Movemeback Pulse

Actionable African insight delivered to you on pulse


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. 
The Data Room
Huge education losses in Africa since the onset of Covid-19. While more than half of the school-age children in most of the above countries attended school before the pandemic, considerable numbers have been lost over the pandemic, as the switch to online learning caused disadvantaged children from rural, poor, and vulnerable backgrounds to lose access to all school education. The pandemic also exacerbated education inequality for girls. Policymakers must invest in inclusive and equitable education as well as educational infrastructure for all.
Numbers in the Spotlight
(USD1bn) is the new valuation of African payments company, Flutterwave, after it raised $170mn

(USD30mn) awarded to DRC war victims by the ICC

(USD5.84mn) of stolen money recovered from a former Nigerian state governor returned to Abuja by the UK

150 Africans
to receive specialised training in epidemiology and biostatistics

75% of Covid-19 vaccines
have been hoarded by just 10 rich countries

60 years
is how it took for France to admit the murder of Algerian freedom fighter, Ali Boumendjel

15% fall in GDP
due to climate change Africa is projected by 2030

of Africa's 59,000GW wind power potential is being utilised

On The Continent This Week

Intra-continental connectivity, collaboration & trade

Implications of Uganda-Kenya maize row for regional trade. A ban on Ugandan maize is the latest of many trade restrictions Kenya has recently meted out to her neighbour. Kenya attributes her decision to finding cancer-causing chemicals in Ugandan maize, but it mirrors protectionist penchants increasingly exhibited by Nairobi, which has also banned chicken, meat, eggs, milk and sugar from Kampala in recent years. Uganda, Kenya’s largest export market, is growing exasperated with these bans, and is now mulling retaliation. This row could significantly impede intra-trade and integration in the East African Community (EAC), which is readying to admit DRC. It could also undermine the implementation of the continental free trade area, AfCFTA, which ought to consider this as a cue to institute a mechanism to guard against countries finding excuses to restrict regional trade. For the EAC, the lasting solution lies in establishing an independent dispute settlement body.

Essential infrastructure, personal living-space & utilities

Kenya leap-frogging the world in electric transportation. As the world seeks a transport alternative to stave off the growing burden of fuel dependency and pollution, Kenya is leading the way in showing how it can be done amidst infrastructure and budget limitations. Already 90% reliant on renewable energy, Nairobi is now taking her leadership to transiting the world to electric mobility. Electric Vehicles play a huge role in this transition, but rapid adaptation has been impeded by, among others, inadequate battery charging infrastructure. Kenya intends to build charging stations along major highways and traffic arteries, as well as in public access areas in cities. Transportation contributes approximately one-quarter of all energy related CO2 emissions. With future growth in passenger cars projected to largely come from low-income countries, they (and richer countries) can learn from example and build an enabling environment to pursue a renewable path.

Home-grown digital infrastructure & platforms

Flutterwave grows unicorn wings. Africa’s digital payments market is booming, and fintech companies world over are swooping on deals. In tandem with this trend, African payments company Flutterwave has attracted $170mn in the latest round of fundraising, valuing the company over $1bn. As an increasing number of investors from around the world look to capitalise on this surge in Africa’s digital payment market, Flutterwave is likely to be just one of many fintech investment opportunities on the Continent. In fact, last year, Nigeria’s Paystack was acquired for more than $200mn, while Nairobi-based DPO Group was bought for $288mn. Africa’s electronic payment industry-including card, e-commerce, digital banking transactions, etc-is now very rewarding, generating about $20bn in revenue in just one year - 2019. As Flutterwave becomes the fourth African startup to reach a billion-dollar valuation after Interswitch, Jumia and Fawry, African governments ought to create an enabling environment for more unicorns to emerge.

Effective internal and regional security, and foreign policy

A new model to compensate war victims? Whilst the ICC has awarded $30mn in reparations to victims of war crimes in DRC, the convicted perpetrator Bosco Ntaganda won’t pay the compensation but rather will the tribunal’s own trust fund for victims (TFV). As Ntanganda was considered financially incapable, the TFV will finance rehabilitation programmes for victims. The news coincides with the UN Human Rights calling for the investigation of possible war crimes committed in the Ethiopian region of Tigray. But irrespective of the outcome of such a probe, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is facing criticism for ordering the army to crush Tigray’s resistance. Could he become the first Nobel Peace Prize winner to be indicted by the ICC? Either way, he joins the growing list of recipients accused of turning away from peace including Aung San Suu Kyi, Barrack Obama, Yassir Arafat, Menachem Begin, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Henry Kissinger.

Access to financial services and products

$5.8mn of stolen money returned to Nigeria - significant or a drop in the ocean? The UK is set to return $5.84mn of stolen money recovered from a former Nigerian state governor. Although some anti-corruption campaigners hail this as a milestone for Nigeria, as no one of his stature has been successfully prosecuted, the amount is petty when compared with the estimated $89bn Africa haemorrhages annually through illicit financial flows. For instance, whereas some estimates quantify the amount corrupt African leaders have stashed away into foreign accounts at about $140bn, Africa bleeds $62.2bn in illegal outflows and price manipulation every year, much of it exported by multinationals. To stem the loss to illicit flow of resources, African countries ought to undertake serious structural changes to promote economic policies that create internal trade and investment, rather than simply being cash cows for corrupt politicians, and western corporations and governments. 

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 warn it 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

Baseline healthcare & disease protection

WTO fails to waive Covid-19 vaccine patents despite Dr Ngozi leadership. Whilst the newly appointed head of the WTO, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has warned against the adverse consequences of vaccine nationalism for the battle against Covid-19, richer members of her organisation continue fighting efforts to universalise production of vaccines. Earlier in the week, wealthier nations blocked a push by over 80 developing countries to waive patent rights in an effort to boost production of Covid-19 vaccines for poor nations. The move would’ve allowed generic or other manufacturers to make more Covid-19 vaccines, yet Western nations argue protecting IP rights encouraged research and innovation and that suspending those rights would not result in a sudden surge of vaccine supply. But the long-term solution for Africa would be to develop domestic production capabilities. Just 10 rich countries have hoarded 75% of the current vaccine supply, rendering many poor countries helpless as infections rise. 

End-to-end value chain capture

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. 

Scaleable energy access

Africa only utilises 0.01% of its wind power potential, but can do better. Africa has an enormous wind energy potential of 59,000GW, over 250 times more than the Continent’s electricity demand, but her installed wind power capacity only accounts for 0.01% of that potential, shows a new report. Experts attribute the low utilisation of Africa’s wind power potential to low investment, poor infrastructure and inadequate government support. Wind is one of the fastest-growing, cheapest sources of new power generation around the world, and this report speaks to the clear need for governments to enact policies to take advantage of the vast resource and enable large scale investment in wind as a key building block for green economic recovery post Covid-19. About 52% of people in SSA don't have access to electricity.

Upgrade Your Life

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

  1. Africa's week in pictures: 5-11 March 2021
  2. Senegal protests: What you need to know about Ousmane Sonko and his arrest
  3. Salary negotiation for women in the workplace
  4. Ten truths about marketing after the pandemic
  5. Growth vs profitability-online business course
  6. Book recommendation - Vanguard: How black women broke barriers, won the vote, and insisted on equality for all (first 25 pages free to read online)
  7. Cape Verde’s sea-inspired murals protect aquatic biodiversity
History Class
Remembering Goodwill Zwelithini: South Africa's straight-talking Zulu king
How Malawian inventor, William Kamkwamba, built a windmill aged 14
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