Movemeback Pulse

Actionable African insight delivered to you on pulse


Pulse #44 - Racial (in)justice: Tokyo Olympics ban taking a knee, racism in war commemoration, setback in African decolonisation, & Amazon enters Africa

The Data Room

As millions of people remain unemployed and socio-economic restrictions persist, Sub-Saharan Africa’s per capita output is not expected to return to 2019 levels until after 2022. The outlook is even gloomier for oil exporters and resource-intensive economies, whose per capita incomes are not expected to return to pre-Covid levels before the end of 2025. But non-resource-intensive countries are expected to make the fastest recovery, achieving pre-crisis per capita output before the end of 2021 - reminding us of the need for economic diversification across the Continent.

Numbers in the Spotlight
($7.1bn) is the estimated annual size of Africa’s legal cannabis sector by 2023 (if new laws allow)

 (USD4bn) in reparations sought from Uganda by DRC for role in conflict, 1998-2003

 (USD240mn) construction of Amazon’s African HQ okayed in Cape Town

350,000 Black and Asian war dead
not commemorated by UK due to “pervasive racism”

5,000MWp solar facility
to be built on the Namibia-Botswana border

of malaria deaths occur in Africa, the majority in young children

30 years
is how long Chad President, Idriss Déby, was in power before his death last week
On The Continent This Week

Proportional representation in politics, business and community leadership

Tokyo Olympics bans taking the knee #BLM. The IOC has said it will punish athletes for taking a knee or lifting a fist in support of racial equality during the forthcoming Tokyo games. The decision comes in the same week as the momentous guilty verdict in the George Floyd murder trial, and demonstrates how sporting platforms are not doing enough to fight racial injustice. Attracting thousands of black athletes and the full attention of the world, the Olympics provide a unique opportunity to raise awareness of large social movements (exemplified by the clenched fist salutes of Tommie Smith and John Carlos on the victory podium at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics amidst the Civil Rights movement). But this would not be the first time athletes are punished for sports-based activism. Recently, Colin Kaepernick was frozen out of the NFL for kneeling during the American national anthem, after President Donald Trump called for the firing of such players.

High value skills development and talent repatriation

"Pervasive racism" in war commemoration. Britain has apologised for failures that meant "pervasive racism" denied a proper commemoration to as many as 350,000 Black and Asian service personnel who died fighting for its Empire. The men and women, predominantly from East Africa and Egypt, were not commemorated by name or possibly not at all - highlighting the lack of appreciation for minorities who sacrificed their lives. About 4mn non-white non-Europeans fought for the Allied Forces in WWI, and more than 1mn Africans served in WWII. Although Britain has apologised, full accountability requires action, including (at the very least) seeking out the names of those killed and adding explanations at relevant sites. 

Home-grown digital infrastructure & platforms

What does Amazon’s Africa e-commerce entry mean? Cape Town has granted development permission for the construction of a $240mn shopping complex that will house Amazon’s Africa headquarters. Amazon’s entry into the African market provides access to global markets for local retailers, who will now be able to list and sell their products to Amazon’s 150mn customers. Amazon enters Africa at a time when digital trade on the Continent is growing at a phenomenal pace. Currently having 280mn online shoppers, Africa’s e-Commerce market revenue is projected to reach $24.8bn in 2021, rising to $40.8bn by 2025 (at 13.27% annual growth rate). But its entry also threatens the growth of home-grown e-commerce platforms - such as Jumia, Takealot, Kilimall, Konga and Bidorbuy - that may not have the reach and resources to compete with the American tech giant.

Effective internal and regional security, and foreign policy

Instability concerns after Chad President dies. Chad's President Idriss Déby, who was in power for 30 years, has died following clashes with rebels. The army has since seized power, naming his 37-year-old son Mahamat Déby as his successor, despite constitutional experts saying the speaker of parliament should have taken over instead. This transfer of power has raised questions about the circumstances surrounding President Deby's death, with some arguing an institutional and dynastic coup, not a rebel attack, ended his life. Rifts among key players and within the military are being sown, weakening the government's ability to fight the rebels who have vowed to take the capital. The uncertainty in Chad could escalate instability in the Sahel, given the huge role Idriss Déby and the country played in fighting Jihadists in the region.

Baseline healthcare & disease protection

Malaria drug-resistance calls for community approach to intervention. Researchers have found the first clinical evidence that drug-resistant mutations of the parasite responsible for malaria are gaining ground in Africa. Such mutations could roll back decades of progress made against malaria if not tackled urgently. With studies showing that common interests, ecology, and social systems that characterise communities affect both health behaviours and health outcomes during disease outbreaks, involving local communities is critical to response efforts. E.g. malaria response activities such as bush clearing, use of mosquito nets, draining of stagnant waters, use of insecticides, completion of dosage and diet greatly impact outcomes. In 2019, there were an estimated 229mn malaria episodes and 400,000 deaths from the disease, 90% of them in Africa. 

Intra-continental connectivity, collaboration & trade

Access to trade finance from banks is limiting intra-continental trade. A new report by the AfDB reveals that African trade amounts to $1,077bn, with banks intermediating just 40%, compared to the global average of 80%. This highlights the inadequacy of formal trade finance, exposing traders to exploitative alternative intermediaries such as loan sharks. Of note, despite SMEs accounting for four-fifths of all private sector firms and 80% of the employment in Africa, they take just over a quarter of banks’ trade financing. This was attributed to weak client creditworthiness and insufficient collateral. Of concern to the implementation of AfCFTA is the finding that just one-fifth of bank-intermediated trade finances is devoted to intra-African trade. For Africa to reap the full benefits of AfCFTA (which brought together Africa’s combined GDP of $3.4trn), banking reform is required to enable greater access to trade finance for intra-Africa trade.

End-to-end value chain capture

How to follow Lesotho into the EU cannabis market. Lesotho startup MG Health has become the first African grower to win EU permission to export cannabis flower for medicinal use. It provides a case study for how African growers can access European markets by ensuring quality along the entire production chain - from the planting materials, premises, and equipment to the training and personal hygiene of staff. Cannabis has the potential of becoming a leading cash crop and a vital forex earner for Africa as its commercial value is significantly higher than traditional cash crops such as coffee, cotton, tea, sugar, cocoa.  However, for the Continent to benefit from the global market for medical cannabis, estimated to reach $272bn in 2028, more African countries will first need to legalise production of the drug.

Scaleable energy access

Can solar solve Southern Africa’s energy deficit? Namibia and Botswana have signed an agreement to construct a 5,000MWp solar complex -  which will be the largest in Africa on completion. The facility could solve power deficits in Southern Africa (which currently stands at 2,154MW), and has the capacity to power 3.7mn households (based on Namibia’s current consumption rate of 5MW per 3,700 homes). Generally, solar energy has limitless potential to address Africa's energy shortages, with the Continent getting 117% more sunshine than Germany, which has the highest installed solar power capacity. Tapping into the potential of Africa’s solar energy, whose installed capacity is projected to reach 70GW in 2030, could help bring electricity to 600mn people who still lack access. But with 6.6GW at the end of 2019, the Continent still represents only 1% of the world’s installed solar capacity. 

Access to financial services and products

Fans investing in African artists. Fans can now invest in artists and earn profits from the performance of songs, thanks to a new digital platform PopRev, born of a partnership between Nigerian savings and investment startup PiggyVest and streaming app uduX. With the help of crypto-currency, social networking and influencer nodes, reward mechanisms, micro-investment, and real-time analytics, fans are able to track the performance of their investment. If successful, this could prove a sustainable model to develop Africa’s entertainment industry where both fan and artist invest for mutual benefit. The music industry in Nigeria alone is projected to grow at 13.4% in 2021 to reach $73mn.

Exporting culture & identity

Cape Town fire threatens decolonisation archives. Wildfire on the slopes of South Africa’s Table Mountain gutted the Jagger Library at the University of Cape Town (UCT), destroying rare and specialist collections. Amongst the items destroyed were alternative African histories bucking dominant colonial narratives. For example, the ‘African Studies Collection’ consisted of a large collection of works related to Africa dating back to the 1500s. It contained work in multiple indigenous and non-indigenous languages in multiple formats, including ~65,000 volumes, 26,000 pamphlets, 3,000 African films, and 20,000 further items in the audio-visual archive. While many of the works are also stored in digital format, some are not. The importance of libraries as allies in the decolonisation of our history emphasises the need for us to digitise and archive our history, and ensure works are securely protected against natural and man-made disasters. 

Essential infrastructure, personal living-space & utilities

Oligopoly in Nigeria’s cement industry hampering growth. Lawmakers have criticised the dominance of Nigeria’s cement market by 3 companies for stifling competition, leading to higher prices and increasing the cost of construction. The three companies are Dangote Cement - owned by Africa's richest man, Aliko Dangote (60.6% market share), Lafarge Africa (21.8%), and BUA Cement (17.6%). Despite enjoying a +100% domestic surplus, cement prices in Nigeria are some 240% above the global average, impeding efforts of Africa’s largest economy to build its way out of its worst economic recession in more than four decades. Nigeria has a huge infrastructure deficit with total infrastructure stock in the country amounting to 30% of GDP, far below the international benchmark of 70% of GDP set by the World Bank. Africa’s most populous country also has a housing deficit of 17mn units. To trigger increased competition and lower cement prices, a loosening of licensing rules may be required. 

Upgrade Your Life
Our selection of online content, courses, tools and offers to help you build your personal repertoire.
  1. Forbes Africa - The 100th Issue: 100 Innovations, Inventions & Icons From Africa
  2. Stories in Place: 7 Black filmmakers capture the stories of Black-owned businesses
  3. How African fashion has conquered film
  4. The black British history you may not know about
  5. "Black soldiers were expendable – then forgettable"
  6. Reshaping your career in the wake of the pandemic
  7. The danger of a single story - TEDTalk
  8. Why corporate diversity programs fail and how minor tweaks can make a big impact - TEDTalk
  9. Afro-Bolivians: Inside one of the last tribal kingdoms in the Americas
History Class
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