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Pulse #69 - New contenders: Nigeria launches eNaira, Somali film makes global headlines, Egypt’s regional pharma hub, & the rise of Ghana’s upstream oil

In this week’s Pulse:
Nigeria launches Africa’s first digital currency (with glitches), Kenya targets rogue lenders, steps towards end-to-end vaccine production in Africa, Egypt seeks regional pharma market, Africa’s commercial airplane fleet could triple by 2040, Kenyan medics fail test for UK jobs, backlash against Sudan coup, global Anglican church divided over Ghana’s anti-LGBTQ+ law, and the Somali film making global headlines. 
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The Data Room

The global surge in the use of cryptocurrencies has driven central banks to develop their own digital currencies in an attempt to formalise and regulate transactions. This week, Nigeria joined the Bahamas, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Lucia in pioneering central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) - making it the first country outside the Carribean to do so. Ghana, South Africa and Morocco may follow, as they are actively exploring the feasibility of deploying CBDCs. Egypt and Kenya are still at the research stage. Read below for more on Nigeria’s rollout.

Numbers in the Spotlight

(USD 29bn) could be added to Nigeria's economy in 10 years thanks to new digital currency, according to President Buhari

 (USD2.9bn) annually lost in tax waivers to multinationals by Nigeria 

 (USD2.7bn) in funding to Sudan frozen by US and World Bank over recent military coup

110,000,000 doses
 (110mn) of Moderna covid-19 vaccine to be bought by African Union

50,000,000 doses
(50mn) of BioNTech’s Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine to be manufactured annually in Africa starting mid-2022

(USD30mn) urgently required to address South Sudan's worsening humanitarian situation

>60,000 Burundian refugees
 have voluntarily returned home from neighboring countries this year

290 Kenyan health workers
out 300 have failed English test required for employment in the UK


On The Continent This Week

Exporting culture and identity

Somali film makes global headlines. Somali film, “The Gravedigger's Wife” by Finish-Somali writer-director Khadar Ayderus Ahmed, has won this year’s prize for best film at the Pan-African film festival, in Burkina Faso. Founded in 1969, the festival is the Continent’s biggest film event, and provides a bi-annual opportunity for African creators to showcase their work, and for big international players to scout for new films, talent and ideas. Despite drafting the script 10 years ago, Ahmed struggled to fund his film, being asked to make it in French and Somali, and to cast famous non-Somali actors. Having made the film with a 100% Somali cast and 100% in Somali language, it has become the first film from Somalia to be put forward for the Oscars. It represents both the struggles of creatives to keep their work authentic, and acclamation that can be achieved through such resilience.

Access to financial services and products

Nigeria rolls out digital currency. Nigeria leads the Continent in becoming the first country outside of the Caribbean to launch a digital currency. Previously banned from facilitating crypto transactions, Nigeria’s banks can now use the eNaira to enter the booming industry where the country is second in the world for P2P trading. President Buhari expects the eNaira to boost Nigeria’s GDP by $29bn over a decade, by reducing transaction costs and delays, and bolstering financial inclusion, cross-border trade and remittances. Since its launch, the eNaira platform has received >2.5mn daily visits and integrated 33 banks. However, did Nigeria launch too soon? Creases need to be ironed out, after the eNaira app was removed from Google Play Store after a series of complaints. Mass education will also be required as on the day of launch, Nigeria’s central bank had to warn the public against a Twitter handle suggesting that it is disbursing 50bn eNaira.

Home-grown digital infrastructure & platforms 

Kenya targets rogue online lenders. Kenya has passed an amendment to empower its banking regulator to revoke the licenses of digital lenders that share personal data of loan defaulters with third parties. The amendment offers better protection for Kenyans against lenders who weaponise personal data for humiliating strategies to recover debt - e.g. using mobile numbers to call friends and family of defaulters to shame them into paying. By allowing the central bank to cap interest rates, the amendment also guards borrowers against exploitation. Kenya has ~100 online lending apps that give quick collateral-free loans at annual interest rates as high as 876% vs. ~20% for banks. Whilst digital loans make up <1% of Kenya’s banking sector credit, > 60% of Kenyans prefer them to other credit sources such as banks due to convenience and speed of debt processing. (ReelAnalytics, 2021)

End-to-end value chain capture

Egypt seeks regional pharma dominance. Egypt's recently-launched ‘medicine city', Gypto Pharma, aims to transform the country into a regional hub for pharmaceuticals. Built on 180,000 square meters north of Cairo, Gypto Pharma is one of the largest pharmaceutical clusters in Africa and the Middle East. Concentration of facilities contributes to productivity gains as firms in the cluster share technology, transportation systems, production techniques, labour, utility infrastructure, and raw materials. With the value of Africa’s pharma industry having quintupled between 2007 and 2017, and projected to reach $70bn by 2030 (Goldstein Market Intelligence, 2020), analysts note that the Continent “is the only market where genuinely high growth is still achievable” – providing a ready market for Egypt’s output.

Intra-continental connectivity, collaboration & trade

Africa’s $400bn airline opportunity. Boeing, the world's largest aerospace company, forecasts that Africa’s commercial airlines industry will grow by ~1,030 planes (worth $160bn) and $235bn in the value of aftersales services by 2040. Boeing’s positive outlook could help tap financing for addressing the challenges of limited and dated fleet, costly intra-Continental flights, and inadequate routes that besets Africa’s travel industry. The aircraft maker also expects African airlines to seek additional 19,000 pilots, 20,000 technicians, and 24,000 cabin crew in that period - signifying employment opportunities in aviation. But as the projections are based on a 3% GDP growth forecast, implementation of the AU’s continental free-trade area and the single market for air transport, pandemic recovery as well as a doubling of the middle-class, the future of the Continent’s airlines market depends on performance across these indicators.

Essential infrastructure, personal living-space & utilities

Ghana challenges East Africa’s petroleum upstream dominance. East Africa has dominated upstream activity for oil and gas in recent decades, but Ghana has emerged as formidable competition. As upstream activity has nearly ground to a halt in East Africa, Ghana has discovered >1.5bn barrels in additional oil in offshore fields in the last two years. In 2017, the UK-based Natural Resource Institute named Ghana as best-governed oil and gas sector in SSA - having excelled across all components of resource governance (value realisation, revenue management and enabling environment). Against the backdrop of good governance, Ghana now presents a strong alternative destination for oil majors - e.g. Tullow Oil announced a >$4bn investment over the next decade to construct >50 wells in Ghana vs. selling off its entire stake in Uganda.

Baseline healthcare & disease protection

BioNTech selects locations for Africa plants. The German pharma co. has agreed with the Rwandan government and Senegal’s Institut Pasteur de Dakar to construct Africa’s first start-to-finish mRNA vaccine manufacturing plants. BioNTech will make 50mn Covid-19 vaccine doses annually from mid-2022. Following calls for big pharma to involve local manufacturers to accelerate transfer of tech and know-how, BioNTech has pledged to incorporate its Africa plants into a wider manufacturing web to prepare its partners in Africa for eventual ownership. BioNTech’s Africa plants will also be capable of producing mRNA vaccines for other diseases like malaria and TB - arming Africa to reduce its 99% reliance on imported vaccines. By Friday, only 5.7% of Africans were fully inoculated.

High value skills development and talent repatriation 

Kenyan medics fail language test for UK jobs. Hundreds of Kenyan health workers have failed an English language test required for employment in the UK. Of the first 300 candidates who took the test in order to join Britain's National Health Services, only 10 passed. Whilst the candidates can resit the test, the hiccup to Kenya’s bid to export medics amidst a pandemic is likely to be welcomed by those who criticised the government for encouraging brain drain and failing to create local jobs. Kenya is short 42,800 health workers but ~30,000 of its qualified medics remain jobless. The matter calls into question the standard of Kenya’s education to compete globally and the effectiveness of existing mechanisms to address the mismatch between local skills training and demand. 

Proportional representation in politics, business and community leadership

Anglican leaders disagree over Ghana anti-LGBTQ+ law. Archbishop Justin Welby, the head of the global Anglican church, and other Church of England bishops have criticised their Ghanaian colleagues for supporting an anti-LGBTQ+ law. The draft law criminalises being gay, bisexual or transgender, or advocating for LGBTQ+ rights, an offence punishable by up to 10 years in jail. The disagreement is widening cracks within the global Anglican Church, which has been split over sexuality and identity. ~69 countries criminalise homosexuality - nearly half which are in Africa. Could these coordinated efforts persuade Ghanaian bishops to denounce their support for a law that could dent Ghana’s image as a beacon of human rights?

Effective internal and regional security, and foreign policy

Backlash against Sudan coup. In Sudan, street protests continue, the AU has suspended the country, the US has frozen $700mn in aid, the World Bank has suspended $2bn in funding, and pilots, bank and workers, and doctors have gone on strike, following the military coup on 25th October. The coup has halted Sudan’s transition to democracy after the 2019 overthrow of dictator Omar al-Bashir, and billions of dollars in aid and debt relief. The 2019 power-sharing agreement between the military and the civilian government has been laying the ground for elections and full civilian rule in 2023. With recent news suggesting that pro-coup forces have opened fire on peaceful protestors, calls for the African Union and the international community to actively defend democracy in Sudan are rising.

Upgrade Your Life

Our selection of online content, courses, tools and offers to help you build your personal repertoire.
  1. A Cambridge college and Paris museum return looted African artefacts
  2. Facebook knew it was being used to incite violence in Ethiopia - CNN
  3. Homosexuality: The countries where it is illegal to be gay - BBC
  4. Forget flexibility. Your employees want autonomy - Harvard Business Review
  5. How UN staff are reshaping African cities  - The Economist
  6. How to reduce bias in your workplace - TEDTalk
  7. Explore Filmmaking: from Script to Screen - Free online course
  8. Explore films from the 2021 Pan-African Film Festival

History Class

FESPACO! A history of African film - BBC What's New?
Sudan: The road to the coup - AFP

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