Movemeback Pulse

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Pulse #59 - African Heritage: New UN body for people of African descent, bias in UNESCO World Heritage, Namibia auctions elephants, & Hushpuppi, the movie, & more

In this week’s Pulse:
South Africa looks to give free data to citizens, Hollywood film about Nigerian internet scammer Hushpuppi, African mobility startup raises $23mn to finance vehicle for ride-hailing drivers, Ethiopia’s military recruitment call could escalate Tigray conflict, $1bn expansion of Dangote’s sugar refinery, WhatsApp banking in Kenya, and more
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The Data Room

Out of 1,100 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, only 96 are in SSA - representing 9% of the total despite being home to 15% of the world’s population, 18% of its land mass, and immense heritage and history. Africa’s poor representation on the list has been attributed to bias within UNESCO and the high costs of application (capped at $30,000). For instance, “UNESCO tends to pick African sites that celebrate European colonial architecture in the Continent, rather than those with indigenous significance.” Read below for steps one African country is taking to fund conservation.

Numbers in the Spotlight

(USD1bn) set aside for expansion by Dangote Sugar Refinery to increase domestic production

 (USD47.8mn) in cash and luxury cars was found in possession of Nigerian internet scammer Hushpuppi, on his Dubai arrest last year - a film is being made about his life

 (USD23mn) raised by African mobility startup Moove, to finance new car purchase for ride-hailing drivers

 (4mn) Ethiopians need emergency food due to ongoing fighting between the national military and Tigrayan forces

158,000 Togolese
 to access electricity following the country’s launch of a 50MW solar facility - the largest in West Africa

of all internet users in Kenya are active on WhatsApp

 year on year rise in suicide cases in Kenya

50 elephants
auctioned by Namibia

On The Continent This Week

Effective internal and regional security, and foreign policy

Ethiopia’s PM calls on “all capable” to fight Tigrayan forces. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has rallied all capable Ethiopians to join the military incursion against the Tigrayan forces, who have advanced into the neighbouring Amhara and Afar regions in recent weeks. Recruiting and deploying more bodies into the already complex conflict risks escalating the situation into an all-out national war. Whilst this latest fighting which began last November has left ~4mn people in Tigray, Amhara and Afar in need of emergency food, Ethiopia’s history of conflict has driven millions of people into exile over the years. Medallists for the 10,000m women’s race at the Tokyo Olympics, Sifan Hassan (who now represents Netherlands) and Kalkidan Gezahegne (who currently runs for Bahrain) are among an estimated 3mn Ethiopians believed to be living abroad. Experts say the solution to the conflict lies far from the noise of the battlefield in the quiet boardrooms, where a political compromise can be struck.  

Home-grown digital infrastructure & platforms

WhatsApp banking in Kenya. Absa Bank Kenya has launched a new feature that allows customers to access their accounts and transact via WhatsApp, in a move to increase automation and digitalisation of its services. With ~97% of all internet users in Kenya using WhatsApp, Absa demonstrates how social media platforms can be tapped for financial inclusion. Whilst East Africa’s largest economy has made significant strides in financial inclusion on the back of rapid adoption of mobile banking, in 2020 17% of Kenyans were still excluded from access to formal financial services. But the widespread adoption of WhatsApp for banking could pose formidable competition to Kenya’s burgeoning homegrown fintech providers.

End-to-end value chain capture

Dangote-owned sugar firm plans $1bn expansion. Dangote Sugar Refinery has unveiled plans for a $1bn expansion to increase its refined sugar production capacity from 403,846 tonnes in June 2021 to 1.5-2mn tonnes annually by 2024. The expansion drive that encompasses planting sugarcane on more than 100,000 hectares of land and nearly doubling the capacity of a sugar-crushing factory in northern Nigeria, is the company’s answer to the government's call for manufacturers to help Africa’s largest economy achieve self-sufficiency in sugar. Currently Nigeria imports $600-700mn of raw sugar annually. With a FAO study raising concerns about the uneven geographic distribution and limited numbers of the sugar factories, incentivising for a more even distribution of planting and production would quicken Nigeria’s push for sugar independence.

Access to financial services and products

Moove raises $23M to democratise vehicle ownership across Africa. African mobility startup Moove has raised $23mn to provide flexible financing options to car-hailing, ride-hailing and bus-hailing drivers to buy new cars across the Continent. Moove’s entry into the credit market is aiding mobility entrepreneurs to overcome challenges of high deposits, limiting interest rates, and short repayment periods slapped on vehicle purchases by traditional financial institutions. E.g Moove asks for a 5% deposit, 8-13% interest, and up to 4 years in repayment vs. the 10-50% deposit, 20-25% interest, ~2-year repayment typically provided by Nigerian banks. Crucially, expanding car ownership in this category of gig workers also increases their stock of bankable assets to access additional financing for other income-generating activities. 

Baseline healthcare & disease protection

Why is Kenya experiencing an alarming rise in suicides? Kenya is experiencing an unprecedented rise in suicides - posting 483 cases in April-June 2021 vs. the yearly average of ~320. This is a furtherance of a trend seen in recent years, with the WHO reporting cases in Kenya surged by 58% between 2008 and 2017 vs. a 17.4% decline in global cases. Experts attribute Kenya’s surge to stigma against survivors, criminalisation of attempted suicide (dis-incentivising survivors from seeking help), and inadequate treatment for mental health illness - all compounded by Covid-19 in the last year. With cases likely higher, decriminalisation, creating awareness about suicide as a public health issue, and building an inclusive space for discussing mental health will be critical in reversing the trend.

High value skills development and talent repatriation

South Africa looking to give free data to citizens. South Africa’s government is considering giving free basic data to its low-income earners, and providing high-speed broadband in every community by 2023/24. With only 37% of households across South Africa able to access reliable internet in 2020, free data could increase access to online learning for children from low-income households. Under the lockdown, 83.5% of learners in South Africa’s private schools switched to online learning, while 67.1% of children in public schools could continue learning from home, largely through radio or television broadcasts, or textbooks and worksheets distributed to them. But the effectiveness of the free data initiative will likely hinge on improving access to internet-connected devices.

Exporting culture and identity

Hollywood film on Nigerian internet scammer. Ramon Abbas, aka Hushpuppi, will have a film made about his life, produced by Hollywood’s Will Packer Productions and Nigerian entertainment company EbonyLife Media. Hushpuppi shared his luxury lifestyle with his 2.5mn Instagram followers, before being arrested in Dubai last year, with nearly $41mn in cash, $6.8mn in luxury cars and the addresses of nearly 2mn possible victims in his possession. Although Hushpuppi’s story does not necessarily present Nigeria in the best light, the upcoming film presents new opportunities to increase the reach of Nigeria’s film industry through international collaboration. Nigeria’s $3bn film industry (Nollywood) is the second largest film producer in the world, and a priority export revenue generator for the country.

Intra-continental connectivity, collaboration & trade

Sudan to import electricity from Ethiopia. Despite frosty relations, Sudan wants 1,000MW of electricity from neighbouring Ethiopia, which will become Africa’s biggest power exporter when its 6,000MW Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD) launches later this year. An agreement between Sudan and Ethiopia could embody a diplomatic triumph amidst rising tensions over the GERD, a border dispute, and the Tigrayan conflict. Sudan needs Ethiopia’s electricity to plug its domestic deficit of 1,000MW and to power out of recession that has been worsened by Covid-19. This deal could help create an alternative narrative of GERD as an asset to power regional growth vs. a weapon to reduce Nile waters to Sudan and Egypt. 

Scaleable energy access

Togo launches largest solar plant in West Africa. A 50MW solar facility that will connect 158,000 households has launched 250km north of the Togolese capital Lomé. The facility enables Togo to cut reliance on Ghana and Nigeria, which currently account for more than half of the country's electricity supplies. Building energy independence will help Togo to stay on track to achieving its vision of universal electricity access by 2030. With the country's hydropower potential highly seasonal, tapping solar resources could offer a more reliable route to meeting energy needs from domestic sources. Electricity access rate in Togo is currently 35%, which is below the regional average of 40%.

Essential infrastructure, personal living-space & utilities

Namibia auctions 50 elephants over conflict with humans. Namibia has found buyers for 50 of the 170 elephants it put up for auction in a bid to balance between conservation and managing the danger the animals pose to human habitation. About 100,000 Namibians condemned the auction in an online petition - with negativity likely to have affected demand for the animals. Namibia offers an example of how several African countries face the paradox of having enormous wealth in wildlife but equally huge conservation costs. In recent years, the country is reported to have considered raising funds for conservation through the export of live animals and easing rules around trophy hunting, which generates $200mn annually across Africa. Namibia’s conservation effort has been immensely successful with its elephant population growing from 7,500 in 1995 to 24,000 in 2019.

Proportional representation

UN creates new Permanent Forum of People of African Descent. The UN General Assembly has established a new platform to improve the lives of African descendants across the world. In recognition of centuries of racism, racial discrimination, and the legacy of enslavement globally, the forum aims to advance the full political, economic and social inclusion of people of African descent. It comes a year after Black Lives Matter protests erupted across the world following the police killing of George Floyd. However, with the Forum having no legally binding instruments, and the UN already naming 2015-2024 the International Decade for People of African Descent, perhaps we need less investigation and ceremony, and more action against compounding inequalities faced by black people globally.

Upgrade Your Life


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

  1. How to set boundaries in the last days of a job
  2. The joy of black hair - The New York Times
  3. How to disagree with someone more powerful than you
  4. Why are stolen African artefacts still in Western museums?
  5. Entrepreneurship: From business idea to action -  Free Online Course
  6. Should you still wear a face mask (if it’s no longer mandatory in your country)?
  7. What conservation can look like for an African - TEDTalk
  8. Suicide stories: Are Kenya's men in crisis? - BBC Africa Eye documentary

History Class

Is an all-out civil war now likely in Ethiopia? - Inside Story
How Hushpuppi was exposed - CNN

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