Changing the Way Millions of Women in Sub-Saharan Africa Do Banking
World leaders are to pledge to shape the technological revolution sweeping through Africa by acting to lift the threat of 400 million predominantly rural women being excluded from digital financial services. G7 finance ministers meeting in France aims to endorse a paper from the Gates Foundation saying there is a serious risk that digital technology and mobile banking will bypass millions of women in Africa, leaving them disempowered for a generation. The initiative, requiring $255m in initial funding and regulatory action across Africa, is designed to prevent “the inequalities of the past being insinuated into the future” as cultural and market barriers lead to women being excluded from mobile banking, e-commerce and smartphone technology.
Africa's technology ecosystems have experienced "incredible growth" as they have rapidly expanded in recent years, with 618 active tech hubs providing "the backbone of Africa’s tech ecosystem," according to the GSMA. This is a 40% leap over the 442 hubs counted last year, while this ecosystem was "mainly boosted by a torrent of venture funds, development finance, corporate involvement, as well as ever-growing, innovative communities," it said. An active tech hub is defined as "an organisation currently active with a physical local address, offering facilities and support for tech and digital entrepreneurs" in research conducted by Briter Bridges and the GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator programme, which identified an "innovation quadrangle" encompassed by Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt and Kenya. Nigeria and South Africa are still the most advanced ecosystems, the report found, with 85 and 80 active tech hubs respectively. Lagos is now the top innovative city by number of hubs (40+), while the Western Cape, Gauteng and Durban are the core of South Africa’s tech hubs scene.
There are almost 300 trade treaty agreements worldwide according to data from The World Bank but none are as big as the one set in motion by the African Union. The African Union has established the operational phase of an African free trade agreement on July 7 2019. 54 countries have agreed to adopt a free trade area covering the continent. Inter-country trade is exceptionally low in Africa compared with Asia and Europe, but the agreement could create $3.2-trillion in trade within the continent. After months of reluctance over competition concerns, Nigeria's support gives weight to a 55-nation bloc worth $3.4 trillion. Intra-African trade makes up only 17% of exports, which are hampered by poor infrastructure, taxes, bureaucracy and corruption. The trade pact aims to boost cross-border trade by reducing or eliminating duties and red tape. To help lower costs, the AU launched a pan-African payment system at the summit in Niger's capital. African exporters want the free trade area to quickly enter into force to eliminate barriers and create free movement between states. Despite the African free trade area's launch, much work remains before the agreement becomes effective. While all of the African Union's 55 members except Eritrea have signed on to the free trade area, only half have ratified the deal. And even after costs are reduced, Africa's exporters still will have to contend with non-tariff barriers that will take much longer to fix — such as corruption and poor transport links between nations.
Painting Africa with the same economic brush is always a mistake; the Africa Rising narrative has cooled down since growth lost momentum in some countries and investors have become more strategic with chasing investment deals. Egypt remains the most appealing for investors, according to RMB’s Where to Invest in Africa. The Arab country has stabilised its economy since the revolution and coup a few years ago. South Africa continues to be strategic for investors coming into the continent. Nigeria made a comeback into the top 10 this year helped by recovering oil prices and improved access to foreign currency. Morocco is positioning itself as the new gateway to African markets, whilst Ethiopia has one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Kenya still leads investments in East Africa and is joined by Rwanda and Tanzania for their stable poltical environments. Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire close off the list with opportunities in the cocoa and agricultural industries.
YouTube is Helping African Music Acts Go Global, Here's How
While many dream of using YouTube as their launching pad to stardom, discovery doesn't come easy. Thanks to a new partnership between YouTube and Mr. Eazi's emPawa Foundation, however, emerging talents from Africa are getting a leg up and the chance to develop a global audience. The idea for emPawa was motivated by the need to give back to Africa's music industry says Mr Eazi. In 2018, he called for online demo music submissions from artists across Africa using the hashtag #empawa100.
Beyonce Enlists African Artists and Producers for 'The Lion King: The Gift' Album
In connection with the release of Disney's much-anticipated 'Lion King' film, Beyonce has curated an album heavily influenced by the sounds of Africa and including numerous African artists. Spirit, is part of The Lion King: The Gift album produced by the American star, and will be used as a soundtrack to Disney’s new version of the classic movie Lion King. The song’s intro features words in Kiswahili, that are saluting the king. The album which is set to be released on July 19, the date of the global release of the film, will feature the work of several African producers, according to Beyonce. ‘‘It was important that the music was not only performed by the most interesting and talented artists but also produced by the best African producers. Authenticity and heart were important to me. This love letter to Africa highlights the setting of the film, rooted in African culture and wondrous narratives, steeped in African influences from various corners of the continent, with unexpected collaborations, pulsating rhythms and crisp production that celebrate the African diaspora."
Lakin Ogunbanwo's Series Captures Nigerian Weddings
Ogunbanwo, who is from Lagos, says through this series, which means "come look at me," the photographer reflects on the nuance of identity -- that of the brides and his home country. The exhibit was recently on view at the Whatiftheworld gallery in Cape Town. Weddings in Nigeria have swelled into a thriving industry, with massive guest lists and color-coordinated wedding parties. A wedding is "very loud, very grand, and it's a huge celebration," where families and communities come together, Ogunbanwo said. Often there are two ceremonies, one with more traditional attire and ceremonies, and another more akin to Western nuptials. Ogunbanwo points out that all of the ceremonial pomp reinforces an expectation of femininity, one that supersedes the brides' individuality. And while the women in Ogunbanwo's portraits are feminine, they are also self-possessed, idiosyncratic, and queenly. The photographer looked to Renaissance-era paintings of royal women for inspiration in mood, gesture, and lighting.
Wizkid is the First African to Reach 8 Million Monthly Listeners on Spotify
African artists continue to smash records with their music this year.
Although Wizkid is still to release an official single for this year, he's been on a great run in terms of some dope collaborations. Beside working on the Lion King: The Gift album with Beyoncé and their subsequent epic collaboration on "Brown Skin Girl", arguably one of this year's biggest anthems, the talented Nigerian artist has also hopped onto a number of tracks alongside GoldLink, Kojo Funds and Skepta. After having been nominated for the 2019 Afrikan Muzik Magazine Awards (AFRIMMA) and performed at the inaugural Afro Nation Festival in Portugal earlier this month, it comes as no surprise that he's recently made history on Spotify as the first African artist to reach 8 million monthly listeners on the streaming platform.