Pulse #41 - Return our art: Germany to return Benin bronzes, Tanzania's first female president, Egypt capital switch, & game change for Africa's gig economy
In this week's Pulse...
Germany and UK regional museums lead the return of stolen African artefacts, the world’s first wildlife bond presents a new model for conservation, a class-action lawsuit jeopardises the gig economy, Egypt new administrative capital raises questions over Cairo's future, new fund for Black farmers in South Africa, Tanzania's first female president faces difficult decisions, and more.
The Data Room
In an effort to predict the pandemic’s economic impact, McKinsey developed 9 global macroeconomic scenarios for Africa. 2 were considered the most likely - (A1) a recurrence of the virus and muted recovery (resulting in -8% real-GDP growth in 2020), and (A3) a contained virus with global growth returning in 2021 (-3% real-GDP growth in 2020). Despite the pandemic continuing to rage on, most of Africa has fared better than expected, with GDP declining 6% in 2020, thanks to government fiscal and non-fiscal support and lockdown easing. McKinsey now expects Africa to make a recovery to pre-crisis growth levels within 3 years.
Proportional representation in politics, business and community leadership
Samia Suluhu - Tanzania’s first female president. On being sworn into office as the new President of Tanzania following the death of John Magufuli, Samia Suluhu has made history by achieving many Firsts. She’s the first female president in Tanzania, and the first female Muslim president in sub-Saharan Africa. The implications for Tanzania remain to be seen - will she maintain her predecessor’s legacy of nationalism, anti-corruption, and Covid-19 scepticism, or chart her own course by restoring deeper international interaction and a scientific approach to the pandemic? With Tanzania having stopped releasing Covid data in May 2020, and with fears that without a reversal, Tanzania is putting lives and a speedy economic recovery at risk, how she treats the pandemic is likely to set a tone for her presidency.
High value skills development and talent repatriation
Can a $340mn fund address skills shortage among Black farmers in South Africa? South Africa has established a $340mn fund to ease funding constraints and entry barriers to commercial agriculture facing Black farmers. However it is unclear if this will enable the acquisition of skills necessary for Black farmers to play a bigger role in an industry traditionally dominated by whites. In South Africa, 72% of arable land is still in the hands of whites, who account for less than 10% of the total population. While the fund will assist Black producers and investors in developing, expanding and acquiring farming operations, inadequate skills could limit the effectiveness of such empowerment efforts. Lessons can be learnt from neighbouring Zimbabwe, where the transfer of farms from whites to Blacks left farms underutilised, partly due to inadequate training.
Effective internal and regional security, and foreign policy
Kenya closing refugee camps holding mostly Somalis. Kenya has ordered the UNHCR to close the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps that host 410,000 largely Somali people, over alleged infiltration by terrorists. The move could deepen the diplomatic tiff between Nairobi and Mogadishu. If the UNHCR fails to execute the order, Kenya, which has left no room for talks, plans to relocate the camps to the Somali border. The already strained relationship between the two countries has seen Mogadishu cut diplomatic ties with Nairobi over alleged interference in its internal affairs, in addition to banning Kenyan imports of khat. Regardless of their diplomatic differences, Kenya and Somalia need a negotiated solution that can ensure the continued protection of displaced and persecuted persons.
Scaleable energy access
Russia’s energy play for soft power in Africa.Russia and Africa have created a joint energy committee aimed at facilitating the transfer of advanced technology, money and expertise. The committee is tasked with facilitating energy deals between Russian energy companies and African countries. Vladimir Putin has been clear that Africa is one of Russia’s foreign policy priorities, and previously announced plans to increase its role in African energy through oil, gas and nuclear projects. It has clear economic motives for doing so - whilst it can offer energy sector expertise, it also faces a shortage of minerals such as manganese, bauxite and chromium, all of which are important for industry. While Russia’s interest in Africa offers the Continent yet another approach to guide its development towards a more sustainable and diversified energy mix, her leaders ought to guard against being used as a pawn in a great power game.
Can carrier partnerships increase intra-Africa flights?EgyptAir is looking to expand across Africa by developing a new Ghanaian carrier and striking a joint venture with a Sudanese airline. Intra-Africa commercial flights remain infrequent, expensive, and circuitous (a trend which existed pre-Covid trend), due to a combination of protectionist legal barriers and regulatory hurdles, mixed with inadequate infrastructure, high taxes, and stubborn nationalism. Bilateral partnerships between carriers could encourage the opening up of the Continent’s skies via allowing other African countries' carriers to use their airports, which already exists for carriers from other continents. The end result would be a boost to collective GDP and the attraction of new travellers. E.g. When Europe created a single aviation zone in 1993, annual traffic doubled over the next decade.
Essential infrastructure, personal living-space & utilities