Movemeback Pulse

Actionable African insight delivered to you on pulse

Pulse #56 - Defending rights: Spying on African leaders, reversing Tanzania’s mobile money tax & Nigeria's new jets to fight insecurity

In this week’s Pulse:
African leaders spied on using Pegasus, Kenyan wants to double geothermal capacity, $8bn to boost AfCFTA, creating fashion from plastic waste, the protection of Africa’s world heritage sites, another South African dancer hits the international stage, whilst Uganda buys cars instead of vaccines, Ghana anti-gay bill threatens rights, and will Nigeria take a harder stance against insurgents? 
Forward Forward
Tweet Tweet

The Data Room

Why is mobile internet so expensive in some African countries? The Continent has the highest mobile data costs in the world, when compared to average income. In Malawi, people pay ~87% of average gross national income for 1GB of mobile data (as of 2020). Rwandans, by comparison, pay only 2%. Whilst the cost of telecoms infrastructure is a major cost factor, opportunities to help reduce prices exist - e.g. by creating an enabling environment to increase local competition, and country governments providing support to increase coverage to remote areas. 

Numbers in the Spotlight

(USD8bn) to be raised by African countries to offset trade tariff losses from implementing AfCFTA

(USD 593mn) has been spent by Nigeria to purchase aircrafts, bombs and rockets from USA, to battle rising insecurity

(USD30mn) given to MPs in Uganda to buy cars

is the capacity of the new hydro-power dam under construction in Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve - a World Heritage site

160 public policy officials
from 8 African countries to receive financial modelling training to increase earnings from extractives

30 years
of conservation success has resulted in the removal of DRC’s Salonga Park from UNESCO’s endangered sites

8 current and former African leaders
are among ~50,000 people reportedly targeted for surveillance using Pegasus spyware

4th South African professional dancer
to join UK’s popular Strictly Come Dancing show - Cameron Lombard
Funding opportunity 
2021 Learning Engineering Tools Competition
With over $3mn in prize awards up for grabs, compete in this challenge to leverage technology, data and learning science to meet the urgent needs of learners across generations

On The Continent This Week

Effective internal and regional security, and foreign policy

Nigeria fighter plane shot down by armed groups. In a rare first, a criminal group in northern Nigeria has shot down a military jet. The incident, that occurred on the border of the Zamfara and Kaduna states, offers a peek into the scale of insecurity in northern Nigeria, where ~1,000 students have been kidnapped since December 2020. With the Nigerian Airforce seeming to be downplaying the severity of the situation by characterising those responsible as ‘bandits’, analysts argue that it might make it increasingly hard for the Nigerian government to garner patriotic support. However, this week, Nigeria has also received its first 6 light attack planes out of an order of 12 jets from the US to fight insurgents - perhaps the sign of a more action-oriented stance. 

Home-grown digital infrastructure & platforms

Africans listed among targets of Pegasus spyware. Several current and former African heads of state have appeared on a list of ~50,000 people who were reportedly targeted for surveillance using Pegasus spyware. Pegasus infects mobile devices of targets identified by client governments, enabling them to access the owners’ data. 7 African countries are said to be on the list of government clients, including Togo, Morocco and Rwanda. Rwanda has been accused of putting up South Africa’s President Ramaphosa and Uganda’s former PM Rugunda for surveillance, contributing to frosty relations between the countries. These revelations could worsen relations and digital collaboration between African countries. E.g. the Uganda-Rwanda border has been closed for two years, and Uganda has blocked online access to Rwanda’s main state-owned newspaper on national security grounds.

Access to financial services and products

Tanzania to review mobile tax after outcry. President Samia Suluhu has ordered a review of a new tax on mobile money following an outcry from Tanzanians, who were already subjected to some of the highest rates in Africa. The new tax threatens to disrupt the country’s financial inclusion momentum - 98% of the 56% of Tanzanians who are financially-included have mobile money accounts (as of 2017). The government has argued tax revenues will be used to fund development projects, such as providing running water to schools. However with many mobile money users belonging to marginalised groups with poor access to financial services, the end may not justify the means.

Intra-continental connectivity, collaboration & trade

$8bn to be set aside for AfCFTA losses. In an effort to boost the implementation of the continental free trade agreement, African countries plan to mobilise ~$8bn to cover revenue losses resulting from lowering cross-border tariffs. Although the forecast short-term tariff revenue decline from AfCFTA is small (less than 1.5%, while total tax revenues may fall by less than 0.3%), the $8bn fund will incentivise participation from governments that rely on duties for income. The world’s largest free-trade area seeks to boost intra-African trade by slashing or eliminating cross-border tariffs on 90% of goods and the facilitation of movement of goods and capital. Trade within Africa is projected to grow by 52% in the next decade on the back of AfCFTA, from the current $350bn a year.

Scaleable energy access

Kenya seeks to double geothermal capacity by 2030. Kenya plans to invest $2bn by 2030 to double its capacity to 1.6GW - enough to power 1mn people. This investment would take the contribution of geothermal to Kenya’s overall energy mix from ~50% to ~60%. Whilst geothermal requires a higher initial investment than solar, wind and hydro, it’s a more reliable energy source as it is less reliant on weather patterns such as sunshine, rainfall and wind speed. With Kenya eager to share its 70-year know-how, other African countries have a peer to guide them in exploiting their geothermal energy potential. The UN estimates the potential of geothermal energy across Eastern Africa at 20,000MW - presenting many opportunities in the $4.6bn global geothermal energy industry.

Essential infrastructure, personal living-space & utilities

Wildlife conservation vs. development. DRC’s Salonga Park has been removed from UNESCO’s endangered sites after ~30 years of conservation success that included a ban on oil exploration; while Tanzania has won an appeal against removing its Selous Game Reserve from World Heritage sites for continuing to construct a 2,115MW hydro dam in it. The two cases embody the dichotomy between conservation and development in Africa. While Africa is endowed with natural resources, exploiting some to facilitate development could impact biodiversity. With Africa’s population projected to reach 2.5bn by 2050 and the resulting increased demand for resources, striking a balance between conservation and development will likely become a greater challenge in the future.  

High value skills development and talent repatriation

Financial modelling skills to increase Africa’s earnings from extractives. The AfDB is set to provide financial modelling training to 160 public policy officials (40% women) from 8 African countries undergoing political and economic transition, to help them earn more from extractives.  By covering topics like mineral and petroleum rents, tax policies, and rent-sharing, the training will strengthen the hand of beneficiary countries to negotiate resource contracts, production-sharing agreements, and ex-post assessments of returns. The skills intervention could help reverse the ripping-off of Africa by multinationals that under-report earnings, repatriate profits and scantily benefit local communities. Between 2000 and 2010 African countries collectively registered ~$50bn in annual revenue losses to ‘illicit financial flows’ - 56% of it from the extractive sector.

Exporting culture & identity 

South Africa's Cameron Lombard joins Strictly Come Dancing. Cameron Lombard from Cape Town has been selected to join the line-up of professional dancers in this year’s Strictly Come Dancing - the popular and award-winning British television dance contest that has been exported to 60 other countries. He becomes the 4th South African professional dancer to make the show after two-time winner Oti Mabuse, two-time finalist Johannes Radebe, and judge Motsi Mabuse. The success of the dancers is perhaps representative of the growing global interest in African entertainment. Their inclusion provides a unique opportunity for the incorporation and showcasing of African dancing styles and talent on an international platform, and more widely to promote African entertainment across the globe. 

Proportional representation in politics, business and community leadership

Ghana anti-gay bill proposes 10-year jail term for LGBTQ+ people & supporters. Being an LGBTQ+ person, or offering social/medical support or sympathy, could earn you a 10-year jail term in Ghana, if a draft anti-gay legislation gets passed. In what could become one of the most draconian anti-gay laws across the world, the Promotion of Proper Human Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021 also proposes a fine or 3-year jail term for people involved in non-heterosexual sex. If passed in the current form, the legislation will immensely derail the right to sexuality and access to basic services such as health and education for the LGBTQ+ community in Ghana. Criminalising this community and their supporters could damage the reputation of Ghana as a beacon of democracy, human rights and good governance in Africa.

Baseline healthcare & disease protection 
Uganda spends $30mn on vehicles, not healthcare. Uganda’s 529 lawmakers have each received $56,500 to buy new vehicles - a total of ~$30mn. The decision comes as Uganda continues to be gripped by a second wave of Covid-19, leading to the closure of schools and non-essential business, vehicle movement restrictions, and vulnerable groups experiencing food shortages. So far, the government has failed to purchase any vaccines, with officials saying the country had been priced out of the market by richer buyers. Only 1mn of Uganda’s 21mn population has been vaccinated, all from donated vaccines. Whilst the argument has been made that MPs need transport to visit their constituencies and perform vital work, perhaps funds could have been focused on a vaccination programme.

End-to-end value chain capture

Finding opportunities in plastic trash. South Africa’s Phumudzo Muthanyi and Mbali Mokgosi are making recycling 'cool' by turning plastic waste into beautiful bags and fashion accessories. Besides contributing to a reduction of plastic waste, the couple feel that their innovation is helping change the perception of recycling from ‘dirty’. Only 16% of plastic is recycled in South Africa, with the rest ending up in landfills, or to pollute rivers, roads and communities. However since 2018, over 64,000 income-generating methods for waste pickers, collectors and recyclers have been created in South Africa. With Africa projected to generate 344,000 tonnes of polymers and plastics annually by 2030, opportunities lie in exploiting innovative opportunities in waste collection and recycling.

Upgrade Your Life


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

  1. How to dance the top 5 Afro dance moves of 2020
  2. African at Tokyo 2020 Olympics: The shift from competitors to Olympic medal contenders
  3. The (de)colonizing of beauty - TEDTalk
  4. Free online marketing courses from Google
  5. How to get your big ideas noticed by the right people
  6. How working dads can keep pulling their weight at home when WFH ends
  7. The first Arab and African woman to referee 3x3 basketball at the Olympics

History Class

Pegasus: the spyware technology that threatens democracy - The Guardian
Being gay in Africa - Sky News

Movemeback, if Movemeback can be supporting you or your organisation, or if you would like to share something with the Movemeback community please get in touch.

If you are not yet a member of Movemeback, and you like what you're reading - join Movemeback for more (it's free)!