Nigeria will have every right to think about winning the title.
On the day, you could tell the Nigerians were in town.
In certain locations of Cairo, the bleating blast of saxophones – a familiar calling card of Super Eagles supporters - was distinct as the invading green and white army tuned up for the second quarter-final match between Nigeria and South Africa at Cairo International Stadium on Wednesday night.
The press centre at the stadium, previously dominated by Egyptian journalists, was taken over by the loud Nigerians.
And you have got to give it to the country that gave us such famous writers as Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Ken Saro-Wiwa and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Part of their contingent had copies of a magazine produced by the Nigeria Football Federation with the cover story titled: “We Are in Egypt to Fight For The Trophy: Podium masters Nigeria back for the first time after 2013 triumph”, that they distributed to anybody who wanted a read.
After their group stay in Alexandria, they re-announced their fight for the title in Cairo in emphatic fashion.
Off the pitch, the attendance was easily the best the tournament has seen outside of matches involving Egypt. The majority of the spectators were travelling Nigerian fans, from home and neighbouring countries and those based in Egypt, mainly students.
But interestingly, Egyptian spectators who attended the match loudly joined their Nigerian counterparts leaving the very small South African support an isolated lot.
The local fans probably got behind the Super Eagles to get back at Bafana Bafana that eliminated the host nation from the tournament at the round of 16 stage four days earlier.
Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr had another explanation.
“It was wonderful to see the Egyptian crowd get behind us. We had good relations with the people in Alexandria. We like to play positive, good football; one-touch football if possible and I think the crowd likes that and appreciates it,” said the German coach after the match.
On the pitch, after a slow start the Super Eagles gradually asserted their authority with Leicester City’s Wilfred Ndidi bossing the midfield and Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi linking up well with Eagles’ outstanding wing men Ahmed Musa on the left and Villarreal’s 20-year-old rising star Samuel Chukwueze on the right.
The tricky Chukwueze, given a starting role by Rohr did not disappoint, troubling Bafana Bafana all evening. Inevitably, he scored Nigeria’s opener after a neat interplay between Musa and Iwobi on the right flank set up the youngster inside the box. He planted the ball home on his second attempt.
Chukwueze, named man-of-the-match, then came close again twice in a first half that Nigeria looked well in control. But they were made to sweat over their inability to finish off South Africa midway through the second half when Bongani Zulu headed home from a free kick and VAR, used in this tournament for the first time, confirmed he was on side.
Defender William Ekong pushed the ball home from a corner to break South Africans' hearts five minutes from time in match that exhibited quality football in bits and pieces but never really fired up.
A large Nigerian government delegation led by Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila and Governor of Central Bank Godwin Emefiele, met the team within the stadium after the match and announced hefty rewards for their progress thus far.
Nigeria will have every right to think about winning the title. But another sterner test looms tomorrow, on Sunday when they face either Algeria in the semi-finals.
Credit: Daily Nation Kenya
The number of people in Africa without access to electricity remain staggering and unchanging with every report—around 640 million people don’t have access to a grid. And even when some of people do have access the electricity supply is unreliable and unstable.
It’s a problem across the continent. The most consistent and promising approach to tackling this huge obstacle to development has come with the off-grid pay-as-you-go solar power model, now called PayGo. The sector started out in East Africa built around combining the improving and increasingly cost-effective solar technology with the region’s mobile money advantage, thanks to the successful reach of Safaricom’s M-Pesa in Kenya.
Companies like Nairobi-based M-Kopa, who we spoke with recently at the Collision conference in Toronto, have signed up 750,000 homes in the region on the back of that payment platform which has been key for also enabling users to obtain credit and manage their payments. “The energy is kind of the easy part,” acknowledged chief executive Jesse Moore.
Also on the panel with Moore in Toronto was the musician Akon, who has famously been building a solar power business for a few years in several African countries. His latest initiative to to develop a crypto-currency to get round the difficulties with payments and boosting financial inclusion.
PayGo solar isn’t just reliant on classic mobile money solutions. In some countries it’s being used with local bank partnerships such as in Nigeria or with credit bureaus in India, for example.
The rise and challenges of PayGo are covered in the World Bank-backed Lighting Global report which analyzes the market attractiveness of the model around the developing world. Globally, the sales volume of PayGo products grew by 30% last year with revenues growing even faster at 50% driven by customers upgrading to solar home systems beyond basic products like solar lamps. According to the global off-grid solar market report, PayGo companies represented just 24% of the sales volume in the last six months of 2018, but accounted for 62% of revenues.
When it comes to demand Kenya and Uganda score high particularly when it comes to users’ “willingness to pay”, while Kenya also does well on the supply side along with Indonesia, driven by the availability of finance to support the sector.
While the report covers 24 countries across sub Saharan Africa and Asia, it’s clear East Africa is the star of the show with more than 70% of the global PayGo market’s revenues.
In Lighting Global’s country focus on Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, the demand for PayGo services is the highest of country’s covered because of the unreliability of the country’s existing grid and low electrification rates especially in rural areas. The PayGo market has seen rapid growth in recent years with over 1.7 million households now using off grid solar products. But Nigeria’s current market penetration is still low, at just 4% of the potential market.
Nigeria’s complex regulatory environment is identified as one hurdle to enabling better supply with opportunities such as supporting mobile money more widely. But on the plus side the country offers innovative business models, including partnerships with mobile operators for airtime credit enabled PAYGo products and retail banks to leverage agent networks have helped some solar operators overcome barriers to market.