No. 162: 3AMReads: Akon Going Public | Robots Mess Up Development Formula | Don’t Sleep on Halal Tourism

Bloomberg: Star Rapper Akon Mulls IPO of Chinese-Funded African Solar Unit

I was surprised to see this news. Akon’s Lighting Africa project has gotten a good bit of media attention over the past several years. Perhaps, as time goes by, more information about the company’s financials will come out. I think a lot of people are curious to see them.

Axios: Robots could hobble developing countries

I’ve mentioned a few times my nervousness about the technological advancements society is making right now. I fear a sort of point-of-no-return where artificial intelligence, in particular, puts a wide gap between the developed and developing world. So, when I see pieces like this, my chest gets tight.

Perhaps alternatives to low-cost manufacturing serving as the path to development will emerge. The work startups like Andela are doing, for example, is quite interesting – developing technical talent and prepping them to work for global companies. The cost of hiring software engineers trained by Andela is much lower than hiring one in Silicon Valley. The problem is that as technology continues to advance, you need fewer and fewer engineers to reach scale with products. Andela just launched in its second country, Uganda, a few weeks ago. So, they are very much a wait and see case study.

How do you think African countries should navigate technological advancements like robots and artificial intelligence?

Quartz: The new growth industry in Africa is Muslim tourism

Several years ago, I traveled to a number of African countries with a group of Muslim entrepreneurs. It was a fascinating experience. The level of attention they paid to whether things were halal, making time for prayer, and other considerations was informative to be part of, and I could see how the tourism industry catering to Muslims could be lucrative.


No. 146 – Three AM Reads: South Africa’s Junk Status a Quick Fix? | Another Innovators List | Chevy Volt Designer Goes Home to Nigeria

South Africa Central Bank Governor Says Junk Status Can be Addressed Quickly

During the World Economic Forum held in Durban this week, South African Central Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago said that South African can quickly deal with the concerns ratings agencies have raised in cutting the country’s credit rating to junk status or putting its rating on review for a downgrade. I’m curious what path he sees for that to happen. The ratings cuts happened after President Zuma flipped his entire cabinet in the wee hours of the night last month. The political uncertainty driven by the President is the primary issue and I don’t see how that changes unless he’s no longer in office.

Quartz Releases 2017 Africa Innovators List

Yesterday, I highlighted a list of women innovators across Africa. Today, Quartz released its list of innovators across the continent, and it’s a good one as well. Kudos to Karim Sy for making the list!

Chevy Volt Designer Leading Development of Nigeria’s Automotive Industry

So, I definitely missed this in the news cycle several weeks ago. Jelani Aliyu, the designer of the Chevy Volt, has been tapped to lead Nigeria’s National Automotive Design and Development Council. That’s really cool. More vim to him in contributing to the country building up industries outside of the energy space.