Welcome to this week’s episode of The Brief where we bring you news from across Nigeria and Africa!
Quote of the week:
"A practical definition of opportunity cost:
If you spend too much time working on good things, then you don’t have much time left to work on great things.
Understanding opportunity cost means eliminating good uses of time. And that's what makes it hard."
"We had to decide what fundamental direction we were going in, and what makes sense and what doesn’t, and there were a bunch of things that didn’t…You think about focusing, focusing is about saying “No. You’ve got to say “No”, “No”, “No”, “No”, “No”, and when you say “No” you piss off people…"
- Steve Jobs
Africa’s biggest multilateral lender is facing a major distraction just when the continent needs it most.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is demanding that the board of the African Development Bank (AfDB), organize an independent probe into allegations that Dr Akinwumi Adesina, the President of the bank and former Nigerian Minister of Agriculture, gave contracts and jobs to friends and relatives. This comes after the ethics committee on 5 May announced their investigation results, rejecting the whistleblowers’ accusations, which were judged to be “unfounded” and “unsubstantiated”.
Dr Adesina is running unopposed for re-election at an annual meeting in August. He has repeatedly denied the claims and described them as an attempt to discredit his bid for a second five-year term.
President Buhari has kicked off the next phase of a deal with Siemens AG to upgrade the nation’s dilapidated power infrastructure.
The Nigerian government and Siemens previously signed an agreement last July to rehabilitate and then expand the country’s electricity grid. Currently, only about 60% of residents have access to power and even those who do are plagued by regular blackouts.
Nigeria has more than 13,000MW of installed electricity generation capacity but only 7,500MW is available and less than 4,000MW is dispatched to the grid each day. This means that the nation does not currently have the capacity to distribute the electricity it generates wasting resources.
The partnership with Siemens will modernise the existing network before enlarging it until the country can produce and distribute 25,000MW. The project will be financed by concessionary loans covered by Euler Hermes Group SAS, a large provider of credit insurance.
Rwanda's government is gradually easing lockdown restrictions and international flights are set to resume in July. To reduce risks of transmission via currency notes, the government is enforcing cashless payments and the use of meters for taxi operators in the country's capital, Kigali.
In normal times, South Africans can get sloshed on pineapple beer at the Big Pineapple, a 56-foot fiberglass construction in subtropical Bathurst. But under lockdown, selling alcohol in the country is illegal. Luckily, pineapple beer—which is technically more of a wine or cider—is easy to make, and can even be quite pleasant to drink. Check it out here.
South Africa is seeking investments from multilateral lenders, commercial banks and pension funds for what a senior ruling party official said will be a $20.5 billion infrastructure program. The plan will focus on industries such as rail and ports, energy, broadband connectivity, water, sanitation and human settlements. Exciting stuff.
Ethiopia is currently in discussions to postpone what was to be its first democratic election in 15 years. However, Ethiopia's decision to postpone its August 2020 elections indefinitely has raised political temperatures in the country, as both the government and opposition parties accuse each other of attempting a power grab. Read more here.
The Rwandan government has begun enforcing cashless payments (through mobile money providers such as Airtel and MTN) and meters to calculate fares for all taxis and motorcyclists in the country’s capital, Kigali. This is an attempt to reduce risks of COVID-19 transmission through exchanging currency notes as the government has begun easing lockdown restrictions. It’s much better to embrace technology than to shy away.
This has been a good week for health-focused startups in Africa. Kenyan startup, Access Afya secured a $900,000 investment from MIT Solve through its new venture vehicle, Solve Innovation Future. The startup has developed a modern, digitised healthcare system in the poorer parts of Kenya and also operates clinics and pharmacies. Meanwhile, Ghanaian startup, mPharma raised $17 million in its latest funding round. They focus on streamlining delivery for prescription drugs, making them more affordable and, last year, they acquired Kenya’s second largest pharmacy, Haltons. This comes after 54Gene raised $15 million and Helium Health raised $10 million. The African health startup scene is becoming very interesting - watch this space!
(our segment where we highlight the most outrageous story we have come across while scraping the web for news articles for you). We have taken to using what we call the Ehn scale. The longer the Ehn the more incredulous.
Nothing this week folks. The state of affairs the world is currently experiencing is a joke in itself. Reality has taken the job of satire.