No. 256 – It Hits Different When the Lion Tells It’s Own Story

Let Africa into the market for COVID-19 diagnostics – John Nkegasong, the head of Africa CDC, outlined a plan of action here for African countries increase their levels of coordination and production to get the diagnostics they need to the ramp-up testing to 10 million in the next four months. Earlier in the piece, he addressed how African countries were getting boxed out of securing the testing materials they need, something I shared concern about a few weeks ago. Dr. Nkegasong’s focus on African countries coordinating their procurement and production of diagnostics is so key to ensuring Africa doesn’t find itself on an island dealing with COVID-19.

It’s Time to Help Africa Fight the Virus – This article shows why it’s so important that African folks control the narrative around Africa. In sharp contrast with Dr. Nkegasong’s piece, this one signs Africa’s death knell as a guaranteed catastrophe.

If the United States, Europe, and others succeed in containing the virus in the coming months, there is no way contagion throughout Africa could be contained there.

It’s not until the second half of the piece where the authors acknowledges that African leaders have moved quickly to address the COVID-19 pandemic. You see how differently this piece reads from the first one above? It hits different when the lion tells its own story. That said, the U.S. and other global powers do have a role to play and supporting African countries efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19 across the continent. That starts with not being an obstacle to African countries navigating this pandemic.

Why IROKO furloughed 28% of our Nigeria teamI always appreciate reading Jason Njoku’s posts because he’s so open about what he’s gone through building IROKO into the on-demand video beast its become over the past decade. To have to furlough well over a quarter of your team while staring down the COVID-19 situation with no sense of when things will improve has to be tough. To hear that you’ve been furloughed is even more tough. More vim to Jason and the folks who got furloughed.

No sunshine — DFC limits transparency when it is needed most – Stephanie Amoako highlights how the U.S.’s new International Development Finance Corporation secured exclusion from sunshine legislation that would require it to maintain a certain level of transparency and the deals it puts together. I’m really hopeful for the impact that the DFC could have in reshaping the USS economic relationship with African countries, prioritizing economic development and adding value to African countries pastoral significant economic growth. It’s concerning that the DFC put Shield itself from the public being able to see what it’s doing with the 60 billion dollars it has to invest. Hopefully Stephanie’s peace Brazos my eyebrows and gets this changed.

What Would You Risk for a Faster Cure? – When I saw that Michael Milken is playing a critical role in pushing vaccine development for COVID-19, I got real nervous. He shaped a good bit of the financial world in the 80s and 90s, and gave a bunch of entrepreneurs the financing they need to build businesses that are still important today. Reginald Lewis became the first black man in the U.S. to buy a billion dollar company with Milken’s help. Ted Turner. John Malone. The list goes on. That said, he went to jail for two years and paid over a billion dollars in fines for a bunch of tax and securities violations. He’s rehabbed his image over the past couple of decades through the Milken Institute and its Global Conference. He got a pardon from the president earlier this year for his past crimes. Finding a vaccine for COVID-19 is definitely an all hands on deck situation, but can he be trusted?

No. 85: Netflix is Taking it Global

One more before bed.

Netflix released its shareholder letter today and had some interesting results. Jake Bright mentioned in his comments during the book launch for The Next Africa, that Netflix is paying attention to what is happening in African markets in the internet TV streaming space. So, when I saw that Netflix released its letter I figured I should take a look. Interesting highlights:

  • 43 million members in the US
  • 23 million members internationally
  • Nearly nine million more paid subscribers year-to-year in Q2 2015
  • 48 percent year-to-year international revenue growth
  • Launching Japan in Q3 2015, and Spain, Italy, and Portugal in Q4 2015
  • Plan to be fully global by the close of 2016

Hopefully, Jason Njoku, CEO of iRoko Partners, posts something about Netflix’s updated figures. iRoko continues to make moves. They went completely mobile a few weeks ago.

Does anything else stand out to you in the letter?

No. 44: My A-Listers For Africa – Business and Policy

For quite some time, I have wanted to distill my sources for information and analysis on business and policy across Africa. I will try to keep this post updated with a list of the people I follow for insights. Some post long-form content. Some stick to Twitter. Here goes:

Razia Khan – Head of Macro Research for Standard Chartered Bank. When big economic events happen on the continent, I automatically go to her Twitter feed to see what she thinks about them.

Chuba Ezekwesili – Has good insights on Nigeria’s economics.

Jason Njoku – One of the more outspoken entrepreneurs on the continent when it comes to making sense of building a business on the continent.

Ory Okolloh Mwangi – Keeps me hip to Kenya’s political environment. Look out for her waving her BS flag.

Chris Becker – Lead Economist at African Alliance. African Alliance always put out helpful intelligence on what’s happening across the continent. Chris will occasionally send out a post from his personal blog.

Eliot Pence – Director at McLarty & Associates. Publishes sharp insights on US-Africa policy.

Aubrey Hruby – Visiting Fellow at The Atlantic Council. She and Jake Bright are coming out with a book this year, I believe, on Africa’s business environment.

Brian Laung Aoeh – Partner at KEC Ventures. Most of his portfolio is US and Israel-focused, but he pays a lot of attention to the technology space in Africa.

Patrice Backer – COO at AFIG Funds. Posts frank insights on business and political events across the continent.

Eric-Vincent Guichard – Founder of Homestrings.com. Whenever foreign direct investment comes up in the news, I go to see what Eric is saying about it.

Bobby Pittman – Founder of Kupanda Capital. Like following his posts because of his background working in the US government and at the African Development Bank and when I’m looking for insights on infrastructure development on the continent.

Rolake Akinkugbe – Runs Energy and Natural Resources desk at FBN Capital. Doesn’t post a lot of content, but does make frequent appearances on CNBC Africa.

Todd Moss – As news of the attempted coup in Gambia emerged, I read it all through the lens of the Golden Hour, Todd’s first novel. In his day job, he runs the Center for Global Development.

Jake Bright – Whitehead Fellow at the Foreign Policy Association. Writes for FT This is Africa, Bloomberg, and Quartz to name a few. He has basically carried the Africa standard at Bloomberg Radio, educating the listening audience on Africa’s bond markets, infrastructure development, technology sector and more. Check out the link to The Next Africa, the book he and Aubrey Hruby have coming out soon.

Ibrahim Saigna – Runs Century Private Investments. He doesn’t publish a lot, but he provides helpful insights on Africa’s finance environment when he does.

Jacqueline Musiitwa – Legal Counsel and Assistant to the President at PTA Bank. She and Ibrahim have collaborated on some good pieces.

Kurt Davis, Jr. – Investment banker at Barclays. Writes sharp insights on a number of industries and the political environment on the continent.

Paul Wallace – Reporter at Bloomberg. Consistently good analysis.

Aly-Khan Satchu – Operates on a 26-hour day. That’s the only way I have been able to make sense of how productive he is.