Movemeback Pulse

Actionable African insight delivered to you on pulse


Pulse #9 - Zimbabwe's $3.5bn bid to end to sanctions, Google’s internet balloons launch, threats to HIV progress and the EAC

Africa has made significant progress towards ending the AIDS pandemic in recent years, However, new forecasts predict a doubling in AIDS-related deaths in sub-Saharan Africa in 2020-21, if shortages in access to Antiretroviral drugs due to disruptions caused by COVID-19 continue for six months. 

Numbers in the Spotlight

($500bn) is the size of Africa’s external debt (up from $390bn in 2019)

($29bn) in annual electricity infrastructure investment is needed to secure universal energy access in Africa by 2030

($8.5bn) is the estimated cost of locusts in East Africa and Yemen this year

($732mn) is the amount Nigeria will be investing in their fibre infrastructure networks for broadband

($42.8mn) is owed in outstanding membership fees by South Sudan and Burundi to the EAC 

(15mn) Kenyan students may have to repeat the 2020 education year

559,079 cases
of COVID-19 confirmed in Africa (as of last week)

On The Continent This Week
Home-grown digital infrastructure & platforms
Google launched ‘Project Loon’ in partnership with Telkom in Kenya, providing 4G services spanning over 50,000kms. This is the first balloon-powered internet to launch in Africa, and the first non-emergency commercial deployment in the world. However, with improved connectivity comes concerns of a potential Google and Telkom monopoly, and of an increased risk of 'digital-colonialism', as foreign firms increase their control of Africa's digital ecosystem and movement of data for the continent.

Effective internal and regional security, and foreign policy

White farmers evicted from their land in Zimbabwe say they have been offered $3.5bn in compensation from the Government. Thousands of white farmers were forced from their farms between 2000 and 2001 under the Government's land reforms, leading to sanctions from US and EU and a reduction in export income. President Mnanagwa states that the ‘illegal’ sanctions are slowing down economic progress and inhibiting recovery in the country by punishing the most vulnerable. With inflation at 800% and only 10% of Zimbabweans officially employed, it is difficult to visualise how Zimbabwe would be able to meet this commitment.

Baseline healthcare & disease protection

This week the scale of the impact of COVID-19 on access to HIV Antiretroviral drugs was uncovered with the WHO and UNAIDS forecasting a doubling in AIDS related deaths in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2020, assuming interruptions continue for six months. This would reverse significant global progress made towards the 90-90-90 HIV targets (90% of people diagnosed - 90% of HIV positive people on treatment - 90% virally suppressed). Eswatini, which had one of the highest HIV prevalence rates globally at 27% in 2019, is now at 95-95-95, and Kenya joins non-African countries in having an incidence:prevalence ratio of 3% or less.

Essential infrastructure, personal living-space & utilities

Nigeria is building its own unified internet fibre infrastructure, with fibre optic cables being laid across Lagos, aimed at implementing a smart city initiative. A joint public-private partnership between the Nigerian Government and 6 private companies, previously announced a $732mn investment to revamp and build fibre networks in order to achieve 70% broadband penetration by 2025. Whilst broadband improvements will likely benefit the 46% of the 138mn internet subscriptions with poor internet speeds, in a country where 47% lack regular access to electricity, a holistic approach to infrastructure development is needed to maximize the benefits of broadband for all.

Intra-continental connectivity, collaboration & trade

South Sudan and Burundi risk expulsion from the East African Community (EAC). Each member is expected to pay $8mn dues annually, however South Sudan and Burundi owe $27.8mn and $15mn respectively. The EAC has a combined GDP of $146bn, intra-regional trade worth $6.7mn and benefited from a 12% reduction in bilateral conflicts amongst member states. Kenya remains the only country of the six EAC members to have met its contributions, with state arrears causing the bloc major budgetary issues, prompting it to halt operations, postpone development projects and further delay the dream of a single currency for the region to 2024.

Proportional representation in politics, business and community leadership

This week we saw progress in the representation of African women in global positions of influence. Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, from Tanzania was appointed as the new executive secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. Nominations for the WTO directorial role closed this week and two of the final seven candidates are African women - Nigeria's Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Kenya’s Amina Mohamed. In Ghana, Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang has been selected by former Ghana president John Mahama as his running mate for this year’s presidential election.

Scaleable Energy 

African Ministers representing two-thirds of the continent's energy consumption met with global energy experts, for a Roundtable on 30th June. With nearly 600mn people in sub-Saharan Africa having no access to electricity, and 60% of health care centres lacking electricity the link between electricity access and a COVID economic recovery were highlighted. As the world continues to 'go green', the opportunity for Africa to become the custodian of a new sustainable development world order was also emphasized, coinciding with a new report estimating that $29bn in both on-grid and off-grid electricity infrastructure investment is needed annually to secure universal energy access in Africa by 2030.

High value skills development and talent repatriation

Kenya’s primary and secondary schools will remain closed until January 2021. Although the Kenyan Government has been broadcasting lessons online, most of its 15mn students will likely have to repeat the year, due to limited technology and internet access. In SSA, 89% of learners have no access to household computers, 82% lack internet access, whilst 87% are not learning functional skills needed for talent development. School closures across the Continent will not only widen the human capital divide between Africa and the world, but will cause further disruptions to ancillary services like school meals, sanitary pads, and immunizations.

Access to financial services and products

South Africa has overtaken Nigeria in the cost of local currency borrowing, for the first time ever, after losing its investment-grade credit rating from Moody’s. The continent’s total external debt burden is now $500bn (up from $390bn in 2019); predominantly financed by private creditors, bilateral agencies and eurobonds - almost all foreign currency denominated. Despite its dependence on international credit ratings to raise capital, African nations lack laws to hold international rating agencies accountable and are dissatisfied with them; presenting an opportunity for the continent to collectively establish a continental regulatory authority. 

End-to-end value chain capture

Kenya has launched E-Locust - an app supported by ACTED and FAO, aimed at real-time data collection about locusts that have caused significant damage in the country in its first wave, with an estimated cost of $8.5bn in East Africa and Yemen. FAO predicted a second wave to begin in late June 2020, that would heavily affect food security of Kenya and the neighbouring countries, leaving over 5mn people across the continent facing starvation, as a square-kilometre swarm can consume the same amount of food in one day as 35,000 people. Whilst this app will aid in locust detection, more controls are needed to reduce insect populations and protect harvests.

Exporting culture and identity

Apple has launched The Africa Rising Initiative, a new talent program aimed at discovering and amplifying new digital talent across the continent, with Nigerian Afrofusion artist Omah Lay as the debut artist. Over 500mn African citizens have access to smartphones highlighting a potential for developing the continent’s music industry, largely driven by a young and mobile-friendly fan base. However, with increasing interest from global corporations, there is an immediate need to enforce copyright laws for writers, musicians, publishers and labels – a problem that may not be a priority for many African governments. 
Upgrade Your Life

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

  1. Bill Gates: How the pandemic will shape the near future
  2. Finding hope during a career crisis
  3. The 5 triggers that make new habits stick
  4. If you only read a few books in 2020, read these
  5. Cisco free online entrepreneurship course
  6. Oxford free Risk Management course
  7. Free online creative writing course
  8. Live stream of Tembe Elephant Park
  9. Free virtual tour of the Van Gogh museum
History Class
The Nigerian Biafra War (commencing on 6th July 1967) in pictures
Wangari Maathai: First Female Nobel Peace Laureate fighting the war against climate change

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