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Big Tech teases US relocation to African developers

Microsoft and Amazon are hiring software developers in Africa, with the promise of helping them relocate to North America and Europe,

A Microsoft delegate checks applications on a computer during the launch of the Windows 10 operating system in Kenya's capital Nairobi, July 29, 2015.
Thomas Mukoya/Reuters
This story was published on our Quartz Africa Weekly newsletter, News and culture from around the continent.
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Hi Quartz Africa readers,

The notion of owning a fraction or a share or a purely digital asset (NFTs, altcoins etc) no longer feels that strange. In the US, the success of retail trading apps such as Robinhood has been in understanding that not everyone can afford a share of Amazon or Apple, but millions can afford a tiny fraction of such shares.

Cue ARTSPLIT, a Nigeria-founded platform wants to implement the same principles, but for African art and African art collectors so that users can own a fraction of an artwork by an African artist for just a few dollars.

“What if art could be an investment or financial instrument?” says Onyinye Anyaegbu, ARTSPLIT’s executive director of operations and product, mentioning one of the driving questions behind ARTSPLIT’s creation. Each investment-grade artwork listed is divided into 100,000 splits and users can bid to own a piece of African artwork, which can then be traded on a secondary market.

Screenshot of ARTSPLIT app
Image copyright: ARTSPLIT
Screenshot of ARTSPLIT app

While Artsplit is still in its early days, there are promising signs: $5 million in funds raised, about $1 million in transactions on the app since launching in April this year, 8,000 users in 54 countries, 78 auctions, and 55 works of art listed from Africa’s top-selling artists.

In its first physical auction months back, ARTSPLIT marked the historic sale of the 1977 artwork “Agbogho Mmuo” from the Ogolo series by one of Africa’s most influential artists, Ben Enwonwu. While African artwork has historically been underpriced on the global market, the auction was oversubscribed, boosting the artwork’s value from a reserve price of $0.5 to $1.05 per split at the end of the bidding.

In this new initiative, there is an interesting premise—making investing in art less elitist by lowering barriers to entry, understanding how individuals (especially Africans) value our art and also meeting people where they are—apps on mobile phones or laptops where business can be conducted in a few clicks.

—Ciku Kimeria, Africa editor


What to watch for in the Quartz Africa Member Brief

By The Digits

28: Out-of-pocket health expenditure as a percentage of current health expenditure in Kenya

2.2: Number of health facilities per 10,000 people in Kenya

11 million: Africans who fall into poverty every year due to high out-of-pocket medical payments

0.51: Number of pharmaceutical staff per 10,000 population in Kenya

1.99: Number of physicians per 10,000 population in Kenya

Learn more about Tibu, a Nairobi-based healthtech startup in this coming Wednesday’s edition of the Quartz Africa Member Brief. To get the Member Brief directly in your inbox (and save 40%), become a member today!


Stories this week

Kenyans don’t trust tech to run general elections... Kenya has made huge strides in tech development, but its tech-savvy population still wants to see votes being manually counted and verified. Faustine Ngila explains on the contradiction that saw the country wait close to a week for a new president to be announced.

…but the new president-elect vowed to make Kenya a global tech leader. Faustine Ngila looks at the task ahead of William Ruto, who is also facing a legal challenge to his election win. Kenya’s macroeconomic future is full of uncertainty until the stalemate is resolved.

A chart showing the USD against the KES over the past year

Big Tech teases US relocation to African developers. Microsoft and Amazon are hiring software developers in Africa, with the promise of helping them relocate to North America and Europe, Alexander Onukwue reports.

You can now post selfies from the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. Tanzania has set up a high-speed broadband network on the slopes of Africa’s tallest mountain. Faustine Ngila reports on what this means for tourists.

Nigeria’s inflation reached a 17-year high. Africa’s largest economy experienced a sixth straight month of increased inflation in July and its highest rate since 2005, Alexander Onukwue reports.

A chart of inflation in Nigeria from July 2021 to July 2022

Charting Ghana’s rising interest rates

A chart showing Ghana's interest rates from 2004 to 2022

Nigeria and Kenya are not alone in their macroeconomic woes. A similar high inflation story is playing out in Ghana where the July figure was at 31.7%, Alexander Onukwue notes. What to do about this? The Bank of Ghana called an emergency monetary policy committee meeting and raised interest rates by the largest percentage increase in two decades.


Person of interest

A black and white image of a young Malagasy man leaning against a car
Image copyright: HAKANTO CONTEMPORARY MUSEUM
A young Ramily

Born in 1939 as the first of ten children in a humble family in Madagascar, Ramily, known as the father of black and white photography in Madagascar, would become the first Malagasy photographer to own both their own studio and lab.

He made portraits of landscapes and the people of his country. In these photographs he captured in time and memory the essence of Madagascar in an era between colonization and independence, using light and shadow to tell a story and convey emotions and movement.

Ramily’s photographs reveal an evolving Madagascar, with his work beginning when the country was still under French colonization and ending well after it had become a republic. Ramily, who died in 2017, was at the height of his powers and popularity from the 1970s to the 1990s.

From Antananarivo, Joella Ranaivoson explores his enduring legacy from a visit to an exhibition at Hakanto Contemporary Museum celebrating his pioneering work.

A sunset image in black and white showing sunlight filtering through leaves
Image copyright: HAKANTO CONTEMPORARY MUSEUM

Spotlight on a Quartz Africa 2021 Innovator

A portrait of a young African lady

When 18-year-old programmer Xaviera Kowo thought of what machine she would design for international robots competition First Global, her first thought was to program something that was “useful to society.” Her second thought was how to confront the ongoing issue of product pollution affecting the environment.

In response to these priorities, she developed a remote-controlled waste treatment robot capable of picking up and disposing of debris to a defined area, such as a garbage can or recycling center. The innovation saw her win the inaugural Margaret Junior Prize by JFD, a French women’s innovation network.

Check out Quartz Africa’s Innovators 2021 list, which showcases the pioneering work being done by Kowo and other female African innovators.


Dealmaker

iProcure, a Kenyan company that connects manufacturers of agricultural products to retailers, raised $10.2 million in a series B funding round. It was a mix of debt and equity financing. Investors in the round include Investisseurs & Partenaires (I&P), Novastar Ventures, Ceniarth, and British International Investment (BII).

Nigerian bookkeeping startup Pastel raised $5.5 million in a seed round led by TLcom Capital, with the participation of Global Founders Capital (GFC), Golden Palm Investments, DFS Labs, Ulu Ventures, Plug and Play, and Soma Capital. Pastel launched in 2021 and has 45,000 small business vendors using its app to keep track of their operations.


Quartz Gems

Crypto domain names are hot, crypto itself is not

There’s a crypto land grab afoot, but this time it doesn’t involve shiba inu-themed coins.

Administered by the Ethereum Name Service, an .eth domain serves as a public profile to showcase one’s Ethereum blockchain transactions and holdings—and it can also be sold as an NFT. In July, the ENS reported record numbers: 378,804 .eth domain names were registered, 25,000 names were renewed, and it made about $3.9 million in net income.

A chart showing registrations of .eth accounts from January 2021 to July 2022

Why bother? A three- or four-digit ENS domain could land you in online social communities and bragging rights arenas like the 999 and 10k clubs. But it’s not cheap: Membership in these clubs could cost you tens of thousands of dollars.

This boom comes at an odd time for the broader crypto industry. While domain sales are up, most crypto assets are down. But this speculative boom is, in a sense, something internet entrepreneurs have been doing for decades: buying up domain names to make a buck.


Other things we liked

The world mourns the death of Somalia’s Shakespeare. For the BBC, Juneydi Farah reflects on the death of renowned Somali poet Mohamed Ibrahim Warsame Hadraawi at 79, who was regarded as the greatest Somali poet ever.

Buju BNXN is in trouble for spitting on the police. Daily Post’s Fikayo Olowolagba details the drama that led the popular Nigerian musician to boast on Twitter he spat on a police officer’s face.

Wildfires killed 37 Algerians. Cora Engelbrecht and Massinissa Benlakehal of the New York Times explain how a strong heat wave and wind caused the death of dozens of people in the North African country.

The threat of Al-Qaeda and Islamic State is rising in Africa. The Washington Post’s Ishaan Tharoor delves into how jihadist militant groups have become a source of insecurity in Africa.

An exiled Chadian rebel leader is back in his home country. After 17 years in exile, Timan Erdimi has returned home to participate in national talks meant to pave the way for elections after the military seized power last year, Reuters reports.


ICYMI

Win $50,000 in startup financing. Meet and compete with Africa’s top tech startups from Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, and Senegal at the 2022 MEST Africa Challenge and stand a chance of winning $50,000 in equity investment. (Aug. 31)

AfDB is offering paid internships. Anyone in Africa under 30 years of age can now apply for this year’s African Development Bank’s virtual internship program and grow their career. It comes with a monthly stipend, medical insurance, air travel, and visa fees. (Sept. 1)


🎵 This brief was produced while listening to “Pedra” by Preto Show (Angola)


This week’s brief took you to 🇰🇪, 🇳🇬, 🇹🇳, 🇬🇭, 🇲🇬, 🇨🇲, 🇦🇴, 🇸🇴, 🇩🇿, and 🇹🇩


Our best wishes for a productive and ideas-filled week ahead. Please send any news, comments, suggestions, ideas, Somali poetry, .eth domain names to africa@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter at @qzafrica for updates throughout the day.

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