The “right to disconnect” enters Kenya’s political agenda

Plus: Women in Sierra Leone can finally own land
Gender minister Manty Tarawalli has been fighting to get the bill passed in to law by parliament since 2021
Gender minister Manty Tarawalli has been fighting to get the bill passed in to law by parliament since 2021
Photo: Faustine Ngila

Dear Quartz Africa readers,

In her memoir, This child will be great, Africa’s first democratically elected female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia writes, “The root cause of conflict is not simply poverty but poverty brought on by exclusion. Exclusion in its broadest context: exclusion from resources, from power, from education and information, from the opportunity to better one’s life.

Numerous countries and regions across the African continent are beset by conflict, making any progress toward improved quality of life and better government near impossible. The recently published 2022 Ibrahim Index of African Governance found that “almost 70% (69.3%) of Africa’s population lives in a country where the security and rule of law environment is worse in 2021 than in 2012, mostly driven by a worsening security situation.”

Africa is now less safe and less secure than it was 10 years ago, hampering continental progress toward effective governance, according to the report by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.

Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Eritrea, Somalia, and South Sudan are the least secure countries to live in due to prolonged armed conflict, terrorism, and organized crime, according to the report.

“There have been 23 successful and attempted coups on the African continent since 2012,” the report notes. These countries are Mali, Malawi, Guinea-Bissau, Côte d’Ivoire, Niger, Sudan, Eritrea, Benin, Central Africa Republic, Libya, Comoros, Burundi, Chad, Egypt, DRC, Lesotho, Gambia, Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Ethiopia.

Conflict and poverty made worse by rising inequality and the looming climate crisis that will make resources even scarcer, are so inextricably linked that neither can be solved without tackling the underlying drivers.

— Faustine Ngila, Africa correspondent

Stories this week

The “right to disconnect” entered the Kenyan political arena. A new bill proposes to protect employees against employers who call, email, or text them after work without pay. But Faustine Ngila highlights why implementing it will be a challenge.

This Zimbabwean startup is going regional. Already present in four African countries, Tano Digital Solutions (TDS) now wants to venture into the Kenyan and Namibian markets. Bird story agency explains how the startup is overcoming challenges to spread its wings beyond Harare.

Sierra Leonean women can finally own land. From Freetown, Faustine Ngila writes about a landmark new law that ends six decades of a sexist ban on women’s rights to buy, own, sell, and inherit land anywhere in the country.

Africa’s economies will grow faster than the rest of the world. According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), the region’s economies will stabilize in 2023-2024, and then start growing at consistently higher rates than other parts of the world.


Kwara, a Kenyan fintech that digitizes credit unions, has raised a $3 million seed extension led by existing investors DOB Equity, Globivest and Willard Ahdritz, One Day Yes, Base Capital, and fintech executive Mikko Salovaara. The new funding brings the total seed amount raised by the startup to $7 million.

Cairo-based startup GBarena, which specializes in e-sports in the Middle East region, has acquired Tunisia-based Galactech in a share swap deal worth $15 million, paving the way for the closing of its Series A funding later this year, led by investors from the US, Singapore, and the MENA region.

Quartz gems

The World Health Organization (WHO) is reviewing the state of the pandemic after gathering its emergency committee for the 14th time since the covid outbreak began.

Discussion on Jan. 27 will focus on whether the pandemic still warrants the definition of a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), the highest risk level. The decision, expected to be announced Monday (Jan. 30), is ultimately for WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to make, though he has consistently followed the committee’s advice.

Here are a few numbers that tell the story of the pandemic so far.

665 million: Covid cases recorded worldwide since January 2020

6.8 million: Covid deaths recorded worldwide since January 2020

11: Emergency Use Listings issued for covid vaccines

13 billion: Vaccine doses administered worldwide as of Jan. 24, 2023, to more than 5 billion people

Other things we are reading

Nigerian political parties are secretly paying influencers to spread misinformation. For the BBC, Chiagozie Nwonwu, Fauziyya Tukur, and Yemisi Oyedepo reveal political strategists are giving social media influencers cash, gifts, and fake news to influence the election result.

Climate change-fueled drought is ravaging Kenya’s wildlife ecosystem. For InsideClimate News, Georgina Gustin details how a long drought has had fatal consequences for wild animals, livestock, and people at the Amboseli national park.

Ghana’s LGBTQ community fear persecution. Gal-dem’s Jacqueline Darkwa reports on the impact of a proposed bill that seeks to criminalize LGBTQ people and activism.

Comedy is helping South Sudan to heal. Le Monde’s Florence Miettaux shows how comedians in Juba are uniting the country and trying to heal from violence after years of armed conflict.


A photo worth $1000. Apply for the 2023 Rest of World Photography Competition by taking your best photo showing how technology affects your daily life and your community, including how you work, buy, and eat. A cash reward of $1,000 will be given to the winner while the first and second runners up will be rewarded $500 and $250, respectively. (Jan. 31)

Fellowship with $80,000 stipend. Applications are now open for the 2023/24 Echoing Green 18-month fellowship for Africans whose enterprises are at an early stage and who are experts on the challenge they’ve chosen to confront. A stipend of $80,000 is on offer plus expert support. (Feb. 7)

🎵 This brief was produced while listening to “Clandoman” by Pulo NDJ (Chad).

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