1Meet Africa’s Serial Entrepreneur
According to a report by Component, globally, the massive open online courses (MOOCs) market is estimated to hit $20.8 billion by 2023. Iyinoluwa Aboyeji wanted in. He set up a company in Abuja called Fora.com focused on incorporating MOOCs into the university environment especially for courses that were relevant but not provided by Nigerian universities due to a lack of quality resources. The firm began to gain some traction. People were paying for the application courses and Aboyeji decided to pilot a loan program where financial institutions would offer loans to students. This where Aboyeji stumbled on a new gold mine and Andela was born. He started with one person and began teaching him how to code. He repurposed the team from Fora into coding masters, bid masters and operational staff, and shifted the focus of Fora because they had the flexibility to do it. The company has since gone on to raise $180 million in venture funding from the likes of Mark Zuckerberg and other notable investors from Silicon Valley. Aboyeji left the company after three years in search of his next adventure but is still a major shareholder in Andela. That voyage led him to co-found Flutterwave, an integrated payments platform for Africans to make and accept any payment, anywhere from across Africa and around the wo rld. Under his watch, the company processed 100 million transactions worth $2.5 billion. Turning his eyes firmly on future opportunities has led Aboyeji to set up his own family office called Street Capital, with a focus on identifying passionate and experienced missionary entrepreneurs with the integrity and courage to flawlessly execute in Africa.
SOURCES: FORBES AFRICA
2Christine Lagarde’s Legacy in Africa
A striking example of this came in 2014 with the Ebola epidemic outbreak in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. The IMF was the first to respond with $130m in immediate assistance to help balance payments and meet fiscal needs. Lagarde, a former French finance minister, faced criticism that the epidemic wasn’t a balance of payments crisis, and the IMF wasn’t in the business of humanitarian aid. A lawyer by trade without the technical training of an economist, she saw the IMF as an agency that tackles problems with far-reaching economic consequences. Her role has been more as a diplomat or politician, who “has a much broader vision” of economics. “I think that’s really brought her closer to Africa and Africa closer to her,” says Plant.Lagarde was seen as a fair arbiter, a force for growth and a “great” partner to African nations, says Alain Ebobissé, the CEO of the 28-nation infrastructure fund Africa50.
SOURCES: AFRICAN BUSINESS MAGAZINE
3SA President Signs Controversial National Credit Amendment Bill into Law
Informally known as the ‘debt relief bill’, the new act aims to provide relief to over-indebted South Africans who have no other means of extracting themselves from over-indebtedness. Specifically, the act will allow certain applicants to have their debt suspended in part or in full for up to 24 months. This debt may then be extinguished altogether if the financial circumstances of the applicant do not improve. South Africa’s banking industry has previously raised concerns with the bill after it proposed writing off billions of rands worth of debt from every-day South Africans. The Banking Association of South Africa (Basa) made it clear that it does not support the principle of debt forgiveness – for very obvious financial reasons, but also for what it would do to the lending and credit industry.
SOURCES: BUSINESS TECH
4Africa’s Unbanked Find Another Solution to Tap into Formal Economy
Mobile money is the fastest-growing source of income for wireless-network operators like MTN Group Ltd. and Vodafone Group Plc’s Safaricom unit, outpacing data since many Africans don’t have the latest smartphones. The service has become an indispensable part of how Africa’s 1.2 billion people live, from buying funeral cover to borrowing money. The number of registered users in Ghana soared 11-fold between 2013 and 2017, International Monetary Fund data shows. Across the continent in Kenya, where it was pioneered, the value of such transactions amounts to almost half of gross domestic product, according to the World Bank. Sub-Saharan Africa has more mobile-money accounts than anywhere else in the world with about 396 million registered users at the end of 2018, a 14% increase from a year earlier, according to the GSM Association. As it catches on around the world, South Asia saw 29% growth in 2018, and it was 38% for East Asia and the Pacific.
SOURCE: BUSINESS CHIEF
5Did Zimbabwe Get a Clean Break from Mugabe’s Autocratic Rule and Economic Mismanagement?
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s opponents now fear he is more dangerous than his predecessor. The number of government critics charged with “subverting a constitutional government,” a form of treason, during Mr. Mnangagwa’s 21 months at the helm already outstrips the figure during Mr. Mugabe’s 37 years in office, according to a coalition of 22 Zimbabwean rights watchdogs. Mr. Mnangagwa has been traveling extensively throughout Africa, promoting and developing plans for economic reform. He wants to be seen as a modernizer, and he portrays Zimbabwe as once again “open for business.” He opened a dry port for Zimbabwean trade in Namibia. He has reduced the paperwork needed to open companies, and he loudly seeks foreign investment in the mining, tourism, agricultural and textile industries. But Zimbabwe is suffering from vast shortages of fuel, bank notes, water and electricity. Drivers typically wait three hours for gasoline, and civil servants line up all morning to receive part of their salaries in cash. Half of the capital Harare receives running water only once a week, and electricity blackouts last up to 18 hours a day in many areas. An inflation rate of more than 175 percent has put some food and medicine beyond the reach of middle-class Zimbabweans. Shoppers emerging from a Harare supermarket complained of a sevenfold rise in the price of bread since this time last year.
SOURCE: THE NEW YORK TIMES
6Here’s What’s Grinding the Lagos Economy to a Halt
The city is unhealthily crowded. Despite being the smallest state in the country, it has the highest urban population with an estimated population of 22 million people and counting, more than double New York or London’s tally. More than eight million people, moving in five million vehicles cram into a tiny network of just 9,100 roads every day. This is the reason why Lagosians spend an average of 30 hours in traffic each week — or 1,560 annually — while drivers in Los Angeles and Moscow traffic spent only 128 and 210 hours respectively in the whole of 2018. Traffic congestion, with its noise and environmental pollution, takes a huge toll on workers’ mental and physical health. Health professionals have even linked its overall damage to the increasing rate of suicide in the city. The situation is also killing workforce productivity. While working conditions across the globe are fast evolving, some Nigerian companies are reluctant to enable their employees to work from home. Traffic jam stifles both state and national economies. The Lagos business community alone loses $30.5 million monthly. While the gridlock at Nigeria’s largest seaport, Apapa, costs the country $19 billion annually — a loss higher than the country’s 2016 budget.
7West Africa’s Gold Sector is where the Sun is Rising
Africa’s largest money manager sees “significant investment opportunities” in West African gold mining as the industry at the southern endof the continent declines. Investor-friendly policies can help Ghana and other countries in the region drive the next “gold-mining boom,” said a mining research analyst at South Africa’s Public Investment Corp. Low-cost deposits in Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea and Ivory Coast offer the long-term investment potential the PIC prefers, rather than the five to 10-year lifespan of projects in South Africa. South Africa’s gold industry, which has produced half the world’s bullion ever mined, has been shrinking amid the geological challenges of exploiting the world’s deepest mines. AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. and Gold Fields Ltd. have shifted production to lower-cost operations, including West Africa, with the former in the process of selling its last underground mine in South Africa. Both companies are expanding output in Ghana, which has leapfrogged South Africa to become the continent’s largest bullion producer.
8The New Crop Keeping Kenyan Farmers Afloat
As drought and erratic weather wreak havoc across rural Kenya, a growing number of farmers are abandoning traditional crops such as maize and rice for the more lucrative muguka, a potent legal stimulant that relieves fatigue. A variety of khat, which produces a mild high when chewed, muguka is fast-growing, making it less vulnerable to large swings in weather conditions, and uses about half as much water as maize. But it is bad news for food supplies, said agriculture experts and local politicians, who warned of a potential food crop shortage as farmers clear their fields of staples to make way for muguka. There is no official record of how many farmers have switched from growing food crops to muguka, said Mwangi. Nor is there data on how much land is being used for muguka, according to Kenya’s Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA). But Francis Kimori, chair of the Mbeere Muguka Farmers Sacco, a savings and credit co-operative, estimated that four out of every five households around the Mount Kenya region, including in Embu County, are farming the stimulant in some quantity.
SOURCE: BUSINESS DAY LIVE
9Luanda’s Rep as the Most Expensive City in the World has Come to an End
In contrast to the Angolan capital’s established ranking at the top of the annual cost of living index compiled by global consulting firm Mercer, it has tumbled in the last two years. Rankings released in June show Luanda placed 26th out of 209 cities—a twenty place drop from last year when it ranked 6th. In fact, Luanda is now the fourth highest ranked African city, behind Ndjamena, Kinshasa and Lagos. Mercer’s index is based on the prices of goods and services including food, utilities, transport logistics and accommodation (collectively referred to as a “basket”), that expats purchase. It then compares costs by converting prices from local currencies to US dollars. And that’s the root of Angola’s fall in the rankings: in Jan. 2018, the government ditched its currency peg to the dollar and essentially devalued its local kwanza currency. Luanda becoming cheaper for expats doesn’t make it cheaper for locals given their vastly different shopping preferences.
SOURCE: QUARTZ AFRICA
10Residents of Tunisia’s Gabes Go on an Environmental Pushback
Close to the Chott Essalem beach and in front of a rare coastal oasis, the state-owned Tunisian Chemical Group (GCT) has been processing phosphate since the 1970s. Around 13,000 tonnes of chemicals and waste are channelled into a Tunisian bay that was once a rich spawning ground for marine life. Now devoid of the formerly plentiful fish and crabs, the locals call it the “fatal shore” and believe it is responsible for an increase in cancer and disease. As Tunisia plans to increase its export of phosphates, used in agricultural fertilizer, environmental groups are warning of the damage being done to land and sea. The Gulf of Gabes is an important spawning ground for Mediterranean fish. But phosphate mining and processing, industries that are important for Tunisia’s economy, have left it heavily polluted.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA