Editor’s Note: April 23, 2019

Who wants to invest in news?

Google has announced plans to run a News Initiative Challenge in Africa this June. this is part of a $300m initiative launched in March 2018, aimed at helping news organizations adapt to the digital era.

Companies need to submit projects to the challenge for a chance at $150,000 in funding.

It’s a rare piece of good news for the industry, which has seen its core business model of selling advertising upended by the rise of platforms like Facebook and, ironically, Google.

These dominate digital advertising, pitting them directly against traditional news companies. It’s not much of a battle, with the latter lacking the scale or technical acumen to compete.

In Africa the problem is compounded by an already underdeveloped industry. News media is chronically underfunded, contributing to an overall lack of quality in Africa-based journalism. 

Few companies have any scale, with most struggling commercially.

In terms of investment the sector rarely features. Unsurprising given its precarious prospects, but it may be a missed opportunity.

Africa is an underserved market, relying mostly on coverage by international outlets, with a near ubiquitous need for more, bigger, and more credible news outlets.

Perhaps the industry needs a success story to put it on the investor map. Maybe Google’s Innovation Challenge can help find one.

From The Continent

Egypt expects its borrowing needs to hit $48bn for the 2019/20 fiscal year, a 26% year-on-year increase, according to a report by Reuters. Cairo has borrowed heavily in recent years, including a $12bn IMF loan, as part of an ambitious economic reform programme. More: Reuters


Algerian authorities have arrested five of the country’s leading businessmen as part of an anti-corruption probe following former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s ousting earlier this month. The military is leading the investigation amid ongoing public pressure for more political change. More: Al Jazeera

The Daily Stat

8.8%

Ghana’s expected GDP growth in 2019, making it one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. More: Bloomberg

The Global Perspective

Libya’s prime minister Fayez al-Sarraj, the head of the country’s UN-backed government, has said foreign backers are arming troops loyal to military strongman Khalifa Haftar, amid renewed conflict between the two rival factions. He did not identify any countries, but the reference is likely to include Russia, one of Haftar’s main backers. More: Bloomberg

A pilot programme for the world’s first malaria vaccine has begun in Malawi, with plans to extend the trial to Ghana and Kenya. Development of the partially effective RTS,S, known as Mosquitrix, was led by pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, at a cost of around $1bn. More: BBC

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