Movemeback Pulse

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Pulse #64 - Tracking progress: Covid-19 vaccinations, France & Russia fight for Mali, the cost of Nigeria’s Twitter ban, African comics go global

In this week’s Pulse:
Mali risks alienation by Western partners with Russia military deal, Benin named world’s fastest place to start business, delayed supplies threaten Africa’s vaccination targets, Africa’s superhero franchise signed by world-leading creative agency, Ethiopia seeks regional energy market dominance, the two sides of Twitter, Nigeria wants new African bank for financing hydrocarbon projects, and is Africa ready for a crypto boom? 
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The Data Room

In an attempt to ramp up Covid-19 vaccination past the current 3% of total population, Africa is increasingly making moves to localise vaccine production to stabilise the Continent’s supplies amidst unfulfilled orders from foreign manufacturers. At least 12 production facilities are being set up in Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa - with the hope of producing Pfizer-BioNTech, J&J, Sputnik V and Sinovac vaccines (among others) in the coming year. The AU aims to vaccinate 60% of the Continent’s 1.2bn people by 2023. Read below for more of Africa’s vaccination progress per country.

Numbers in the Spotlight

 (USD55bn) spent on foreign professional services in the last decade by companies in Nigeria

 (USD40bn) to be invested in 71 renewable energy projects by Ethiopia over 10 years

 (USD8.2bn) in revenue loss is projected for African airlines this year

 (USD2bn) to be raised by the Africa Finance Corporation for climate resilient infrastructure in Africa

 (USD366.9mn) lost by Nigerian businesses due to Twitter ban

growth in the value of cryptocurrency received by Africa in the last year

1,000 military mercenaries
 reportedly being sought from Russian private security group, Wagner, by Mali

12 African countries
 have inoculated 10% of their population against Covid-19 (WHO target)

3 hours
to register a company online in Benin - making it the world’s fastest place to start a business

On The Continent This Week

​​Baseline healthcare & disease protection

Tracking Africa’s Covid-19 vaccination progress. Around 12 African countries have so far reached the WHO’s target of fully inoculating 10% of their population against Covid-19 by the end of September 2021. But with many populous nations such as Nigeria, Ethiopia, Egypt, DRC and Tanzania still lagging far behind, health experts warn that the target may not be achieved unless supplies improve - increasing the risk of a surge in cases fuelled by new variants. To date only ~3% of Africa’s population is fully vaccinated vs. ~ 54% in the US and ~65% in the UK. But while Africa awaits extra supplies, the Continent may have to address issues around distributing the vaccines (like inadequate health infrastructure, funding for medical supplies, staff shortages) and vaccine hesitancy that are impeding the uptake of available doses.

Effective internal and regional security, and foreign policy

Mali risks alienation by the West with Russia deal. France and Germany are against a reported plan by Mali to hire 1,000 mercenaries from the Russian private security group, Wagner. The deal could jeopardise military, financial and technical support for Mali from Western countries that consider Russia an adversary. Thousands of Western troops have supported Mali’s military campaign against Islamist militants linked to al-Qaeda and ISIS since 2013. A deal with Wagner could equally cast doubt on Mali’s desire to restore human rights in communities freed from Islamist rule, as the Russian security group is accused of rights violations in Libya, CAR and Syria. Wagner symbolises Russia’s growing military influence in Africa – making the Continent a battleground for power rivalry between Moscow and the West.

Proportional representation in politics, business and community leadership

The good and the bad of Twitter. Nigerian authorities are preparing to end a ban on Twitter following public outcry that it has hurt businesses and freedom of speech. The ban is estimated to have cost the country $367mn in disrupted business by the start of August. Meanwhile in Kenya, a study has revealed that Twitter is being used to promote misinformation and stifle freedom of speech with the help of paid influencers. Signifying the social media app’s vulnerability, it was found to have been abused to bully away critical voices from debates about the controversial Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) aimed at changing Kenya's constitution. The two sides of Twitter show the importance in finding a balance between the economic benefit and freedom of expression offered by social media platforms, and the harms of fake information and coercive consensus.
Exporting culture and identity

African superhero franchise Comic Republic signs with CAA. US-based Creative Artists Agency (CAA) has signed Nigeria-based superhero franchise Comic Republic for representation. Boasting a clientele which is a near monopoly of the world’s A-list actors, writers, directors, sportspersons, musicians, TV personalities, video gamers, and fashion stars, CAA could support the growth of Africa’s comic industry by identifying and creating opportunities for Comic Republic in film, television, publishing, games, speaking and consumer products. Comic Republic has >200 characters that embody Africa’s history, myths, and vision of the future. Such international partnerships could bolster the global reach of Africa’s comic industry whilst providing more black representation, which is essential for the development of esteem and sense of identity in children.

Home-grown digital infrastructure & platforms

Benin named fastest place to start business. An online business registration system set up by Benin’s government in early 2020 in response to Covid-19 has considerably cut redtape, and made the country the world’s fastest place to start a business (UNCTAD, 2021). By slashing business registration to just three hours vs. 21.5 days in SSA (World Bank, 2019), Benin has minimised the costs, delays and prospects of corruption that often characterises the process in Africa. Online registration similarly helps in curbing the spread of Covid-19 by eliminating human contact. As a result, annual business registration in Benin nearly doubled from 2019 to 2020. This presents a case study for how digital innovation can be an enabler to doing business in Africa.

Essential infrastructure, personal living-space & utilities

$2bn for climate resilient infrastructure in Africa. Nigeria-based pan-African DFI, Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), plans to raise $2bn over the next three years to finance climate resilient infrastructure in Africa. The ambitious drive would help address Africa’s infrastructure investment needs (estimated at $2.3trn by the UN) and lessen the impact of climate change on the Continent. With Africa expected to be hardest-hit by the adverse effects of climate change, the need for resilient infrastructure to shrink the cost of climate change to the Continent signifies prospects for investment. GDP exposure in African countries susceptible to extreme climate incidents is expected to rise from $895bn in 2018 to ~$1.4trn in 2023 - about half of the Continent’s GDP (Brookings, 2020).
High value skills development and talent repatriation 

How foreign professional services companies are contributing to capital flight in Nigeria. Companies in Nigeria spent $55bn on foreign technical and professional services in the last decade, according to the country’s central bank. MTN, Nigerian Breweries and First Bank top the list of big spenders. This figure is 60% more than Nigeria’s current foreign reserves worth $34.18bn – indicating that foreign professional services are facilitating massive capital flight. Such an outlay reignites the debate about the preference for foreign expertise in many businesses and countries in Africa, and the need for increased transparency and promotion of the Continent’s most capable firms. With a third of Nigerians unemployed (Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, 2020) policies that support the skills development and uptake of local talent are also required. Nigeria’s professional, scientific and technical services sector is valued at $5.72bn - just 3.4% of Nigeria’s real GDP.

End-to-end value chain capture

Nigeria wants an African energy bank. Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, is calling for the formation of an African energy bank as an alternative source of sector financing, as international investors are increasingly phasing out funding for hydrocarbon projects. Months after the European Investment Bank stopped funding fossil fuel projects, the International Energy Agency (IEA) recently urged investors against financing them to enable the world reach net zero emissions by the mid-century. Of the world’s 60 largest banks, 27 have cut their financing for fossil fuels (CNBC, 2021) - at a time when vast amounts of Africa’s reserves remain unextracted - 132.1bn barrels of crude, 14.7trn m³ of natural gas and 31,696bn tonnes of coal (UNECA, 2011). With Africa accounting for <4% of the global greenhouse gas emissions (World Bank, 2009), balancing between the Continent’s development needs and global emission targets may be necessary.

Scaleable energy

Ethiopia eyes energy dominance in Eastern Africa. Ethiopia wants to invest $40bn in 71 renewable energy projects as part of a 10-year government plan to produce and export clean electricity. With Ethiopia expecting to increase its installed capacity from the current 4,965MW to 35,000MW by 2037, the country will dominate the energy production market in Eastern Africa - powering industrialisation and economic growth in Africa’s most integrated  region. Ethiopia is finalising plans to start exporting electricity to the East African Power Pool (EAPP) through the nearly completed 1,055km Ethiopia-Kenya transmission line. Power generation is surging in Eastern Africa, but opportunities to invest in last mile connection remain largely untapped - e.g. 55% of Ethiopia’s 110mn population lacks access to electricity.

Access to financial services and products

Is Africa ready for a crypto boom? The annual value of cryptos received by Africa surged by 1,200% from July 2020 to June 2021, with African countries collectively receiving ~$105.6bn worth of the currency over this period. Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Tanzania experienced some of the highest adoption rates in the world. The Continent’s retail-sized transfers as a percentage of overall transaction volume was also bigger than any other region’s at ~7% vs. the global average of 5.5%. However, Africa’s crypto economy is still relatively small. While experts say cryptos will reduce the cost, time and bureaucracy in transactions, African authorities may need to address questions about institutional capabilities required to prevent cryptos from being employed for crime. E.g. Earlier this year, two South African brothers vanished along with $3.6bn worth of Bitcoin from their crypto investment platform.

Upgrade Your Life


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

  1. Seven Africans named in Time 100 influential list
  2. Russian mercenaries behind human rights abuses in CAR, say UN experts - The Guardian
  3. Netflix to stream Ethiopian film Sankofa
  4. Women-led production company in Kenya empowers children through animated series - CNN
  5. How the COVID-19 vaccines were created so quickly - TEDTalk
  6. Strategic planning for professional service firms during COVID-19 - Free online course
  7. Introduction to 3D Animation using Blender - Free online course
  8. So you hired a consultant. Here’s how to get your money’s worth

History Class

Mali at 61: Will regional mediation solve the political crisis? (Al Jazeera’s) Inside Story
Leaked documents reveal Russian effort to exert influence in Africa - The Guardian, 2019

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