Top of the Blogs 2017 #11

Also available in Deutsch

This week Top of the Blogs has a focus on the urban side of Africa with regard to the economy and elections. In Kenya the general elections next week are highly competitive and blogger Ahmed Salim is voices his concerns about issues that might lead to contestation of the election outcome. Despite the very bad economic situation in Zimbabwe the opposition party is not able to mobilise their (urban) voters against the ruling party. Recent research from Britain found that it is a particular feature of African cities to perpetuate poverty and marginalisation. However the enormously advance in the use of mobile money might be a big leap forward for Africa’s economic growth.

As Kenyans Go to the Polls on August 8, Here Are the Things to Watch
When Kenya’s general election takes place next week, it will be the most competitive and most expensive election ever. Blogger Ahmed Salim lists three key issues to keep an eye on during and after the elections: the Electoral Commission IECB, the economy and security. The performance and developments around these will decide if the election results will be challenged or not, Salim is sure.

Zimbabwe: The opposition’s urban voter problem
Under the ZANU-PF and President Robert Mugabe, the economy in Zimbabwe has gone into rapid decline. Yet the party heads into the 2018 election year much stronger than the main opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T). The MDC used to be able to rely on huge support among the frustrated urban middle-class as well as rural voters. Over the last four years the MDC-T has lost key seats in previous strongholds particularly among urban voters. Poorer citizens in towns and cities are frustrated with opposition politics. Trust in opposition parties has never been lower. It is still a year to go to the elections, says blogger Chipo Dendere. However he warns that the opposition will lose unless it “can find a way to rejuvenate its messaging and engage with voters in the way it once managed to in the 2000s.”

Africa’s cities face unique risks. What can be done to manage them?
A recently published paper on African Urbanisation demonstrates that African cities are too often developing in ways that perpetuate poverty and marginalisation. The findings suggest that

• African cities are expensive

• African cities are not industrializing

• African cities have a large informal economy

Furthermore the amount of money that people have to spend on basic necessities, the precarious nature of their employment and their exclusion from the formal economy mean that they have limited resources to cope with environmental risk. The blogger and researcher who has been part of the author group says that there are solutions to these issues. In order to achieve them governments need to work much more collaboratively with people living in informal settlements and working in the informal economy.

Mobile money is only just starting to transform some of Africa’s markets
The use of mobile money in Africa outpaced growth in the rest of the world, with over half of all services globally and in active use by more than 40% of adults. An example of the fisherman Karemera who now saves nine-hour long trips to collect money from his customers shows that with a mobile phone, Africa has a real chance of overcoming lost years of underdevelopment. Blogger Moses K. Gahigi quotes a report from global trade body GSMA that mobile money accounts in sub-Saharan Africa have surpassed bank accounts. Especially millions of un-banked rural poor profit from mobile money as it gives them a chance to be financially included and take part in a wider economic circle.

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