Movemeback Pulse

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Pulse #46 - Take a stand: Tanzania & Kenya build bridges, SA corruption case heats up, the female 'firebrand' Chief Justice, & Germany gives back bronzes

In this week's Pulse...
South Africa's President Ramaphosa takes the stand against corruption, Germany becomes the first country to return Benin bronzes, Tanzania's new President resets trade relations with Kenya, Ethiopia is set for "the world’s largest deployment of blockchain", AZA becomes Africa's largest non-bank provider of FX, $17bn to fight food insecurity, and more
The Data Room

Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has closed 67% of its gender gap, only outperforming South Asia and Middle East & North Africa. Current progress suggests it will take 122 years to close the gap. Of the dimensions measured by the WEF gender gap index, SSA lags most significantly in educational attainment. Although it performs around average for health and survival, this reflects equally low levels for both men and women. Namibia and Rwanda perform the best with gender gaps of over 80%, and make it to the top 10 countries in the world (6th and 7th respectively). At the bottom end, Mali, Chad and DRC perform the worst in SSA, with gender gaps below 60%.

Numbers in the Spotlight
(USD17bn) has been pledged to fight food insecurity in Africa

(USD1.1bn) is the size of the agreed Kenya-Tanzania gas pipeline deal

(USD295mn) is the size of Senegal’s new solid waste management project

40,000,000 people in Africa
(40mn) have asthma (5th May marked World Asthma Day)

19,300,000 people
(19.3mn) have been vaccinated against Covid-19 on the Continent

5,000,000 Ethiopian students
(5mn) will have their educational performance recorded via blockchain 

5,000,000 Nigerians
(5mn) to receive digital training under a Microsoft - Nigerian government partnership

440 Benin bronzes
are held by Germany - which becomes the first country to return looted artefacts

30 days
was given to ANC (South Africa’s governing party) members accused of corruption to vacate their posts
On The Continent This Week

Intra-continental connectivity, collaboration & trade

Tanzania’s new President Hassan and Kenya’s President Kenyatta have pledged to reset diplomatic and trade relations that were previously strained under Tanzania's late President Magufuli. Acknowledging their shared culture, heritage, language and ancestry, the countries have agreed to eliminate barriers hindering the flow of trade and people, and to build shared infrastructure by strengthening road, aviation, railway, and water transport. They have also signed a $1.1bn gas pipeline deal that has been in the works since 2010, to enable them to share energy resources and lower costs. With a combined population of 111mn and GDP of $159bn, this regional collaboration spurs hope for increased business opportunities and joint economic recovery.

Exporting culture & identity

Germany will become the first country to return the Benin bronzes looted in the 1897 invasion of the Kingdom of Benin. More than 3,000 priceless objects were stolen by British troops and sold around the world, with Berlin holding around 530 items. With 90-95% of Africa’s cultural heritage held outside Africa by major museums, the Benin bronzes are a potent reminder of colonialism. The British Museum - the largest holder of Benin bronzes (900 items) - has no such restitution plans, which once again raises the question - why must we continue to wait to get back what is ours? As for Germany - attention should be paid to ensure that all work is unconditionally returned.

Proportional representation in politics, business and community leadership

Kenya is set to appoint judge Martha Koome as its first female Chief Justice. Known as being a 'firebrand' reformer, Koome co-founded the Federation of Women Lawyers, challenging laws "dominated by the patriarchy", and contributed to the 2010 outlaw of discrimination against women, including in the area of women's property rights. She also supported the 2019 Court of Appeal ruling that said it was not illegal to identify as gay, and has defended the human rights of political detainees. Kenya gender parity stands at 0.69 (1 would be full parity) with significant cultural norms continuing to affect inequalities in education attainment, health outcomes, and labour force participation. Koome’s appointment could be significant for Kenya, and provide impetus for greater gender equality across the Continent.

Baseline healthcare & disease protection

To mark World Asthma Day on 5th May, pharma company AstraZeneca officially opened its first ‘PUMUA’ (‘breathe’ in Swahili) nebulisation stations across 4 countries: Kenya, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Ethiopia. AstraZeneca is targeting the rollout of 1,000 nebulisation stations this year, in addition to boosting local medical knowledge and expertise. ~40mn people in Africa have asthma, and 80% of asthma-related deaths occur in low- and lower-middle income countries. Africa is projected to have the fastest rate of urbanisation in the world - with Africa’s cities predicted to be home to an additional 950mn people by 2050. With urbanisation linked to increasing asthma mortality, the respiratory condition may become an increasing concern for the Continent in years to come.

Home-grown digital infrastructure & platforms

Ethiopia is partnering with blockchain company IOHK, to implement a blockchain-based student and teacher ID and attainment recording system - the world’s largest deployment of blockchain, according to IOHK. The ‘Atala PRISM ID’ will enable authorities to create a tamper-proof record of educational performance for 5mn students, 3,500 schools and 750,000 teachers. The rollout is part of the country’s Digital Ethiopia 2025 plan, which is built around a blockchain-based national identity framework. According to UNCTAD, blockchain has the potential to promote sustainable development across Africa. However with disparities in educational attainment and exposure to tech (e.g. only 26% of SSA’s population were mobile internet users in 2019), governments need to implement policies that ensure blockchain deployment maximises benefit without widening the digital divide.

High value skills development and talent repatriation

Microsoft is partnering with the Nigerian government to accelerate the country’s digital economy. It aims to bring access to digital skills to 5mn people in Nigeria over the next 3 years and improve broadband connectivity across the country. 33% of Nigeria’s 70mn-strong labour force are unemployed - the second highest unemployment rate in the world after Namibia. Youth unemployment is 53%. Nigeria is expected to be the third most populous country in the world by 2050 (with over 300mn people), and needs to create 30mn jobs by 2030 to maintain its current (un)employment rate. So whilst the partnership is promising, this skills training may be just a drop in the ocean. Nigeria needs to do more to protect what some call it's “hopeless generation”.

Effective internal and regional security, and foreign policy 

South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa has appeared before corruption investigators to account for his party’s corruption scandals, in an effort to reinforce his vision for a corruption-free government. The governing party - ANC - has also told all members charged with corruption or other serious crimes they must vacate their posts within 30 days or face suspension. Ramaphosa came to power on a promise to stamp out corruption, which he said cost South Africa at least R500 trn ($36bn) under Jacob Zuma. E.g South Africa’s country-wide power cuts have been partially attributed to “corruption or misconduct” at public utilities provider, Eskom. Ramaphosa's actions send a message that no one in South Africa - even a sitting president - is above the law. With Africa losing $89bn annually from illicit financial flows - a similar message from leaders across the Continent would be a step in the right direction.

Access to financial services and products

AZA Finance is set to become Africa’s largest non-bank provider of FX treasury services, having agreed to acquire South Africa’s largest non-bank currency broker, Exchange4Free. This will more than double AZA’s transaction volume to $2.5bn in 2021, and extend its reach to 115 countries spanning Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Asia-Pacific and North America. FX markets are crucial to intra-continental trade. However they present a significant hurdle to growth - e.g. whilst SMEs employ 80% of Africa’s active workforce, they can pay nearly 200% more than larger businesses to clear transactions through banking channels, and cross-border transactions can take up to 2 weeks to be processed. Whilst non-bank solutions are growing, a stronger regulated financial sector is also required to support FX demand.

Essential infrastructure, personal living-space & utilities

Senegal is launching a $295mn solid waste management project called ‘Promoged’, to create landfill centres, standardised collection points, and sorting and transfer centres. The project, located at a facility near Dakar, already receives the waste from the capital’s 3mn inhabitants, representing 80% of rubbish produced in Senegal. Africa generated 125mn tonnes of solid waste in 2012 - a figure set to double by 2025. However more than 90% of this is disposed of in uncontrolled dumpsites and landfills, and the average waste collection rate in Africa is just 55% (as of 2018). Senegal may present a good case study for improved waste control for the Continent. However, a focus on waste prevention, reuse, recycling and recovery will also be key to improved waste management.

End-to-end value chain capture

A coalition of multilateral development banks and development partners including the ADB, and the UNIFAD have pledged more than $17bn to increase agricultural productivity and fight food insecurity in Africa. Funds will be spent on scaling up agro-technologies, investing in access to markets, and promoting agricultural R&D. Over 100mn Africans faced food insecurity in 2020 - an increase of >60% from the previous year, due to Covid-related transport closures, climate-change related events (flooding and locusts), political crises and conflict. With food insecurity expected to worsen further this year, attention should also be paid to the structural causes of food insecurity, as well as to mitigating its effects.

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