Movemeback Pulse

Actionable African insight delivered to you on pulse


Pulse #50 - Protect our youth: Nigeria's youths told to behave, burying drowned migrants, France ends military policy, & WhatsApp Pay launches in Africa

In this week’s Pulse:
Egypt first to manufacture Covid vaccine, end of Operation Barkhane could fuel insecurity in Sahel, WhatsApp Pay dominance could threaten local fintechs, drowned African migrants get dignified burial, South Africa raises self-generation limit for electricity, Kenya-Somalia flights resume, and more
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The Data Room

Recent political events in Mali, Chad, Niger, Sudan and Zimbabwe may create the perception that military coups are increasing in Africa. However, this analysis reveals that while the number of attempts remained the same between 1960 and 2000 (~4 in a year), coups have actually fallen to ~2 per year in the last 20 years, largely due to declining poverty and economic failure - two determinants for a coup. But with violence increasingly hindering economic activity in Africa, a potential uptick in military coups remains a possibility.

Numbers in the Spotlight

(USD4bn) in funding is planned to support green urban development in low- and middle-income countries

(USD1.3bn) is how much the Mastercard Foundation plans to spend on Covid-19 response in Africa

(USD40mn) will be spent by France and allies on an international counterterrorism academy in Ivory Coast

40,000,000 Covid vaccine doses
(40mn) are targeted for production by Egypt by the end of 2021

4,500 young Africans
have drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe since 2014

33% unemployment rate
in Nigeria - where President Buhari has told the youth to “behave” to attract jobs

1 month ban
by Kenya on flights to and from Somalia has been lifted

On The Continent This Week

Effective internal and regional security, and foreign policy

France ends military operations in the Sahel. France has ended Operation Barkhane - an anti-insurgent military action in the Sahel - choosing to incorporate its troops into a wider international effort and back the establishment of a $40mm international counterterrorism academy in Ivory Coast. Paris has also suspended financial and military support to the Central African Republic (CAR). France has 5,100 troops under Operation Barkhane and another 300 to prop up a weak government in CAR. Violence in the Sahel has forced 29mn people into humanitarian dependency and displaced 5.3mn more this year. Whilst boosting regional capacity to combat a growing Islamist threat is key to a long-term solution, with militants having strengthen their foothold across the region, could France’s move spark a rise in insurgent activity?

End-to-end value chain capture

Egypt leads Covid vaccine manufacturing in Africa. Egypt has acquired raw materials to manufacture 2mn doses of China’s Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine as soon as June. With plans to produce 40mn doses by the end of 2021, Cairo is leading Africa’s march towards retaining the end-to-end value of the African vaccine industry, starting with localised production. Africa currently imports 100% of its Covid-19 vaccines, 99% of all vaccines, and 80% of medicines. Localisation of manufacturing would help address the haemorrhaging of value such as forex, jobs and tax revenue to foreign pharma companies, whilst also increasing access to vital medication.

Home-grown digital infrastructure & platforms 

WhatsApp launches payment system in Africa. Nearly a year after launching in India and Latin America, WhatsApp Pay is now operational in Africa, following a deal that allows subscribers of Telkom in South Africa to use the payment system. Whilst this development offers yet another payment option for Africans, it raises concerns about potential monopoly risks, and data ownership and offshore storage. Boasting a global infrastructure and operational efficiencies, WhatsApp Pay could deal a blow to Africa’s booming fintech industry. Is Africa ready for a foreign player to dominate both of its communication and payments systems?

Access to financial services and products 

African cities win funding for climate change adaptation. Addis Ababa, Kinshasa and Fez have won the inaugural grants under the City Climate Finance Gap - a $4bn international climate fund. The grants will finance the building of resilient cities, as rapid population growth is forcing people to settle on land susceptible to climate risks. E.g. Fez is vulnerable to drought, Kinshasa’s floods kill, and Addis Ababa is susceptible to heat waves, drought and flash floods. According to the UN, Africa may need as much as $200bn every year by 2070 to adapt to climate change. With Africa’s population expected to double by 2050, and 80% of the rise occurring in cities, feeding climate intervention into national development plans could help increase sustainability of efforts.

Essential infrastructure, personal living-space & utilities

A cemetery for drowned African migrants. A Tunisian artist, Rachid Koraich, has used his own land to build a cemetery for African migrants who drowned in an attempt to cross the Mediterranean to Europe. Named Jardin d'Afrique (the Garden of Africa), the cemetery memorialises a people the UNESCO calls “castaways who perished in pursuit of a better life” and the dangers of illegal migration. But it also symbolises the failure of African governments to create jobs for their young people – forcing them to seek a better life elsewhere. About 4,500 African young people have perished trying to cross the Mediterranean since 2014. 

Intra-continental connectivity, collaboration & trade 

Kenya lifts ban on Somalia flights. Kenya has removed the ban on flights with Somalia, paving the way for re-establishment of diplomatic ties between the two neighbours. The resumption of flights will immediately boost the lucrative business in Khat - the most valuable commodity traded between the two countries. Somalia is Kenya’s biggest market for the mild stimulant, with Nairobi earning ~$400,000 a day in export revenue from the trading relation. While flights can resume immediately following Kenya’s pronouncement, restoration of full diplomatic ties with Somalia may take longer due to unresolved differences over maritime boundary, terrorism and meddling in internal affairs. 

Scaleable energy access

South Africa allows private investors to produce more electricity. South Africa’s President Ramaphosa has raised the ceiling for unlicensed private electricity generation from 1MW to 100MW. The move will enable Africa’s most industrialised economy to start plugging the widening electricity supply gap, which cost the country $8.3bn in GDP in 2019. State-owned utility company, Eskom, has been struggling to meet electricity demand due to dilapidating infrastructure and inadequate investment. Under the new arrangement, private investors will sell their extra electricity into the national grid. Mining companies are reportedly ready to generate 1,500MW in the next 3 years. While raising the self-generation ceiling is a positive development, it can’t address the power gap alone - the government needs to restructure the inefficient and indebted Eskom, which supplies over 90% of the nation’s power.

Exporting culture & identity

Depicting African communalism and individualism through fashion photography. Kenyan photographer, Thandiwe Muriu, is showcasing a series of photos in Paris, that generate a visual illusion in which the character blends with their background without necessarily disappearing. It offers a playful cue to how Africans can embrace their numerous communal identities whilst projecting their individuality. Muriu also uses her photography to challenge Westernised ideals of beauty - choosing dark-skinned models to oppose a culture of bleaching; a model with gap in her teeth - a symbol of beauty in the Kikuyu culture; and natural hair to illustrate the way “our ancestors actually used to wear” it. Can her work stimulate Africans to embrace both constructed collective and individual identities?

Baseline healthcare & disease protection

Mastercard Foundation earmarks $1.3bn for Covid-19 response in Africa. The Foundation will spend the money for procuring doses for 50mn people, supporting supply chains, and financing localised vaccine manufacturing. Sub-Saharan Africa requires $9.5bn to purchase enough vaccines to achieve herd immunity (inoculating 750mn people). However, flagging supplies and logistical hurdles mean less than 2% of Africa's population is currently vaccinated. As cases surge amidst deadlier second waves across Africa, the contribution of non-state actors such as the private sector, NGOs, individuals, and faith-based organisations to the pandemic response are vital to suppressing the virus.

High value skills development and talent repatriation

Google helping African SMBs thrive online. The American tech giant has launched online training programmes to upskill African small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to set up virtual shops, and use digital tools to connect with customers. Growing digital operations offers SMBs an avenue for survival, amidst the pandemic-related exodus of customers from physical stores. With SMBs constituting 90% of the economy and 80% of employment in Africa, their success should be of interest to all stakeholders. However, connectivity remains a key constraint to SMBs - while studies show that SMBs want to embrace digitalisation, over 50% identify lack of access to the internet as a hindrance to adoption.

Proportional representation in politics, business and community leadership

Youth behaviour vs. insecurity: What’s impacting job creation in Nigeria? President Buhari has told the youth to “behave” if they want to attract jobs and investment to Nigeria, where unemployment has risen to 33.3%. His comments spark a debate about whether it is the behaviour of young people or escalating insecurity that is hindering investment and job creation in the country. Buhari asked youth to “make sure that the area is secure” to encourage FDI inflows. With worsening Islamist attacks in northwest, 700 students kidnapped since December, food inflation rising 23% in April alone, and arguably little done to address the matter of police brutality raised by the youth-led #ENDSARS movement, is Buhari’s attention really on the true cause of Nigeria’s insecurity and economic woes?

Upgrade Your Life


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

  1. Are you really ready to quit?
  2. How low and middle-income countries are innovating to combat Covid
  3. The African figures 'forgotten' by England's cultural past
  4. How to succeed at writing applications - Free online course
  5. On a rampage’: the African women fighting to end FGM
  6. A queer journey from shame to self-love - TEDTalk
  7. Women in African music: A virtual museum celebrating empowerment

History Class

What's behind the upsurge in violence in the Sahel?
Africans lost to the sea: Inside the world’s deadliest migrant route

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