Dear Quartz Africa readers,
Last year in February, Nigerian Nobel laureate and playwright Wole Soyinka called those claiming he had endorsed Bola Tinubu for the country’s presidency “illiterate interlopers.” That was a month before the president of the African Development Bank Akinwumi Adesina described as “mischievous” the claims that he had backed Tinubu for president.
Whether high-profile Nigerians supported Tinubu or not, the ruling party candidate has been declared president-elect, to the despair of his rivals. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) the country’s main opposition force whose candidate Atiku Abubakar came second in the vote, has denounced the results as a “grave injustice” and will be moving to court to challenge them “because our mandate was stolen.” The other frontrunner, Labour Party candidate Peter Obi, also claimed “We won the election and we will prove it to Nigerians.”
Some of those who dispute the election’s outcome blame the introduction of technology in the vote collating process. They say the creation of a digital layer in the determination of the future of the lives of 220 million Nigerians is responsible for the contested results.
Sounds familiar? I followed every aspect of the Nigerian election, and I realized it mirrors the script of Kenya’s vote last August—a winner is announced, and the main competitor goes to court citing a hacked vote tallying and verification portal. The only part that remains to be seen is what the outcome of the court battle will be.
The biggest question remaining once the court makes a decision, is what everyday life in Nigeria is going to look like under the new administration. At the end of the day, this is what matters most to voters, no matter which government gets in place.
—Faustine Ngila, Africa correspondent
Stories this week
Nigeria’s election portal faced glitches…Opposition leaders blamed the country’s electoral commission for failing to create a seamless results transmission digital platform. Faustine Ngila explores why Nigerians don’t trust tech to run general elections.
…but it still showed that Bola Tinubu won the election. After four days of vote tallying, Bola Tinubu was declared Nigeria’s new president. Faustine Ngila highlights the challenges he faces in fixing Africa’s biggest economy.
South Africa’s energy crisis is fueling an economic meltdown. The country’s central bank had predicted that the energy crisis will cause at least 250 days of power blackout in 2023, translating to an economic loss of $12.7 billion. Faustine Ngila explains how that will affect the country’s struggling economy.
South Africa and Nigeria greylisted for money laundering. Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a Paris-based anti-money laundering and terrorism financing watchdog, says the two countries have not been doing enough to address organized crime, illicit finance, counterfeit trade, tax evasion and terrorism financing. Faustine Ngila delves into the intricacies of the situation.
Citizenship by investment programs gain traction in Africa. Namibia, Mauritius, Egypt, and South Africa are a few of the growing number of African countries that are looking to attract high-net worth investors by offering residence and citizenship, Seth Onyango reports.
South African e-health startup Envisionit Deep AI has raised $1.65 million in funding to democratize access to diagnostic imaging using AI. The funding was led by New GX Ventures SA, with an additional amount from the GIIG Africa Fund.
Egyptian fintech startup Hollydesk has raised $1 million in venture debt financing from unnamed investors. The financing will be used to expand its offering and client base through helping more small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in the country to manage and track their daily expenses.
Nigeria’s banknote debacle
The botched implementation of a banknote redesign has left many Nigerians struggling to access cash. Here’s what happened:
- Nov. 23, 2022: New 200, 500, and 1,000 naira notes are introduced.
- Jan. 31: Old naira banknotes are supposed to stop being legal tender, but president Muhammadu Buhari extends that deadline to Feb. 10.
- Feb. 8: The government is stopped from implementing the new deadline after three states sue.
- Feb. 10: The central bank maintains the old banknotes are no longer legal tender.
- Feb. 16: Buhari says the old N200 banknote will remain legal tender for 60 more days.
The timeline of Nigeria’s cash shortage illustrates how a rushed policy that lacked capacity and clarity from the get-go has now left the country with a major cash shortage. But a ruling by the country’s Supreme Court that was scheduled for Mar. 3 could end the weeks-long debacle.
Other things we are reading
How Senegal fell in love with rice. Considered a staple in every Senegalese home, rice was not always something part of people’s diets. For Orion Magazine, Jori Lewis explores the historical commercial colonial legacy that turned Senegal into the home of the Unesco-recognized Jollof rice.
Africa’s largest film festival offers Burkinabes a break from conflict. AP’s Sam Mednick looks at the weeklong Pan-African Film and TV Festival of Ouagadougou (Fespaco)and why it provides a much-needed distraction amid turbulent times in the country.
Namibia’s lions enjoy beachgoing. For Hakai Magazine, Ryan Truscott reports on how lions in the country’s arid Skeleton Coast National Park have been freely roaming the beaches feeding on marine species including Cape fur seals, beached whales, and cormorants.
Art and music provide channels for activism in Senegal. NPR’s Ayen Bior, Ari Shapiro, Noah Caldwell, Matt Ozug, Sarah Handel, and Ricci Shryock explore how musicians and artists in Senegal are using their tools of trade to highlight societal issues and fight poverty.
Opportunity for business support. The Social Innovation Awards seeks to recognize entrepreneurs and social innovators who have developed innovative products, services, and processes that solve societal problems in South Africa. It is a program that supports businesses with prototypes and those that are still in their early development stages. (March 27)
Competition for innovators. The Nokia Bell Labs Prize targets innovators from South Africa working on innovations that solve key challenges facing humanity. It provides selected innovators a unique opportunity to collaborate with Nokia Bell Labs researchers to realize their vision. (April 21)
🎵 This brief was produced while listening to ‘Water No Get Enemy’ by Fela Kuti (Nigeria)
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