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
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.
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.
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
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.