Hi, Quartz Africa readers!
CHINA’S AFRICA PROJECT
In early 2015 when we discussed plans to launch a standalone Quartz edition focused on Africa, there were two things we were clear about. The first was that innovation and innovators would be key to how we covered the continent. The second was that we needed to consistently tell the story of what was happening with China’s expanding role across Africa.
To achieve this aim we launched our China in Africa obsession through which we framed a lot of our stories around the major day-to-day business deals, economic partnerships, trade alliances as well as political and cultural influences among many topics that were not getting regular coverage by local or international press.
While Sino-African relations has been a fast-growing area of scholarship particularly in the last decade for media the coverage tended to be dominated by relatively simplistic neocolonial narratives about Chinese plans for Africa. That has since translated into stories and commentary on Africa’s growing debt-trap with Beijing a view that’s more recently been supported by the Trump White House.
As regular readers of Quartz Africa know, the modern role of the Chinese in African countries is multifaceted, nuanced and yes, complicated. It’s not all government-to-government and billion-dollar infrastructure contracts. There are Chinese entrepreneurs, African traders, skilled laborers, academics and more all working together and competing to create many different narratives.
But at some point it becomes important to help our readers catch up and contextualize some of what you’ve been reading from us and elsewhere over the last couple of years as we all try to get our heads around understanding what China’s role in Africa today means.
Tomorrow (Monday, Aug. 26) we’re launching our team’s first comprehensive field guide into what we’ve called China’s Africa project exclusively for Quartz members. It’s a deep dive led by our Nairobi reporter Abdi Latif Dahir over several articles, charts, photography and a comprehensive tool kit of material to help you understand everything you need to know about one of the most important geopolitical and economic influences of our age. We find that China’s importance to Africa’s future is easier to address on the ground but what is often less discussed is the vital role of Africa to China’s own future.
We would encourage you, if you’re not already a member, to take advantage of the 50%-off coupon code for our Africa Weekly Brief readers, enter “QUARTZAFRICA” when you sign up. The membership will give you unlimited access to all Quartz stories, field guides, presentations and video documentaries such as our Because Chinaseries which produced two episodes in Africa earlier this year. You’ll also have access and invitations to exclusive member events and gatherings in different cities around the world.
Lastly, we’re inviting members to take part in a conference call on Thursday (Aug. 29) to discuss China’s Africa project. We would love to include your questions and thoughts on the call. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: “China in Africa.”
— Yinka Adegoke, Quartz Africa editor
STORIES FROM THIS WEEK
There is increasing evidence Africans are being unfairly denied UK visas. A UK parliamentary group has confirmed what many Africans have long suspected: African applicants are more than twice as likelyto be refused a UK visa than applicants from other parts of the world. The basis for the denials range from inconsistent decision making by consular officers to unjustifiable discrimination.
Ghana’s pact with China for bauxite mining threatens to ravage a biodiverse forest. A memorandum Ghana signed with China to explore valuable deposits of bauxite will come at cost. As botanist Alfred Oteng-Yeboah explains, some of China’s search will be trained on Atewa forest, one of the country’s remaining intact forest habitats and home to a major collection of its biodiversity.
Jumia is struggling with fraud, lawsuits and mounting losses which could hurt its plans for a spin-off. Jumia, Africa’s largest e-commerce operator, revealed it uncovered an $18 million internal fraud going back a year and is subject to several lawsuits even as its second-quarter losses widened, reports Yomi Kazeem. Its shares fell as much as 20% during the week. As Jumia seeks higher revenues in a bid to stem losses company executives revealed plans to spin-off Jumia Pay, its in-house payments solution, as a standalone fintech business.
How Jollof rice became West Africa’s iconic dish and a source of banter between Africans. There’s no subject more debated among West Africans on social media than the origins—and quality—of their local Jollof dishes. Haleluya Hadero explores the regional differences of how the spicy rice dish is prepared and enjoyed, and how it has grown in cultural significance.
The FBI’s Nigerian email scam ring bust shows how the billion-dollar global fraud has evolved. A 252-count federal grand jury indictment named 80 Nigerian defendants charged with defrauding victims of up to $10 million in one of the “largest cases of its kind in US history.” Details of the indictment show the evolving tactics of online fraudsters which has seen them employ business email compromise scams and use unwitting romance scam victims as money mules.
CHART OF THE WEEK
The path to the next billion internet users is through feature phones. It’s long been assumed that with the majority of the African users gaining access to the internet via their mobile phones, smartphones would be a big driver of internet access on the continent. But Paul Adepoju finds newer, more advanced but affordable feature phones will play a crucial role in driving penetration even as smartphone growth continues to rise.
South Africa’s Naspers received enough votes from its shareholders to list its $124 billion stake in Chinese internet behemoth Tencent Holdings and other assets, as a standalone entity called Prosus on the Euronext Amsterdam. The spin-off is expected to take place on Sep. 11…Co-Creation Hub, a pioneer startup hub and incubator in Nigeria, is leading 10 African startups on a “pitch drive” to investors across China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore and Japan…Accra, Ghana-based MEST has announced its largest-ever funding roundfor a graduating class, investing $1.1 million in the11 startups from its 2019 cohort.
OTHER THINGS WE LIKED
In DR Congo, even Ebola can’t stop lovers from dancing. “Rumba is good, even through war, through Ebola. Rumba is still there, and Congolese keep living.” NPR’s Eyder Peralta visited Goma, in eastern DRC, to see how ordinary people are coping in the country’s worst outbreak of the viral disease and finds out they still have some fun even through the restrictions of a difficult period.
Kenyans are struggling to repay loans obtained through mobile apps. While fintech companies have provided Kenyans with speedy access to credit, the Boston Review’s Kevin Donavan and Emma Park report the same companies are targeting people who need loans to meet their everyday expenses, and creating a ballooning debt problem.
400 years later, a deep dive into how slave trade’s legacy shaped America. Whether Americans wish to admit it or not, the US continues to be shaped by the legacy of its slave trade, which began in 1619 when Africans were brought to Virginia. In a special issue, the New York Times Magazine challenges readers to reframe their understanding of history by considering that year the start of the nation. The project sheds light on today’s most pressing issues, among them education and health care.
Global education monitoring fellowship. The program is open to researchers and policymakers looking to study education in emerging economies and help link research and policy to practice.(Sep. 29)
2020 Aspen fellowship. The institute’s New Voices program is providing intensive media and advocacy training for 25 fellows working in sectors including food security, development economics, and climate change. (Oct. 15)
The African presidential scholars’ program. The University of Michigan is recruiting early-career faculty members from African universities to help with research projects. (Oct. 15)
KEEP YOUR EYE ON
USAID director visits Nigeria (Aug. 24). USAID director Mark Green has already visited the DR Congo where he discussed the Ebola response and will head to Nigeria where he’s expected to address issues including food security, economic empowerment, and how to reduce communal conflict.
Japan-Africa conference (Aug. 28-30). The 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development will take place in Yokohama, Japan amid deepening Chinese interest and growing Russian engagement on the continent.
*This brief was produced while listening to this take on Yakhal’ Inkomo by Zoe Modiga (South Africa).
Our best wishes for a productive and ideas-filled week ahead. Please send any news, comments, suggestions, affordable smart feature phones and your best Jollof recipes to email@example.com. You can follow us on Twitter at @qzafrica for updates throughout the day.