Their video is set in a backyard in Luanda, where they break into a group dance, all the while eating lunch from plates in their hands.
In the age of coronavirus, the #JerusalemaDanceChallenge video generated a counter-contagion. Almost overnight everyone from police departments in Africa to priests in Europe were posting their own Jerusalema dance videos that repeated the choreography.
The challenge videos were swept along in a message of hope condensed in the single word “Jerusalema” and amplified through an electronic beat that its creator, Johannesburg-based musician and producer Master KG, describes as “spiritual”.
Putting together this beat in November 2019, he invited South African gospel vocalist Nomcebo Zikode to interpret it lyrically. The magic isiZulu phrase “Jerusalema, ikhaya lami” (Jerusalem is my home) arose through their jamming. Then the Angolans provided an irresistible choreography, and the rest is history.
The Angolan dance routine is both just repetitive enough to be picked up and just varied enough to tease. Videos flew around the world on TikTok, Instagram and Facebook. Like the urge to dance to “the earliest Ragtime songs” described by Ishmael Reed in his novel Mumbo Jumbo, the dance challenge, too, “jes grew”.
The gift of moving collectively
So how did it “just grow”?
“We are happy to bring the joy of dance to the whole world through this marvellous dance,” (Estamos felizes por levar a alegria da dança para o mundo inteiro atraves desta dança maravilhosa) Phenomenos do Semba declare in Portuguese on their Facebook page.
What they call “alegria da dança” (the joy of the dance) can also be read as “alegropolitics” or joy pressed out from trauma and dehumanisation. Historically, enslavement, colonialism, commodification and a continuing threat to Black life brings forth Afro-Atlantic expressive culture .
This is seen from carnivals to the viral Don’t Rush Challenge, started during coronavirus lockdowns by a group of African heritage women where each dances to a hip-hop song and uses technology to “pass” a makeup brush to another.
This gift to the world is the secret of moving collectively. Not in cookie-cutter unison but through individual response to poly-rhythmic Africanist aesthetic principles that are held together by a master-structure. Dancing in this way is resistance, incorporating kinetic and rhythmic principles that circulated initially around the Atlantic rim (including the Americas, Europe, the Caribbean and Africa). It connects and revitalises by enacting an embodied memory of resistance to enslavement.
The Jerusalema dance challenge is an example of how dance enables convivencia (living together). It is a line dance (animation in French, animação in Portuguese, animación in Spanish) that enlivens parties through simple choreography that makes people dance together. Routines involve directional movement enabled by switching of feet, with dancers turning 90 degrees to repeat the choreography. Syncopated steps create enjoyable tension, and more and more people can join as the routine repeats itself till the song ends.
Viral African line dances
Many internet-driven line dances have emerged in response to songs such as Jerusalema. Created by popular music producers in Africa, they are often operating with limited resources and responding to national music trends that also have a pan-continental appeal. Think of Ghanaian azonto, Nigerian Afro-beat; Angolan kuduro; South African house.
The dances that develop from the music start out local but can spread from country to country. Choreographies to Ghanaian azonto hits, for example, are taught by dance instructors from Accra when they’re visiting dance clubs in Cotonou in Benin – as I experienced during years of dance research in West Africa.
Videos shared via WhatsApp also enable such “urban” dance styles to jump borders. This is how a member of Phenomenos do Semba received a sample of Jerusalema from South African friends and shared it with his team. According to group leader Adilson Maiza, they loved it as soon as they heard it. To create a line dance choreography to a song from Johannesburg, these dancers from Luanda dipped freely into the vast reservoir of different African accents of dancing to Afro-beat music.
Angola’s rich dance culture
These accents include their own. Angola’s rich social dance culture has gone global through the couple dances kizomba and the more upbeat semba. A DJ will periodically break up dancing couples with a track that unites the crowd through line dance routines that gesture to the Angolan music and dance style kuduro: hyper-exaggerated, angular, dexterous, sardonic. Kuduro steps are hard. To make the routines easier to pick up, they’re mixed with generic Afro-beat dance steps.
Maiza asserts that the Jerusalema choreography mixes kuduro and Afro-beat. Others in the Angolan dance scene disagree, pointing to videos of South African pantsula and kwaito that reveal similar footwork. Master KG himself declared that what the Angolan group made viral was a South African dance style popular at celebrations. Citing him, magazine Novo Jornal observes that the Jerusalema choreography nonetheless transmits an undeniable Angolan touch. It’s what Maiza interprets as signature “ginga e banga Angolana” (Angolan sway and swag).
Ginga, banga, kizomba, semba, kuduro: all Angolan words for dance styles and attitudes that, like line dances, emerge from long circum-Atlantic conversations. Line dances criss-cross the Atlantic, complicating the line between recognition and appropriation. The Danza Kuduro dance was set to a Spanish-language song responding to a Puerto Rican hit. There was the Macarena dance (Spain and Venezuela) and the Electric Slide (US and Jamaica).
A way to build community
Instead of understanding the Jerusalema dance challenge as an intra-African phenomenon, it’s maybe more useful to understand it in terms of ongoing creolisation processes – a mixing of cultures – that spiral around the Atlantic rim. Multi-directional, unpredictable, but always innovative, creolisation is the motor of the “alegropolitics” of African-heritage music and dance. If the Angolan video popularised the South African anthem, this is a collaborative and competitive creolising phenomenon.
As Phenomenos do Semba morph effortlessly from eating together to dancing together, they draw on deep and resonant reservoirs of Afro-Atlantic survival through joy. The dancers’ hangout is the Angolan quintal or backyard, a hub of activity during long, curfewed nights of unending civil war. However, they are eating cachupa, a typical Cape Verdean dish frequently used as a symbol for creolisation.
Like the revival of line dances during the Black Lives Matter protests, Jerusalema went viral during the coronavirus pandemic because the dance challenge enacted a simple way to connect and build community: especially at a time when people were hungering for these possibilities.
A South African singer’s call, “Zuhambe nami” (join me) was realised through an Angolan dance group’s brainwave to use cachupa to demonstrate that, in Maiza’s words:
It is possible to be happy with little: we party with very little. (É possível ser feliz mesmo com pouco: com pouco fizemos a nossa festa.)
And, with just the resources of the body, the locked-down world partied too, for the duration of the dance.
Obrigada to Nikolett Hamvas, Adilson Maiza, Rui Djassi Moracén.
Being a commercial landlord in a post pandemic world poses the challenge of how to provide occupants with secure, sustainable, and flexible spaces.
Raghmah Solomon – founder, and female pioneer behind Vortex Design Solutions – uses great design to re-imagine spaces in innovative ways, making buildings more attractive to potential tenants and helping landlords win the race to fill their space.
Here Are Raghmah’s Top Tips on how to win the race to fill your space:
Speak to Your Tenants
Asking your tenants monthly for their feedback on what they love about your property and where you could improve is paramount to creating lasting relationships and retaining long-term tenants. Their feedback will give you a great idea of whether you are fulfilling your role as a landlord well and if anyone is planning to leave your building.
List All the Features of Your Building
When you list the features of your space in advertising, make sure to list them all, to give potential tenants a solid understanding of the value your space offers them. Wi-Fi facilities, parking, back-up generators, meeting rooms and how close the space is to schools, universities, and shops, all help to broaden the scope of your potential customers.
Unconventional Features Are Valuable
In general, air quality, light, and space are the three main components that tenants look for and will make your building more attractive.How you handle a maintenance request, who currently occupies the space, sustainability concerns such as LED lighting and maintaining plants to improve the building’s air quality, are all valuable features to tenants.
Speak to Your Designer
Designers often spend the most time with the client, learning their needs, their tastes, their dislikes and what they value the most in the design. They also spend time with building contractors and engineers, to make sure that all the needs of their clients are being taken care of from the beginning. The location of power outlets, the type of fire and air conditioning systems and how to redesign for maximum sustainability are a good designer's chief concerns.
Invest in Good Quality Materials
With commercial spaces now having to comply with strict sanitizing laws, it is important that any materials used can withstand regular rigorous cleaning with minimal deterioration.
Analyse Your Space
Post-Covid, all the materials chosen for a space must prioritise hygiene and sustainability. The look of the products that simulate the ‘real-deal’ surfaces, such as timber or marble, have increased in quality to such a degree, that often you would need to touch them to know the difference. They are often longer lasting and easier to clean.
Embrace Minimal Layouts
Exclude excessive décor items where dust can collect and hang art to create interest instead. Taking a simplistic approach will create a clean and calming environment that still provides visual interest.
Use Closed Cupboards
Due to our increased concern over germs and bacteria, all open shelves need to have doors to limit the settling of germs and collection of dust.
Holistically Implement Covid Protection Protocols
Sanitizing stations, touch access panels, and everyone wearing a mask must be ensured throughout the building through a collaboration between tenants and landlords. From the time the tenant enters the building, through all staircases, lobbies, and common areas up until they reach their tenancy doors, every clean building measure must be clear and standard for both parties.
As a landlord, the layout of your building has a large impact on your occupancy rate. And higher occupancy rates that are stable over a longer period are what determines a healthy bottom line. Spaces need interior fitting plans that are functional, flexible and above all, safe for all your tenants.
In many ways, running a building is like running a business and you need to constantly monitor how your decisions and tenant fit-out’s will affect the other tenants to make sound, holistic decisions to ensure the longevity of the building, its efficacy and its functionality as a whole.
It has been nine months since the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the outbreak of COVID-19, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, a “public health emergency of international concern”.
A safe, effective COVID-19 vaccine is expected to be developed in record time and may be approved for production, distribution and acceptance some time in 2021. Public health experts say that at least 70% of any community must get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine to achieve an acceptable level of immunity to protect its members.
We recently surveyed 13,426 people in 19 countries. We included two of Africa’s most populous and visible nations, Nigeria and South Africa, which are among the most affected by COVID-19 on the continent.
Overall, we found that 71.5% of participants said they would take a “proven safe and effective vaccine” while 14% would refuse it outright. An additional 14% said they would hesitate to take the vaccine.
But that average figure is deceptive. It was raised by favourable responses from two Asian countries that also recorded very high trust in government health recommendations. More than 80% of Chinese respondents and 75% of South Koreans said they would accept a vaccine. South Africans came closer than any other country to the 70% standard, at almost 65%. But only 46.3% of Nigerians said they would do so. This is slightly higher than the results we found in Spain, Sweden, Poland, Brazil and Ecuador.
These vaccine hesitant people are not necessarily vaccine opponents. A large number of them consistently vaccinate their children against numerous childhood diseases. However, it must be noted that the increasingly well-coordinated global anti-vaccine movement has repurposed itself to challenge the very reality of COVID-19 as well as the usefulness of a new vaccine to prevent it. They have leveraged social media platforms to promote these doubts.
We also tried to determine how much trust people would have in a COVID-19 vaccine if their employer recommended it. Just more than three in five (61.4%) of all our respondents said they would do so. The numbers dropped to less than half of South Africans (46%) and Nigerians (44%).
Our data confirms a troubling trend towards vaccine hesitancy that has been found in other global and national studies. Professor Heidi Larson, a co-author of our paper, and her team at the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine recently reported on trends in vaccine confidence observed across 149 countries between 2015 and 2019. They found that political instability and religious extremism were critical factors in declining vaccine confidence in many of these countries.
Recent political unrest in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with over 200 million people, does not bode well for a successful COVID-19 vaccination campaign there. Only South Africa and Ethiopia have recorded more COVID-19 cases on the continent.
Many public health workers also recall a massive boycott against polio vaccination in northern Nigeria. It was caused by a single rumour, and not an adverse event. This boycott led to the years of more polio infections and deaths in Nigeria, and delayed polio eradication from the continent as a whole.
So what must be done to get on track for a successful African vaccination programme against COVID-19?
As scientists, we should help health leaders to prepare now with education and dialogue to set appropriate expectations for when a coronavirus vaccine may be available. We need to build vaccine literacy with effective communication and community engagement for acceptance country by country, village by village, taking into account community-specific issues, concerns or misconceptions and working with local religious and civil leaders and influencers.
We also need to help people become more fluent about vaccinations: Are they safe? Will they protect me and my family? Do I need to be vaccinated to be able to work? Will everyone be able to get it? Will vaccination sterilise me or my kids?
And we must be realistic that none of this information and advocacy will truly convince people to accept COVID-19 vaccination, or any other, in the absence of genuine societal trust. Without mutual trust, we may not be able to rebuild economies and return to anything approaching “normal” life.
It would be tragic if we developed, made and distributed safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines and people refused to take them, when health infrastructure and equipment levels cannot stem the pandemic.
Two authors of this study, Drs. Ratzan and Larson, are co-leaders of a recently launched global coalition – CONVINCE [COVID-19 New Vaccine Information Communication and Engagement]. This initiative is spearheaded by the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health, the Vaccine Confidence Project of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Wilton Park, a part of the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. A number of African public health leaders have already joined it.
Scott C. Ratzan, Distinguished Lecturer, , CUNY Graduate Center; Agnes Binagwaho, Vice Chancellor, University of Global Health Equity; Heidi Larson, Senior Lecturer in Epidemiology & Population Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine; Jeffrey V Lazarus, Associate Research Professor, Instituto de Salud Global de Barcelona (ISGlobal); Kenneth Rabin, Senior Scholar, CUNY Graduate Center, and Lawrence O. Gostin, University Professor; Founding Linda D. & Timothy J. O’Neill Professor of Global Health Law, Georgetown University
The appointment of Nigeria's ex-finance minister to lead the World Trade Organization (WTO) has been thrown into doubt after the US opposed the move.
On Wednesday, a WTO nominations committee recommended the group's 164 members appoint Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
She would be the first woman and first African to lead the WTO.
But the US, critical of the WTO's handling of global trade, wants another woman, South Korea's Yoo Myung-hee, saying she could reform the body.
Ms Okonjo-Iweala said she was "immensely humbled" to be nominated.
But the four-month selection process to find the next WTO director-general hit a road block when Washington said it would continue to back South Korea's trade minister.
In a statement critical of the WTO, the Office of the US Trade Representative, which advises President Donald Trump on trade policy, said the organisation "must be led by someone with real, hands-on experience in the field".
Ms Yoo had "distinguished herself" as a trade expert and "has all the skills necessary to be an effective leader of the organisation", the statement said.
It added: "This is a very difficult time for the WTO and international trade. There have been no multilateral tariff negotiations in 25 years, the dispute settlement system has gotten out of control, and too few members fulfill basic transparency obligations. The WTO is badly in need of major reform."
The statement did not mention Ms Okonjo-Iweala.
Earlier on Wednesday, after a WTO delegates meeting to discuss the appointment, spokesman Keith Rockwell said just one member country did not support Ms Okonjo-Iweala.
"All of the delegations that expressed their views today expressed very strong support for the process... for the outcome. Except for one," he said.
Mr Trump has described the WTO as "horrible" and biased towards China, and some appointments to key roles in the organisation have already been blocked.
The WTO has called a meeting for 9 November - after the US presidential election - to discuss the issue. US opposition does not mean the Nigerian cannot be appointed, but Washington could nevertheless wield considerable influence over the final decision.
Mr Rockwell told reporters there was likely to be "frenzied activity" to secure a consensus for Ms Okonjo-Iweala's appointment. She has the support of the European Union.
The leadership void was created after outgoing WTO chief Roberto Azevedo stepped down a year early in August. The WTO is currently being steered by four deputies.
Ms Okonjo-Iweala, 66, served as her country's first female finance and foreign minister and has a 25-year career behind her as a development economist at the World Bank..
She also serves on Twitter's board of directors, as chair of the GAVI vaccine alliance and as a special envoy for the World Health Organisation's Covid-19 fight.
If Ms Okonjo-Iweala is eventually appointed she will have a full in-tray. The WTO is already grappling with stalled trade talks and tensions between the US and China.
Earlier this month she said that her broad experience in championing reform made her the right person to help put the WTO back on track. "I am a reform candidate and I think the WTO needs the reform credentials and skills now.
Cell C is in the process of moving entirely onto MTN’s network, which will result in the company switching off its radio access network.
This infrastructure sharing strategy will help Cell C to cut down on network investments and still get the benefit from an excellent service through MTN.
This will be the first time that a South African mobile operator shuts down its radio network, which raises questions as to what will happen with its equipment and spectrum.
Cell C CEO Douglas Craigie Stevenson told MyBroadband some of their radio network equipment will be sold, which will generate money for the company.
There are also components of its radio network which are leased, which will be given back to the companies it leases it from.
He added that MTN will not use any of Cell C’s current radio equipment to offer services to Cell C.
“As Cell C deconstructs its network over the transition period, traffic will be moved from our physical radio network to the virtual radio network provisioned for us by MTN,” he said.
One of the big questions is what will happen to Cell C’s spectrum, especially after Telkom lodged a complaint about Vodacom and Rain’s network arrangement.
Craigie Stevenson said their spectrum will be used “by Cell C on the new virtual network that MTN is providing”.
He made it clear that they are still in full control of their spectrum and are using it to support their customer base.
Cell C is not an MVNO
With Cell C switching off its full radio network and moving to “a virtual network provided by MTN”, many people view it as a super MVNO (mobile virtual network operator).
Craigie Stevenson dismissed this view, saying apart from not having a radio access network, they remain a fully-fledged mobile operator.
He said Cell C will still maintain a core network and can still choose to increase or decrease its coverage footprint.
It also has control over network quality, it remains a spectrum license holder, and controls its network investment.
Cell C will keep its voice interconnect agreements with other operators and hold on to its number range.
The image below provides an overview of the difference between Cell C and an MVNO.
A Nigerian company E.F. Network Ltd, has developed a mobile application that can make a device unusable by thieves, to curb theft or resale of mobile phones and other gadgets in the country.
Mr Ameh Ochojila, the company's public relations officer said this in a statement on Tuesday, in Abuja.
Ochojila, said that the application named 'ephonetaxi' will help provide solution to the growing number of stolen phones in the country and across the globe.
"The application 'ephonetaxi' helps to lock out anyone who is unauthorised to use the phone, making it unusable and unsellable," he said.
According to him, the application is designed to protect phone owners and the information stored on their phones from being compromised in the event of a phone theft.
"The application helps retrieve and send the user's stored contents to his email.
"It also locks the phone, prevents either unauthorised access to stored pictures, videos, messages, or contacts of the phone owner.
"The app alerts the phone owner of any change in SIM card, monitors, and tracks the phone location including taking pictures of criminals in possession of the phone and sending the pictures to the email address of the owner," he said.
Ochojila added: "The owner can do all these remotely in spite of the phone being lost or stolen.
"Once a phone is locked remotely by the owner, buying it will be a mere waste of money."
The technical manager of the company, Mr Kelvin Raymond said that the application could also be used to trace kidnappers as it can reveal real-time location of mobile phones.
Mr Gideon Egbuchulam, Chairman of the company said that the application was one of the application lined up by the company to meet technical and software needs of Nigerians.
Egbuchulam said that the company had opened an incubation centre in Abuja where he planned to recruit brilliant young Nigerian Information Technology (IT) professionals.
"Given enabling environment, Nigerian youths will take Nigeria to the next Silicon Valley in Africa.
"Almost all giant tech companies in the world are interested in the Nigerian market and that is the reason our company is recruiting over 1000 people by the end of 2020 to support talented youths," he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that available data showed that in 2016 alone, over 400,000 phones were stolen in the UK, with a good number of them shipped abroad for resale.
The data also showed that many of the stolen phones were first sold to criminal gangs who tried to access them for information that could be used to hack bank accounts of their owners, before selling them to end users.
About 29 million Tanzanians head to the polls on Wednesday to elect new leaders with the world watching the big race pitting the opposition's Tundu Lissu against President John Magufuli.
In his address to the nation on Tuesday, President Magufuli urged Tanzanians to turn out in large numbers to exercise their democratic right, despite the arrest of opposition politicians in Zanzibar.
"Our campaigns have been conducted in an environment of peace and tranquillity," said the President. "Our security agencies did a commendable job," he added.
In Zanzibar, the main opposition party said Tuesday three people had been killed by police on the archipelago's island of Pemba, as clashes erupted ahead of Tanzania's elections.
Police fired teargas and live rounds, and brutally beat a young man in the opposition stronghold of Garagara as security forces began voting a day before presidential and parliamentary elections.
The opposition believes the special day of early voting is a ploy to steal the election on an island with a history of contested polls, and vowed they would try and vote on the same day.
Violence erupted on Pemba, an opposition stronghold, as the army distributed ballots which opposition supporters believed were pre-marked.
"Verified reports from Pemba in Zanzibar indicate that three citizens have been shot dead by the police using live ammunition," read a statement from the opposition ACT-Wazalendo (Alliance for Change and Transparency) party.
However, police dismissed the allegations. "We have not received any reports about such deaths and we do not expect anything of that nature," Inspector-General of Police Simon Sirro told reporters.
Speaking in Dar es Salaam, he said police were holding 42 people in Zanzibar over allegations of attacking officers distributing ballot boxes.
African Union Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat pleaded for peace and called for credible and inclusive elections.
"The chairperson calls for all stakeholders, political parties and their supporters to participate in the voting process peacefully and refrain from any acts of violence. He further urges the authorities to ensure a conducive environment to enable citizens to cast their votes in a safe and peaceful manner," Mr Faki's spokesperson said in a statement.
Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan will lead a team of observers from the AU, while ex-Burundi President Sylvestre Ntibantunganya will lead 59 monitors from the East African Community.
The EAC will deploy teams in Dar es Salaam, Tanga, Lindi, Mtwara, Dodoma, Mbeya, Kigoma, Singida, Kilimanjaro, Morogoro and Mwanza regions and Zanzibar's twin Islands of Pemba and Unguja.
The ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi has been in existence, and in power, since 1977, becoming Africa's second-longest ruling party. Although there are 15 presidential candidates this time, President Magufuli's strongest challenge comes from Lissu, even though he is expected to be re-elected.
But some observers have already found the electoral process skewed in favour of the CCM. "It is difficult to guarantee electoral justice in Tanzania in light of the prevailing legal and constitutional framework and context," the Tanzania Elections Watch,a virtual group of experts on the polls co-chaired by former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga and Ugandan legal experts, Frederick Ssempebwa and Ms Alice Mogwe, said.
"Ensuring electoral justice will require significant constitutional and legal reforms for which there has so far been no political will to embark on." Ahead of the polls, the government has been accused of either passing laws that impede fairness or retaining policies that favour CCM.
The National Electoral Commission (NEC) has a final say on presidential election results and no court challenge is allowed.
"It is not to say that an election becomes free and fair because of the positive comments of the observers. We do not think this election will be free and fair, not even if the opposition wins, against all odds. What we need are conditions of good governance in the entire election season," Prof Ssempebwa said on Thursday.
The NEC has accredited some 96 local and foreign organisations eligible for observer status, but it excludes major players like the Catholic Church and rights watch groups.
This will be first exercise since multiparty democracy with no support from the UNDP, after Dar refused to admit an assessment mission from the global agency.
"When we shut down political space, when we shut down civil space, we risk delegitimising those who govern us," argued Donald Deya, the CEO of the Pan-African Lawyers Union, warning the restrictions could fuel violence.
Trade routes have been significantly disrupted this year in efforts to contain COVID-19. The effects of this are already showing: global growth is set to contract by 4.9% and growth in sub-Saharan Africa will contract by 3.2%.
This will get worse if continued restrictions further impede trade. The World Trade Organisation has warned that at worst, global trade could collapse by a third this year, and at best, it will contract by 13%, similar to the recorded drop after the 2009 financial crisis.
This has fundamental consequences – both direct and indirect – for many. For instance, within the first few weeks in March when some trade routes were initially suspended, flower exports from Kenya to the European Union fell by 50%, affecting around a million people.
Trade enables formal firms to flourish, which will be essential for economic recovery. It also protects the urban poor operating in the informal economy against poverty and hunger. The continuation of trade is even more essential for their survival as they operate without an adequate safety net.
Restricting trade also affects supply and prices. Import disruptions have resulted in shortages, including food, and prices have spiked. This has brought economic hardship to small traders and consumers across the continent.
In the current economic climate, trade is not a luxury that can be temporarily avoided. In Africa, there’s a growing body of evidence showing that firms – from large to very small – have been severely affected by restrictions in the movement of goods and people. For many this means not only losing a livelihood, but a direct impact on their ability to meet basic needs.
Economic impact on formal firms
A study of formal firms in Uganda found that exports fell by 57% at the start of its lockdown, compared to a year earlier. It also found that imports, which these firms rely on to produce, fell by 43%.
The researchers of the study simulated what would happen with continued import reductions of this magnitude. The results were devastating: 6.6% of all formal firms in the Ugandan economy would likely have to close, resulting in a reduction of formal employment by 4.7%.
Fortunately, the Ugandan government ensured trade could continue throughout lockdown. Exports and imports started to rebound relatively quickly.
The impact of slower trade has also been tracked in Ethiopia, where a survey of firms showed that trade disruptions affected a fifth of small, medium, and large firms due to a lower supply of raw materials and intermediate goods, as well as the restricted movement of workers.
The importance of the role played by formal firms can’t be overstated. Evidence suggests that in sub-Saharan Africa the labour productivity of formal firms is four times higher than that of informal firms. This is because formal firms are able to scale and specialise in a way that informal operations cannot. In addition, across the continent, taxes on incomes, profits and capital gains accounted for around 25% of all national tax revenues.
But smaller informal firms will have an equally crucial role to play in the recovery.
Urban informal sector
In developing cities, most firms operate in the informal sector, accounting for more than 66% of employment across the continent.
A 2016 census of informal firms in the Greater Kampala area showed that informal firms were very small: about 60% have only one employee and 70% have an annual turnover of UGX 10 million (US$2,700) or less. Over 90% of micro firms were operating close to, or at, the poverty line.
The challenge for the poorest of these firms operating in cities is that the majority of their income is used to buy food in urban markets. Therefore, trade is not only a question of economic activity, but more importantly of survival. It is also why the urban poor are the hardest hit by lockdown measures.
Evidence from a small-scale trader survey in Lagos showed that during the lockdown, most firms were making zero revenue. And these effects seem to be persistent: in Sierra Leone, for example, where the economy has reopened, profits for these firms are still nearly 50% lower than pre-lockdown levels.
In Uganda, which has by some estimates already eroded nearly 10 years of gains in poverty reduction efforts, the sharpest spike in poverty levels to date was in the capital city, Kampala. It is also why there have been increases in hunger and malnutrition across the country.
Uganda is not alone: simulations of an eight-week lockdown across Africa show that eight million people, including 3.9 million children under five years, would be severely food deprived.
Trade is not a luxury
Rethinking global guidelines on handling pandemics is not an easy task given that the contexts to which they will be applied are extremely diverse. Perhaps the most efficient guidelines will be those that allow for targeted, data-driven, flexible and localised approaches.
Understandably, however, during this pandemic and for future ones, much of the world also looks for global standards set by bodies like the World Health Orgnisation. But when setting these standards it is important to remember that for many, health versus the economy is a false dichotomy. Rather, for many in poor urban areas, trade is not only a means of making ends meet, but of avoiding the trap of poverty and hunger. Nikita Sharma, the Managing Editor for the IGC, also contributed to this article
Video communication platform Zoom is among the technology companies that have primarily benefited from the coronavirus pandemic. The Zoom app downloads and stock price surge highlights the company’s tremendous rise this year.
Data presented by Buy Shares indicates that in September 2020, Zoom added about 46.26 million downloads across Android and iOS platforms. On Android, Zoom downloads stood at 32.17 million, making it the most popular platform. For iOS, the iPhone recorded 10.86 million downloads, while the iPad had 3.23 million Zoom app downloads.
The research also overviewed Zoom stock prices on a year to date (YTD) basis. The stock has grown by a staggering 623.97%. At the start of the year, Zoom stock price was $71.9, while on October 21st, it stood at $520.54. Zoom’s all-time stock price was registered on October 14th at $537.02.
Zoom among leading beneficiaries from pandemic
Zoom gained popularity this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. People became more dependent on Zoom’s video-calling for business, educational, and personal use. This is after authorities imposed lockdowns meaning that people could no longer meet physically. Zoom automatically became a pandemic beneficiary for offering remote communication solutions.
The growth by Zoom was primarily due to subscriptions provided to new customers due to increasing demand. This demand was broad-based across industry verticals, geographies, and customer cohorts. Landing these new customers gave Zoom and its investors confidence that the end of the COVID-19 pandemic would not be the end of the boom times for Zoom. Most importantly, the company’s stock also soared after corporate clients showed confidence in the company with mega deals.
As the shares skyrocketed, Zoom has capitalized by announcing a new product dubbed OnZoom. This product allows businesses and people to host events, including ticketed events, among other related gatherings. The original work is projected to give Zoom a bullish outlook even after the pandemic.
Zoom 2020 boom threatened by security, privacy concerns
From the data, Zoom’s rise fluctuated at some point of the year, posing a threat to its growth following security and privacy concerns. But in the immediate aftermath of its skyrocketing popularity, Zoom faced intense criticism over privacy and security practices, causing some companies and institutions to drop the platform.
The company failed to address glaring securing and privacy concerns as it grew. There were questions regarding the company end to end encrypted calls and Zoom booming, where uninvited guests interrupted meetings. Additionally, there were allegations of sharing personal information with advertisers.
However, after Zoom paused on developing new features on April 1st to focus on handling securing and privacy issues, the company got back on track. Most importantly, Zoom gained users’ and investors’ trust after reacting quickly to address security problems. Most importantly, the weekly security briefing was the main contributor towards Zoom’s stock rise from May.
Even after lockdown measures were eased, Zoom stock has continued to grow since the pandemic ushered in a culture of working from anywhere. The pandemic accelerated the adoption of cloud-based communications, and Zoom being a pioneer, continues witness growth.
Despite some missteps on the security and privacy front, Zoom appears poised to continue to grow and evolve. It has established itself as an essential tool for companies looking to ride out the pandemic with workers distributed remotely.
The outlook of the global economy is not as grim as expected. According to the research data analyzed and gathered by StockApps.com, there will be a 4.5% drop in global GDP in 2020 as opposed to the 6% global decline experts estimated in June 2020.
On the bright side, an OECD Economic Outlook report for September 2020 forecasts a remarkable recovery by 2021, marked by a 5.0% GDP growth.
In 2020, the Euro area will be one of the most adversely affected as its GDP will plummet by 7.9%. On the other hand, the G20 will suffer a 4.1% decline, nearly half of the Euro area’s drop. Comparatively, in 2019, the Euro area had reported a 1.3% growth while the G20 countries had grown by 2.9%.
Just like the global economy, Euro’s GDP will bounce back in 2021, with a 5.1% increase, while that of G20 countries will shoot up by 5.7%.
In the June report, the OECD had predicted that the UK would have the worst contraction compared to the major G20 economies. South Africa, which is set to sink by 11.5% took the UK’s place in the new report.
Argentina followed closely behind with an estimated 11.2% drop. Italy will be the third worst hit with a projected 10.5% drop while India and Mexico will tie with a 10.2% decline. The UK will still be among the hardest hit economies, sinking by 10.1%.
Though the outcome is not as bad as anticipated, the report points out that the global economy is still facing unprecedented damage based on recent history. According to WeForum, the economic shock experienced in 2020 is three times worse than the 2008 financial crisis in terms of annual GDP decline. The OECD report points out that the hit would have been far worse if it not for policymakers’ rapid reaction.
The global GDP could rebound to pre-pandemic levels by 2021. However, that will depend on health measures, business confidence and the likelihood of future waves of the pandemic.
China’s Economy Could be worth $14.6 Trillion in 2020, 17.5% of Global GDP
The aforementioned OECD report highlights the fact that all G20 economies with the exception of China will suffer an economic recession in 2020. It projects a 1.8% GDP growth for China in 2020.
In 2019, China’s economy had grown by 6.1%. According to the forecast, it could soar 8.0% in 2021.
Summer projections from the World Bank paint a similar picture, projecting a 1.6% GDP growth for China in 2020, against a 5.2% global contraction.
According to CNN Business, by the end of 2020, China’s economy could be worth $14.6 trillion. This will give it a 17.5% share of the global GDP.
In the first week of October 2020, China celebrated the Golden Week, ending on October 8. Marking the Moon Festival and the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the period was the busiest travel season in 2020.
Over 630 million people traveled around the country, 80% higher than those who traveled in 2019. Tourist spending shot up by 70% compared to 2019 to reach $70 billion while movie ticket sales hit $580 million, only 12% less than the number in 2019.
Overall, the July to September quarter of 2020 saw China’s economy surge by 4.9% year-over-year (YoY). During the previous quarter, Q2 2020, it had reported a 3.2% growth. The robust growth in Q3 has brought its economy close to its pre-pandemic growth rate of 6%.
US GDP to Sink by 3.8% in 2020 as Four Powerhouse States Lag Behind
The US is set to suffer a 3.8% GDP decline in 2020. In comparison, it had grown 2.2% in 2019 and the report projects that it will grow by 4.0% in 2021.
Morgan Stanley projects that the US economy could recover to pre-pandemic levels two quarters earlier than the previously anticipated Q4 2021. However, the report points out that much of the recovery is fuelled by debt-based government spending. As such, the private sector will likely need more time.
Unfortunately, the recovery is hampered by underperformance in four key states: California, New York, Texas and Florida. These four states account for 35% of the country’s economic output and around 30% of the US population.
According to an Oxford index that tracks economic recovery, the four are collectively lagging over 10 percentage points behind the rest of the country.