Dear Quartz Africa readers,
An eye-wateringly expensive World Cup is taking place in Qatar. The event is clouded by controversies relating to bribery, budgetary mismanagement, and human rights abuses, but the soccer teams are still putting on a good show. In the first few matches, soccer titans Spain, England, France, and Brazil played stylishly and won easily, while Saudi Arabia and Japan enacted giant-killings against Argentina and Germany, respectively.
For the five African teams at the games however, the first matches were a mixed bag. Morocco and Tunisia fought hard for goalless draws, but Senegal, Cameroon, and Ghana lost, despite the latter being the first African team to score a goal in Qatar. To reach the knockout round and give Africa its first-ever representative at a World Cup semi-final, the five will have to get better at shooting goals.
A lot will come down to coaching. For the first time at a World Cup, each participating African team is led by an indigenous coach, a welcome break from soccer federations’ habit of hiring foreign coaches to lead African teams. But after an average first round, the continent’s tacticians need to show that they can match their European and South American rivals. The fact that Saudi Arabia’s win over Argentina was masterminded by Hervé Renard, a Frenchman who won the Africa Cup of Nations with Zambia and Côte d’Ivoire, underscores this demand.
Talent will matter just as much as tactics. Senegal, Africa’s best soccer team, is finding out that adjusting to life without star man Sadio Mané is not easy. The 30-year-old striker picked up an injury days before the World Cup while on duty for his German club. His absence may well be the big difference for Africa at these games. Or not, if the other 129 African players in Qatar step up and make their presence count.
—Alexander Onukwue, west Africa correspondent
What to watch for in the Quartz Africa member brief
By the digits
1%: Africa’s share of the global video games market in terms of revenue
$1 billion: Annual revenue from video games in Africa
$327 million: Revenue from video games and esports in South Africa in 2021
$271 million: Revenue from video games and esports in Nigeria in 2021
$125 million: Revenue from video games and esports in Kenya in 2021
Learn more about Tunisia-based DigitalMania, an indie video game studio, 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 DRC brought fossil fuel crusaders to COP27. Faustine Ngila investigates the African delegations participating in the UN climate summit in Egypt.
Kenya plans to tax crypto transactions... A bill would allow the Kenya Revenue Authority to tax 20% on crypto trades on wallets and marketplaces. Faustine Ngila explains why the legislation’s timing is wrong.
…as more African countries consider regulating crypto. About two thirds of countries in sub-Saharan Africa have some form of crypto policy in place and FTX’s collapse might trigger more countries to consider regulation, Alexander Onukwue reports.
Soccer stars are taking on Africa’s healthcare burden. What do Bukayo Saka and Antonio Rüdiger have in common? Alexander Onukwue describes how these European players are connecting to their African roots by providing life-saving medical care for children.
Eddy Kenzo is the first Ugandan to be nominated for a Grammy. Faustine Ngila looks at what makes the musician’s work stand out from the crowd.
Charting safer waters
Until recently, west Africa’s Gulf of Guinea had a reputation for being a hotbed for piracy. But recent cooperation between international naval vessels and regional authorities is bearing fruit, with piracy attacks reported to be at a three-decade low.
Nigeria, the largest country and economy in the area, took a leadership role with the 2021 launch of the $195 million Deep Blue Project, which provides personnel and vessels to guard regional waters.
Pirates in the Gulf of Guinea aren’t just a regional problem. Fewer pirates also means fewer shipping delays, safer crews, and lower insurance premiums around the world.
Ivorian fintech startup Djamo raised $14 million in a round led by Enza Capital, Oikocredit, and Partech Africa. Other investors in the company, which offers a money transfer app, include Y Combinator, Janngo Capital, P1 Ventures, Axian, and Launch Africa. Djamo was founded in 2020 and claims to have processed $400 million in transactions. The company is looking to grow beyond Côte d’Ivoire to other Francophone African countries.
Pivo, a women-founded Nigerian digital bank startup targeting freight carriers, raised $2 million in a seed round that included Mercy Corps, Precursor Ventures, Vested World, FoundersX, and Y Combinator. Pivo says it serves 500 small and medium businesses and has lent them $3 million, with a 98% repayment rate.
How millennials and Gen Zers fell in love with luxury brands
In 2019, millennials and Gen Z accounted for 40% of luxury shoppers in North America, and 44% for the industry globally, according to joint research by the consulting firm Bain & Co. and the Italian luxury goods association Altagamma. By 2025, they are projected to account for 70% of the global luxury market. The youthfulness of China’s luxury market has been even starker: Half of China’s luxury buyers last year were born after 1990.
The huge success of big luxury groups like LVMH and Kering, has in part been thanks to their expansion into more diversified product areas, including sportswear.
There’s also an undeniable cultural component to the embrace of luxury by young people. A Bank of America analysis of Billboard year-end Hot 100 singles found that mentions of luxury brands and luxury products have skyrocketed in recent years.
Other things we liked
Airtel Money Uganda lost $2.1 million to hackers. For the Daily Monitor, Benson Tumusiime details how hackers used a betting site as a gateway to penetrate Airtel Money’s IT systems.
Ghana is buying oil using gold instead of US dollars. For Reuters, Cooper Inveen and Christian Akorlie write that Ghana will start using gold to pay for oil imports to tackle a foreign currency shortage.
Algeria condemned 49 people to death. The sentences for the mob killing of a man falsely accused of starting deadly forest fires are likely to be commuted to life in prison, BBC’s Ahmed Rouaba explains.
Suspected Islamic extremists killed 11 people in Mali. The AP’s Baba Ahmed describes the deadly attack against a camp hosting refugees from the northern part of the country.
Kenya blocked the exports of Kilifi baobabs to Georgia. President William Ruto has ordered an investigation into how a foreign contractor obtained permission for the operation, Caroline Kimeu reports for the Guardian.
Win part of Opera’s $300,000 World Cup prizes. Opera, the company behind the Opera Mini mobile browser, is asking all African soccer fans to shake their phones to have a chance of winning daily World Cup prizes such as airtime by MTN, Safaricom, Airtel, and AirtelTigo, cash prizes, and brand-new phones. (Now till Dec. 18)
Get Google’s $60,000 research fund. Are you a professor in an African university? Apply for Google’s 2023 research scholar program and help the continent research modern technologies. (Dec. 1)
🎵 This brief was produced while listening to “Suzanna” by Sauti Sol (Kenya).
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