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Five stories from this week
Watch the full video recording of Quartz Africa’s Innovators’ Summit. Quartz celebrated 30 of Africa’s top innovators this past week at the Quartz Africa Innovators’ Summit in Nairobi on Sep. 14. You can watch the full recording of the summit here if you missed it.
Africa Innovator honoree, Ory Okolloh, on why Africa cannot ‘entrepreneur itself’ out of its basic problems. The Kenyan lawyer and tech investor provoked a debate about the merits of entrepreneurship as a tool to solve Africa’s most basic challenges.
The Nigerian architect who wants to turn Africa’s water slums into floating cities. Kunle Adeyemi, best known for his floating school in the water slums of Lagos, now has his sights on turning other African water slums into floating cities. Speaking at the Quartz Innovators’ Summit, Adeyemi said urban development on water could help Africa with the challenge of rapid urbanization.
Reliable data is the answer to Africa’s $1 trillion agriculture opportunity, argues Sara Menker, a Quartz Africa Innovator honoree speaking at the Summit. She said despite 65% of Africa’s labour force being in agriculture, “less than 1% of outstanding commercial bank loans actually go to the agricultural sector.” Better data can help solve that equation.
The story of the elite presidential guard that overthrew Burkina Faso’s government. Last week’s military coup in Burkina Faso was led by a powerful 1,300-strong military unit. Here’s why the ousted transitional government battled to dislodge it.
Other things we liked
Africa may be slipping back into debt. In recent years, African countries have been given a lifeline through various debt relief programmes from the developed world and multilateral institutions. But with weakening currencies and a shaky economic climate, Reuters reports that the ratings firm, Fitch, is concerned about the sovereign debt levels on the continent that have risen to 44% of GDP this year—from 34% five years ago.
Investing in African art may be a better investment than gold. Falling commodity prices are forcing Africa—the resource rich continent—to look elsewhere for new cash-cows, and contemporary African art may be the next frontier. There is a growing global interest in African art, which is selling successfully at some of the world’s top galleries where auctions in African and Oceanic art garnered $84 million last year, compared to $4 million ten years ago.
Corruption is not an impediment to investors looking to fund African tech start-ups. Maurizio Caio, the Italian-born investor behind TLcom Capital—a firm that has pledged to invest between $500 000 and $10 million per company—says corruption is not a barrier to venture capital investment in Africa. Focussing on high potential to African tech start-ups is key, according to Caio.
Chart of the week
The average satisfaction with democracy in Africa is slowly declining. Africa needs a revolution at the ballot box, says Quartz Africa Innovator honoree Boniface Mwangi. “We need to be active citizens,” he says. A recent study of democracy in 28 African countries claims that while more than half of Africans believe they live in democracies, fewer of them are satisfied.
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