Netflix’s creative letdown, Nigerian startup failure, whose African language is it?

Hi, Quartz Africa readers!

More than enough

Every time you glance at headlines or read stories about Africa’s fast growing population the numbers always give you pause. The continent will add more than 1.3 billion people by 2050, that’s more than half of the world’s population growth in that period. It means Africa will be home to some 2.2 billion people. One out of six people on Earth currently live in Africa. By 2050 it will be one in four and by 2100, more than one in three people on earth will be African.

In order of their expected contribution to total growth from 2017 to 2050, half of the world’s population growth will be concentrated in just nine countries, five in Africa: India, Nigeria, DR Congo, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Tanzania, the US, Uganda and Indonesia.

A key point about regularly adding all those people is it means the population stays young. The benefits of “demographic dividend” can often be overstated nearly as much as the fear that rapid population growth will be a major problem for African countries with no jobs or infrastructure. But it’s a problem some regions, particularly in Europe, would love to have.

Some of the world’s most advanced and wealthiest economies are facing a fast-approaching challenge with rapidly-aging populations, particularly their workforce. A report by Moody’s reiterates this, but it also showed that some developing countries will face that challenge, even a few in Africa.

But the bulk of the demographic challenge for the foreseeable future remains how to create economic opportunities for the young populations across Africa in particular. It also seems rich countries with notable migration are able to slow down the impact of aging populations for now.

So it might appear straightforward that wealthier countries would be planning in advance and welcoming more immigrants, but as we know it’s not that simple. “Immigration has played an important role in mitigating the effects of aging populations in advanced economies, but political polarization has fueled risks to immigration policies,” is the way Moody’s puts it. Basically, it’s putting up long terms benefits up against the short term political realities.

This is why you will see more initiatives like Europe working to fund the Gambian government’s plans to create jobs at home for their youth.  It’s a reminder, charity really does begin at home.

Yinka Adegoke, Quartz Africa editor

Stories from this week

A white puppeteer’s message about white privilege in South Africa. Chester Missing is South Africa’s most famous puppet dealing with race and politics on late night television. Lynsey Chutel interviews the man behind the puppet’s performance and looks at how his comedy represents the evolution of the nation’s post-racial reality.

The obstacles to cultivating a reading culture in Nigeria. From Chinua Achebe to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Nigeria has produced some of the world’s most revered writers in recent decades. But as Fareeda Abdulkareem explains, not many Nigerians are reading literature only turning to books when they have to.

Africa’s business schools are stuck between global recognition and local relevance. Should African business schools be more focused on the small and medium-sized businesses that dominate their largely informal economies rather  than focus on Harvard Business School models designed for Fortune 500 multinationals? Kutlwano Ramaboa articulates how they can strengthen their place as a driver of progress in the continent. 

How startups struggle with failure in a competitive, unforgiving Nigerian market. Unlike Silicon Valley, where the stories of failure are shared for catharsis and learning, entrepreneurs in Nigeria face stigma when their companies don’t succeed. Paul Adepoju speaks to founders, who have experienced failure to understand why how they cope in a society which often personalizes business failure. 

European colonialists defined the boundaries of your modern African language. When we speak of mother tongues in Africa, they are usually about the standard way missionaries and colonizers wrote them based on their immediate contacts with certain communities. Lara-Stephanie Krause writes on why it’s time to challenge established notions about indigenous languages and their use in Africa.

Netflix will have 1,000 original shows on its platform by the end of 2018, but African shows still aren’t making the cut. Netflix has an $8 billion budget for content in 2018 and just 1% of that ($80 million) would have a transformative impact on the pan-African entertainment business . But African filmmakers are yet to see that impact.

Chart of the Week

DR Congo faces the challenge of an Ebola epidemic—again. Since the central African nation announced the return of the deadly virus in early May, 23 people are known to have died while 42 others have been infected. The current outbreak emphasizes the recurring nature of the virus in the nation in the last four decades.

Other Things We Liked

A sit-down with Morocco’s last link to the Beat Generation. In Tangier City of the 1950s and 60s, Mohammed Mrabet cooked for and collaborated with writers and artists including Paul Bowles, Truman Capote, and Allen Ginsberg. In an interview with the Washington Post’s Sudarsan Raghavan, the 83-year-old offers a less buoyant—and sometimes painful—story about the writers of the famed movement.

Egypt’s military-owned firms are thriving and worrying local investors. Since president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi came to power in 2014, Egypt’s military has expanded its influence investing in everything from construction to greenhouses, machinery, and wedding halls. A new Reuters investigation details the extent of these companies and how they are undermining smaller investors in the market.

Nigeria’s fashion designers are taking their work abroad. Nigeria’s textile industry has all but collapsed and cheap imports from China still compete with locally made clothes. But as Hamza Mohamed reports in Al Jazeera English, celebrities and leaders including Michele Obama and Lady Gaga are increasingly looking to young Nigerian designers to dress them.

Keep an eye on

Korea-Africa Economic Cooperation Conference (May 21-25). The summit will bring together 4,000 participants in Busan city in South Korea to discuss the fourth industrial revolution and the opportunities for leapfrogging in Africa.

European Union’s tough privacy law deadline (May 25). The General Data Protection Regulation will go into effect, and African companies that handle personal data for European residents and citizens will be expected to comply, even if they don’t have a direct presence in Europe.

Kenya dam investigations out. The inspector of police is expected to deliver the results of the investigations about the dam burst that killed more than 40 people in the Rift Valley region.

*This brief was produced while listening to Wale Watu by Khadja Nin (Burundi) a jury member at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and a supporter of  the “Black is not my job” protest there.

Our best wishes for a productive and thought-filled week ahead. Please send any news, comments, suggestions, best African movies on Netflix and Ebola vaccines for DRC, to You can follow us on Twitter at @qzafrica for updates throughout the day. This newsletter was compiled by Abdi Latif Dahir and edited by Yinka Adegoke.

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