Movemeback Pulse

Actionable African insight delivered to you on pulse

Pulse #71 - Accountability: South African apartheid president apologises, France returns looted Benin art, & Africa wants more climate change financing

In this week’s Pulse:
South Africa’s last white president apologises for apartheid in final message before death, the paradoxical use of social media by authorities, African countries want $700bn annually for climate change response, ANC’s poor election performance raises hope for political pluralism in South Africa, there’s still room for diplomacy to end the Ethiopian conflict, developing African women football, Nigeria’s plan to save $2bn annually on wheat imports, and will others follow France by returning stolen African treasures?
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The Data Room

At the 2009 UN climate summit in Copenhagen, rich countries promised to provide $100bn annually by 2020 for less wealthy nations to respond to climate change. However, they have failed to hit that target, with OECD funding reaching $80bn in 2019. But Oxfam maintains that these figures are inflated with only $19-22.5bn dispatched in 2017-18, about one-third of the estimate for the same period. Fulfilment of pledges also varied within the rich nations - whilst the US, Australia, Canada and Greece fell far short of contributing their fair share of the money, Japan and France exceeded their pledges (though nearly all of their funding was in loans, not grants). 

Numbers in the Spotlight

(USD700bn) in annual climate financing for developing countries sought by African countries

 (USD8.5bn) pledged by Western governments for reducing South Africa’s reliance on coal

 (USD2bn) could be saved by Nigeria annually by increasing domestic wheat production by 60% in two years

 (USD1bn) debt sought by Kenya to finance acquisition of a stake in a Tullow oil project 

 (USD400mn) electricity generation deal signed between Mozambique and British energy investment company GL Africa

2,000,000 Ethiopians 
(2mn) displaced by on-going conflict

26 royal treasures
 looted by France in 1892 returned to Benin

On The Continent This Week

Exporting culture and identity

France returns looted Benin artefacts. Paris has restituted 26 royal treasures that were looted from Benin by its imperial forces in 1892. The returned artefacts symbolise stories passed down from older generations and the long-lasting relationships the Beninese have with places, culture and governance. Benin’s President Patrice Talon eloquently captured the significance of the return, calling it “a testimony to what we have been, a testimony that we existed before, a testimony to what we have known.” But with ~90% of Africa's cultural heritage still believed to be in Europe, how soon will other countries follow France’s example? 

Home-grown digital infrastructure & platforms 

(Mis)governance through social media. Authorities in Africa are increasingly deploying social media for (mis)governance. Facebook recently removed posts by Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Ahmed for allegedly inciting violence, whilst Twitter has suspended its trends section in the country for fear that it could be exploited to fuel further violence. In Kenya, the revenue authority is now monitoring social media for tax cheats who flaunt their wealth - a move similar to that made by the FBI when it used Instagram and Snapchat to track down Nigerian social media celebrity ‘Hushpuppi’. These examples demonstrate the paradox in the use of social media by authorities - whilst social media can promote citizen engagement, it can also easily enable a government to overstep its mandate.

Baseline healthcare & disease protection

Africa more vulnerable to Covid-19 deaths due to diabetes. Covid-19 is killing more patients with diabetes in Africa than other groups of people, the WHO has announced. The organisation found a 10.2% fatality rate in Covid-19 patients with diabetes vs. 2.5% for Covid-19 patients overall. With an estimated 70% of people with diabetes in Africa unaware that they have the disease, increased testing is warranted. The International Diabetes Federation forecasts Africa’s population with diabetes to >double from the current 24mn to 55mn by 2045. To date, <7% of the African population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19 vs. 40% globally. 

Access to financial services and products

Africa seeks $700bn annually for climate response in developing countries. African countries want the ongoing COP26 to open talks on a financing deal that would grant developing nations access to $700bn annually from 2025 for climate change adaptation. Climate response consumes a substantial part of Africa’s GDP; e.g.  ~9% in Cameroon, 8% Ethiopia , 9% Zimbabwe, and >7% in Sierra Leone, Senegal and Ghana (UNECA, 2017). But the Continent still has a climate financing gap of 80%, with rich countries failing to fully fulfil a 2009 promise to provide $100bn annually to less wealthy nations. An accountability framework that compels rich countries (which are largely responsible for the climate crisis) to meet their fair share of adaptation financing should accompany any future deals. 

Essential infrastructure, personal living-space & utilities

South Africa to get $8.5bn to end coal reliance. The US, the UK, France, Germany and the EU have partnered to provide $8.5bn in energy financing for South Africa to cut its 80% reliance on coal for electricity, and transition to cleaner energies. Coming at a time when South Africa is contending with regular power outages, much of the money will likely go towards increasing generation capacity, overhauling dated transmission infrastructure, and re-purposing the coal-fired power stations set to be decommissioned in the next 15 years. Africa’s most industrialised nation is the Continent’s leading emitter of carbon dioxide, largely due to its reliance on coal-to-energy plants. >5,000 South Africans die annually of pollution from the country’s coal industry (South African government, 2019). 

End-to-end value chain capture

Nigeria’s plan to cut wheat imports. Africa’s most populous country has launched an initiative to rapidly increase domestic wheat production and cut imports by 60% in two years. Financed by the central bank, the initiative called the ‘Nigerian Brown Revolution’ will benefit 150,000 farmers and plant 180,000 hectares of wheat in 15 states. Raising domestic production would enable Nigeria to retain the $2bn spent annually on importing 5mn metric tons of wheat, which is the country’s third most consumed grain after maize and rice. Nigeria currently produces just 1% of the wheat it consumes – indicating opportunities in production and processing, especially if government support is forthcoming.

Proportional representation in politics, business and community leadership

ANC’s poor election showing creating room for pluralism? Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC) has suffered its worst election result ever in the just concluded local government polls - securing less than half of total votes for the first time. Whilst the results point to voter apathy amidst a growing scepticism about the ability of the political system to deliver, they also create possibilities for political pluralism in a terrain that has been dominated by the ANC since independence. The splintered outcome of the poll will compel many local communities to govern through coalitions - increasing the possibility of consensus on major issues. 

Effective internal and regional security, and foreign policy

Diplomacy can still end the Ethiopia war. The US and the AU have expressed optimism about a slender possibility of ending fighting in Ethiopia through talks. The principal AU mediator, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, has told the UN Security Council that diplomatic efforts are underway to craft a program by the end of the week to facilitate humanitarian aid and a withdrawal of troops in a way that appeases all the parties. A negotiated end to the conflict would prevent it from spiralling into an all-out national civil war - particularly as the warring parties agree that their differences are political and require a political solution through dialogue rather than a military settlement. The fighting which began a year ago has killed thousands and displaced >2mn people. 

Intra-continental connectivity, collaboration & trade

UAE B2B e-commerce platform expands in Africa. Global logistics giant DP World has launched its B2B e-commerce platform in Kenya, with plans to expand across the Continent in the coming months. The site will bolster intra-continental commerce by enabling African businesses to itrade through the expansive supply chain of DP World that includes eight ports and logistics hubs in Rwanda, Namibia, Mozambique, South Africa, Senegal, Egypt, Algeria, Nigeria, Djibouti and Somaliland. In 2019, intra-Africa trade accounted for just 17% of the Continent’s exports vs. 59% in Asia and 69% in Europe (UNCTAD). Huge potential for growth exists through e-commerce, as mobile internet connections are expected to reach ~40% of  SSA’s population by 2025.

High value skills development and talent repatriation 

Developing women’s football in Africa. The inaugural African Women’s Champions League has kicked off in Egypt - providing an international platform to showcase Africa’s female football talent. The League also helps to challenge attitudes and beliefs surrounding gender equality and inclusivity in sport, where women remain under-represented – both on and off the field. FIFA reports that ~30mn women play the game globally, but only a fraction of these are in Africa. However, with FIFA spending just 1.3% of its total budget (2015-18) on women’s football development, Africa may need to look to national associations and corporate sponsors to fill the financing gap.

Upgrade Your Life


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

  1. Former South African president FW de Klerk apologises for apartheid in final message
  2. Sierra Leonean student's clean energy device earns $100,000 global prize
  3. How economic sanctions drove money transfers in west Africa underground - QZ Africa
  4. The toll of being left behind at work - BBC Equality Matters
  5. The increasing nexus between bandits and terrorists in Nigeria’s northwest 
  6. The African migrants running a food bank in Sicily - BBC Africa
  7. Don’t let returning to the office burn out your team - Harvard Business Review
  8. A vision for sustainable energy in Africa - TEDTalk
  9. Introduction to digital transformation and e-commerce - Free online course

History Class

What's the legacy of South Africa's last Apartheid-era president? Al Jazeera’s Inside Story
Africa's looted art - DW Documentary

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