Sunday, July 31, 2016

Africa weekly update

(Quartz)- Following is the weekly update by Quartz on African development.

National pride looms large in the rhetoric of many African countries. The majority of countries had to fight for decades to gain independence from colonial rule. In some cases, even after independence, there were bloody disputes over borders and the sharing of resources among people made to live together in unfamiliar boundaries.
Yet, even during the worst of those years—and till this day, sports has always played an important unifying role in many countries, regardless of the performance level of the athletes.
This is why it’s worrying in the run-up to next month’s Rio Olympics that some of the biggest nations’ sports bodies are in disarray leaving some athletes caught up in one scandal or another.
Kenya, which has probably been Africa’s most consistent top performer in athletics for the last two decades, has been tainted by a doping scandal. The scandal highlights the dysfunction of its sports body and almost got the country banned from this year’s games.
Over in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, with days to go, there aredaily stories of young Olympians looking to have to pay their own way to Rio through family, friends and crowd-funding as their only hope. After much national outrage, president Buhari promised to ensure the athletes are covered. But it should never have come to this in the first place.
There’s always been a tension between government-appointed sports administrators and the athletes in some countries. It’s driven by a ‘what have you done for me lately’ attitude aimed at the athletes. It’s no wonder an increasing number of top African athleteswill be running for Middle Eastern and European nations in Rio.
Governments or administrators who treat sports or its athletes with indifference, carelessness or as a means to personal benefit, are harming more than just sports. Our various communities and populations have few expectations from a national identity perspective and many are already quite skeptical about governments. Sports are vital to boost our collective psyche and pride.
Yinka Adegoke, Quartz Africa editor


A Kenyan furniture maker is gunning to be the Ikea of Africa.Ciiru Waweru’s company FunKidz in Kenya is more than a kid’s furniture brand it’s on a quest to prove African businesses can manufacture world-class goods for global distribution. “People say the furniture doesn’t look ‘African’ enough. We need to stop putting things in a label. What does that even mean?”

Investors in Africa are so focused on the poor they are ignoring the middle class. PesaPal founder Agosta Liko says that too much funding that comes to Africa goes to companies and startups focused on helping the poor. Supporting companies that serve the middle class would create needed jobs and boost incomes, he says.
The worst thing about Kenya’s new power plant isn’t that Chinese workers are being brought in to build it. Reports that the Chinese company building the country’s first coal-fired power plant will hire 1,400 Chinese workers has Kenyans angry. But as Lily Kuo writes, the bigger concern is whether Chinese companies are exporting a model that has caused mass pollution, environmental disasters, and millions of premature deaths in China.
Egypt’s secular rulers are making mosques read government-written sermons. Egypt’s government instructed all mosques to deliver one scripted sermon to 80 million Muslims during Friday prayers. But as Abdi Latif Dahir writes, the campaign is part of the government’s move to curb dissent from what it sees as the source of partisan political messaging and extremist ideology.
Science fiction has ancient roots in Africa. The African continent is home to a tradition of creation myths that on closer inspection bear a striking resemblance to speculative science fiction. Lynsey Chutel writes about Wanuri Kahiu, the Kenyan filmmaker and 2016 Quartz Africa Innovator, who rejects the notion that African audiences are less drawn to the genre.


Nigeria’s naira is finally floating free. Given the lack of currency volatility in Nigeria the adoption of a more flexible exchange rate on June 20, it appears the government simply shifted the fixed peg from one point to another. But, as Yomi Kazeem notes, in the past week, the naira’s value has begun to vary with market forces as it appears the Central Bank of Nigeria has finally fully let go.


New apps for old phones to exploit Google blind spot in Africa.Developers across the African continent are seizing the opportunity to make apps for non-smartphone users, write Bloomberg’s Marie Mawad and Alexandre Boksenbaum-Granier. The move is aimed at keeping consumption down and catering to specific local needs of farmers, merchants and small business owners who might not own a smartphone or a bank card.The African involvement in Panama Papers was deeper than we thought. It turns out offshore companies with links to 44 African countries appear in the Panama Papers leak, according to new research. The Guardian writes that the Mossack Fonseca law firm files contain “at least 37 offshore companies with operations in Africa that have been named in legal proceedings or criticized by national or international agencies.”


Kenya and Uganda to release inflation data (Aug. 1). Kenya and Uganda will both release inflation rates on Monday. In Kenya, inflation rates already accelerated in July, from 5.8% to 6.4%. This was due to increased prices in fuel and food items.
The Nairobi Innovation Week (Aug. 1-5). The second Nairobi Innovation Week will be held at the Center of Computing for Development at the University of Nairobi. The conference will exhibit and recognize innovation from researchers and developers working in both private companies and public agencies. Almost 900 delegates and 39 speakers will attend the conference.
Africa at the Olympics (Aug. 5-21). The Olympics kick off on Friday Aug. 5 and Africa will be looking to big performances from the continent’s London 2012 medal leaders, South Africa, Ethiopia and Kenya. See Quartz’s unique Olympics coverage here including the story of the Somalian Olympian refugee who died at sea and South Sudan’s historic Olympic team.
Our best wishes for a productive week ahead. Please send any news, comments, gold medals and African sci-fi script ideas You can follow us on twitter at @qzafrica for updates throughout the day.