Movemeback Pulse

Actionable African insight delivered to you on pulse


Pulse #53 - Confronting inequities: Mobile internet too costly, Zuma sentenced, keeping girls in school, crypto for school fees, vaccine racism

In this week’s Pulse:
Malawi female MP dress-up as schoolgirls to address drop-out rates, exclusion of India’s AstraZeneca from EU mobility scheme impacts African travellers, Reuters’ global list of climate scientists reinforces inequalities against the Continent, Zuma sentencing reasserts judicial independence, and is Senegal’s government data safe in the hands of a Huawei-built data center?
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The Data Room

Is your mobile internet value for money? While Africans pay the most for internet, they experience the slowest connection. A new report reveals that African countries are getting comparatively low value for money, by comparing the price of mobile data with the speeds at which carriers deliver it. The higher the speed-price index (SPI), the more the value for money. At SPI 2.2, Tunisians enjoy the best value in Africa while Nigeriens endure the worst at 0. But Tunisia is way behind the global average of 6.6. Israel boasts the best value in the world at 82.

Numbers in the Spotlight


(USD60bn) to be invested by TotalEnergies to support Nigeria’s transition to renewables 

($700mn) is the cost of the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine optical fiber cable, providing internet to 7 West African countries 

(USD100mn) investment into Somaliland’s Berbera port by Dubai’s DP World, as a viable alternative gateway for Horn of Africa

$83,000,000 Senegalese data centre
 (USD83mn) financed by a Chinese loan and built by Huawei, will host all government data and digital platforms

(USD1mn) paid to Gabon as part of a $150m reward for protecting her rainforests

20% of Malawi girls
fail to complete primary school

15-month jail sentence
for former South African President, Jacob Zuma, linked to corruption charges 

5 Africans
on the Reuters’ global hotlist of 1,000 Climate scientists

On The Continent This Week

Proportional representation in politics, business and community leadership

Malawi's female MPs dress-up as schoolgirls to address representation. Malawi’s female MPs dressed up as schoolgirls to draw attention to the high school dropout rate amongst girls, ~20% of whom fail to complete primary education. While some Malawians found the stunt humorous, others criticised it for being shortsighted – arguing that lawmakers could do more to keep girls in school through policy and budget appropriation. Girls across the Continent quit school for several reasons including poverty, teenage pregnancy, early marriage, and cultural expectations. Focusing on improving readmission, mentorship, financial assistance, childcare support, sexual and reproductive health services, and gender biases may be more impactful.

Home-grown digital infrastructure & platforms 

Senegal to move all government data to Huawei-built data center. Senegal is set to transfer all government data and digital platforms from foreign servers to a local data center built by Huawei with a ~$83mn Chinese loan - making the West African nation’s digital infrastructure fully dependent on Chinese tech. With industry experts saying ‘data centers will be at the heart of enabling 5G’, Senegal’s move puts it at odds with the US, which warned her allies against allowing Huawei to be involved in their 5G telecom infrastructure, due to concerns over Chinese state espionage. While Washington, which says Huawei is close to the Chinese government, regards Senegal “a strong US ally”, it remains to be seen how this development will affect diplomatic relations. Is Senegalese data safe on Chinese tech?

Essential infrastructure, personal living-space & utilities

Seven African countries get connected to undersea cable internet. Gambia, Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, Mauritania, Sao Tomé & Principe, and Sierra Leone have been connected to undersea cable internet for the first time, thanks to the $700mn Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) optical fiber cable - a submarine cable system ~17,000 km long. Capable of offering connectivity at 100Gbps, ACE should help facilitate digital transformation in Africa, and fuel the Continent’s booming tech startup ecosystem. The infrastructure, which links South Africa and the West African coast to France and Portugal, aims to connect a total of 410mn people in 24 countries. Extending internet coverage beyond cities is important to amplify national benefits.

Scaleable energy access

Total to invest $60bn in Nigerian renewables. TotalEnergies plans to pump $60bn into facilitating the transition of Africa’s largest economy to renewable energies over the next 10 years. Total’s investment could help Nigeria meet her goal to generate 30% of its total energy from renewable sources by 2030, expand electricity production, and diversify its economy from oil and gas, which account for ~35% of national GDP and 90% of export revenue. Nigeria’s renewable-energy potential is huge. E.g. Nigeria could generate over 427,000MW through solar thermal sources alone. Nigeria’s current overall installed capacity is ~7,000MW, but poor transmission infrastructure means only 4,000MW is fed into the national grid, keeping 80mn people in darkness. 

End-to-end value chain capture

Gabon - first African country to earn from protecting forests. Gabon is the first African country to earn from a scheme that financially rewards countries for protecting their rainforests, which are vital for absorbing the globe's climate-heating emissions. Gabon, 90% of which is forest cover, has received $17mn as part payment of a total $150mn. The country now plans to sell carbon credits to wealthy countries and large corporations – enabling them to buy their way out of emission limits - thus the overall effect on global carbon emissions may be negligible. Shifting the responsibility of cutting emissions from one location/actor to another does little in tackling global warming and climate change, which is expected to cost Africa $45-50bn a year by 2050.

Exporting culture & identity

South Africa moves to preserve Khoi and San heritage. The South African government has instituted a committee for developing a national route to identify, map and promote heritage sites of the Khoi, Nama, Griekwa, Khorana and San people - collectively called the Khoisan or Bushmen. The route will enable the Khoisan to regain control over the narrative of their unique history, earn more from tourism and attract investment to their communities. The Khoisan, who are the subject of the iconic 1980 movie “The Gods Must Be Crazy”, have been variously regarded as the “world’s first or oldest people; Africa’s first or oldest people, or the first people of South Africa”. Socio-economic independence will help preserve them. 

Baseline healthcare & disease protection

Africa’s main Covid vaccine denied EU ‘Green Pass.’ Africa CDC has criticised the EU for excluding the India-made version of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the ‘Green Pass’ that enables free movement within Europe. Excluding the Indian AstraZeneca, which is the widest-deployed Covid-19 vaccine in Africa, hampers mobility within the EU for the millions of Africans who received it. The development has drawn anger with some people calling it vaccine racism, while others argue that it could damage Africa’s inoculation programme by sowing doubts into the masses. But even if the vaccine was eligible for the mobility scheme, few Africans would benefit, as only ~2% of the Continent is currently vaccinated.

Effective internal and regional security, and foreign policy

What Zuma's sentence means. Duduzile Zuma, the daughter of former South African President Jacob Zuma, says her father will comply with his 15-month jail sentence for disobeying an order to appear before an inquiry. Zuma is accused of aiding and abetting colossal theft of ~$35bn in state resources during his presidency. South Africa is among other African judiciaries that have asserted their independence against political leaders in the fight against high-level corruption - e.g. Kenya and Malawi’s highest courts overturned rigged elections, whilst Mauritania recently ordered the imprisonment of its former president over corruption. However, the ruling could widen a rift within the governing ANC between Zuma’s supporters and reformists led by current President Cyril Ramaphosa. Judicial independence in South Africa is vital in securing inclusive development post-apartheid. 

High value skills development and talent repatriation

Reuters’ global list of 1,000 climate scientists with 0.5% Africans. There are only 5 Africans on the Reuters’ list of the world’s leading 1,000 climate scientists ranked on the basis of their influence, measured by the number of publications, citations, and references by the non-peer reviewed media. The list, dominated by scientists in Europe and North America, underscores and perpetuates age-old inequities in global knowledge that impedes scientists in Africa. It also ignores the context-specific nature of research in the Global South, that emphasises solutions to challenges on the ground over publishing in leading journals. But as the Global North controls funding for research, attracting recognition for African scientists will require the Continent to invest more in knowledge production. Africa funds R&D at 0.42% of its GDP, way lower than the global average of 1.7%.

Access to financial services and products

Nigerian school to accept cryptos as tuition - a first in Africa? A private school in Nigeria’s Kano State has announced plans to accept fees in cryptocurrencies, potentially making it the first African academic institution to do so. Besides creating an alternative means of paying fees, the move could inspire other schools and business entities to follow suit. It equally sends a strong message that the government’s position on the use of cryptos is out of touch with everyday realities of Nigerians. Whilst Nigeria has barred banks from facilitating transactions in cryptos, the country remains the World’s second largest market for Bitcoin - the most popular crypto. Nigeria has traded Bitcoins worth over $566mn in five years, with this figure likely to rise on the back of a booming fintech industry.

Intra-continental connectivity, collaboration & trade

Somaliland port expansion - an alternative gateway for Horn of Africa. Unrecognised Somaliland has launched a new container terminal at the port of Berbera, developed with ~$100mn financing from Dubai’s DP World. The expansion increases the annual handling capacity of the port from the current 150,000 to 500,000 containers. This new capacity makes Berbera a viable alternative gateway for the Horn of Africa which has historically relied on Djibouti - a potential frontier for superpower rivalry as the only country hosting both US and Chinese military bases. Landlocked Ethiopia with a market of 110mn people, plans to transfer 30% of its cargo to Berbera. Linking other hinterland countries such as CAR, South Sudan and Uganda to Berbera could increase intra-regional trade.

Upgrade Your Life


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

  1. How African book clubs are bringing together readers from across the world
  2. How do you unlock creativity wherever you are?
  3. Lioness: The rapper on the frontlines of the battle against COVID
  4. Helping Uganda's fight against climate change using ancient farming techniques
  5. What's normal anxiety - and what's an anxiety disorder? -TEDTalk
  6. Black performance as social protest - Free online course

History Class

Corruption and state capture in South Africa under Jacob Zuma
The Khoisan: South Africa’s first nations have been forgotten

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