Movemeback Pulse #29 — Green Agenda: Ghana’s Wakanda pilgrimage site, Nigeria pushes home solar kits, & East Africa’s commercial electric tuk-tuks

Movemeback Pulse #29 — Your weekly pulse check of actionable African insight

THE DATA ROOM

More than half of African countries have no drone-related legislation. Of those that do, 21% have banned the technology — the largest share of any continent. Another 13% of countries have an effective ban on the technology (e.g. due to difficulty in obtaining necessary permissions from the Aviation Authority, despite drones being legal). Drone innovation has benefited the Continent, e.g. in their use to deliver medical supplies to remote villages in Rwanda and Ghana. However as commercial applications of drones advance and the risk to privacy increases, advanced legislation is needed to protect against the threat of widespread surveillance.

NUMBERS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

$400,000,000 will be paid by Shell to the Ejama-Ebubu community in southern Nigeria, as the Supreme Court of Nigeria upheld their 2010 conviction for the 1970 oil spill

25,000,000 people (25mn) in underserved and off-grid communities in Nigeria will benefit from the government’s rollout of 5mn solar home kits

$10,000,000 in institutional debt funding has been raised by Planet42 — a South African car subscription platform providing personal vehicle finance to the underbanked

2,248,269 cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Africa (as of last week)

3,000 jobs are expected to be created in Cape Coast, as a result of Ghana’s ‘Wakanda City of Return’ project

700 US troops have been ordered to leave Somalia before President Trump leaves office, as part US’s global counterterrorism pullback

$120 per year is the new estimated cost of treatment for HIV in children (from $480 currently), thanks to a game-changing pricing agreement

ON THE CONTINENT THIS WEEK

Exporting Culture

Ghana will build the ‘Wakanda City of Return’ — an Ultra-Modern Smart City and pilgrimage site for people of African descent to learn about their history and culture. Located at the tourist destination, Cape Coast, this is part of a continued effort from Ghana to attract diasporans — marked by its “Year of Return” in 2019 (which saw over 100 diasporans granted citizenship), its subsequent “Beyond the Return” initiative this year, and its invitation in June 2020 for African Americans to “Come home, build a life in Ghana” amid the Black Lives Matter protests. Whilst the increase in international tourists last year was perhaps only marginal, Ghana seems determined to continue building on its platform and “responsibility to extend a hand of welcome back home to Africans in the diaspora” (President Nana Akufo-Addo).

High value skills development and talent repatriation

The UK and US have made policy changes that may attract more skilled workers from Africa. In the US, the new rules for H1-B visas to limit immigrants searching for skilled employment have been overturned; whilst in the UK, a skilled worker point-based visa programme has been launched. Already ~70,000 skilled professionals emigrate from Africa every year. However, with remote working becoming a norm, and the multiplier affect of keeping skilled labour at home, the Continent should explore how best to continue retaining and repatriating its talent, whilst supporting its engagement in international markets without leaving home.

Access to financial services and products

Planet42, a South African car subscription platform providing personal vehicle finance to the underbanked, has raised $10mn in institutional debt funding. According to the startup, 24mn people in South Africa (over half the adult population) have no access to finance or are credit impaired. Additionally banks focus on newer, expensive vehicles and only approve 15% of financing applicants. The pattern is similar across SSA — vehicle financing is typically out of reach to most middle-income earners, who resort to cash purchase. The result is car ownership of just 2% in sub-Saharan Africa vs. 70% in the US (in 2014). With international car manufacturers chasing Africa’s fast growing population, and financing options historically hindering car ownership, opportunities exist for companies that can successfully roll-out sustainable vehicle financing models.

Baseline healthcare & disease protection

World AIDS Day (1st December), brought the announcement that a strawberry-flavoured HIV treatment for young children — the first generic paediatric version of the key drug — will be rolled out in Africa in 2021. Thanks to a landmark pricing agreement reached by UNITAID and the Clinton Health Access Initiative with the generic drug makers, the annual cost of treatment will be quartered from $480 currently to $120 per child. In 2018, 9 out of 10 children and adolescents aged 0–19 living with HIV were in SSA. Starting with Benin, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda and Zimbabwe, the rollout is expected to be a key milestone in suppressing the virus, improving quality of life and reducing premature deaths in Africa.

Scaleable energy access

Nigeria will start the rollout of its plans to provide 5mn solar home kits to improve electricity access to 25mn people in underserved and off-grid areas this week. This $3.7mn project is part of Nigeria’s Economic Sustainability Plan, known as ‘Solar Power Naija’. The Nigerian federal government will pay for installation costs (ranging from $4–10.5 per week), and kits could be owned by the beneficiaries after 3 years. With power supply identified as the second biggest hurdle to doing business in Nigeria, costing Nigeria ~$29bn a year, solar power has the potential to benefit Nigeria beyond home usage.

End-to-end value chain capture

Ivory Coast and Ghana have withdrawn from membership of the US cocoa trade body and are preparing sanctions for “condoning and conniving with American companies against poor West African cocoa farmers”. The 2 countries, which account for 70% of cocoa production, have accused US confectionery businesses Hershey and Mars of taking actions to undermine their recently established Living Income Differential scheme. The scheme aimed to address the imbalance which sees only 6% of the $100bn annual sales across the cocoa supply chain reach producing countries, and only 2% reach farmers. With chocolate demand having fallen this year (contrary to the expected increase amid more people being home), reaching an outcome will likely be of benefit to Ivory Coast and Ghana’s economies.

Essential infrastructure, personal living-space & utilities

Oil company, Shell, will have to pay $400mn to the Ejama-Ebubu community in southern Nigeria, as the Supreme Court of Nigeria upheld their 2010 conviction for the 1970 oil spill. Oil pollution caused when thousands of barrels of crude spilled into the sea in Rivers State (in the Niger Delta region), led to lost livelihoods (particularly in fishing) and many diseases. Whilst a $400mn payout may sound considerable, it’s a fraction of the cost of the clean-up required caused by decades of oil pollution in the Niger Delta region. In 2011, a UN Environment Programme report recommended an urgent clean-up of pollution caused by Shell (and other oil companies), estimating the cost at $1bn for the first 5 years of an operation that could last 30. As of June 2020, work had only begun on 11% of the planned sites.

Effective internal and regional security, and foreign policy

US President Trump has ordered a withdrawal of US troops from Somalia by January 15, in what appears to be an effort to stick to his 2016 campaign promise to end the ‘Forever Wars.’ Drawdowns of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq are also set to be complete ahead of Trump’s departure. 700 US troops alongside an African Union-led force in Somalia have been focused on defeating al-Shabab and Islamic State militants. With al-Shabab reportedly involved in 440 violent events in Somalia between July and September (the highest number in 2 years), presidential elections in a few months, and war in neighbouring Ethiopia, Somalis fear the timing could not be worse. Whether African Union-led forces can fill the void so that years of peace-keeping efforts are not reversed remains to be seen.

Proportional representation in politics, business and community leadership

The African Union committed to the development of a campaign to end violence against women and girls, and full implementation of guidelines on Gender Responsive Responses to Covid-19 — as part of their last ministerial meeting. Women in Africa have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Essential sexual and reproductive health services have been disrupted, reducing live births in health facilities; women’s incomes have been disproportionately affected as they make up the larger part of informal sector workers; and domestic violence against women in several countries has increased. With the AU previously declaring 2020–2030 as the “Decade of African Women’s Financial and Economic Inclusion”, a focus on fundamental health and well-being will be important foundations.

Intra-continental connectivity, collaboration & trade

Africa is moving towards unifying its power systems. The African Union has announced that it expects to launch the African Single Electricity Market in February 2021, in an effort to make power trading between African countries easier. Meanwhile the Tanzania-Zambia Electricity Transmission Initiative that seeks to link the power pools of Eastern Africa and Southern Africa for improved inter-regional trade has begun its groundwork. With ~600mn people without electricity access in Africa, cross-border trade is potentially a cost-effective way of connecting excess capacity in one country, with demand peaks in another.

Home-grown digital infrastructure & platforms

African informal retail tech startup, Sokowatch, is adding electronic tuk-tuks to its delivery fleet in Uganda, with the potential to save 50% on their fleet operations costs. Whilst electric tuk-tuks are already in East Africa, this is the first time they will be used for commercial purposes. Deaths from outdoor air pollution (to which vehicle traffic is a contributor) in Africa have increased by 57% in less than 3 decades, with premature deaths costing an estimated loss of $215bn annually. With the vehicles being built by Indian manufacturer Gayam Motor Works, the promise of cost savings, and ecommerce on the Continent expected to grow by 15.5% annually until 2025, opportunities remain for African manufacturers to develop local, environmentally friendly and cost efficient vehicles to support Africa’s booming retail sector.

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