Movemeback Pulse

Actionable African insight delivered to you on pulse

Pulse #67 - African Renaissance: First African Nobel Prize in Literature in decades, 100mn creative fund, Netflix searches for African film-makers

In this week’s Pulse:
Abdulrazak Gurnah wins Nobel Prize for Literature, WHO-approved malaria vaccine renews hope, boost for open banking in Africa, Roberta Annan’s ~$116mn impact fund for African creatives, $1.7bn port expansion to bolster trade, Egypt eyes regional energy market, Africa’s digital cross-border payments platform goes live, a UN-financed Somalia military operation, $500mn for making Moderna in Africa, and Google to invest $1bn in African startups 
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The Data Room

The number of Africans facing acute food insecurity has soared to 106mn - double the figure registered in 2018 (FAO and WFP, 2021). Conflict remains the principal driver – 12 of the 15 African countries experiencing the highest food insecurity currently face armed instability. Other factors include displacement, climate change, economic shocks including Covid-19 restrictions, locusts, and political unrest. In DRC, 26mn people are experiencing acute food insecurity, more than any other African country. East Africa is the hardest hit region with Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan and Kenya each housing >1mn cases of acute food insecurity.

Numbers in the Spotlight

 (USD3bn) for phase one of linking the power grids of Egypt, Cyprus and Greece

 (USD1.7bn) to be invested to expand Africa’s ports by Dubai’s DP World and the UK’s CDC Group

(USD1bn) investment in Africa’s tech ecosystem announced by Google

 (USD500mn) to be invested by Moderna for African Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing plant - location undecided

 (USD150mn) committed by France to back 500 African startups in the next three year

 (USD116mn) impact fund for African creatives launched by Ghana’s Roberta Annan

 (USD116mn) pledged by Germany for renewable energy financing across Africa

 (USD15mn) raised by Nigerian fintech startup Mono in Series A funding

300,000 Nigerian youth
 to be trained in film and TV production following a partnership between Mastercard Foundation and Nigeria’s KAP Film & TV Academy

On The Continent This Week

Baseline healthcare & disease protection

New malaria vaccine boosts fight against disease. The WHO has approved the world’s first malaria vaccine - offering hope for saving lives across Africa, which carries the heaviest burden of the disease. Despite achieving a modest efficacy of just 30%, experts say tailored rollouts of the GSK vaccine (Mosquirix) could perform better. A recent trial showed that the vaccine cut childhood malaria deaths by 73% when three doses were administered in the run-up to the rainy season (malaria peak season) and another dose before the rainy season in the two subsequent years. But to achieve four doses per person, sufficient funding and sustained communication will be key. Malaria kills 400,000 people and causes ~$12bn in economic loss in Africa annually. 

End-to-End Value Chain Capture

500mn Moderna doses to be manufactured in Africa every year. Moderna plans to spend $500mn on building a Covid-19 vaccine plant in Africa to manufacture 500mn doses a year. The US-based pharma co. is considering Senegal, Rwanda and South Africa as possible hosts for the plant. The investment provides opportunities for collaboration in R&D, knowledge & tech transfer, biotech skills development, and easier access to vaccines for African countries. However the degree of benefit to Africa’s pharma industry depends on how deep local players are incorporated into the US drug maker’s supply chain - highlighting the importance for the confirmed host country to prioritise local involvement in negotiations with Moderna. As of October 7, only ~4.5% of Africans had been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 (CDC Africa, 2021).

Home-grown digital infrastructure & platforms 

Google plans to invest $1bn in African startups. Google has announced plans to invest $1bn into Africa’s tech ecosystem over the next five years, while the French government has committed €130mn (~$150mn) for backing 500 African startups in the next three years. These international investments corroborate the growing pull of Africa’s tech ecosystem, but also highlight the lack of funding from local players. E.g. local investors represented just 20% of all investors who participated in VC investments in Africa between 2014 and 2019 (AVCA, 2020). More local funding would both increase sustainability for the Continent’s tech ecosystem, whilst increasing opportunities for the Continent to maximise value from the success of its startups.

Exporting culture and identity

Roberta Annan creates €100mn impact fund for African creatives. Ghanaian businesswoman Roberta Annan has launched a €100mn (~$116mn) fund that will extend €50,000 (~$58,000) grants to promising African creatives, supporting the growth of the Continent's creative industry. The fund arrives in time to revitalise creative businesses that have suffered a decline in tourism, events, film shoots, albums, gatherings and face-to-face interaction (due to Covid-19), that creatives rely on to network, collaborate, pitch for funding, and market their products. With the global creative economy expected to grow 40% by 2030 (Deloitte, 2021), and Africa's share less than 1%, the industry holds great potential for growth and job creation across the Continent. 

Access to financial services and products

$15mn funding for African open banking infrastructure startup. Nigerian fintech startup Mono has raised $15mn in Series A funding to expand to new markets such as Ghana and South Africa. The startup has built an open banking infrastructure that allows companies to access a variety of customer financial data from financial institutions across Africa using a single API. Reliable consumer data such as financial situation, preferences, habits and physical location enables increased access to financial products, particularly to those with limited traditional credit records. Whilst Mono’s expansion creates opportunities to increase financial access for the unbanked, open banking infrastructure comes with some risks that require mitigation - including increased risk of privacy breaches, data security, cybercrime and fraud.

Intra-continental connectivity, collaboration & trade

Africa’s digital cross-border payments system goes live. The Pan-African Payments and Settlements Platform (PAPSS) has gone live. By facilitating instantaneous cross-border and cross-currency payments, the platform has the potential to bolster intra-Continental trade, which has been inhibited by currency conversion obstacles generating additional costs, longer lead times and cumbersome administrative procedures. The system is expected to save the Continent >$5bn in payment transaction costs per year (Afreximbank, 2021). Members of the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) including Nigeria, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are among the first countries to adopt PAPSS, leading the way for the rest of the Continent to follow suit. 

High value skills development and talent repatriation 

300,000 Nigerian youth to be trained in film and TV production. The Mastercard Foundation has partnered with the KAP Film & TV Academy to train 300,000 young Nigerians in film and TV production over the next three years. The training supports the development of the next generation of production talent for Nollywood, which produces ~20,000 films and generates ~$600mn every year - making it the third largest film industry globally, after Hollywood and Bollywood. The training will be delivered online, and draw upon the academy’s founder Kunle Afolayan’s film, ‘The Figurine’. Creative industry is Nigeria’s second largest employer (after agriculture) accounting for 4.2mn jobs (Jobberman, 2021), but it still grapples with informality, shortage of essential skills, and inadequate funding.

Effective internal and regional security, and foreign policy

UN to join expanded AU military operations in Somalia. The AU’s millitary operations in Somalia will extend beyond December 31, 2021 and expand to include more member states. Currently, Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda contribute ~20,000 troops to the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Going forward, the AU seeks to partner with the UN in a joint mission - a move rejected by the Somali government that wants local security agencies to gradually assume responsibility for the country’s security. Although a transition to the UN will improve financing for the mission, it transfers significant power in Somalia from the AU to the UN. Allowances ($822 per month) of AMISOM troops are paid by the EU and are often delayed, but UN peacekeepers are paid by their own governments and reimbursed by the UN at $1,428 per month (as of 1 July 2019). 

Essential infrastructure, personal living-space & utilities

$1.72bn for expanding African ports. Dubai-based logistics company DP World and the UK’s CDC Group have announced plans to pool $1.72bn to invest in Africa’s port infrastructure in the next several years. The consortium will initially finance the expansion of three ports operated by DP World (in Egypt’s Ain Sokhna, Senegal’s Dakar and Somaliland’s Berbera), before eventually sprinkling investment across the Continent. Investors expect the expansion of the three ports to increase access to crucial commodities for 35mn people, create 5mn jobs and add $51bn to Africa’s total trade by 2035. The AfDB expects Africa’s infrastructure financing gap to reach $100bn a year by 2025, signifying unexploited investment opportunities.

Scaleable energy

Egypt moves to dominate regional energy market. Egypt and Greece are set to sign part of a trilateral agreement to link their power grids with Cyprus through a subsea power line, enabling the North African country to export its surplus electricity to Europe. The first phase of the line, expected to cost €2.5bn (~$3bn), is scheduled for commissioning by December 2023. This is the latest move in Egypt’s efforts to become a regional energy hub for the Mediterranean, Middle East and North Africa. The country also has deals to export energy to Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Libya and Jordan. Lower renewable energy production costs benefit Egypt, which is able to sell power from Benban for a profit at 9 ($) cents per KWh vs. as much as 15.4 ($) cents in nations like Germany and Italy (Bloomberg, 2020).

Proportional representation in politics, business and community leadership

Abdulrazak Gurnah wins 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature. The Tanzanian writer has been awarded this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature for his “uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism”. He is the first Black African writer to win the prize since Wole Soyinka in 1986 and the first Black winner since American Toni Morrison in 1993. Gurnah’s award is an acknowledgment of the explosion in African writing - a period some writers have called ‘one of the most exciting literary movements of our century’ and ‘the African Renaissance’. These bold assertions are supported by moves in recent years by international publishers including Random House, Penguin and Macmillan to establish imprints in Africa. But with much of the publishing still controlled from outside the Continent, opportunities exist in founding local publishing houses.

Upgrade Your Life


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

  1. Nobel Prize winner explains one big issue for African novelists
  2. Ugandan novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija named this year’s International Writer of Courage - The Guardian
  3. Netflix and Unesco search for African film-makers to ‘reimagine’ folktales
  4. Explore the Pan-African Payments and Settlements Platform (PAPSS) 
  5. Africa's iconic architecture in 12 buildings 
  6. Built on the bodies of slaves: how Africa was erased from the history of the modern world - The Guardian
  7. Want to truly succeed? Lift others up while you climb - TEDTalk
  8. The global challenge of vector borne diseases and how to control them - Free online course

History Class

The Black history of twerking - and how it taught 3-time Grammy-winning superstar Lizzo self-love 
Origins of Black History Month in Britain

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