Movemeback Pulse

Actionable African insight delivered to you on pulse


Pulse #54 - Home-grown: Dangote needs more tomatoes, 3D house printing, Swahili for African integration, decolonising fashion & discrimination at Olympics

In this week’s Pulse:
Tomato opportunities in Nigeria as Dangote faces shortage, athletics rules prevent Black women from running in Olympics, digital colonialism debate reignited, 3D printing to plug Africa’s housing gap, localising oil refining in South Sudan, marking Africa’s post-independence fashion scene, and can Swahili unite Africa?
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The Data Room

Africa’s population is projected to reach 2.5bn by 2050, from 1.4bn today. More than 80% of population growth will occur in cities, making the Continent the fastest urbanising region in the world. 17 cities are projected to have more than 5mn inhabitants by 2030. Such population growth and associated urbanisation is creating enormous opportunities, including across manufacturing (African industries have the opportunity to double production to nearly $1trn within a decade) and plugging the Continent’s infrastructure gap (Africa’s annual investment in infrastructure is ~$80bn). Read below for more on opportunities in food production, and the potential of 3D-printed house building.

Numbers in the Spotlight


 (USD250bn) in loss of tourism earnings in 2021 is predicted for Africa due to Covid-19

100,000,000 people
 (100mn) speak Swahili, which Uganda’s President Museveni says can unite Africa

100,000 packs
 of the first generic paediatric version of a HIV drug are being distributed to children in 6 African countries

2,000km long Facebook fibre infrastructure
to connect 6 African countries to undersea cable on the coast of DRC

140 students kidnapped
 from a school by gunmen in north Nigeria, leading to 13 schools being closed

50 Zimbabwean dollar banknote
 (worth $0.60 - Zimbabwe’s biggest bank note) has been launched - stoking fears of a return to hyperinflation

12 hours
is how long it took to print Africa’s first 3D house, costing just under $10,000

6 Black women runners
 eliminated from the Tokyo Olympics by discriminative rules

1st Senegalese
to get an asteroid named after them is astronomer Maram Kairé


On The Continent This Week

Intra-continental connectivity, collaboration & trade
Swahili for African integration. Swahili can unite Africans and facilitate regional integration as a ‘neutral’ and ‘non-ethnic’ language that ‘belongs to nobody’, Uganda’s President Museveni has said. Swahili, which is the official language of 177mn people in the East African Community (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda), is the most spoken of all 1,000 to 2,000 African languages. The language is also spoken in DRC, Northern Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique. If adopted across the Continent, Swahili could drive the integration agenda by increasing language harmonies, enhance social cohesion and ultimately facilitate cross-border trade beyond the limits of colonial languages such as English, French and Portuguese. 

Access to financial services and products
Dangote plant needs more tomatoes - opportunity for farmer lending. Dangote’s 1,200ton a day tomato processing plant - the largest in Africa - is “barely managing to operate profitably” 6 years after production began. The factory was intended to increase local production and reverse Nigeria’s dependence on imports of tomato paste from China. Nigeria spent $360mn per year on paste imports between 2016 and 2017, despite being Africa’s second largest producer of fresh tomatoes. Although tomato farming employs ~200,000 people in Nigeria, bank lending to local farmers remains low. Opportunities continue to exist in improving farmer lending, productivity and capacity building.

High value skills development and talent repatriation
Asteroid named after Senegalese astronomer. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has named an asteroid after Senegalese astronomer Maram Kairé in recognition of his contribution to the field. Having followed his passion for astronomy from an early age despite the reluctance of his family and the lack of education in the field at home, Kairé has led two NASA missions to Senegal and is the founder and President of the Senegalese Association for the Promotion of Astronomy. Senegal’s President Macky Sall has assured that “the government will be at his side in the promotion of astronomy”. With Kairé’s goal to popularise the field, introduce space science into schools, and create vocations at home, might new opportunities in astronomy arise in Senegal?

Scaleable energy access
Can South Sudan become a hub for oil? South Sudan is ramping up domestic oil refining capacity, as the world’s youngest nation seeks to revive its economy amid conflict and Covid-19. While local refining will enable South Sudan to fix domestic fuel shortages and reduce reliance on imports, export of petroleum products to the regional East African Community market will also earn the country the much-needed forex. The country’s only refinery launched in March 2021 with an installed capacity of 10,000 barrels per day (bpd) but it currently operates at 3,000 bpd. Oil production has plunged by half from almost 200,000bdp in 2014 due to war. Economic prosperity of the country is tied to the fortunes of the petroleum industry as oil revenues account for ~98% of government income. Sustaining production will hinge on ensuring peace and security.

Essential infrastructure, personal living-space & utilities
3D printing - a game-changer for Africa’s housing industry? Malawi is home to Africa’s first 3D printed school and house, thanks to a joint venture between the UK’s CDC Group and building materials’ leader LafargeHolcim. 3D-printing drastically slashes the cost, time, materials and environmental impact of construction e.g. the Malawi house took just 12 hours to complete; and building with the tech cuts carbon emissions by up to 70% vs. conventional methods. The joint venture named 14Trees, is now taking orders for houses for under $10,000 - starting with Malawi and Kenya. 3D printing can be a game-changer in Africa’s housing industry - with the potential to reduce the cost of plugging the Continent’s housing shortage of 56mn units by 60%, from the $1.4trln (using old building methods) to $560bn.

Baseline healthcare & disease protection
Africa gets ‘game-changer’ generic HIV drug for babies. Children living with HIV in Benin, Kenya, Nigeria, Malawi, Uganda and Zimbabwe are receiving the first generic paediatric version of a key anti-retroviral (ARV). Treatment administration under previous drugs proved difficult because of the bitter taste or incorrect dosing by crushing adult pills. 100,000 packs of the strawberry-flavoured ARV were procured by UNITAID and Clinton Health Access Initiative funding, under a new pricing agreement with generic drug makers that reduced the annual cost of treatment from $480 to $120. With ~9 out of 10 of the world's children and adolescents living with HIV in SSA (in 2019), the rollout of the drug could be a key milestone for suppressing the virus in Africa. 

Home-grown digital infrastructure & platforms
Facebook’s 2,000km fibre cable - good or digital colonialism? Facebook and UK-based Liquid Intelligent Technologies are collaborating to extend fibre cable internet from the coast of DRC to Angola, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, aimed at connecting 30mn users to the internet. Once just a social media platform, Facebook is now a major owner of internet infrastructure. The project raises concerns over “digital colonialism”, and the effect that Big Tech internet domination may have on privacy, individual user rights and the control of local media. With cooperation needed from African governments to build infrastructure, there are also concerns of Facebook becoming a broker between citizens and Government. So, whilst the benefits of increased internet connectivity it to be celebrated, focus also remains on the dynamics of power on the Continent.

Proportional representation in politics, business and community leadership
Rules governing athletics discriminate against Black women. The recent elimination of Black women from the Tokyo Olympics has raised awareness of black women in sports. South Africa’s Caster Semenya, Burundi's Francine Niyonsaba, Kenya's Margaret Wambui, and Namibians Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi have all been banned due to rules against permitted natural levels of testosterone; swimming caps designed to fit Black women's hair have been banned. Until rules that center around whiteness being the norm are eliminated, such discrimination will continue to persist. America's fastest woman - 21-year old Sha’carri Richardson was also dropped from the US Olympic team after testing positive for marijuana, despite smoking it in a State where it was legal.

End-to-end value chain capture
$250bn Covid-19 cost to tourism in Africa. The global pandemic could cost Africa up to $250bn in tourism earnings in 2021, according to UNCTAD. To arrive at the figure, UNCTAD simulates 3 scenarios reflecting a decrease in international tourist arrivals in 2021 - a 75% reduction (scenario 1), -63% (scenario 2), and a two-pronged decline of 75% and 37% in countries with low and high vaccination rates respectively (scenario 3). Tourism is a leading source of income across the Continent, contributing 7.1% to GDP, $168bn in income, and 24.6mn in jobs in 2019 alone. By combining increased inoculation programmes with the promotion of intra-Africa tourism, opportunities exist to revive the tourism industry, without a reliance on overseas travellers.

Effective internal and regional security, and foreign policy
Nigeria school kidnappings lead to school closures in the North. The government of Nigeria’s northern state of Kaduna has closed 13 schools following the kidnapping of 140 students from a Baptist high school by gunmen. School abductions have escalated in Nigeria’s north since 2014 when Boko Haram jihadists abducted the 276 Chibok girls. The north accounts for >70% of school dropouts in Nigeria. The government’s inability to ensure schools are safe, and instead to close them has been described as a further “attack on education”. Unless Nigeria finds long-term solutions to ensure security of its children, and at least short term solutions to ensure their education is not disrupted, increasing incidents of school kidnappings for ransom could produce a ‘lost generation’ in Africa’s largest economy.

Exporting culture & identity
London exhibition to highlight decades of African fashion. London-based Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum plans to showcase the work of the best African fashion designers in June 2022. The exhibition hopes to decolonise fashion by highlighting decades of African innovation and creative design. Hollywood blockbusters Coming 2 America and Black Panther have helped increase awareness of African fashion to a Western audience in recent years. However, by showcasing items from 1950, the exhibition helps reclaim the narrative of fashion scenes that (re-)emerged out of Africa’s independence, and did not appear overnight. About 250 objects will be featured from some of the most prominent and influential African designers including Ghana’s Kofi Ansah, Nigeria’s Folashade “Shade” Thomas-Fahm and Alphadi, and Mali’s Chris Seydou.

Upgrade Your Life


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

  1. Learn Swahili in 30 Minutes: Essential basics
  2. A cleanse won't detox your body - but here's what will - TEDTalk
  3. Belgium unveils plans to return DRC artworks stolen during colonial rule
  4. Black Agency: Resistance and Resilience - Free online course
  5. Orchid sexually exploits male beetles – a world-first from Africa
  6. Colourism and identity struggles affect Africans as much as non-white immigrants in the West

History Class

How African fashion has conquered film - BBC Style
South Sudan celebrates 10 years of independence - but few rejoice

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