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Africa’s Top 10 Stories  |  December 2022

South Africa’s energy sector received a welcome boost during the last quarter of 2022 as the Just Energy Transition Partnership and Investment Plan (JETP-IP) was officially endorsed by its cabinet, and is set to unlock US$8.5 billion to fund the transition away from coal. Key partner Germany committed over US$350 million in the form of grants and subsidised loans to accelerate the move. A slew of further investments was announced during the COP27 climate conference in November, with the World Bank committing US$497 million to repower the Komati coal plant using renewable resources. In parallel, the International Partners Group pledged an additional US$580 million, while France pledged over US$300 million to match the German contribution. The JETP-IP was also endorsed by several major non-profit organisations. South Africa’s JET-IP could be seen as a solution to its energy crisis; however, further investment is required to realise the full potential of the transition, along with robust energy policies.

Date courtesy: Engineering News,, 90by2030; 2022

A small business owner in Kenya. In addition to Google, Twiga Foods has previously partnered with IBM Research to increase access to market for small-holder farmers in Kenya. Image courtesy: IBM Research/Flickr

The US-based tech giant continued its investment drive during the past quarter by launching a number of new services. Early in October, Google announced that it will set up an African cloud service as part of its US$1 billion investment plan for the continent. The infrastructure will be based in South Africa and will give users the option on where to store their data – a flexible, regional cloud service is however required, as African countries have limited laws on data sovereignty. In parallel, Google Cloud joined forces with Prudential, an Africa and Asia-focused insurance group, to enhance health and financial inclusion for communities. Twiga Foods, a Kenyan technology food distribution platform, is also leveraging Google Cloud systems into its platform, enabling an efficient value-chain between farmers and vendors, and addressing wastage of perishable goods. In the same period, Google’s key competitor, Microsoft, has partnered with Liquid Cloud to offer cloud services across Africa.

Nigeria’s start-up landscape saw major development as the government implemented a new entrepreneur-oriented bill into law. The Nigeria Start-up Act, in the pipeline since May, is set to give a more formal approach to governing the start-up ecosystem, and is set to be a vital anchor in the country’s technology sector. In addition, the bill will establish the Council for Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which will be the main body overseeing the bill’s implementation and developing policy guidelines while ensuring that targets are met. In addition, the bill has identified three overarching challenges that it will tackle: a poor environment for business growth; opaque regulatory frameworks; and inadequate local content support. Local start-ups are also set to receive kickbacks such as tax breaks, incentives to attract foreign capital, and access to an exclusive list of public/private funding opportunities.

One of South Africa’s largest retailer in the FMCG space launched several disruptive services during Q4 2022. In early October, Pick n Pay introduced a ‘PnP Groceries’ section on the Takealot Mr D platform, a popular online shopping and delivery service in the country. Customers will have access to over 10 000 food and grocery products at the same in-store prices, with Smart Shopper reward points integrated into the system. Currently the service is being piloted in Cape Town and Johannesburg but will expand further in December 2022. In November, the retailer revealed that it will also allow transactions via cryptocurrency – this feature is being tested in multiple stores following the Financial Sector Conduct Authority’s decision to allow cryptocurrency as a mainstream method of payment. Additionally, a new online-only homeware store – Pick n Pay Home – was launched in late November in time for Black Friday and is dedicated to homeware and appliances.

Saudi Arabia and Germany have emerged as leading investors in Africa’s green energy transition over the past quarter. In early October, the former hosted a South African delegation led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, and signed 17 MoUs in key interest areas, including energy, worth US$15 billion. The Kingdom’s largest private sector power and water entity, ACWA Power, is at the centre of a number of the agreements. In the same month, the company joined forces with the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa to develop the country’s green hydrogen prospects estimated to be worth US$10 billion. In addition, ACWA Power signed desalination and gas-to-power MoUs in Senegal, and partnered with the Oman Investment Authority in early November to develop a 1.1GW Suez wind energy project in Egypt at a cost of US$1.5 billion. In parallel to the Saudi initiatives, the German government is investing close to US$70 million in green hydrogen production in Namibia and Morocco.

Data courtesy: IRENA, Energy Capital & Power, Statista, Visual Capitalist; 2022

Kyushu Institute of Technology, Japan. In November, under the BIRDS-5 project, Japan joined forces with Uganda and Zimbabwe to launch the African countries’ first satellites. Image courtesy: Jtpfbardon/WikiCommons

Africa’s aerospace sector took a giant step in November as Zimbabwe and Uganda joined forces with Japan to launch their first satellites into space. Early in the month, the former’s ZimSat-1 was successfully launched from the Mid-Atlantic NASA Regional Spaceport in Virginia, USA. Built by three Zimbabwean scientists with assistance from the Japanese Kyushu Institute of Technology, the satellite will provide the country with valuable data relating to its mineral reserves, detection of natural disasters and weather monitoring. Simultaneously, Uganda’s PearlAfricaSat-1, built by Ugandan and Japanese engineers, was designed and launched with similar intent, and is poised to provide research data to deliver solutions in weather forecasting, land observations, water body levels, mineral mapping and agriculture monitoring, among others. The developments fall under the Kyushu Institute of Technology’s BIRDS-5 project, intended to create an indigenous space programme by designing, testing, launching and operating the first satellites for participating countries.

The southern African country’s mining sector is undergoing adjustment as the government implemented a new mineral royalty policy in early October. President Emmerson Mnangagwa revealed that mining operators in the country will have to pay half of their royalties in refined metals, targeting four key groups namely gold, diamonds, lithium and platinum. Over the years, Zimbabwe has struggled to capitalise on its significant mineral reserves due to policy uncertainty. The present policy update will allow Zimbabwe to benefit from what were meant to be international exports and build a reserve of mined minerals at home. In November, the government further announced that mineral royalties to the Zimbabwean Revenue Authority will be paid ‘on the basis of 50% in kind’, whereas the cash component of the royalties will be made up of 40% Zimbabwean dollars and 10% in foreign currency – current royalty rates range between 5% for gold and platinum group metals and 10% for diamonds.

Dr Blade Nzimande, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation. The minister has indicated that science, technology and innovation have a crucial role to play in the country’s economic development and stressed that the national system of innovation has laid a solid foundation for the future. Image courtesy: GovernmentZA/Flickr

Science and technology regulations in South Africa came into the spotlight in Q4 as the government set out to modernise its operations. In early December, it was announced that the Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Decadal Plan 2022-2031 had been approved by Cabinet. The plan is intended to develop the government’s approach to innovation, and places greater emphasis on STI deployment as well as the use of innovation in creating capable state service delivery improvement. The plan further aims to increase the responsiveness of the national system of innovation and its contribution to tackling socio-economic imperatives. It prioritises the modernisation of agriculture, manufacturing and mining; exploitation of new sources of growth (digital/circular economy); research and innovation programmes in health and energy; and utilising STI in addressing challenges such as climate change, environmental sustainability and the future of education and skills development.

Africa’s green energy drive continued on its path of growth in November, as Egypt and the United Arab Emirates joined forces to develop an onshore 10 GW wind power mega-project. The project forms part of the north African country’s ‘green corridor initiative’ – a grid dedicated to renewable energy projects – and will contribute to the country’s goal of ensuring green energy makes up 42% of its energy mix by 2035. Upon completion, the wind farm will produce 47.79 GW/h of clean energy annually and offset 23.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions – equivalent to around 9% of Egypt’s current carbon emissions. Concurrently, it will save the country an estimated US$5 billion in annual natural gas costs and assist with the creation of 100 000 jobs. This development follows several announcements this quarter against the backdrop of COP27 as global powers seek to fulfil the continent’s substantial green energy potential.

‘Value-addition’ proved the key theme in the continent’s cocoa industry over the past quarter, beginning with Côte d’Ivoire who began the groundwork on its first cocoa processing plant at a cost of US$115 million in late October. In parallel, Ghana signed a US$1.1 billion pre-export receivable backed trade finance facility to support cocoa purchases. In November, both countries additionally made progress in making international buyers pay cocoa premiums, designed to guarantee sustainable farmer income. In efforts to strengthen regional integration, Cameroon and Nigeria requested to join the Côte d’Ivoire-Ghana Cocoa Initiative – a collaborative body spearheading the countries’ interests in global trade. International roleplayers are also becoming more involved in the sustainable development of the industry, with Mondelez International launching the next phase of the region’s Cocoa Life programme, designed to tackle child labour and deforestation challenges. The European Union committed US$450 million to similar issues in Côte d’Ivoire.

Data courtesy: African Business Insider, World Finance, ICCO, WEF; 2020-2022

Innovative construction continues in Africa through hybrid timber and micro-apartments

Africa has continued to revolutionise its construction sector through recent innovative building projects. The Burj Zanzibar, located in Tanzania, is set to be built using hybrid timber technology and will be the highest green building in the world at 96 metres. Simultaneously in Cape Town, the Flamingo, a new Miami-style modern micro-apartment block, is near completion and will be bringing the US city’s popular beach façade to the Sea Point skyline.

Safaricom becomes first private telco operator in Ethiopia

East Africa’s leading telco has launched its network in Ethiopia, becoming the first private network operator in the country. After successful pilots in 10 cities, the telco is planning a national network rollout to reach 14 additional cities by April 2023. Following on from this announcement, the Ethiopian government has granted permission to M-Pesa, a mobile money service launched by Safaricom, to operate in the country as well.

Zimbabwe becomes first African country to approve injectable HIV prevention drug

The southern African country’s healthcare sector has been bolstered with the approval of a long-acting injectable HIV prevention drug – a first on the continent. CAB-LA may be offered to people who are at substantial risk of contracting HIV as part of comprehensive HIV prevention approaches. The World Health Organization has thrown in its support and advised countries to take up the initiative – South Africa approved the jab in early December as well.

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