Ciku here, the newly appointed editor of Quartz Africa.
I consider myself fortunate to have friends from different parts of Africa who are entrepreneurs and innovators. I listen with pride as I hear them speak about their love of our continent, the opportunities, and the untapped potential in their various fields of work. As a pan-African myself, I root for them to succeed.
On the flip side, I think of all their unique struggles. One friend in Dakar wants to source all the produce for her shop from African countries, but is now having to rethink that plan. Her products from Tanzania spent months at the port and eventually cost her more than five times as much as if she had ordered alternatives from the US.
Another, a communication expert in Lagos, has to explain to her international clients that generator and diesel costs are volatile business expenses. In Addis, one peer wonders how to attract foreign investors when they will not be able to get their hard currency out of the country when they need it. While another in Abidjan has run a successful small business for years, but can’t access the capital he needs from local banks to move it to the next stage. And these are just the people I know.
As I read the news, I think of the millions of other Africans barely getting by day-to-day during the pandemic, even as they try to make use of new opportunities—people who have started online businesses after losing their jobs but have to worry about social media taxes; or agribusiness entrepreneurs worried about what will happen once fuel prices increase drive up production costs.
The stories that Quartz Africa covers are not only interesting, but important. We pride ourselves on having a balanced, insider view with a network of writers across the continent. My belief is that by combining compelling storytelling with fact-based data and analysis, we tell stories that can influence national and regional policy.
Covering ambitious projects like the African Free Continental Trade Agreement, an African passport, and the Single African Air Transport Market might sound very lofty and far-removed from the daily lives of millions. The impact of border lockdowns, internet shutdowns, and social media taxes might many times be difficult to quantify. But to those they affect, all of these issues make the difference between thriving and surviving.
Our focus on innovation, technology, business and the players behind these sectors are the best case we can give for an interconnected Africa, one story at a time.
I am truly honored to be taking over this role of Quartz Africa editor from Yinka Adegoke, someone I admire and respect so much; a person who charted the path for Quartz Africa and created a space for writers including myself to tell these stories. My hope for the next phase is to be even more ambitious, cast a wider net for our stories and contributors, and look at ideas through Quartz’s revamped mission to “make business better.”
As we write, we ask, what is business doing to make life better on the continent? How can we tell these stories in a way that can eventually affect policy? I welcome you to keep supporting us as we embark on this new chapter.
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