Hi Quartz Africa readers,
Senegal’s president and chair of the African Union, Macky Sall, gave a vibrant speech at this year’s United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York. He sent a direct message to his fellow world leaders: Africa does not want to be the battleground for a proxy war between nations on opposing sides of the Russia-Ukraine war.
“I have come to say that Africa has suffered enough of the burden of history,” said Sall, who has become the loudest African voice advocating for an equal seat for the continent at crucial decision-making tables. Rather than be the stage for another Cold War, Africa wants to be a “pole of stability and opportunity open to all its partners, on a mutually beneficial basis.”
Sall’s remarks come within the last fortnight of reflection on Africa’s place in the world, following the passing of the last British monarch to have colonial subjects on the continent.
In the decades since the drastic dilution of the British Empire, the postcolonial world shepherded by the United Nations has prioritized so-called world powers at its highest decision making levels. The UN’s security council is the prime example: its five permanent member countries, none African, hold powers of veto that affect how UN bodies intervene on the continent’s critical peace and security matters.
Sall reminded his colleagues that Africa wants to change this, citing the Ezulwini Consensus where African leaders demanded two permanent seats on the security council.
Sall’s demands at UNGA for Africa’s equality should be seen as him upholding the UN to its stated purpose.
“We want a multilateralism that is open and respectful of our differences, because the United Nations system, born out of the ashes of war, can only win the support of all on the basis of shared ideals, not local values erected as universal norms.” —Alexander Onukwue, west Africa correspondent
Stories this week
Two dozen African leaders graced Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral. The cast of African dignitaries at the funeral of the former British monarch included the presidents of South Africa, Ghana, Rwanda, and Kenya, as well as two prime ministers and a king, Alexander Onukwue reports. Why did they all go?
Solving Africa’s shortage of data scientists. Demand for data science talent is rising but a shortage is hurting Africa. Faustine Ngila spoke to Rose Gesicho, a data science community coordinator at South Africa-based startup Zindi, about how to bridge this gap.
Ghana’s most popular language joins a giant database. Twi, a language spoken by 18 million people mainly in Ghana but in some other west African towns, is the 100th addition to a speech recognition database by Mozilla, writes Alexander Onukwue.
Time to lift sanctions against Zimbabwe? Senegal’s president Macky Sall is the latest to mount pressure on the US, EU, and UK to remove sanctions against Zimbabwe. Faustine Ngila explores how the sanctions have affected Zimbabwe since 2001.
Charting internet speed in Africa
Not even the country with Africa’s top mobile internet speed is close to the global average, despite efforts to launch 5G networks. This is according to the 2022 Speedtest Global Index published this week by US-based internet speed analysis firm Ookla. South Africa, the continent’s internet speed leader—with an average mobile internet download speed of 68.9 megabits per second (mbps) is far below the global mean mobile download speed of 77.7 mbps.
South Africa is at position 46 globally, and in Africa it is followed by Togo, Mauritius, Morocco, and Botswana at download speeds.
Faustine Ngila reports on the reasons behind Africa’s sluggish internet speed.
Spotlight on a Quartz Africa 2021 Innovator
We’ve come a long way since Kenyan writer and activist Binyavaga Wainaina wrote his viral satirical essay “How to write about Africa,” poking fun at racist tropes about the continent. But there’s further yet to go, if you ask Moky Makura, the executive director of Africa NoFilter (ANF). The organization, which began as a project under the Ford Foundation and became its own entity in 2019, aims to “support the development of nuanced and contemporary stories that shift stereotypical and harmful narratives within and about Africa.”
Since then, ANF has raised $6 million from mega funders like Ford and Bloomberg to support its work, and gives out $1 million a year in grants to storytellers, many of them first-time recipients.
The organization also funds innovative research on how to shift narratives, such as examining how the media covers the continent, and launched bird, Africa’s first digital story agency. You’ll spot some of those stories on Quartz Africa. “The world is ready for lighter, uplifting stories that reflect this dynamic continent,” says Makura. “It’s up to us, Africa’s media, to deliver them.”
Check out Quartz Africa’s Innovators 2021 list, which showcases the pioneering work being done by Makura and other female African innovators.
Julaya, a payments provider for businesses in Côte d’Ivoire, raised $5 million in a round led by SpeedInvest, an early-stage European investor. It’s a follow-on funding round to the $2 million the startup raised in July last year. Within the period, it has grown from processing $1.5 million monthly to $7.5 million. Other investors in this round include EQ2 Ventures, Kibo Ventures, Orange Ventures, and Senegalese soccer goalkeeper Édouard Mendy.
Remedial Health, a Nigerian startup that helps pharmacies buy products from manufacturers, raised $4.4 million in a follow-on round to the $1 million it raised in February this year. Tencent, and Y Combinator are among the investors in this round that was led by Global Ventures. The year-old startup says it has grown sixfold in seven months, thanks partly to a buy-now-pay-later option for pharmacies to order products.
The way you draw a circle says a lot about you
In November of 2016, Google released an online game called Quick, Draw!, in which users have 20 seconds to draw from prompts like “camel” and “washing machine.” You shouldn’t be too too surprised to learn that the game is fun, yes, but its real aim was to use sketches to teach algorithms how humans draw.
We did some analysis on the public database from Quick, Draw! that suggested the way we draw a simple circle is linked to geography and cultural upbringing, deep-rooted in hundreds of years of written language, and significant in developmental psychology and trends in education today.
Curious? Use our tool to draw a circle, and we’ll tell you what it means.
✦ This week we’re celebrating Quartz’s 10th anniversary by taking a look back at the projects that defined our decade. Celebrate with us and take 50% off a Quartz membership when you sign up today.
From the rise of remote work to demands for innovative, user-friendly systems, the tech needs of the workforce are quickly evolving. The tools to move businesses forward are advancing to meet these challenges—but many companies aren’t keeping up. Join us for an expert panel on Friday Sept. 30 at 4-5pm GMT / 12-1pm Eastern time to discuss the needs of today’s workplaces, and strategies to align the operating systems of your company with the tools that can make a difference. Register today.
Other things we liked
Desmond Tutu’s daughter was barred from leading a funeral. The BBC’s Harry Farley reports that the Church of England has barred Mpho Tutu van Furth from officiating the funeral of her late godfather, Martin Kenyon, in Shropshire, because she is married to a woman.
Uganda has confirmed seven Ebola cases. AP’s Rodney Muhumuza warns that Ebola cases may rise in coming days with 43 contacts of known Ebola patients being traced while eight deaths have been linked to the virus.
Nigeria killed 45 terrorists. For the Nigerian Guardian, Odita Sunday and Njadvara Musa report that defense forces killed 38 Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists and seven Boko Haram members in Borno State over the past 16 days.
Nigerians sue over Flutterwave money frozen in Kenya. For the Business Daily, Sam Kiplagat reports that over 2000 Nigerian investors have gone to court to recoup over $10 million, saying they were swindled through Flutterwave.
Participate in taming disinformation. African bloggers interested in freedom of speech, open internet, digital rights, and fighting disinformation are invited to participate in a competition run by the African Union– European Union (AU-EU) Digital for Development (D4D) Hub. (Oct. 7)
Attend this Google event. The Google for Africa 2022 event is here and Africans are invited to participate in 13 masterclass sessions focussing on AI, cloud, YouTube Shorts, advertising, and business tools for nonprofits, SMEs, and individuals. It starts on Oct. 5 and ends on Oct. 7.
🎵 This brief was produced while listening to “Choro” by Rui Orlando (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, veto power, and fast internet to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow us on Twitter at @qzafrica for updates throughout the day.
If you received this email from a friend or colleague, you can sign up here to receive the Quartz Africa Weekly Brief in your inbox every week. You can also follow Quartz Africa on Facebook.