africa’s first ever export of red meat to the US - but it took an 18-year negotiation. This is a rare triumph in a trading relationship Africa is yet to properly exploit. Namibia’s meat export is under AGOA, which has only resulted in about 1% of American imports from sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Although the US imposes quotas on many African agricultural imports, the Continent also deserves some of the blame for her poor return from the trading agreement. Investment in value-addition and standards’ compliance remains low. This is an area in which African businesses could learn from Namibia’s state-owned meat firm Meatco, which also made Africa’s first red-meat export to China. With the US being the largest per capita consumer of red meat, the country presents a massive opportunity for Africa’s livestock industry. Roughly 70% of the rural poor in SSA are partially dependent on livestock for livelihoods, and livestock production contributes about 35% of agricultural GDP there.