Dear Quartz Africa readers,
This past week I traveled to Freetown, Sierra Leone, to witness the signing of a new landmark bill that brings women in the country a step closer to achieving gender parity. The Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Act includes a legal requirement for all designated private and public bodies in the country to ensure at least 30% of their workforce is female, in addition to dedicating 30% of all leadership and decision making roles to women.
Over the decades, women leaders have been fighting to earn their place at the decision table, but it’s only in recent years that supporting gender equality became a legislative issue. This is credited to the relentless push by two women, the president’s wife and gender minister, who pushed the bill through parliament for the past 13 months, until it received presidential assent. The legislation also includes an additional two weeks of maternity leave (12 to 14), equal rights to own property, and punishment for those who violate women’s rights.
During the ceremony in the packed auditorium on Jan. 19, president Julius Maada Bio said, “I am who I am because of a woman.” He went on to discuss various areas where women lack equal rights, such as access to education, sometimes inhibited due to teenage pregnancy [where girls’ education is curtailed, but boys’ isn’t], to finance, due to a banking tradition that requires one’s husband to sign for a woman to access a bank loan, as well as land ownership, and health.
Sierra Leone has struggled to achieve gender parity in the public and private sectors due to deeply ingrained beliefs that men and women can’t be equal.
Leaders in the west African anglophone nation celebrated the law as the dawn of a new era for the women of Sierra Leone. “These mindsets are changing,” gender minister Manty Tarawalli declared.
— Faustine Ngila, Africa correspondent
Stories this week
ChatGPT’s optimized models were perfected on the backs of poorly paid Kenyan workers. Faustine Ngila reveals why the company outsourced by OpenAI to do content moderation sacked all 200 employees after the project was completed.
Nigeria’s central bank governor self-exiled abroad to avoid arrest. Secret police in Nigeria wanted to detain Godwin Emefiele over corruption and terrorism financing allegations. He’s now back in Nigeria, but as Faustine Ngila explains, he might step down soon.
Africa is getting a new orbital spaceport. Based in Djibouti, the $1 billion cosmodrome will feature seven satellite launch pads and three rocket testing pads. Bird story agency explains what this means to eastern Africa.
Ethiopia is betting on an air sensor to win more medals. An air monitoring data sensor has been installed at a stadium in Addis Ababa. Faustine Ngila writes that the government hopes cleaner air will improve the performance of its athletes.
Tsitsi Masiyiwa is putting her millions into reducing Africa’s gender gap. One of Africa’s richest women is leading an initiative to pull together $50 million from African philanthropists, corporates, individuals, and Africans in diaspora, to help reduce a gender gap that is expected to take 132 years to close, Ciku Kimeria reports.
Senegal’s fashion and creative industry is booming yet again after years of stagnation. Bird story agency explains why the country’s capital is having a cultural revival.
South African startup Flow, which seeks to improve customer experience among real estate agencies, developers, and agents, has announced that it has raised $4.5 million in a pre-Series A funding led by Futuregrowth Asset Management, Endeavor Harvest Fund, Steven Heilbron, Kalon Venture Partners, Vunani Fintech Fund, and Buffet Investments.
Carry1st, another South Africa-based startup that publishes online games, has raised $27 million in pre-Series B funding led by Bitkraft Ventures, Konvoy Ventures, a16z, TTV Capital, Alumni Ventures, Lateral Frontiers VC, and Kepple Ventures. The new funding will be used to finance web3 gaming innovations.
Elon Musk’s tweeting choices are about to face the judgment of a jury of his peers. In 2018, the Tesla CEO tweeted he intended to take the company private, causing wild swings in its share price that ultimately cost shareholders millions when it became clear the deal wasn’t happening.
Now, Musk could pay millions of dollars in damages if he loses in a trial that started on Jan. 17 in San Francisco.
Here are some figures about the case.
$420 per share: Price at which Musk claimed he was taking Tesla private—almost a 20% premium on its trading price at the time
$40 million: Total fines Musk and Tesla agreed to pay in a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which found the tweets lacked “an adequate basis in fact”
82%: Share of the 200 jury candidates who said they had an unfavorable opinion of Musk in a pre-trial questionnaire
Other things we are reading
Zimbabwe’s women are turning to courts to get health justice. For the Global Press Journal, Linda Mujuru takes you through the pain women in Zimbabwe experience trying to access healthcare and why they have started going to court to seek justice.
Southern Cameroon is silently bleeding. Africaisacountry’s Gordon Crawford, Maurice Beseng, and Nancy Annan reveal how an ongoing underground armed conflict seeking the independence of Ambazonia, a region in the country’s south, has left thousands dead and displaced millions.
What does not crush great writers makes them stronger. For the Economist, Eve Fairbanks examines why Tsitsi Dangarembga, a Zimbabwean novelist who has questioned the country’s repressive regime in her books, has been dishonored in her home country.
This historian is rewriting Kenya’s colonial past. For the Christian Science Monitor, former Quartz reporter Carlos Mureithi explores how digital heritage specialist Chao Tayiana Maina is using technology to document and change the narrative around the country’s colonial history.
Win $25,000 in green financing. Applications for the 2023 Ashden International Awards for climate change innovators from developing nations are now open. Winners will get grant prizes of up to $25,000, access to financiers, and get their work featured in films. (Mar. 8)
Apply for the BBC Komla Dumor Award. African TV reporters covering Africa can now send their applications for the 2023 prize. The winner will get a one month stipend and get trained by the BBC in London. All travel and accommodation costs will be covered by the BBC. (Feb. 14)
🎵 This brief was produced while listening to “Black Folks” by Alieu Bandu (Sierra Leone).
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