Caught in the middle 😕

African sports teams at Olympics, South African’s riot comes to an end, a major setback for the telecom consortium in Ethiopia.

Hello there, 

We’re back after a two weeks break. What happened during this break? What did you do?

For us, Bright went on leave sometime within that period. Daniel spent the time visiting Ghana, despite initially having other plans.  

African sports teams at Olympics

The 2021 Olympics, which is still officially called the 2020 Olympics to keep the four-year cycle and branding consistent, kicked off yesterday.

For the first time in the Olympics history, the sporting event will be held on an odd year due to the pandemic.

The Story

Taking a cue from previous Olympics events, African teams have learnt to not rely on the government and turned to crowdfund campaigns.

South Africa: In 2016, despite South Africa' obsession with cricket and rugby - after the country's hockey team qualified for the Olympics, the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) did not fund them. 

Five years later, the hockey team has returned to the Olympics. This time, they took matters into their own hands: crowdfunding their way to paying for new balls, travel costs and even Covid tests.  They even got fintech company Matchkit to help crowdsource their way to the Olympics. 

Nigeria: In 2020, the Nigerian soccer team threatened a boycott because of an 18-month backlog of bonuses and allowances, according to a BBC report

If that could happen to the country’s favourite sports, then it came as no surprise that funding for the national basketball team was barely sufficient for the team that made it to the Olympics.

For instance, the money to purchase the practice jerseys players wore for training camp came out of the volunteer head coach’s pocket. 

To take care of its urgent bills, the team has turned to a crowdfunding campaign

After the Men basketball team's historic win over the United States, the team has seen more support, and even got a partnership with fintech giant Flutterwave to make donations easier.

Big Picture: It’s good to see that these issues are sorted out. However, there are bigger questions to be answered like how this support and partnerships will impact homegrown basketball development and what'll happen after the Olympics? Guess time will tell.

Trivia: In this year's event,  17 of the 33 different Olympics sports use balls or spheres. The folks at Visual Capitalist decided to rank the balls in terms of size and weight. 

The Result: Table tennis has the smallest sports ball while the biggest is the men’s basketball -- which is surprisingly bigger than the women’s basketball.

South African’s riot comes to an end  

From the 9th to 17th July 2021, South African businesses were caught in the middle of a political conflict.

What happened?

Last month, the former president, Jacob Zuma was sentenced to 15 months jail time. His offence? He defied an order to provide evidence at a judicial inquiry set up to probe high-level corruption during his nine-year tenure (2009 – 2018).

The result: Chaos. His supporters started protests that swiftly degenerated into violent marches and looting. As a result of this, hundreds of businesses have been destroyed and almost 200 people have died.

Authorities have managed to bring the violence under control. But the economic cost is estimated at $1.37 billion in KwaZulu-Natal (a coastal South African province) alone, as 161 shopping malls, 11 warehouses and eight factories were extensively damaged. The extent of the damage in other provinces is still being collated.

Big Picture: South African authorities believe the unrest was deliberately provoked by political opponents to force president Cyril Ramaphosa to pardon Zuma or even step down. 

A major setback for the consortium 

Similar to what’s happening in South Africa, aspiring Ethiopian telecom operators are caught in between a different political conflict.

Backstory: In May, Ethiopia awarded the country’s first private telecommunication license to a consortium including Safaricom and the UK’s Vodafone Group Plc. The consortium agreed to pay $850m for the licence. 

The bitter pill: The recent armed conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region may affect the consortium’s plan. How? The consortium agreed to take a $500 million loan from the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) to help with acquisition and development costs, but now that’s looking unlikely.

The DFC has hinted that acts of violence against civilians in Tigray could affect the release of $500-million in loans to the consortium. If the conflict deepens, it could push the DFC to forgo the investments altogether and pressure the telecoms in the consortium to seek money from elsewhere in order to finance operations in Ethiopia.

Big picture: If the DFC chooses to forgo its investment this could be a major setback for the consortium which is bent on kick-starting its operations in Ethiopia next year.

Dig Deeper: Ethiopia’s Tigray war: The short, medium and long story

Worth reading 📚

Quote 💭

Not being busy is a competitive advantage.

Most people are so strapped for time they can't take advantage of lucky opportunities or quickly resolve unexpected problems.

Maintain a bias toward action, but leave room for the unexpected.

—James Clear