Movemeback Pulse

Actionable African insight delivered to you on pulse


Pulse #52 - Deserving of dignity: Juneteenth a federal holiday, abuse of African travellers, Dangote goes global, a Nigerian digital currency

In this week’s Pulse:
Official Juneteenth insufficient for racial justice, compensating Zimbabwe's White farmers, regional intervention in Mozambique, Dangote goes for global fertiliser market, African vaccine sites selected, Nigeria’s own crypto, and ivory trade revival?
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The Data Room

Sub-Saharan African travellers are not only subjected to the harshest forms of border treatment and movement restrictions, but they also pay much more in real income for visas than travellers from the rest of the world. The researchers behind these reported findings acknowledge that while proving structural racism with their simple statistical model is difficult, these disparities in visa costs are “at least partly driven by forms of institutional racism.”

Numbers in the Spotlight


(USD5bn) will be saved annually by Africa by adopting a centralised digital payment & settlement system

(USD3.4bn) worth of Bitcoin vanishes from a crypto investment platform, along with 2 South African brothers who created it

(USD275mn) mobilised for private sector investment into renewables in Africa

3,000,000 tonnes of urea
(3mn) to be produced annually by Dangote’s new Lagos fertiliser plant as he eyes global market

(USD1mn) has been paid to White farmers in Zimbabwe, as part of a $3.5bn compensation package

500 double-decker London buses
manufactured by Egyptian maker, MCV, since 2011 

19th June
aka Juneteenth, becomes a US holiday, in commemoration of the end of slavery

4 countries
in Southern Africa want to revive ivory trade to address overpopulation of elephants

3 countries
(South Africa, Senegal and Rwanda) chosen as sites for regional vaccine manufacturing hubs

On The Continent This Week

Proportional representation in politics, business and community leadership

Ill-treatment of opera star a familiar experience for Africans. South African opera star, Pretty Yende, has accused French immigration officials of “outrageous racial discrimination” after she was reportedly detained and strip-searched in a Paris airport. The experience of the acclaimed soprano, who is in Paris to perform in La Sonnambula at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, has drawn attention to the cruel treatment of African travellers by foreign immigration authorities. Many Africans report suffering extra security checks and visa rejections on “arbitrary and demeaning” grounds. In fact, a UK parliamentary inquiry describes British visa system as “inaccessible to many Africans”. Is it time for the AU to take a hard stance against countries that mistreat African travellers? 

End-to-end value chain capture

Dangote eyes global fertiliser market. The world’s richest Black person, Aliko Dangote, has announced that his new Lagos-based fertiliser factory will begin exporting by late June or early July – starting with Louisiana (US) and Brazil. While exports enable Dangote to make inroads into the global fertiliser market (expected to grow from $83.5bn in 2020 to $93.9bn by 2027), it could also help lower farming costs in Africa - the world’s most expensive fertiliser market. Fertiliser use per hectare in sub-Saharan Africa is 17kgs, compared to a global average of 135kgs. Expanding agricultural productivity could help Africa reduce its $64.5bn annual food import bill.

Essential infrastructure, personal living-space & utilities

Can compensation of White farmers mend Zimbabwe’s relations with the West? Harare has paid out $1mn as part of a $3.5bn compensation to 4,500 White farmers whose land was expropriated by the state in 2000 and redistributed to 300,000 Black families, in what President Robert Mugabe saw as redressing colonial land imbalances. This first payment is small, but it symbolises government commitment to resolve a two-decade dispute that has ruined Zimbabwe’s relations with Western countries and investors. US and EU sanctions as well as boycotts by multilateral lenders sent the Southern African economy into a nosedive. Whilst compensating the White farmers will help rebuild international relations, lenders and global investors are likely to still cite human rights issues, economic mismanagement, and political rights violations as areas of concern.

Access to financial services and products 

Should Africa embrace blockchain and cryptos? Months after banning transactions in cryptos over their potential for money laundering and terrorism, Nigeria’s Central Bank (NCB) wants to pilot a digital currency it can regulate. Appreciating the benefits of blockchain – the technology that underpins most major cryptocurrencies – many countries are embracing and regulating it. NCB wants her crypto to equally facilitate remittances, which accounted for 6.1% of GDP (2018), and was 7-fold bigger than net official foreign aid in 2017 ($3.4bn). However, African countries need sound regulatory framework before fully embracing the new tech. E.g. 2 South African brothers recently vanished with Bitcoin worth $3.6bn from their crypto investment platform.

Home-grown digital infrastructure & platforms 

Benefits of a pan-African payment system. The AfCFTA Secretariat will roll out a centralised digital payment and settlement system for regional trade in 2022. In the absence of a single currency, the Pan-African Payments and Settlement System (PAPSS) could particularly address the challenges of currency fluctuations, price opaqueness, competitive devaluation by states, limiting transaction costs and durations, and inadequate oversight of cross-border payments by Central Banks. It equally presents an alternative to the existing banking system which is expensive, exclusive and slow for cross-border trade. PAPSS is expected to save Africa $5bn annually and ease mobility of capital, but the Secretariat also needs to expedite the removal of barriers to movement of labour and commodities.

Exporting culture & identity

Juneteenth becomes federal holiday, but is it enough? US President, Joe Biden, has signed into law a bill that gives official recognition to Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in America. While the move is generally appreciated, many consider it insufficient to address ongoing racial injustice. Some are calling it a distraction from the #BLM-inspired movement against systemic racism, scolding lawmakers for highlighting the history of injustice rather than engaging its enduring manifestations. E.g, legislations aimed at addressing systemic police brutality and preventing racially discriminatory voting laws, are stuck in Congress. Republicans seek the banning of school teaching of “critical race theory”, which explores slavery and its contemporary manifestations. Recognising an end to open institutional display of racism shouldn’t divert activists from fighting its veiled manifestations.

Baseline healthcare & disease protection

Africa vaccine production sites identified. South Africa, Senegal and Rwanda have been chosen as regional vaccine manufacturing hubs. Nigeria is also under consideration, WTO boss Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has revealed. The hubs will increase Africa’s local production capabilities, help meet domestic demand, and better prepare the Continent for future pandemics. To support knowledge and technology transfer, the WHO is also setting up a vaccine capacity building hub in South Africa with the Continent expected to produce Pfizer and Moderna’s mRNA vaccines within 9-12 months. South Africa’s Afrigen Biologics and Biovac have so far signed up for the programme. To spread the benefits of the hub, the large African pharmaceutical firms could establish production and supply partnerships with small companies across the Continent. 

Intra-continental connectivity, collaboration & trade 

African countries want to revive ivory trade. Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe are mulling reviving the internationally-banned ivory trade. The move could help these countries, which jointly account for over half of the world’s African elephants, increase forex earnings, whilst also tackling overpopulation in their herds leading to the destruction of habitats and crops. Ivory sales could also finance conservation and improve the welfare of communities living side-by-side with elephants. A kg of ivory rose from $750 in 2010 to $2,100 in 2014 in China, the world’s largest ivory market. The African countries are currently limited to selling legal ivory - obtained from elephants killed by natural causes or problem-animal management - worth over $410mn. Could the move escalate elephant poaching? 

Scaleable energy access

$275mn for renewable energy in Africa. The Africa Renewable Energy Fund (AREF) has mobilised $180mn for mid-sized grid-connected renewable projects in Africa, while the European Investment Bank (EIB) has allocated $95mn for geothermal projects in East Africa. While AREF targets hydro, wind, solar, and battery storage projects across sub-Saharan Africa, private sector players in 18 East African countries are eligible for EIB money. The two sources of financing will help Africa cut her energy-investment deficit and usage of dirty energy sources. Africa needs ~$70bn a year to meet just a quarter of her energy demand from clean sources by 2030. Prioritising local companies over foreign ones for financing will be key in building domestic capabilities for energy production. 

Effective internal and regional security, and foreign policy

Regional approach to Mozambique violence. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has approved the deployment of a regional force to fight insurgents in Mozambique. A first for a counter-terrorism operation, the deployment of the SADC standby force (often reserved for peacekeeping), bolsters the capabilities of the Mozambican forces to flush out the IS-linked jihadists distabilising the region. The impending approval of an EU training force could further help turn the tide of the 3-year conflict in favour of the state. The violence has displaced 800,000 people and halted a $20bn Total gas project. 

High value skills development and talent repatriation

The Egyptian factory making iconic London buses. Egypt is manufacturing a fleet of the hybrid model of London’s iconic red double-decker buses - becoming the first site outside Europe to build the buses designed to meet Euro-6 emission standards. The buses, which run on both diesel and electricity, emit 96% less nitrogen dioxide than their predecessors. The Egyptian manufacturer MCV is therefore facilitating the transfer of technology and know-how in making the latest model of vehicles designed to slow global warming. The Cairo-based company has supplied Transport for London with 500 buses since 2011. A global leader in bus manufacturing, MCV exports ~6,000 annually, presenting a great case study for building manufacturing capabilities across Africa.

Upgrade Your Life


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

  1. What your money habits reveal about you - TEDTalk
  2. Why the extent of intra-African trade is much higher than commonly believed
  3. Industrial policy in the 21st century: The challenge for Africa - Free online Harvard course
  4. The anxiety that comes from being treated like an outsider - TEDTalk
  5. Russian atrocities in Central African Republic exposed
  6. Discover how the trade in enslaved Africans and sugar shaped London

History Class

Juneteenth explained
Zimbabwe’s controversial land reform

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