Quartz Africa Weekly: Walmart in Lagos, Africa’s population boom, mobile’s financial inclusion

On the bus to Lagos
On the bus to Lagos
Image: Reuters/Edgard Garrido
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Five stories from this week

Why Africa is perfect for Airbnb. The continent’s big cities have a decent number of hotels at the top-end of the market but are underserved in the budget to mid-price range. Here lies the opportunity writes Sibusiso Tshabalala.

In Ethiopia, Obama and the United States stand in China’s long shadow.

While president Obama is beloved on the continent, he and the US are increasingly competing with China for influence write Omar Mohammed and Lily Kuo. Last year, Chinese premier Li Keqiang told African leaders he expects his country’s trade with the continent to double by 2020, with investment quadrupling to $100 billion.

Walmart’s stores are coming to Nigeria. The company already has presence in Nigeria and 11 other African countries through its Massmart subsidiary—but these will be its first Walmart stores. The world’s largest retailer has its eye on Lagos—Nigeria’s economic hub—as the engine to expanding across the continent even though Walmart’s in record in emerging markets is spotty to say the least.

The battle between Africa’s mobile phone companies and banks is a boon for financial inclusion. Local banks want to bring more people on board while phone companies want to expand their financial services to the many people they already reach. The two sides are fighting for the same customers. That’s a good thing.

It’s been a summer of influential African hashtags. The hashtags have trended across the continent and global diaspora this summer. While many of them have been fun like #IfAfricaWasABar others have had fun campaigning like #SomeoneTellCNN but they all point to young Africans increasingly shaping their own narrative.

Chart of the Week:

By 2050, a quarter of the world’s population will in Africa, according to a population forecast revision by the United Nations. Nigeria will become the third most populated country in the world. Ethiopia and DR Congo will be 7th and 8th respectively.

Other things we liked

International spirits companies are expanding across Africa, targeting even the poorest consumers with liquor made locally and sold at dirt-cheap prices, writes Peter Evans in the Wall Street Journal. In major cities and, increasingly, in rural areas as well, the world’s biggest liquor makers including Diageo and Pernod Ricard are launching low-price versions of big-name brands.

The fastest-growing mobile phone markets barely use apps Africa and Asia, the two fastest growing mobile markets, aren’t very big on apps. The overwhelming majority of mobile internet activity in the regions is spent on web pages, writes Alice Truong.

Why one city in Congo is astonishingly stable and prosperous. Why is the North Kivu city of Butembo in DR Congo so stable? The members of the Nande ethnic group of Butembo are economically successful for a number of unique historical and geographical reasons, explains Laura Seay in Washington Post’s MonkeyCage Blog.

This week, keep an eye on:

African Leaders Initiative Presidential Summit in Washington DC. President Obama will address 500 Mandela Fellows at the Young African Leaders Initiative Presidential Summit on Monday, 3 August. The flagship program, now in its second year, aims to support young African leaders in business, civil society and the public sector.

Entrepreneurs, start-ups, academia, government representatives, and NGOs converge on the University of Nairobi between August 5-7 for “Nairobi Innovation Week,” hosted by the school and its startup incubator, Computing for Development Lab. Speakers include Kenya’s cabinet secretary of the ministry of ICT and local entrepreneur and manufacturing magnate Manu Chandaria.

South African President Jacob Zuma responds to lawmakers’ questions in parliament on Thursday August 6th at 14:00 in Cape Town. ANC and other opposition parties just voted overwhelmingly in favor of a new rule allowing for Members of Parliament (MPs) who disobey the presiding officers to be physically removed from the chamber to avoid scenes like these ones.

Our best wishes for a productive and ideas-driven week ahead. Please send any news, comments, the latest trending hashtags and Walmart discount cards to You can follow us @qzafrica for updates throughout the day.