By Sofia Lotto Persio
Hi Quartz Africa readers,
An estimated 1.5 million people visited Birmingham, the UK’s second largest city by population, to cheer on the 72 nations and territories that participated in this year’s Commonwealth Games, which ended on Aug. 8. The 13 African nations that won at least one medal at the games did not stand on the podium as often as Australia, Britain, and Canada—the three countries that finished at the top of the ranking—but many of the continent’s athletes made history.
Finishing 7th on the medals table, Nigeria was Africa’s standout performer and had its best-ever outing at the games with 35 total medals—12 of them gold, all won by female athletes. In one of the highlights of the games, Nigerian women won the 4 x 100m event for the first time. Tobi Amusan, one of the runners in that race, built on her new status as the world’s fastest-ever female hurdler to add more stardust to a spectacular year.
South Africa (7), Kenya (6), Uganda (3), Cameroon (1), and Zambia (1) were Africa’s other gold medal nations at Birmingham. At 19 years of age, Zambia’s Muzala Samukonga was one of the youngest gold medalists at the games. Samukonga collapsed after crossing the men’s 400m finish line, requiring a wheelchair to leave the track. Still, he was an example of the excellence of African youth and the continent’s potential to include world-class athletes in global competitions. It won’t be long before we get another chance to celebrate him and Africa’s champions— the 2024 Summer olympics in Paris are less than two years away.
—Alexander Onukwue, west Africa correspondent
Stories this week
Fixing the economy must be a top priority for Kenya’s new president. Kenyans voted in an election marked by rising inflation, unemployment, corruption and a huge public debt. Faustine Ngila writes a job description for the new president.
Nigeria teased an Ecowas exit. The country’s lawmakers denounced a staff recruitment exercise that didn’t include Nigerians, leveraging the union’s dependence on Nigerian funding to demand a redress, Alexander Onukwue reports.
Jumia is delivering packages faster. Africa’s leading e-commerce company said it delivered 60% of its customers physical packages within the first 24 hours of order placement. Alexander Onukwue covers other highlights of the company’s second quarter report.
Africa got ready to cash in on soccer. Move over, European Champions League, it’s time for Africa’s clubs to take center stage and earn a cut of all that sponsorship money. Alexander Onukwue looks at the launch of Africa Super League.
Spotlight on a Quartz Africa 2021 Innovator
Héla Cheikhrouhou has spent the last 25 years trying to make energy more affordable in Africa: first at Citibank, then at various global financial institutions, and even as Tunisia’s minister of energy. But then she decided to launch her own company, Nithio.
The biggest reason clean energy startups on the continent struggle to raise money, she said, is that “it all comes down to the perception that there isn’t enough bankable demand” for solar power. Nithio’s goal is to change that perception.
The company uses proprietary AI software to assess households’ likely ability to pay for solar hardware, then uses that data to help solar companies access capital from banks and other investors. Since launching in 2018, Nithio has raised more than $30 million and disbursed loans to several off-grid energy companies in Nigeria and Kenya.
Check out Quartz Africa’s Innovators 2021 list, which showcases the pioneering work being done by Ibrahim and other female African innovators.
DataProphet, a South African AI software company, raised $10 million in a Series A round led by Knife Capital. Other investors in the round include the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa, and Norican. DataProphet launched in 2017 and has worked with clients in Japan, China, India, Europe, South Africa, the US, and South America.
QED Investors, a venture capital firm based in the US state of Virginia, made its first investment in Africa, participating in the estimated $50 million funding round of Nigerian digital payments company TeamApt. The firm appointed two Nigerians, Gbenga Ajayi and Chidinma Iwueke, to invest in the continent. Ajayi said the firm’s investment was driven by TeamApt’s large transaction volumes and “sophisticated” financial solutions for businesses.
The mouse in the high castle
Walt Disney’s third-quarter earnings had a liberal sprinkling of fairy dust. Theme parks continue to be heroes, but the Mouse may be squeezed along with consumers’ belts due to inflation and recession fears. After all, a week-long Disney vacation “baseline” price for a family of four is $5,731, according to MouseHacking.com.
Theatrically, Disney’s doing fine, with a huge global showing at the box office for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Thor: Love and Thunder. And, unlike with Netflix, streaming is not this earning report’s villain. This quarter, Disney+ reached 152.1 million subscribers—about 5 million more than forecasts guessed. A lower cost, ad-supported tier is expected to help the streaming service become profitable.
A strong slate of content will only help matters, including I Am Groot, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, and The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, all on Disney+, as well as the highly-anticipated Black Panther: Wakanda Forever in cinemas.
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Other things we liked
More than 800 prisoners broke out of jail in DRC. The AFP reports that two police officers were killed as unidentified gunmen staged a jailbreak at Kakwangura central prison in eastern DRC, freeing 823 inmates.
Zimbabwe will repatriate its citizens from South Africa. Thousands of Zimbabweans living in South Africa without valid visas or whose special permits are about to expire will be welcomed back to their home country, according to SABC.
The Africa Center in London is blooming again. Forbes Africa’s Alastair Hagger takes you through the history of the Africa Center in London, which was closed for nearly a decade, and what it means for Africa’s cultural heritage preservation.
Lawyers may be the biggest winners of Kenya’s election. Business Daily’s Sam Kiplagat writes that lawyers in Kenya are eying millions of dollars in lawyer fees as they expect politicians dissatisfied with the vote to head to court.
Uganda is backing Somalia’s bid to join EAC. Daily Monitor’s Jane Nafula explains why president Yoweri Museveni is rooting for Somalia to join the East African economic bloc just months after DRC became a member.
Toyota training program for young South Africans. The 2023 Toyota Graduate Program is open. Successful applicants will undergo a two-year training and mentorship that includes study assistance, car, relocation, competitive salary, food and health services. (All year round)
Chevening scholarship applications are now open. Do you dream of studying in the UK? Now is a chance to do so. The fully-funded 2023/2024 scholarship covers all your tuition fees, return air ticket, arrival allowance, cost of visa application, departure allowance, travel top-up allowance and a monthly stipend. (Nov. 1)
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Source: Quartz Africa.