“This is an important program that will address roadblocks to engagement, highlight significant trade and investment opportunities, and hopefully change the narrative on Africa, and the dynamic changes taking place on the continent.”
— Akinwumi Adesina, President, African Development Bank Group
Africa is experiencing a filmmaking boom. Nollywood is the 2nd largest producer of films in the world, beating out Hollywood. African movies and TV series on Netflix and Hulu, and African films are increasing winning international film festival awards. The expansion of African content is an exciting frontier with new stories and techniques bursting onto the scene, ready to be consumed by a large internal market or streamed anywhere in the world. African content is not only big business, but also cultural diplomacy as African increasingly carves out a bigger chuck for itself in the global landscape.
Africa and the Dollar
A recent agreement between India and 18 countries, including 6 African nations, announced the creation of the financial infrastructure to trade in their respective currencies instead of using an intermediary, such as the US dollar. Since the end of WWII, the dollar has been the dominant currency for international trade and finance. This has been a enormously beneficial de facto standard for the US, but at the same time has created problems for countries with smaller currency volumes. With the emergence of other major economies and increasing trade relationships that don’t include the US, many central banks are increasingly looking to see how they can transition away from a reliance on the US dollar.
Homeward Bound - Diaspora Investing
The African diaspora in the US is large, educated, and one of the most successful groups in the country. Recently, they are investing in projects, businesses, and markets throughout the continent, creating investment opportunities like diaspora bonds. With far better understanding of real instead of perceived risks on the continent, they make ideal partners for foreign investors and offer patient capital, while also aiming to achieve development in Africa.
Ripple Effect of SVB on African Tech
The recent failure of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) sent shockwaves through the tech ecosystem. The collapse revealed links to Africa in the startup ecosystem where many Africa startups were clients of SVB, a rarity among American financial institutions. The bank saw the potential in African start-ups and facilitated investments between funders in America and founders in Africa. But how will this relationship change now that there are visible cracks in the system? We have an insightful episode this week with three extraordinary guests. Eric Osiakwan, Managing Partner of Chanzo Capital, Karima El Hakim, Country Director for Egypt at Plug and Play Tech Center And Sherif Aziz, Co-Founder of Subsbase. Join us for this week’s episode, the Ripple Effect of SVB on African Tech.
A Taste of Africa
There is often no better way to connect across cultures than at the dinner table. Food diplomacy is tool that we can use to create mutual understanding and build relationships. Africa has much to offer in culinary delights, from West African jollof rice to Ethiopian and Eritrean injera with spicey stews and couscous and tajines in North Africa. But African cuisine is not as well-known in America. Fortunately, that's changing. Today, there are African culinary entrepreneurs who believe African food is potentially a multi-billion dollar market in the US. Many other places from Asia to South America have had incredible success in exporting their food and culinary traditions to the US, and there’s no reason why Africa can’t be next up.
AI in Africa
AI and other new automation developments will likely be the 4th industrial revolution and change the world, as important as computers are today. AI will have profound implications for Africa: from solving age-old problems such as lack of physical ID cards, to new ones, such as logistic optimization with the passage of the AfCFTA. If the continent plays its cards right, early adoption of these technologies could change the game economically for the continent and make it a leader in the next industrial revolution. But with every opportunity comes risk. AI is only as good as its programmers, and many times it’s developed without African input, leading to racial biases and serious consequences. How will Africa strategize its next move in the sector and capitalize on the next technological wave?
Second-Hand Everything: Donating or Dumping?
The continent is inundated with donations and used items from the US, from clothing to electronics to cars. This has become big business, and not as benevolent as it may seem. Millions of garments shipped to Africa have crippled local garment industries, and countries that try to limit the import of second-hand clothing have had serious repercussions. Containers full of end-of-life electronics arrive in Africa daily, labelled “used electronics” to evade the law, and ending up in landfills where they cause environmental and health hazards.
Feeding the Continent, Feeding the World
Africa is the 60% of the world’s arable land is in Africa. The continent could be the breadbasket of the world, but that’s not what we see today. Africa countries imports a significant portion of their food, which means their food supply chains are particularly vulnerable to global shocks. For example, the Russian-Ukraine war is causing food shortages and price increases across the continent. Securing African food supply chains is going to be a difficult, but critical issue going forward.
Enough Talk: Legislating Added Value
Africa is the richest continent on Earth, but its natural resource wealth often leaves as primary goods, with Africa receiving only a fraction of the cost of finished products while others reap far bigger profits from manufacturing those raw materials. For decades, Africa has asked for more manufacturing and value addition, but now countries are legislating change, banning exportation of raw goods, and spurring on new industries, job creation and increased growth.
Financing the Energy Mix
The Global North became wealthy through industrialization, but that also caused pollution and our current climate change crisis. Africa, which accounts for only 2-4% of global emissions, has an equally pressing need: alleviating poverty, and the fastest path is industrialization. Africa can leap-frog to renewables, but it’s complicated. To start, Africa needs an energy mix, but most major institutions will only finance renewable energy, so how does Africa industrialize?
Africa-USA Now is a current events show at the intersection of Africa and the US. Every day, events happen in the United States that deeply affect Africa, but these issues often go unreported. Meanwhile, Africa is rapidly evolving and is strategically essential to the US and our interconnected, globalized world. But do Americans adequately understand these changes? Africa-USA Now brings together African and American policy makers and experts to debate current events..