Hi Quartz Africa readers,
The textile industry’s potential in Africa has long remained untapped. For Dennis Matanda, the President and CEO of Morgenthau Stirling, an advisory firm linking potential investors in the US to entrepreneurs in Africa, the culprit is the lack of long-term investment.
Caribbean countries, for instance, have been able to move up the development ladder thanks to substantial and sustained investment. The Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) was initially set up as a short-term economic recovery act in 1983. But since then, it has been renewed several times, and has no expiration date. In 2020, CBI beneficiary countries supplied $5.1 billion of US imports, with $1.2 billion under the tariff preferences (pdf). In Haiti, CBI has been credited with the creation of 54,000 garment factory jobs as of 2020.
“In Uganda you can create over 30,000 jobs in the textiles industry,” estimates Matanda. The funds to do so, however, are running out. The US trade partnership set up in 2000, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), is coming to an end in 2025. It has been linked to the creation of more than 300,000 jobs in Africa, and the earnings of about $300 billion in exports.
Matanda believes there’s an opportunity to demand the treaty become permanent as to increase private sector investment in light manufacturing sectors, which in turn can help African countries transition their economies up the production value chain.
“Government’s role should be in taking out stumbling blocks. They should be advocating for AGOA to become permanent,” Matanda says.
—Ciku Kimeria, Africa editor
What to watch for in the Quartz Africa member brief
💡 The opportunity: Mobile money has been growing in double digits every year, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. West Africa’s Francophone populations account for around 22% of the total number of active mobile money accounts in the continent, a relatively small proportion.
🤔 The challenge: The two main challenges are policy and funding. In many countries regulators are still wary of granting licenses to startups in the fintech sector. Even once in operation, companies may need approvals to launch new products and services. Secondly, a huge volume of capital is needed to float such startups. With many fintechs already in the market, convincing investors to bet on similar products is difficult.
🌍 The road map: New contenders need to come up with products backed with simple technology that can be used even by those who are illiterate or not tech savvy. Also, partnerships are key to expanding and sustaining a business.
💰 The stakeholders: Mobile money companies, users, legislators, governments.
Learn more about Wave, Francophone Africa’s first unicorn, in this past week’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
The World Cup is coming to Africa in high resolution. For the first time, football fans in sub-Saharan Africa will be able to watch all 64 matches in Qatar from their smartphones. Faustine Ngila reports on Showmax’s business strategy.
Gambia’s child deaths were linked to an Indian manufacturer. Contaminated cough syrups connected to the death of 69 children this year were made in India and shipped into the west African country by a US importer. As Gambia demands justice, Alexander Onukwue writes about the scrutiny the two companies now face.
Kenya wants to use Tanzania’s gas deposits to dominate east Africa’s liquid petroleum gas (LPG) market. The cost of cooking gas in Kenya is hurting households. The government is in plans to construct a $1 billion 600-km gas pipeline to make the commodity cheaper. Faustine Ngila reveals the other reason Kenya wants the project implemented.
Nigeria’s striking lecturers are returning to class. The union for lecturers at Nigerian universities made progress in negotiations with the government in the past week, leading to the suspension of their eight-month strike, Alexander Onukwue reports.
Tech startups in Egypt are driving climate change solutions. Farmers are facing a myriad of challenges but agritech solutions are taking the charge to tackle climate change. In the lead-up to COP27, Tim McDonnell covers the various startups making waves.
This podcast brings African voices to the debate over China’s presence in the continent. The Crane, a pro-China podcast, is attracting more listeners for its criticism of western countries and praise for Chinese policies in Africa. Barret Bilali explains why this African perspective matters.
This platform could make Africa’s air travel cheaper. Faustine Ngila looks at how a new New Distribution Capability (NDC) platform launched by air travel aggregator AfroAtlas and Lufthansa hopes to cut the cost of changing travel dates and destinations.
Stears, a Nigerian data company, raised $3.3 million in a round led by Mac VC and in which Serena Ventures, owned by tennis star Serena Williams, invested. Stears started as a publisher of news and analysis on Nigeria’s economy and businesses but has set its sights on becoming a data provider with products targeting businesses and governments.
MoKo, a Kenyan furniture maker, raised $6.5 million in a debt and equity round led by Talanton, a US-based investment fund, and AlphaMundi Group. MoKo says its items are in over 370,000 Kenyan homes and wants to be in three new markets by 2025.
Telda, an Egyptian fintech startup, raised $20 million in a round led by Sequoia Capital, and Global Founders Capital (GFC). It is a follow up to the $5 million the company raised last year, when it launched as a digital bank. The company now describes itself as a consumer money and payment app after approvals from Egypt’s central bank.
EUROPE’S POWER HUNGER LEAVES DEVELOPING COUNTRIES STARVING FOR ENERGY
Bangladesh’s massive blackout on Oct. 4 was the most recent example of the consequences of Europe’s mad dash for gas.
Even before the war broke out, gas supplies heading to Asia were being diverted to Europe. Now with the Russia-Ukraine conflict squeezing supply, the richer European nations are getting dibs on whatever is up for grabs, driving up the price and reducing the amount available to buy for nations such as Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan.
130 million: People affected by the blackout in Bangladesh
7: Hours it took to bring power back
60%: Increase in the price of LNG in a year
$40 billion: Damages sought by Pakistan against Italian energy firm Eni and Swiss commodity trader Gunvor for not supplying the agreed deliveries of LNG.
Why good feedback is so hard to get
Free bags of chips and refreshments at the office might be a nice perk (for those that are in-person, anyways), but what workers really crave is something less tangible: feedback.
We need feedback to know how we’re doing at work, and also, well, because we’re human. Most managers are never trained on how to give feedback, and as one guest on our podcast Work Reconsidered explains, it’s also so hard to get because workplaces are “inherently psychologically unsafe.” But there are ways to fix that.
🎧 Listen to this week’s episode: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google | Stitcher
Other things we liked
GSK is shutting down its manufacturing plant in Nairobi. Business Daily’s Kabui Mwangi explores the reason behind the firm’s move as it joins other drug manufacturers in exiting the market.
Uganda imposed new internet restrictions. For the AP, Rodney Muhumuza explains how a new bill signed into law by President Yoweri Museveni to criminalize certain types of internet activity could stifle freedom of expression and kill investigative journalism.
Shell investigates reports of oil theft in Nigeria. For Reuters, Libby George reports that a Shell pipeline that ran for nine years led to the theft of crude oil, and has prompted the company to launch a joint investigation.
Eight people were killed in South Africa. For News 24, Cebelihle Bhengu reports that eight unidentified men were gunned down in unclear circumstances in Kwanobuhle, in the Eastern Cape, in two shooting incidents.
Apply for the Wole Soyinka Award. Nigerian journalists working in print, radio, TV, online are invited to apply for the 2022 Wole Soyinka Investigative Reporting Award. (Oct. 24)
Join the IBM PhD fellowship. Do you love technology? Apply for the fully funded IBM Fellowship Award Program and help in global research on issues that matter to society. Nominees must be enrolled full-time in a PhD program over the two consecutive academic years of the award. (Nov. 5)
🎵 This brief was produced while listening to ‘Naaa Meaan’ by Nadia Nakai (Botswana).
This week’s brief took you to 🇰🇪, 🇳🇬, 🇪🇬, 🇬🇲, 🇧🇼, and 🇺🇬
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