Here are three big stories from Africa’s business and policy landscape you (probably) didn’t miss but should keep in mind this week:

Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso cut ties with ECOWAS

Claiming that ECOWAS has betrayed its members and people under foreign pressure, three West African nations led by the military have declared their immediate exit from the regional group. The joint statement from Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso said they decided to leave the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in full sovereignty. They blamed the regional body for not backing their fight against “terrorism and insecurity” and for imposing “illegal, illegitimate, inhumane and irresponsible sanctions”. ECOWAS, a 15-nation bloc established in 1975 to “promote economic integration” among its members, has faced difficulties in recent years in stopping the frequent coups in the region where people have expressed dissatisfaction with the poor distribution of natural wealth. There were military takeovers in Mali in 2020 and 2021, in Burkina Faso in 2022, and in Niger in 2023.

ECOWAS said it was unaware of the countries’ decision to leave the bloc. Its protocol states that withdrawal takes up to one year to be finalized. “Burkina Faso, Niger, and Mali are still important members of the Community, and the Authority is dedicated to finding a negotiated solution to the political deadlock,” it said.

Netflix cracks 260 million subscribers

In its Q4 2023 report, Netflix revealed that it gained 13.12 million new subscribers, reaching 260 million subscribers. The increase was driven by 5.05 million subscribers from the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region. The streaming platform equally saw a 12% rise in revenue in Q4 2023, 6% higher than 2022 and 2% more than expected. The platform had 12.5% YoY growth by the end of the year.

Netflix said its 13.12 million paid net additions were its “biggest Q4 ever”, while it had 7.66 million additions in Q4 2022. Netflix’s Q4 performance shows the advantages of its paid sharing feature, recent price changes, and the company’s strength, supported by a strong slate. As the number of subscribers increased, Netflix suggests it will sometimes ask users to pay a bit more for the enhancements on the platform.

Netflix announced on January 23, 2024, that World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Raw will debut on the platform in January 2025, starting in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Latin America and growing from there. Netflix could boost ad reach and subscriber growth by adding WWE, which has over 36 million viewers in 180 countries, 1.5 billion social media followers, 800 million homes reached through television programming, 35 billion YouTube views, and over $1 billion in yearly revenue from its streaming service alone.

In 2023, Showmax, owned by MultiChoice, surpassed Netflix in the African market share rankings. Netflix reportedly had 35% of the African market in November 2023, while Showmax now has 40%. Meanwhile, Amazon Prime Video, the third largest streaming platform in Africa, announced on January 18, 2024, that it is cutting jobs and local content production in Sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa to simplify operations and concentrate on European markets.

Nigerians abroad to register for NIN via a mobile app

The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has announced that it will enable Nigerians abroad to apply for a National Identity Number (NIN) with ease starting from February 2024. The aim is to boost identity services, tackle the slow pace of the NIN database growth, and create a more efficient and inclusive system for Nigerians in and out of the country. Using the app equally aligns with the agency’s objective of enhancing service delivery and creating a user-friendly system for Nigerians abroad, according to the Director General of NIMC, Abisoye Coker-Odusote.

However, the agenda to increase the NIN database, which was 104.16 million as of December 31, 2023, is regarded as low relative to the country’s population of over 200 million. Therefore, NIMC plans to enrol 148 million Nigerians by June 2024 as part of the Digital Identity for Development (DID4D) project supervised by the World Bank. In addition, by June 1, 2024, the country plans to issue NIN to 50 million children below the age of 16 and at least 65 million female Nigerians. The NIMC Office will set up a special Diaspora Focal Point Desk as part of the process to ensure quick resolution of issues within a day. This customer-oriented approach aims to fulfil the agency’s commitment to delivering quality service by supporting Nigerian expatriates.

ICYMI: Market roundup

  • Nigeria’s equities market moved downwards over a 5-day trading week, with the NGX All-Share Index appreciating by 8.32% to close at 102,401.88 points. The top gainers were Triple Gee and Company Plc. (32.24%), Dangote Cement Plc. (28.82%), Sunu Assurances Nigeria Plc (25.00%), Japaul Gold and Ventures Plc (23.20%), and Seplat Energy Plc (21.00%). The top decliners were Verita Kapital Assurance plc (-23.38%), The Initiates plc (-21.77%), Cadbury Nigeria plc (-20.86%), Deap Capital Management and Trust plc (-19.19%), and MCNICHOLS Plc (-17.78%).
  • The naira closed the week at ₦ 891.90/$1 on Friday at the investor’s and Exporters’ window.
  • Brent crude closed the week at $85.55 while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude closed at $78.01
  • The global cryptocurrency market cap stood at $ 1.61 trillion, as of 9 p.m. Sunday, the 28th of January. Bitcoin stood at $41,972.55, a 0.85%, increase over the week, Ethereum decreased by 8.18% to trade at $2,263.95 Binance coin also decreased by 4.62% over the week, to trade at $305.17.  
  • Shamba Pride, a Kenyan agritech startup that seeks to enhance last-mile distribution for farm inputs and tackle price exploitation and quality issues for farmers through its merchant network dubbed digishops, raised a $3.7 Million debt-equity pre-series A funding from the EU agriculture financing initiative EDFI AgriFI and Seedstars Africa Ventures (SAV).
  • Last Friday, Egyptian fintech and customer loyalty app Zeal closed a $4 Million seed funding round to help it increase its footprint into the wider MENA market, in a round led by Raed Ventures and Cur8 Capital.

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