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Hi, Q-MHI Africa readers!


If you only watch one video this week make sure it’s the Quartz News episode on the rise of Afrobeats. Our reporter, Yomi Kazeem, explains how the sound from the streets of Lagos, Accra and beyond has spread to the US Billboard charts and London clubs and festivals to become a cultural phenomenon around the world.  If you’re interested in checking out more Afrobeats music, check out the playlist we made on Soundcloud.

Too often when we discuss pop culture moments there’s a tendency to focus on what makes it cool, the eye-catching fashion, the new dance steps, the different sound or unusual visuals. But many times a moment can have a far more prosaic driver, aside from the usual requirements of great timing and exceptional talent.

The global reach of Afrobeats has had a lot to do with the power of social media platforms like YouTube and Twitter and the innovative ways the small independent labels and artists in the early days of developing the sound jumped on these distribution platforms to share their music. This built an audience not just at home but with a growing diaspora market of first and second generation young Africans in cities like London and Atlanta.

Early on, it meant Nigerian and Ghanaian artists, with next to no promotion or marketing, had built international audiences from kids watching their videos endlessly on Vevo in the suburbs of Maryland, US or Manchester, England. Since then digital music has rapidly monetized, especially over the last five years, so those once-small labels have also been benefiting from Spotify’s rise and Apple Music—even if these services aren’t formally launched for consumers in the artists’ home markets yet.

It’s also been fascinating to see the arrival of the establishment music business keen to tap into the energy of a fast-growing pop scene. Major music companies might not be everyone’s favorites but even in a business that’s been turned on its head over the last two decades, they still wield a huge amount of power and can help develop a formal industry where more local stakeholders from songwriters to promoters to collection societies getting paid and building a lasting ecosystem.

You could argue the global rise of Afrobeats backs up the thesis behind the quote: “Content is king, but distribution is queen and she wears the pants.”

— Yinka Adegoke, Q-MHI Africa editor


An Ethiopian shoe brand is going global and shows sustainable manufacturing works in Africa.

Entrepreneur and 2015 Q-MHI Africa innovator Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu has been building a manufacturer at home in Ethiopia that aims to benefit the local economy, without exploiting local workers or the environment but selling globally. To that end it’s opened its 22nd store in Hamburg’s trendy St Pauli district. But her ambitions are much bigger she tells Lynsey Chutel.

Cameroon armed forces and separatists have the Anglophone regions on lockdown.

Both Cameroon’s armed forces and militant “Ambazonia” separatists have the Anglophone regions of the central African country on lockdown as the country’s election fast approaches (see below). Reporting from Buea, in the southwest, Amindeh Blase Atabong found streets deserted as people have been fleeing to neighboring French-speaking towns.

How to stop Africa’s young scientists from leaving the continent.

Research shows nearly one in three African scientists leave the continent every year. Most young African scientists leave for higher pay, better opportunities, and a conducive research environment and a new project is trying to better identify the challenges and how to address them.

A number of factors contribute to this trend. The extreme factors include war and political instability. But the more common “pushes” are a desire for higher pay, better opportunities, and the search for a conducive research environment – one where infrastructure and management help drive careers and research potential.

The Global State of Young Scientists Africa project, uses an online survey (which is currently open to respondents) and in-depth interviews to gather as much detail as possible. It looks at young scientists’ motivations, career ambitions and the barriers they experience in fulfilling their career aspirations.

It targets researchers and scholars who have earned a Masters or PhD within the last 10 years, irrespective of their current employment status and sector. It’s also open to current PhD students in Africa and African scientists and scholars currently living in the diaspora.

This is the third survey done under the Global State of Young Scientists umbrella. The first was a global study of young scientists from 14 countries across five continents. The second was a regional study which focused on four Southeast Asian countries.

Anecdotes from fellows of the Africa Science Leadership Program

A major challenge identified from those two studies was the desire for training in leadership skills. As these young scientists began to grow their own research groups they needed the tools to deal with the challenges of integrating research, teaching, and fundraising. In response, Global Young Academy members developed and implemented science leadership programmes in Africa and Asia, in collaboration with creative facilitators KnowInnovation and Future Africa.

Obtaining these new skills created an incentive for the young scientists to pursue their career in academia. The fellows found, for instance, the science leadership programmes to be one to the most significant workshops of their careers.

If Facebook wants to beat “fake news” in Africa it needs to focus on WhatsApp.

Facebook says it’s partnering with French news agency AFP and fact-checking group Africa Check to combat false stories on its news feeds in Kenya, with plans to go wider in Africa. But as Abdi Latif Dahir notes, tackling fake news on Facebook is the easy option when the real challenge is misinformation shared through Africa’s most popular app: WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook.

This is especially true of Kenya, where WhatsApp was used as a conduit to drive the fake news cycle during a highly-contested election last year. Authorities noted 21 hate-mongering WhatsApp groups. At the time, the tech giant was forced to place adverts in local newspapers and radio stations and roll out an education toolproviding tips on spotting false stories. Facebook told Quartz there are no plans to tackle viral misinformation on WhatsApp in Africa yet.

WhatsApp has been key to driving internet uptake in Africa. For example, in Zimbabwe the app was responsible for about half of all internet data last year. Both Facebook and WhatsApp’s over-the-top services are often blamed by local mobile network operators for a decline in mobile revenue growth.

And the influence of WhatsApp on spreading misinformation is not just an Africa problem, it has also been criticized for its role in crisis situations in Asia as well. It’s been described as a “primary carrier of fake news and divisive rumors in India, where its users’ messages have been described as a “mix of off-color jokes, doctored TV [clips], wild rumors and other people’s opinions, mostly vile.”Facebook is also introducing the program in light of revelations that data mining firm Cambridge Analytica, which illegally harvested data from tens of millions of Facebook profiles, had worked to “stage” the Kenyan elections. Research has also shown that, more than any other African poll in the past two years, automated bots were used online in Kenya to spread misinformation and negative narratives about major issues and candidates.

The new partnership also comes as Facebook’s efforts to tackle misinformation faces major challenges with false websites and stories still appearing in the list of its most-engaged-with content. And even though Facebook and news organizations want to improve the quality of online media, some of its own external partners have shown skepticism about the impact and efficiency of these collaborations. Fact-checkers have also been attacked online after partnering with the social media giant.

Despite this, Africa Check says the collaboration will make its work “more effective.” The non-partisan group has a presence in four African countries, disseminates its content in English and French, and operates in the south, west, and eastern regions of the continent. Combating false narratives with Facebook will help them in “sorting fact from fiction, amplifying good quality information and keeping the public debate honest,” Kenya editor Alphonce Shiundu told .

Twice as many African presidents attended China’s Africa forum than the UN General Assembly.

A Quartz analysis shows that many more African presidents and premiers traveled to Beijing for the FOCAC China-Africa summit than to New York in September to attend for UN General Assembly. The reasons for this discrepancy are plenty but mainly point to the shifting dynamics and priorities of African governments.

The truancy could, however, be practical says Hannah Ryder, the CEO of Beijing-based consultancy firm Development Reimagined (DR). While the general debate takes place every year, the China-Africa forum happens every three, meaning “there is going to be some priority given to something that happens less often.” UNGA also provides African country representatives an opportunity to catch up, network and discuss pressing matters, something, Ryder notes, leaders might have already done in Beijing.

It also illustrates the limitations facing the UN, whose lofty declarations and bold rhetoric has faced growing criticism in recent years. The 193-member state body has also struggled to make its work more substantive globally, as the threats to multilateralism grow and it stares down funding cuts from the United States under the Trump administration, one of its major contributors.

The truancy could, however, be practical says Hannah Ryder, the CEO of Beijing-based consultancy firm Development Reimagined (DR). While the general debate takes place every year, the China-Africa forum happens every three, meaning “there is going to be some priority given to something that happens less often.” UNGA also provides African country representatives an opportunity to catch up, network and discuss pressing matters, something, Ryder notes, leaders might have already done in Beijing.

African heads of states and governments might have chosen to stay back given the tense protests and domestic pressures they face at home too. This could be true of Cameroon, Togo, South Sudan, Uganda besides Ethiopia, where premier Abiy chaired a major ruling party meeting this week following deadly ethnic violence in recent months.

The variance in attendance also shows how the relationship with China is absolutely crucial to African leaders—a point Ghanaian president Nana Akufo-Addo emphasized in his speech at the UN. Research from Development Reimagined has indicated that few other continental or country-specific bilateral summits have managed to attract as many African heads of states or pledges as FOCAC. And Chinese leaders reciprocate this goodwill, visiting the continent more often than their European or American counterparts, and announcing pledges to the tune of $60 billion in the next three years.

African countries are also prioritizing their engagements with each other by signing free trade agreements, discussing how to finance their own security, and working to reduce external mediation and interference in regional security affairs.

Zimbabwe is broke, but mobile money is booming so the government is hiking taxes on mobile payments.

Zimbabwe’s recently appointed finance minister Mthuli Ncube has been trying to figure out how to plug the troubled economy’s many fiscal holes after years of stagnation. His plan, reports Tawanda Karombo in Harare, is to significantly hike the tax on mobile money transactions, one of the few parts of the economy that has been working through a difficult few years.

In a country with a history of cash shortages, multiple currencies and hyperinflation, mobile money had become a key payment alternative. Cash is hardly ever accessible in Zimbabwe as banks frequently run out of monetary notes, leaving mobile money and bank cards as the only transaction options.But it now appears mobile money, dominated by leading mobile operator EcoNet’s EcoCash with a 96% market share, could be made a victim of its own success.

The recently appointed finance minister, Mthuli Ncube, said the tax on mobile wallet and electronic transactions will increase from a flat five cents per transaction to two cents per each dollar transacted. This would be a reduction if all you ever transacted was one dollar but a significant increase beyond that.

Zimbabwe hopes the restructuring of the taxes will raise additional funds for the government which is battling fiscal deficits. Ncube has explained that such measures, although hard to bear, will enable the government to mobilize funds for treasury.

Mobile money has been one of the few significant successes in Zimbabwe’s troubled economy over the last decade. The introduction of bank to wallet transfers has spurred mobile money usage, according to the telecoms regulator. It said the total number of active mobile money subscriptions increased by 12.6% to reach 5.6 million at the end of the second quarter.

The government stands to rake in the earnings, especially as the mobile money merchant, airtime and bill payments values increased by 45.3% in the second quarter 2018 to $1.1 billion (pdf) compared to the first quarter period.

The number of mobile money transactions had also risen by 38% to about 404 million. This effectively means that the government of Zimbabwe previously earned about 5 cents from a transaction of about $100 but now earns around $2 for transactions worth the same amount. There has been dismay over this, with Zimbabweans taking to social media to condemn and register frustration over the tax hike. Econet Wireless, which runs the dominant mobile wallet, EcoCash, has initiated the unbundling of the platform with a view to separately list it on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange. Analysts at IH Securities said this week that the fintech divisions of Econet – including mobile insurance – have become valuable assets worth separating from the mobile telephony services. “We believe that the fintech division is an attractive stand-alone asset and as at FY18 revenue in this SBU was $244 million. As the cash constraints persist, EcoCash remains well positioned to maintain its strong growth trajectory,” IH Securities said in a market note.


The world’s biggest hotel chains are in a billion-dollar race to win Africa’s hospitality market.

Africa’s growing economies and rapidly developing urban centers are proving a big draw for global hotel chains. With the continent’s hospitality space regarded as “under capacity,” several hotel corporations are devoting huge resources to driving expansion across Africa.

AccorHotels, the largest hotel operator in Africa with brands like Sofitel, Novotel and Ibis, set the pace back in July with an ambitious partnership with Qatar-based Katara Hospitality for a $1 billion fundto drive expansion in sub-Saharan Africa’s hotel market. AccorHotels currently operates over 100 hotels on the continent.

Marriott, the chain which currently operates brands in 21 African countries, is doubling down on the continent as well with plans to increase its hotels in Africa by 50% by 2023. As well as expanding in several markets where it already operates, Marriott is opening in new markets including Benin, Botswana, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Mozambique and Senegal. Marriott’s expansion will boost its Africa presence to 38,000 rooms across 200 hotels.
It’s a total that’s currently much higher than the 41 hotels operating under brands owned by Hilton. But with 53 hotels currently planned, the US-headquartered chain is also looking to double its Africa footprint over the next five years. Much of its plans come under its Hilton Africa Growth Initiative, a $50 million expansion drive to open 100 new hotels with 20,000 rooms across the continent mainly by converting existing hotels to Hilton brands. Hilton is also looking to have a footprint in new African countries with debut hotels planned in up to 13 African countries.
Hyatt, a less dominant player in the continent’s hotel space, is also stepping up development plans with nine new hotels expected to open by 2020. Eyeing a much quicker development pace, Radission Hospitality plans to open 10 new hotels across Africa over the next nine months.


Infanticide is a significant problem in Senegal.

The second most common reason women are imprisoned in Senegal is for infanticide. One reason is very strict abortion laws, say local lawyers and activists. Abortion is illegal in Senegal except when the health of the mother is in danger and requires the consent of two doctors and a prosecutor. For NPR, Allyn Gaestel and Ricci Shryock met women in the West African country who have been jailed for infanticide.

“For the media [in Senegal], these women are monsters,” said Amy Sakho, a lawyer with the Association of Senegalese Women Lawyers, a women’s rights organization that advocates for and represents women facing myriad legal issues, including infanticide. “I often tell [journalists] to try to see what could be behind this, to try to understand how she could have come to this after carrying her baby for nine months.”

Some experts believe that the strict abortion laws in Senegal are a contributing factor. “The link we must make is between an unwanted pregnancy and infanticide. Those who commit infanticide could not access a safe abortion,” said Dr. Seynabou Ba, a technical adviser at the Ministry of Health. Abortions are illegal in Senegal except when the health of the mother is in danger — and even then only with the consent of two doctors and a prosecutor. That kind of consent is nearly impossible to obtain. A task force of women lawyers, activists and lawmakers are working to change the law to allow abortions in the case of rape, incest and health of the mother, but the proposed bill is still at the ministerial level, and so far there is no date set to vote on it in parliament.

Angola’s $500 million central bank heist.

Hasil gambar untuk the $500 million central bank heist—and how it was foiled

It all kicked off after a man walked into a London bank and asked the teller to transfer $2 million to a bank in Japan.

Hasil gambar untuk the $500 million central bank heist—and how it was foiled

Wall Street Journal‘s Margot Patrick, Gabriele Steinhauser and Patricia Kowsmann, investigated how $500 millionwent missing ($) from Angola’s central bank in the final weeks of former president José Eduardo dos Santos’s 38-year rule.

After asking the accountant some questions, she told him she couldn’t make the transfer. Then she filed a report to her superiors.

Nigeria’s golden age of creativity at home home and abroad.

Up against a long-standing preference for Western products, Nigerian designers are staking a claim for attention and local market share with culture-inspired, minimalist designs Ayodeji Rotinwa highlights in Vogue.

And even far beyond Nigeria’s shores, through entertainment, literature, fashion and arts, Nigerians are showcasing a golden age of creativity, writes Siddhartha Mitter in W Magazine.

China is buying African media’s silence.

“I wrote about Chinese oppression in a South African paper. Hours later, they cancelled my column,” writes Azad Essa, for Foreign Policy. Essa argues China’s expansion in Africa needs clear-eyed coverage, not the distortions of the Western media’s portrayal of Chinese neo-colonizers or Chinese media’s safe description of benevolent benefactors or partners.


Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship.

Hasil gambar untuk African Diaspora

African-born scholars living in the US or Canada and faculty of accredited tertiary institutions in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda can apply to carry out research or undertake curriculum co-development. (Dec. 9)



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