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Africa’s Top 10 Stories  |  June 2023

Despite ongoing power challenges, South Africa has continued to attract major investment. President Cyril Ramaphosa revealed that the US$62 billion (R1.2 trillion) five-year target set in 2018 – which covers a diverse range of sectors from telecoms and mining to manufacturing and social infrastructure – had been exceeded. Most notably, the energy sector attracted 11 investment commitments, with green hydrogen being the biggest pledge at the conference at US$5.4 billion (R105 billion). Other notable investments include US$3.1 billion (R60 billion) by Vodacom, US$301 million (R5.8 billion) by South African Breweries and US$233 million (R4.5 billion) by Cassava Technologies. The investment pledges are poised to deepen economic collaboration and will be used as a springboard towards a recovered inclusive, new economy. A new target of US$103 billion (R2 trillion) has been set for the next five years.

Source: SA Investment Conference, 2023

Artificial intelligence (AI) continued its upwards trajectory in use over the last quarter, as South African companies adopted technologies to enhance operations. In early April, Discovery’s financial services partnered with Osidon, an online digital accounting firm, to launch a tax advisory solution that leverages bespoke AI software, data analytics and cloud technology. Additionally, in early May, Guidepost, a health tech company, began rolling out an AI-powered chatbot that assists patients with diabetes to manage their illness effectively, by providing information specific to each patient, including individual coaching by 100 trained professional nurses. Also in May, Tata Consultancy Services prepared to introduce generative AI solutions in South Africa as a way to expand their IT and consulting solutions and boost their presence in the market. In parallel to these private sector developments, the South African AI Industry Association launched in June with a focus on promoting the advancement of responsible AI in the country.

A young child receives a malaria test in Ghana. In April, Ghana and Nigeria became the first African countries to approve Oxford’s ground-breaking malaria vaccine – another step in eradicating the disease. Source: Scott Gunn/Flickr

The fight against malaria in Africa received a welcome boost over Q2 as some states approved the Oxford malaria vaccine. In early April, Ghana became the first country on the continent to approve the vaccine, with Nigeria following suit shortly thereafter. The R21 Oxford malaria vaccine, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, is recommended for children between five and 36 months and is currently in trial phases across the continent with some positive initial results. In late April, the manufacturer revealed that there will be 20 million doses available to purchase and distribute in Africa this year, as 10 more countries are set to approve the vaccine. As African states do not have extensive resources for drug regulation, there is currently a lack of public access to information regarding the vaccine’s outcome in large-scale trials. The development nonetheless serves as a major step forward in combating the widespread impact of the disease.

Africa’s green hydrogen drive continued its forward motion over the last quarter as developments were amassed in North and Southern Africa. Namibia has sought to position itself as a green energy hub as Hyphen Hydrogen Energy inked a deal with the government for the next phase of a US$10 billion project, producing 2 million tonnes of green ammonia for export. Simultaneously, AW-Energy, a Finnish near-shore wave energy technology company, signed a MoU with Kaoko Green Energy Solutions to produce green hydrogen from wave energy. Further north, Morocco partnered with Energy China International Construction Group for the development of a green hydrogen project aimed at decarbonising the country’s fertiliser industry. The market is additionally positioning itself to become Europe’s main supplier of green hydrogen, with a feasibility study by CWP Global for shipping between the two continents ongoing. Additionally, Neo Motors, a local car company, launched the NamX, a prototype hydrogen vehicle.

Africa’s crypto and digital currency adoption continues to grow from strength to strength as some markets implemented new policies over Q2. In mid-May, Nigeria’s Federal Executive Council approved the National Blockchain Policy, which is set to assist in creating the country’s blockchain-powered economy, supporting secure transactions, data-sharing and value exchange between people, businesses and government. In addition, the technology is anticipated to boost innovation, improve public services, create opportunities and drive economic growth in Nigeria. Concurrently, Kenya’s draft Finance Bill 2023 is in the process of rollout, with Bitcoin and Non-Fungible Tokens now defined as digital assets – the first step from the government to tax cryptocurrency. A 3% levy is set to be introduced on transfer charges, applied during the exchange of digital assets. In parallel, in late May, the Central Bank of Zimbabwe sought to introduce a digital token backed by gold as legal tender – aiming to stabilise its currency.

Sources: IMF,; 2021-2023

Minister of Department of Trade, Industry and Competition Ebrahim Patel. The minister announced that South Africa’s much anticipated electric vehicle policy will be finalised by March 2024. Source: GovernmentZA/Flickr

South African Electric Vehicle (EV) adoption and production continued to grow during the last quarter. BMW announced that it plans to manufacture electric cars in South Africa, with ongoing discussions around policy for EV production currently in place. The German manufacturer reiterated that a policy decision is required before a business case for EV manufacturing in South Africa can be made to its headquarters. Notably, shortly thereafter Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ebrahim Patel, announced that South Africa’s EV policy will be finalised by March 2024, boosting manufacturing and adoption. In parallel, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia, in partnership with the African Export-Import Bank and the UN, signed an agreement for the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) for the production of EVs and associated services, enabling both countries to exploit their mineral resources downstream in the value chain.

Alternative currencies are the talking points of the quarter as a common currency is set to become a major point on the agenda during the upcoming BRICS summit. BRICS founding members, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, are seeking to capitalise on the unstable world order through the expansion of the organisation as well as the prospect of a common currency – initial discussions will take place in the leadup to the summit in August. The main goals of BRICS members are to establish the grouping as a serious economic and political force, a counterweight to the US and European Union – which is apparent in the lack of condemnation of Russia’s involvement in Ukraine – and a transformative organisation that will benefit the Global South. South African Reserve Bank governor, Lesetja Kganyago, cautioned that the creation of a shared currency would need to be accompanied by the creation of a single central bank.

Olugbenga Agboola, CEO of Flutterwave. The Nigerian fintech continues to expand across Africa, with East Africa being its next destination. Image courtesy: Opelogbon/WikiCommons

East Africa’s digital payment landscape continued to expand as Flutterwave, a leading Nigerian fintech that provides payment infrastructure for global merchants and payment service providers across the continent, entered two markets in the region. In mid-April, the company announced it will tentatively establish its primary operations in Nairobi, Kenya, however, it is still awaiting a payments licence. Flutterwave and Kenya have had a chequered past as the company had previously been accused of money laundering in the country. Concurrently, the Nigerian fintech revealed that it is now a fully licenced remittance company in Rwanda and has received its electronic money issuer. The company’s goal is to use its expansion into Rwanda as a springboard to grow further in the region, given its strong digitisation efforts in the financial services sector, thus connecting Africa through payments and providing tools and innovations to boost local economies and financial inclusion.

Chinese electric vehicle (EV) investment in South Africa has continued to expand as automotive companies introduce new models. GWM, Build Your Dreams and Chery are all set to launch new EVs to the market as a way to provide customers with affordable alternatives. GWM’s battery-electric Ora is set to be the most affordable, with a starting price of US$38 600 compared to the Mini Cooper SE at US$40 000, while Build Your Dreams will launch its compact electric crossover, the BYD Atto 3. The latter is China’s largest EV maker by sales and closing in on Tesla for the global top spot, with expansion in South Africa as another step towards achieving this goal. Chery’s Omodo and Jaecoo EVs will also be available in the market during 2023. On a similar note, China-based battery maker, Gotion High Tech, is set to launch an EV battery plant worth US$6.3 billion in Morocco.

Tanzania’s seed industry received a welcome boost in April, as new developments look to protect the industry. The East African country revealed that it will be setting up a new genetic reference library to assist as an information centre for all genetic materials in the local seed industry. The Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI) will be responsible for the library. Simultaneously, TOSCI in cooperation with seed industry stakeholders has developed a seed certification standard for seeds, seedlings and cutting of tree, fruit and sugarcane crops. As a result, the genetic reference library and the seed certification standards will tackle counterfeit seeds, protecting the local market and boosting quality and crop production. In addition, these developments will improve the lack of awareness among farmers and stakeholders in the industry.

Source: Geneva Academy, 2022

Kenya and Tanzania join African space race to boost observation research

Kenya and Tanzania have successfully joined Africa’s space race, as satellites were launched during Q2 in partnership with SpaceX. Taifa-1, a Kenyan-owned observation satellite, will gather information on agriculture and the environment. Concurrently, Tanzania announced plans to build and launch its own satellite to strengthen observation research, communication and agriculture. The countries will be joining 11 others in Africa with satellite capabilities, led by Egypt with nine satellites.


SpaceX approved for operation in Nigeria and Mozambique

In June, American spacecraft manufacturer, launcher and satellite communications company SpaceX, led by Elon Musk, was approved for operation in Nigeria and Mozambique. SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet services are set to boost bandwidth and connectivity in both countries while increasing digital inclusion. Starlink is set to expand further on the continent with 19 countries poised to accept the internet service during 2023.


McKinsey launches QuantumBlack AI across Africa to innovate operations

In June, McKinsey and Company, a leading management consulting firm, announced the expansion of QuantumBlack in Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa. QuantumBlack uses AI and technology with strategic thinking to help clients unlock growth through enhanced efficiency, poised to benefit mining, agriculture and energy sectors across Africa. QuantumBlack has a team of over 1 300 practitioners, specialising in data science, data engineering, design, and industry expertise.

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