Editor’s Note: March 13, 2019
China keeps shifting through the gears in Africa
Kenyan mobile operator Safaricom has announced a partnershipwith AliExpress.com, part of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, allowing Kenyans to use its M-Pesa mobile money service to buy goods on the platform.
The deal is the latest addition to a flurry of Chinese tech investment on the continent.
In February Nigeria-based e-commerce startup Jumia partnered with consumer electronics giant Xiaomi, which has just announced plans to expand into Africa. Meanwhile Huawei is building its first data centers on the continent in South Africa.
It’s a small part of Beijing’s emergence as a player in Africa’s tech ecosystem, and an illustration of how much China-Africa relations have changed in the last decade.
In 2009 the narrative on China in Africa consisted largely of its alleged desire to strip Africa of its natural resources, while undermining democracy by propping up despots.
A decade later it has become synonymous with infrastructure development and a major source of donor funding, has ramped up military and security cooperation, and has an estimated 10,000 private companies active on the continent spanning a broad range of sectors.
Tech is the latest addition to the roster.
The debate about whether China’s influence is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ will rage on, but it’s hard to argue with the breadth and pace of Beijing’s engagement.
From The Continent
Nigeria’s Access Bank has agreed a $162.5 million borrowing facility with foreign lenders including Dutch development finance institution FMO to fund local SMEs. The lender is in the process of merging with rival Diamond Bank in a deal that will create Africa’s biggest bank by customer numbers. More: Reuters
Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta has signed a long awaited energy sector bill into law to regulate its nascent hydrocarbon sector. Kenya discovered commercial oil in 2012, but production has been delayed by disagreement over how revenue will be shared between the government, local communities and companies. More: The East African
The Daily Stat
The number of countries that have signed a convention establishing the governing body for the world’s largest radio telescope - the Square Kilometre Array - to be built in South Africa. More: Nature
The Global Perspective
Pan-African e-commerce startup Jumia on Tuesday filed for an IPO on the New York Stock Exchange. The listing could value the company at around $1.5bn. More: TechCrunch
India has said it is aiming to more than double bilateral trade with Africa to $150bn ‘in the next few years’ from the current figure of around $62bn. This comes amid growing competition with China for commercial opportunities on the continent. More: Business Insider