Movemeback Pulse

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Pulse #55 - Be the first: Visa card payments, first local telco & electric trains launch across the Continent, plus opportunities in jewellery & e-waste

In this week’s Pulse:
Opportunities in e-waste management, Africa eyeing a bigger share of the global jewellery market, South Africans defy looters, Tanzania set to get its first electric trains, Somalia’s first card payment service for international transactions, solar edtech plugs urban-rural education gap, Rwanda boosts counter insurgency in Mozambique, the ‘Black mermaid’ getting children into the ocean, and Japan’s African Samurai hits the screens
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The Data Room

How much does it cost to start a business in Africa? This study addresses the question by comparing local average income with the mandatory costs of setting up a business across the Continent. Costs include approvals, licenses, permits, inscriptions, and minimum capital requirement. Congo Brazzaville is the least affordable country in the world, with startup fees of $1,232 vs. a monthly average wage of $48. On the other hand, Rwanda, which has a monthly income of $51, waives startup fees for the first two years, allowing businesses to launch for free - making it the most affordable country in Africa.

Numbers in the Spotlight

 (USD46.1mn) loan approved by the AfDB for the construction of Gabon’s first private power production facility

25,000,000 jobs created
(25mn) is AfDB’s goal for Africa’s jewellery value chain over the next 10 years

25,000 troops
 being deployed by South Africa to stem violence following the jailing of former President Zuma

1579 is the year
Yasuke - Japan’s first Black Samurai whose life is explored in film - arrived in the country

1,000 troops
 deployed by Rwanda to help restore stability in northern Mozambique

97 electric trains
 ordered by Tanzania at $296mn will arrive by 2024 - Tanzania’s first electric trains

1st local telecom company
launches in South Sudan

1st Visa card payment service
launches in Somalia - enabling opportunities in global and local cashless payment


On The Continent This Week

Effective internal and regional security, and foreign policy

Acts of Ubuntu amidst violence in South Africa. As the South African government prepares to deploy 25,000 troops to counter looting that has followed the jailing of former President Zuma, ordinary people have stepped in to protect businesses in an expression of one of the nation’s enduring philosophies - Ubuntu. Ubuntu, which constitutes a part of the Zulu phrase 'Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu', literally translates to 'a person is a person through other people'. E.g. workers in KwaZulu-Natal poured cooking oil on the floor to outwit looters from entering a supermarket, residents armed with brooms chased away plunderers, communities in Soweto built roadblocks to recover stolen goods, 40,000 volunteers help with clean-up, and a crowd in Durban caught a baby thrown by a mother from a building set ablaze by looters. While events in South Africa have dominated news in the past week, such acts of oneness in the face of adversity have barely featured in mainstream narrative.

Access to financial services and products

Somalia gets first card payment service for international transactions. Making purchases from abroad has been made easier for Somalis, following the launch of Visa’s card payment service in the Horn of Africa country, to facilitate foreign transactions without significant restrictions. The move marks a big step towards the reintegration of Somalia into the global banking and e-commerce system, for a country which until 2014, had no formal banking or financial system, following the 1991 collapse of the Government. The number of commercial banks in the country has expanded from 5 to 13 in the last 2 years alone. The increased activity in Somalia’s banking sector may provide opportunities for this still nascent market.

Home-grown digital infrastructure & platforms

South Sudan gets first local telecom company. A week after celebrating a decade of political sovereignty, South Sudan is developing its telecom independence through its newly launched home-grown operator - Digitel Network. It’s entry into a terrain dominated by South Africa’s MTN and Kuwait’s Zain offers users choice and helps drive down costs, which are among the highest in the world. With Digitel betting on rapid digitalisation, President Salva Kiir says the company will speed-up connectivity to underserved communities. Despite being the world’s youngest nation, South Sudan’s telecom industry holds enormous potential. Social media users and mobile connections increased by 61% and 17% in the last year alone - creating business opportunities in mobile devices, phone and computer accessories, mobile money extension services, and digital marketing.
Baseline healthcare & disease protection 

Opportunities in e-waste management. Informal processing of electronic waste is exposing millions of children and expectant mothers in Africa to over 1,000 harmful substances with adverse health impacts. But formal processing of e-waste remains a largely untapped business opportunity on the Continent. While precious metals such as gold could be extracted from discarded mobile phones, other valuable items like plastics, glass and ceramics could be transformed into secondary material for manufacturing inputs. The commercial value of e-waste in Africa is yet to be established, but every year, the Continent generates 125mn tons of (general) municipal solid waste with a total recoverable value of $7.6bn - carrying significant potential of waste as a secondary resource.

End-to-end value chain capture

Africa can earn more from the jewellery value chain. Africa is the leading source of raw materials like diamonds, coloured gemstones, gold and silver for the $230bn global jewellery market, but most of this value is bagged overseas, where much of the final processing is done. To reposition the Continent to win more from the jewellery sector, the AfDB has commissioned a study to establish ways of localising value addition and overcoming bureaucracy, poor financing and inadequate artisanship. As the Bank identifies winners for investment to lead Africa’s charge towards a globally competitive jewellery producer, emphasising skills development, access to finance, and eliminating bureaucracy could have immediate effects on the earnings of jewellers across the value chain.

Intra-continental connectivity, collaboration & trade

Rwanda deploys 1,000 troops to Mozambique. Rwanda has deployed a 1000-strong force to pacify Mozambique’s gas-rich Cabo Delgado province, which has witnessed Islamic State-linked insurgency since 2017. Rwanda’s swift response on the request of Mozambican authorities can immediately boost the morale and capabilities of local forces to better respond to the insurgency that is threatening to destabilise the whole country and region. The eventual deployment of 3,000 SADC soldiers backed by air and naval capabilities, will take military support from the Continent to 4,000 troops - a display of African solution to an African problem.

Essential infrastructure, personal living-space & utilities

Tanzania awards contracts for first 97 electric trains. South Korea-based Hyundai Rotem will supply Tanzania’s first 97 electric trains worth $296mn by 2024, as the East African country moves to upgrade its rail infrastructure from narrow to standard gauge, which will also connect to neighbouring Burundi and Rwanda. This brings Tanzania one step closer to operationalising the newly-built 546km railway running from the commercial capital Dar es Salaam to the administrative seat Dodoma – facilitating not only the reduction of transport costs but also the benefits of improved market, business and social linkages. However, for rural farming communities to realise the full commercial benefit of being connected to the larger urban markets, reliable feeder roads and other railway lines may need to be built and linked to major stops along the backbone route.

High value skills development and talent repatriation

School-in-a-bag - taking education to rural communities. Teachers can now transform any space into a classroom, thanks to the production of a bag fitted with solar panels that can charge accompanying mobile devices such as laptops, phones, projectors and speakers - edtech for delivering lessons. Named the Solar Media Bag, the backpack - developed in collaboration between Finland-based tech company Tespack and NGO Plan International - has been trialled in Uganda, Ethiopia and Mozambique. The innovation is an example of how challenges in physical infrastructure can be overcome with edtech to reduce Africa’s urban-rural education gap - e.g. in Ethiopia, in 2011, 36% of rural children were out of school vs. 13% of urban kids. It also provides a case study for how private sector participation can complement government and NGOs efforts to improve rural education.

Exporting culture & identity

Spotlight on the history of Africans in Japan. A Netflix animation series and two Hollywood films (in production) inspired by Yasuke, an African Samurai who arrived in Japan in 1579, have shone light on the last 500-years of history and experience of the African diaspora in the Asian country. With Africans making up just ~0.01% of Japan's total population and black characters a rarity in animation, the story of Yasuke rallies the African diaspora in securing their space as a distinctive people in a country that largely sees itself as a mono-ethnic nation. Yasuke can be used to stimulate conversations about race and identity, especially as the island nation is increasingly represented by black personalities like tennis sensation Naomi Osaka, Miss Universe Japan 2020 Aisha Harumi Tochigi, Rui Hachimura of the Washington Wizards, rugby players, Olympians, and models.  

Scaleable energy access

Gabon’s first private power production facility gets AfDB funding. The AfDB has approved a €39mn (~$46.1mn) loan to partly finance the construction of the €133.8mn (~$158.1mn) Kinguélé Aval hydroelectric dam - Gabon’s first private power production project. The 34.1MW power plant will allow Gabon to increase electricity production to facilitate economic diversification without putting a strain on government finances, which have been hit hard by Covid-19. Gabon has one of the highest electricity access rates in Africa at 91%, but the country of 2mn people seeks to increase its manufacturing capabilities to aid a diversification from oil, which has contributed 80% of exports, 45% of GDP, and 60% of fiscal revenue over the past five years. Kinguélé Aval presents a case study for countries to meet domestic electricity needs amidst budget constraints. 

Proportional representation in politics, business and community leadership

The ‘Black Mermaid’ helping South Africans fall in love with the ocean. South Africa’s first Black female free diver, Zandile Ndhlovu, never misses a chance to dive deep into changing narratives to help transform oceans into an inclusive space for Black youth. Through free diving lessons and ocean exploration programs for Black children, Ndhlovu is dispelling fear of water, helping to overcome inequalities that limit access to oceans, and busting the stereotype that black people do not swim or surf. According to historian Kevin Dawson, Black Africans were famed for being “the strongest swimmers and divers from the 1400s to 1800s”. Cultivating African swimming/diving/surfing culture through representation empowers Black children to tap into the aquatic roots of their ancestors.

Upgrade Your Life


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

  1. South Africa riots: What's happening and why?
  2. 3 ways to create a menopause-friendly work culture - TEDTalk
  3. Stop networking, start connecting - Podcast
  4. Why you’re so anxious about going back to the office
  5. Principles of economics - Free online Stanford course
  6. Staying Fit - Free online course, Stanford School of Medicine
  7. What on Earth is ecocide?
  8. Continental shift: Africa's jewellery industry - The Economist

History Class

Archbishop Desmond Tutu discusses Africa’s philosophy of Ubuntu
The real Yasuke - Japan’s African samurai

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