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Hi Quartz Africa readers,
Is Ghana really beyond aid? Protestors who took to the streets last week would vehemently disagree.
Faced with a collapsing economy, Ghana’s ruling party reversed its decision to never again seek help from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Inflation stands at a stunning 27% in an economy whose debt to GDP ratio is above 80%. Fuel prices are amongst one of the highest in the region, and the currency continues to depreciate against the dollar at a precipitous rate.
When the IMF last loaned $918 million to Ghana, it required the government to increase fuel prices by 17%, cut energy subsidies, and freeze civil service employment, among other changes. Analysis indicates that Ghanaians are expected to face similar, if not tougher commitments if the two sides finalize a deal—reviving memories of previous struggles. “It’s not the IMF’s money that we don’t want, it’s the IMF’s instructions on how to run the economy,” said Ghanaian innovator and entrepreneur Bright Simmons on the BBC Africa Today podcast earlier this week.
The decision to hold talks with the IMF marks an abrupt u-turn for the government. In 2020, president Akuffo Addo’s unexpected announcement that Ghana would no longer export raw cocoa beans, but become a major chocolate producer, was heralded as a turning point. This was “Ghana beyond aid” in action. The movement was supposed to set Ghana apart from its peers through competent leadership, targeted spending, reduced corruption and self-reliance.
But the government simply replaced the IMF with reliance on international bond markets. Without effective domestic revenue generation, and disciplined expenditures, this economy built on stilts was likely to collapse under the uncertainties of the global economy. —Yaw Thompson, Quartz Africa contributor
What to watch for in the Quartz Africa Member Brief
HQ: Nairobi, Kenya
Valuation: $625 million
Formerly known as SokoWatch, B2B retail commerce startup Wasoko in March 2022 closed a $125 million series B at a $625 million valuation. It was the second-largest non-fintech round in Africa after Andela and the largest in the B2B retail e-commerce space.
The startup enables informal retailers to conveniently stock their shops, eliminating the hassle of dealing with different suppliers and distributors. Local retailers order products via SMS or mobile app, and receive free same-day delivery to their stores.
“We’re not the same company we were two years ago. Back then, we really had to convince suppliers [to work with us] but now the suppliers are the ones coming to us,” Wasoko’s global head of operational excellence Fatma Nasujo tells Quartz.
Learn more about Wasoko in this coming Wednesday’s edition of the Quartz Africa Member Brief. To get the Member Brief directly in your inbox, save 40% and become a member today.
Stories this week
Flutterwave is in trouble again. Kenyan authorities accused the Nigerian startup of involvement in a $52 million money laundering scheme. Faustine Ngila reports on the unicorn’s latest scandal.
Zambia welcomes virtual debit and credit cards. Local fintech Union54 believes a cashless society can help Africa reach its unbanked population. Tawanda Karombo explains why these cards could disrupt payments in e-commerce.
Competition in Zimbabwe’s remittance industry is heating up. Local and foreign fintechs are scrambling to make their mark on the billion-dollar industry. Tawanda Karombo investigates what is fueling this growth.
Tanzania’s rails are going green. The government began testing newly acquired 42 electric trains. As Faustine Ngila writes, the move is part of Tanzania’s commitment to cut its carbon emissions.
Why is WhatsApp banking adoption slow in Africa? Meta’s objective is to make sending money as easy and fast as sending WhatsApp messages. But Absa and I&M banks gave Faustine Ngila several reasons why it has been difficult for the service to take root.
Turkey once again expressed interest in Sudan’s fertile lands. Faustine Ngila reports on how Turkey has tweaked its food security strategy to avoid a repeat of a previous plan’s failure.
Charting hyperinflation in Ethiopia
Battling inflation is nothing new for Ethiopians. While global markets were stable, Ethiopia’s consumer good prices were wobbly. Since the 2000s, only five years have seen inflation below 10%. Now, for the first time in a decade, inflation in Ethiopia has remained above 25% for a year.
Life has become almost intolerable for the working class, whose wages have more or less stagnated over the years, making Ethiopian workers among the lowest paid people in the world. Hawi Dadhi reflects on how a series of missteps invalidate efforts by the government to reduce inflation from 37% in May to 11%.
Person of interest
Almost three decades ago, Prof. Bongasu Tanla Kishani, a member of the Nso tribe of northwestern Cameroon, spotted a lost sacred artifact of his people at the Ethnological Museum in Germany.
Known as Ngonnso’, meaning “young lady of Nso,” the mythical statue of the founder and first queen-mother of the Nso Kingdom, revered as a goddess by her people, had been missing for 120 years.
Since that chance encounter the Nso people have been calling for repatriation of their looted asset, but to no avail—until now. Amindeh Blaise Atabong tells the story of how Njobati Sylvie, who identifies as a member of Cameroon’s Nso people, launched the #BringBackNgonnso social media campaign in March 2021—helping reunite Ngonnso’ with her people.
“I would love to buy a ladoum for my children. But I think that if I had the money, I would buy lots of smaller sheep to share with my friends instead.”Fatou Sen, a Senegalese chef
In the lead-up to the Muslim celebration of Tabaski (Eid al-Adha), the soundscape of Dakar is increasingly punctuated by the bleating of sheep. In Senegal, it is customary to sacrifice these animals to mark important events such as weddings and births. But it isn’t until the religious festival, held in July this year, that the real mass slaughter takes place.
Sam Bradpiece writes about the prestigious ladoum breed, which can fetch as much as $20,000 a specimen, in a piece that also invokes the spirit of community embodied by the festival, despite tough economic times.
Autochek, the Nigerian pan-African automotive technology startup has acquired for an undisclosed amount CoinAfrique, a classified marketplace operating in francophone African countries, to accelerate penetration of its auto financing services in Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire.
How much money would you need to live your ideal life?
A recent study surveyed nearly 8,000 people across 33 countries to test their answer to this question, offering a range from $10,000 to $100 billion. Turns out, people are not as desirous for extravagant wealth as might be assumed, with most opting for a moderate amount ($1 million or $10 million) amongst the options.
The findings pose a challenge to the foundational economic principle of “unlimited wants,” or the idea that people always want to consume more, which is often conflated as a core characteristic of human nature. This study suggests otherwise, and that could be good news for sustainability efforts.
Other things we liked
The “sapeurs” of Brazzaville dress to impress. In a dispatch for Avaunt Magazine, Sophy Roberts travels to the Republic of Congo to meet members of La Sape, short for “Society of Ambiance-Creators and Elegant People.” More than a fashion statement, “sapeurism” is a distinct ideology that evolved throughout the 20th century, rooted in rebellion against French colonizers.
The NBA looks for a slam dunk in Africa. Omar Mohammed, a former Quartz correspondent, writes for the Guardian about what the Basketball Africa League (BAL), a joint project by the NBA and the International Basketball Federation, means to young Africans.
Ethnic killings in Ethiopia are adding to a painful crisis. Allegations of a second massacre in the Oromia region add to a civil war in the northern part of the country, Abdi Latif Dahir of the New York Times reports.
Twitter’s negligence is hurting Kenya’s democracy. Politicians are using the platform to spread disinformation and hate speech while silencing dissent—and Twitter is doing nothing about it, explains The Elephant’s Odanga Madung.
Looking for digital solutions. Project submissions are open for African startups that want to market their innovative solutions. The average amount of the investments is between $500,000 and $3 million. (all year round)
Grant for women entrepreneurs. Women entrepreneurs in Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, and Congo can apply to Nigeria’s Access Bank’s ‘Womenpreneur Pitch-a-ton Africa’ and be awarded up to five million Nigerian naira ($12,040.65) in grants. (August 30)
🎵 This brief was produced while listening to “Ni lava wena” by Mr Bow (Mozambique)
This week’s brief took you to 🇬🇭, 🇰🇪, 🇿🇲, 🇿🇼, 🇸🇩, 🇹🇿, 🇪🇹, 🇨🇲, 🇸🇳, 🇨🇬 and 🇲🇿
Our best wishes for a productive and ideas-filled week ahead. Please send any news, comments, suggestions, ideas, returned artifacts, and affordable ladoums to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow us on Twitter at @qzafrica for updates throughout the day.
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