Dear Quartz Africa readers,
Sam Bankman-Fried has quickly become a persona non grata everywhere, including in Africa. Once hailed as a crypto guru, the collapse of his FTX exchange platform has sent shockwaves round the world, taking with it billions of investors’ money. Even as he continues to thread tweets with apologetic overtones, Africans are taking stock of their own losses.
Crypto enthusiasts who traded different coins on FTX-linked platforms have been unable to withdraw their investments while crypto startups are facing their own losses. Nigerian web3 startup Nestcoin led by former Binance Labs director Yele Bademosi admitted to being affected by FTX’s downfall and has had to lay off employees. “Last week’s events have had an impact on us, as we held our assets (cash and stablecoins) at FTX. As a company we have to adjust our plans, rethink our strategy…Unfortunately, this means saying goodbye to some of our very talented Nesters,” Bademosi said.
And while some users in the Bahamas and the US were able to withdraw their funds before the full crisis hit, African traders may never be able to access their money.
Many African central banks—Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Namibia—have been warning against the use and trade of crypto, but their citizens kept trusting the platforms in the hopes of high returns. Ethiopia recently moved from banning crypto to regulating it.
“The crypto industry has become dynamic with multiple aspects such as NFTs and the metaverse appealing to young crypto audiences. FTX’s collapse will make them cautious on which exchange they trade in. But exchanges will have to set aside Proof of Reserves to cushion customers. Government regulators will have to speed up the development of regulatory frameworks to protect consumers,” says Benjamin Arunda a Nairobi-based author of Understanding the Blockchain and member of the Blockchain Association of Kenya.
—Faustine Ngila, east Africa correspondent
What to watch for in the Quartz Africa member brief
By the digits
9: The number of major African stock exchanges, out of the 10 biggest, that posted negative returns in the first half of 2022
$6.5 billion: The Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE)’s losses in the first half of 2022
2015: The year the last initial public offering (IPO) occurred at the NSE
97%: Share of trading accounts in Kenya considered dormant, having not traded for at least 24 months
9.2%: The annual inflation rate in Kenya in September, after rising for the seventh consecutive month to the highest level since June 2017
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Stories this week
The “Amazon of Africa” says goodbye to Prime. Jumia said the product, which it has run for three years, is “too early” for Africa. It’s one of at least three services the company says it will end as a new leadership team narrows focus on efficiency, Alexander Onukwue reports.
Bill Gates pledges 5% of his wealth to Africa’s health and agriculture. While addressing students at the University of Nairobi, the Microsoft co-founder promised $7 billion to help the continent fight diseases and boost agriculture. Faustine Ngila reports on why African countries will still need much more.
Nigeria’s proposed national airline is facing local resistance. The new Nigeria Air, already four years behind schedule, was set to start operations before December but a court order against a deal involving Ethiopian Airlines threatens the expected take-off, Alexander Onukwue reports.
What can tech do to avert the global climate change crisis? According to Saad Toma—general manager for IBM Middle East & Africa—blockchain technology, AI, and quantum computing hold potential to avert climate hazards, Faustine Ngila writes.
Nigeria’s currency redesign goes full steam ahead. Alexander Onukwue explains the implications of Nigeria’s central bank plans to ensure its currency redesign plan includes residents in rural areas.
One big number
This is the number of years the world has to prevent a climate catastrophe according to a major paper released on the sidelines of the COP27 climate summit in Egypt. At the current rate of global emissions, the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels will likely be permanently out of reach in nine years, the study found. Tim McDonnell reports from Sharm El Sheikh.
Film of interest
This past weekend, Marvel’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever triumphed over covid-19 production delays and the death of its lead actor, Chadwick Boseman, by becoming the second-biggest domestic opening weekend of 2022. The sequel to Black Panther is also the biggest domestic box office opening for November at $180 million, beating out 2013’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the previous record holder for the month at $158 million.
Adario Strange reports on why, even though this is great news, Disney is still preparing for an economic winter.
Mapping Africans’ mobility in Africa
In a recent Quartz interview, the president of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, discusses his unbridled optimism about the continent, and also why, for Africa to prosper, Africans (and not just African goods) need to be able to move around the continent.
African visa openness by the digits
2/3: Proportion of African countries that improved or maintained their Africa visa openness scores between 2016 and 2021
44%: Proportion of African countries in 2021 that offer an eVisa to Africans, up from 17% in 2016
$63: Average visa fee for Africans traveling on the continent
$12-$250: Range of visa fees for Africans visiting other African countries, depending on the length of stay
72 hours: Average processing time for issuing a visa for Africans traveling in Africa
1-10 days: Range of processing times for visas for Africans traveling in Africa, for where data was available
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) unveiled a $225 million initiative to invest in early-stage technology companies in Africa, Middle East, Central Asia, and Pakistan. The sectors of focus will include climate, healthcare, education, agriculture, and e-commerce. The IFC’s African tech portfolio already includes Twiga Foods in Kenya, and TradeDepot in Nigeria. This new platform will build on the knowledge base built from previous activity to make equity and “equity-like” deals.
Gold: It’s pretty standard
By the digits
6 grams: Weight of pure gold in an Olympic gold medal
31.103 grams: The equivalent of one troy ounce (ozt) of gold, a measurement used for precious metals
20.37%: Share of global gold reserves in Australia as of 2021, more than any other country
8%: Rally in gold prices after the UK’s 2016 Brexit vote
18: Karats in a solid gold toilet that the Guggenheim Museum offered to loan to the Trump White House
$35 per ounce: Value of gold under the Bretton Woods system, in force from 1958 to 1971
Learn more in our recent Weekly Obsession email on Gold.
Other things we liked
African climate activists left Egypt disappointed. CNN’s Ivana Kottasová reports that optimistic lobbyists expecting solid dialogue on climate remedies in Africa, left Egypt feeling underwhelmed.
Dreaded ritual dancers in Zimbabwe are trying to reclaim their reputation. For the AP, Farai Mutsaka writes on why the dancers are feared and what challenges they face trying to revamp their image.
Six out of ten Nigerians are living in poverty. BBC’s Azeezat Olaoluwa reports that according to statistics released by the government, over 133 million citizens are trapped under multidimensional poverty.
A South African school has started teaching crypto. Tech Cabal’s Ephraim Modise reports that a Johannesburg-based school, Centennial Schools, has introduced a 10-module course which educates students on how to use crypto and blockchain.
Thousands were displaced in DRC in a week of armed fighting. Al Jazeera details how the constant battle for the soul of Goma, eastern DRC, between government forces and rebel group M23 has led to the loss of lives and livelihoods.
Up to $250,000 for women entrepreneurs. Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) is inviting African women to apply for the Young Women Entrepreneurship Enablers Program. Proposals will be awarded between $100,000 and $250,000. (Nov. 25)
Get a share of Mozilla’s $250,000 fund. The Responsible Computer Science Challenge is now open to institutions of higher education and tech hubs in Kenya. Some 10 grants totalling $250,000 are up for grabs. (Jan. 17, 2023)
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