UAE willing to fund and advance Africa’s energy transformation: Minister


Image used for illustrative purpose. Getty Images

The UAE is ready to help Africa with finance and technology for the continent’s energy transformation, said Mariam Almheiri, the Emirate’s Minister of Climate Change and Environment. 

The country’s experience in developing green energy and industry projects, including some of the world’s largest solar parks, puts the UAE in a strong position to contribute to Africa’s energy transition, she told African Business magazine. 

Earlier this month, the UAE pledged to invest $4.5 billion to accelerate Africa’s switch to clean energy. The funds will be provided by the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar), the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, Etihad Credit Insurance, and Dubai-based AMEA Power. 

“We are walking the talk, stepping up where we can, to say: this is our contribution to help Africa in their energy systems transformation,” Almheiri said.  

She confirmed that the $4.5 billion pledge came about through the UAE government working with the four institutions.   

The minister admitted that Africa is bearing the brunt of climate change despite contributing only “a very small” share of cumulative global emissions. 

Almheiri stated that ensuring that “things get fixed is vital to keep Africa intact and stop the migration routes”.   

African governments have agreed at the Nairobi summit that their focus at COP28 will be on pushing governments in the Global North to deliver on previous commitments, which include the loss and damage fund pledged at COP27. 

“They have projects ready, but they always say the availability, affordability and accessibility of finance is the biggest challenge they’re facing,” Almheiri said.   

“We’ve realised we cannot just wait,” she stated.  

“Every country has to step up and do something. And because we’re hosting the world, we took it in our own hands to say: Okay, let’s bring some of these entities together and see what we can do,” Almheiri added. 

The UAE will host the COP28 climate summit at Expo City Dubai from November 30 to December 12, 2023. 

South African rand weakens at start of busy data week


FILE PHOTO: South African Rand coins are seen in this photo illustration taken September 9, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings/File Photo

The South African rand weakened in early trade on Tuesday as the U.S. dollar rose, ahead of a leading business cycle indicator release and other economic data points later in the week.

At 0634 GMT, the rand traded at 18.8950 against the dollar , almost 0.7% weaker than its previous close.

The dollar last traded around 0.15% stronger against a basket of global currencies.

At 0700 GMT the South African Reserve Bank will release the country’s leading business cycle indicator for July and at around 0900 GMT the government will hold its weekly government bond auction.

South Africa will also release producer price inflation, money supply, trade balance and budget figures for August this week, which will give clues on the health of the economy.

“While the rand has been doing very well, there is no point in fighting against a stronger USD,” said Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) analysts in a research note.

The dollar has surged following comments by the Federal Reserve that suggested it might keep interest rates higher for longer, RMB added.

Like other risk-sensitive currencies, the rand is often swayed by global factors like U.S. monetary policy.

South Africa’s benchmark 2030 government bond was weaker in early deals, with the yield up 9 basis points to 10.745%.

Invest in Nigeria without fear, Tinubu woos NASDAQ

Nigerian Tribune

Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu speaks after his swearing-in ceremony in Abuja, Nigeria May 29, 2023. REUTERS/Temilade Adelaja

President Bola Tinubu has urged the National Association of Securities Dealers Automatic Quotation System (NASDAQ) to seize the immense opportunity available in Nigeria for investment without fear.

He made the call on Wednesday as he rang the closing bell, becoming the first African president to ever receive this honour at the establishment.

However, former President Goodluck Jonathan rang the closing bell of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in 2013.

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Tinubu’s invitation to NASDAQ was part of his push to attract foreign direct investment into Nigeria.

The president said, “It’s a great honour for me to be here. I am happy to bring Nigeria to your doorstep, and I am honoured that we are here today with a bubbling Nigerian stock market that will evolve in the West African sub-region.

The greatest economy in Africa is Nigeria, and there is immense opportunity in Nigeria where you can invest your money without fear.”

The President noted that his government continues to address problems and impediments, such as the restoration and unification of the foreign exchange rate market to a stable and trustworthy level, allowing new investors to easily bring their money into the country, free of worries about whether or not they can take their money out at any point in time.

“You’re free to bring in your money and take it out. I count on you to invest in Nigeria,” the president said.

At the Nigeria-U.S. Executive Business Roundtable held just after the closing bell, President Tinubu assured prospective investors that while he recognises that investment capital is often cautious, he intentionally brought successful Nigerian industrialists and public officials to share their experiences and operational plans, respectively, in addition to all that he has already done to boost the confidence of the global investment community in Nigeria’s presently reforming fiscal, monetary, regulatory, and tax policy environment.

He further said, “Nigeria is an opportunity that is impossible to replicate or find elsewhere in any part of the world.

We have brilliant young people who innovate and consume on a large scale. Our entrepreneurial spirit is a major part of what makes our market unique, aside from demography.

Nigerians build businesses, and Nigerian businesses partner with others to conduct larger business.

“There is enough value to spread around. Be careful of what you hear about Nigeria.

You may be dissuaded from a major opportunity that others will take up. We are here for you. We will give you all the support you need to succeed and succeed abundantly.”

Speaking on behalf of the U.S. Government, U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary, Wally Adeyemo, told the country’s business leaders that he had just come from Lagos, Nigeria, where he was on an official visit that later became a fact-finding mission.

“In Lagos, I saw firsthand some of the major reforms you implemented as the Governor of Lagos and the transformative effect they have had on Nigeria’s commercial capital.

People have attested to the fact that the reforms you have put in place as president are quickly enhancing confidence. American business is paying attention to that, and from what we have seen for ourselves, Nigeria is proving to be a new frontier for investment.

We will encourage our companies from our end as those reforms continue to deepen,” Mr Adeyemo said.

The American Business Council President, Mr Sops Ideriah, said that the extensive turnout at the roundtable by American Business Chief Executives served as a testament to the degree to which confidence is rising in response to the actions and words of President Bola Tinubu’s administration regarding ease of business, investment promotion, and his willingness to personally intervene where required to ease the historical concerns of American business people about doing business in Nigeria.

“Having all the stakeholders in the room, His Excellency the President of Nigeria being here, from government actors at the federal and state level to ministers and tax authorities present, as well as private sector industrialists in Nigeria, we are very positive about the potential of Nigeria, and we are just reinforcing to our colleagues the message about the economic opportunities that exist there,” Mr Ideriah said.

In his remark, Acting Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr Zacch Adedeji, assured the American Captains of Industry that under the leadership of President Bola Tinubu, the nation’s apex tax authority will focus its efforts not on taxing the seed but only on the proportionate taxation of the fruit of fully formed industry through efficient policy synergy with Nigeria’s sub-national authorities.

“The President is a business enabler, not a handicapper. Everything we do will be geared towards making your tax assessment and payment processes as digitally efficient and transparent as possible.

We are not after the seed, but the fruit and we will keep to this commitment.”

Nigeria must catch up with the green revolution

Nigerian Tribune

Image used for illustrative purpose. Getty Images

GREEN or renewable energy refers to energy derived from naturally replenished sources with minimal environmental impact. These sources are considered “green” because they produce little to no greenhouse gas emissions or air pollutants when generating electricity or heat. Some common forms of green or renewable energy include, solar energy, which involves capturing sunlight using photovoltaic cells (solar panels) to convert it into electricity or using solar thermal systems to produce heat for various applications.

Then there is wind energy. Wind turbines capture the kinetic energy of wind to generate electricity. Wind farms can range from small installations to large-scale utility projects Hydropower (Hydroelectric Energy) harnesses the energy of flowing water, typically through dams or river turbines, to generate electricity while geothermal energy power taps into the Earth’s natural heat by using steam or hot water from underground reservoirs to generate electricity and provide heating.

Also, we have tidal and wave energy. These forms of energy capture the kinetic energy of ocean tides and waves to generate electricity. Fossil energy, also known as fossil fuels, refers to hydrocarbon-based energy sources derived from the remains of ancient plants and animals that lived millions of years ago. These fuels are called “fossils” because they are formed from the fossils of ancient organisms. The three primary types of fossil fuels are: 1. Coal: This black or brownish-black sedimentary rock primarily comprises carbon and various other elements. It is the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel and is used for electricity generation and industrial processes. 2. Crude oil: Also known as petroleum, crude oil is a liquid hydrocarbon mixture found underground. It is processed in refineries to produce various products, including gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel, used for transportation and multiple applications. 3. Natural Gas: This is a naturally occurring gas composed of methane. It is often associated with oil deposits but can also be extracted separately. Natural gas is used for heating, electricity generation, and as a fuel for vehicles.

Fossil fuels have been the dominant energy source for many decades due to their energy density and ease of use. However, their combustion releases carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change and environmental pollution. As a result, there is a growing global effort to transition to cleaner and more sustainable energy sources, such as renewable energy, to reduce the environmental impact of fossil fuels. Between 2010 and 2021, the amount of electricity generated in the U.S. from fossil fuels diminished by 13 per cent, while the amount of electricity provided by renewable resources other than hydro increased by about 250per cen. EU fossil fuel generation fell by a fifth in the first half of 2023. Automakers have become the new renewable energy investors, with several of them making sustainability a core part of their business strategy.

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According to the United Nations, Cheap electricity from renewable sources could provide 65 percent of the world’s total electricity supply by 2030, which could decarbonize 90 percent of the power sector by 2050, massively cutting carbon emissions and helping to mitigate climate change. Nigeria must invest in green and renewable energy for several reasons, First, it has environmental benefits. Fossil fuels contribute to air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, leading to climate change and health issues. Transitioning to renewables can reduce these negative impacts. Then there is the issue of energy security. Relying on fossil fuels makes Nigeria vulnerable to global energy price fluctuations. Investing in renewables can enhance energy security by diversifying the energy mix. Another benefit is economic diversification. Nigeria’s economy heavily depends on oil exports. Investing in renewables can diversify the economy and create new jobs in the green energy sector.

Sustainable development is another factor. Green energy projects can provide sustainable electricity access to remote areas, improving the quality of life and supporting rural development. Again, we have to consider global trends. The world is shifting towards clean energy, and Nigeria should align with global trends to attract investment partnerships and meet international commitments like the Paris Agreement. And yet another factor is technological advancements: Renewable energy technologies are becoming more affordable and efficient, making them increasingly attractive options for power generation. Finally, there is the question of energy access. Millions of Nigerians lack access to reliable electricity. Green energy can help bridge this gap, leading to social and economic development.

Nigeria must buy into green and renewable energy for a sustainable and prosperous future.

Akinuli is an energy expert

Somalia launches electronic Identity Card

The East African

Image used for illustrative purpose. Getty Images

Somalia is attempting its national identity card system to establish a central data base of unique numbers for its citizens for the first time in three decades.

On September 16, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud received his national identity card while in Dusamareb town in Central Somalia, about 511 km north of Mogadishu, on Saturday. It was a symbolic ceremony that indicates desire to pool and know the size of the country’s adults, a missing link in 33 years.

Mohamud who has been in parts of Central Somalia for over a month, leading military operations against the extremist group Al-Shabaab, managed to take part in two-day conference in Mogadishu marking the official launching of the National Identification, via a video link.

Read: Somali legislators endorse National ID Authority BillSomali Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre who presided the conference held at Afasyioni Hall inside the perimeter of Aden Abdulle International Airport on September 16-17 was honoured to receive his ID.“Today’s event represents a grand day for Somalia as we finally lay the foundations of a reliable and all-inclusive national identification system that is recognised across the world,” Barre remarked.

Organised by Somalia’s National Identification & Registration Authority (NIRA), the conference introduced Somalia to digital identity system, over three decades after the identification system collapsed with the military regime in early 1990s.

Barre argued that identification of citizens will contribute to the fighting against threat to security, terrorism and identity fraud.“The system being introduced will improve our businesses and performance of our economy, our banks, communication and Hawala money transfer systems.”“It will severely deal with terror networks and the fight against extremism.”The United Nations Special Representative for Somalia, Catriona Laing, was one of the high-profile diplomats who attended the inauguration of the Somali National ID Conference.

Laing commended Somali government for fore fronting the initiative she viewed as noble and emphasised the potential of the National ID system in strengthening good governance.“The system propels both private and financial sector growth,” the SRSG Laing stated.

The project has been sponsored by the World Bank and its Country Manager for Somalia Kristina Svensson says the launch is significant progress made in establishing an inclusive and trustworthy national identification system for Somalia.

Read: East Africa countries eye issuance of digital IDs“I greatly feel optimism that the national ID will help in the fight against the Al Shabaab terror group,” Svensson remarked.

Somalia’s main database for citizens collapsed as Somalia fell among warlords after they defeated the military regime of Siad Barre.

Most of the related institutions are now just being rebuilt with financial and technical support from development partners.

Recently, the country established its first statistics agency in three decades which will also be expected to finally conduct census and know the size of adults in the country.

But a lack of a single form of trusted identification has meant that Somalis can’t even use their formal names consistently, enabling crimes such as terrorism to thrive. 

Vaccine production in Africa key to pandemic-proofing the Continent

Africa Business

Covid-19 vaccine. Getty Images

The unprecedented speed of development of the Covid-19 vaccines can be attributed to multiple factors including record levels of international collaboration and swift action on the part of many governments and regulatory bodies to provide a conducive framework.

As every nation across the globe faced impending economic doom, massive cross-sector funding materialised, allowing large-scale phased trials to be performed in parallel (multiple phases run simultaneously).

The accumulation of knowledge from decades of study on related viruses, including research which started after the SARS outbreaks of 2002 -2004, and the advent of mRNA-based vaccine technology further assisted in ensuring a swift response to halting the spread of the deadly virus.

The potential for factors that enabled the Covid-19 vaccines’ swift development to expedite other vaccine efforts on the continent as well as the safety, efficacy, and uptake of the currently available COVID-19 vaccines in Africa will be key themes at this year’s Africa Health Conference, where participants like Epidemiologist and Cochrane SA Director, Professor Charles Shey Wiysonge, and Vaccine Specialist, Dr Geofrey Makenga, will address these important topics.

Among the permanent changes expected to be ushered in by the current pandemic, is the widespread uptake of the mRNA-based vaccines which have revolutionised vaccinology in recent times.

Unlike biotechnically complex protein-based vaccines, mRNA-based products can be nimbly manufactured for multiple diseases within the same facility, significantly decreasing the capex requirements for each new project. Similarly, the adenoviral vector technologies used in the J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines are revolutionising the vaccines industry.

While manufacturing capacity on the African continent is lagging, experts are quick to highlight the importance of achieving self-reliance by building local vaccine-manufacture capacity.

“Aspen’s Private-Public Partnership with the SA Department of Health to manufacture Johnson & Johnson vaccines from their flagship facility in Gqeberha, for example, is a hugely promising initiative”, says Prof Wiysonge.

It is however worth noting that, under the current agreement with J&J, the Aspen facility is doing ‘fill and finish’ (packaging and preparing the vaccines for release), on medicines largely produced outside of Africa.

Dr Makenga adds that as a continent we cannot relax until the vaccines are fully produced on African soil and urges Aspen and their collaborators to speed up the process for technology transfer and commence establishment of local facilities where active ingredients can be formulated and produced.

“A successful technology transfer will also secure capabilities for production of other vaccines post pandemic,” he says.

A future pandemic-proofed vaccine paradigm in Africa revolves around more than just financing. Budgetary backing is a must, and private-public partnerships will continue to be essential, but even greater potential lies in harnessing the synergy of government health departments, big pharmaceutical R&D, and medical research institutions.

Another promising example is BioVac in Cape Town. The result of a partnership between government and a pharmaceutical company, the institute is dedicated to bolstering local vaccine manufacturing capacity.

The African Union COVID-19 vaccination strategy aims to vaccinate a minimum of 60% of Africa’s population based on a whole-of-Africa approach. This is being facilitated by initiatives like the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT), a centralised purchasing agent.

Makenga says that with such structures in place, international finance facilities, in conjunction with civil society bodies like Covax (a collaboration led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the World Health Organization) stand to make great strides in ensuring vaccine availability.

“With assistance from non-for-profit international organizations, funding for investment could be secured for the development of other vaccines too, but only with strong political will from African countries,” he says.

Figures released by the African CDC, reveal low vaccination rates in most countries, with some countries having not yet received any vaccines at all. Furthermore, in many places the vaccines that have been acquired have been underused due to difficulties in delivery to local dispensing facilities, as well as storage challenges, and low ratios of HCWs.

According to Professor Charles Shey Wiysonge, the overall uptake of the vaccines on the continent has varied greatly from country to country and during different times throughout the pandemic.

“Seychelles for example has now achieved a vaccination coverage of close to 70%,” he remarks.

He observes that vaccine hesitancy has also been a challenge in some African countries and believes that the solution is to empower people with knowledge and education around the science of what vaccines are, and how they actually work.

Both experts agree that the technological advances in vaccine manufacture for Covid-19 bode well for adaptation for other diseases vexing the continent.

“I am optimistic that the Covid-19 pandemic will usher in a new era for Africa in which innovations in therapeutics and diagnostics is the norm,” concludes Wiysonge.

Ghana’s economy grew 3.2% in second quarter of 2023 – statistics office

Reuters News

A man holds Ghana’s cedi notes in Accra July 3, 2007. Luc Gnago, Reuters

Ghana’s economy grew 3.2% year-on-year in the second quarter of 2023, compared with a revised growth rate of 3.3% in the previous quarter, the country’s statistics agency said on Wednesday. 

Novo Nordisk contracts Aspen to produce insulin for Africa

FILE PHOTO: Novo Nordisk logo is seen in Bagsvaerd outside of Copenhagen, Denmark February 1, 2017. Scanpix Denmark/Liselotte Sabroe via REUTERS

Novo Nordisk has contracted Aspen Pharmacare to produce human insulin on its behalf in South Africa for export to African countries through a low-cost government tender system, the Danish drugmaker said on Tuesday, 20 September.
Announcing the deal on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Novo said the contract would lead to the production of 16 million vials of insulin next year, marking its “expanded commitment” to improving access to life-saving insulin to people living with diabetes in Africa.

Novo said the amount that Aspen will produce next year under the contract equated to the yearly consumption of 1.1 million people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, adding that it currently reaches 500,000 people with diabetes across sub-Saharan Africa.

By 2026, the amount of insulin produced will equate to the yearly consumption of 4.1 million people across the continent, it said.

Aspen said in a separate statement that it would manufacture the vials at its existing sterile facility in Gqeberha, South Africa, and that approximately 250 staff would be deployed for the production which will begin early next year.

The contract underscores Aspen’s commitment to manufacturing medicines in Africa to serve patients on the continent, Aspen’s chief operations officer Lorraine Hill said.

“Especially in lower and middle income countries, diabetes is fundamentally a tragedy,” Katrine DiBona, Novo’s corporate vice president for global public affairs and sustainability, said in an interview. She cited a company estimate that 60 million people globally need insulin but cannot access it.

Novo became Europe’s most valuable company earlier this month on booming sales of its obesity and type 2 diabetes drugs. It currently has a market capitalisation of about $420bn.

Novo said the Aspen-produced insulin would be distributed to health authorities and non-governmental organisations through a tender system with a guaranteed ceiling price of $3 per vial. It did not release further financial details about the contract.

The deal could help Aspen, Africa’s biggest drugmaker, utilise the manufacturing capacity it built during the Covid-19 pandemic. Aspen invested about $540m to expand facilities in South Africa and France, but orders for its vaccine failed to materialise.

That left the increased capacities loss-making, Aspen’s chief executive officer said last month after the company announced it had finally secured agreements with three global companies to produce their drugs at its French facility.

Novo chose Aspen as its partner due to its credibility as a drug manufacturer, DiBona said.

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Maggie Fick

Africa sets the foundation for an electric vehicle future

Close up of the Hybrid car electric charger station with power supply plugged into an electric car being charged.
Getty Images

Numerous South Africans facing daily challenges commuting to their workplaces via minibus taxis or cars on crowded highways might have difficulty accepting that an electric mobility revolution is on the horizon. However, several factors are pointing in that direction.

Emobility refers to electric vehicles, ideally powered by renewable energy sources, which may range from two- and three-wheeled vehicles to cars and buses.

Recent developments

Some recent developments are underway in South Africa which are laying the foundation of the future emobility revolution. This will help the country to meet its carbon reduction commitments under the Paris Agreement. Promising moves include the recent publication of the South African Renewable Energy Masterplan, which embraces battery storage and renewable energy.

Work is underway on an EV Masterplan and a Critical Minerals Masterplan, which will have input from the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition and the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, among others.

In the private sector, BMW announced in June 2023 that it would be manufacturing the BMW X3 as a plug-in hybrid for global export at its plant in Tshwane, South Africa. In the last couple of years, there has been a significant increase in the importation of electric and solar batteries into South Africa, as well as the growth of battery assembly in the country, especially in the Western Cape.

These local events are happening in parallel with Africa-wide initiatives. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) has prioritised the automotive sector and transport/logistics value chains.

The African Association of Automotive Manufacturers (AAAM) is working with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) on a continent-wide strategy. Afreximbank is supporting investments in the automotive sector with various programmes. Critical minerals and renewable energy are also likely to become priority sectors across the continent.

Certain African jurisdictions are incentivising electric vehicle and emobility development. Rwanda has plans to phase in electric buses, cars and motorcycles, while the recent steps taken by Kenya are particularly noteworthy.

Kenya has established an Emobility Taskforce, whose main objective will be to develop a National Electric Mobility Policy covering all modes of transport (road, air, rail and maritime). and drive uptake of emobility, create an enabling environment, recommend fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to promote import, local manufacture and assembly, provide a framework for the end of life and disposal, a framework for the development of carbon credits, creation of standards and measurement of impact on the economy and the environment.

Likely development path for emobility in Africa

Initially, EVs or emobility are more likely to find traction in public transport and two- to three-wheelers before wide-scale adoption by the automotive sector.

The evolution will be different in each African jurisdiction. For example, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda have more two- and three-wheelers than South Africa, so they are likely to prioritise electrification of those modes of transport.

In South Africa, there may be greater potential in starting emobility in the public transport sector/ delivery sector, to meet a significant gap in the market.

There is a real opportunity for SA to help lead the emobility revolution in Africa, for several reasons. The continent urgently needs affordable and sustainable mobility solutions. The market for lithium battery cells could be met through local manufacturing since the continent possesses many of the necessary raw materials.

South Africa has a mature automotive sector, including OEMs that export around the world, and it has signed various trade agreements that facilitate exports to Europe, such as the European Partnership Agreement (with the SADC) and the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa).

In creating an EV export industry, South Africa can take advantage of the AfCFTA’s rules of origin, where 40% of local content from Africa is under discussion.

Implications for South Africa

By developing a multi-faceted emobility manufacturing sector, South Africa would help to speed its own transition to a greener future and meet its climate change goals; promote industrialisation in line with Africa’s Agenda 2063 (the continent’s blueprint for achieving inclusive and sustainable development over a 50-year period, with an emphasis on youth and women); and create jobs.

As South Africa transitions away from internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, it would be able to participate in other parts of the value chain beyond car manufacturing.

There is an opportunity to manufacture the cells or batteries needed for EVs, and battery factories can stimulate local and regional economic growth. Battery factories could help to develop skills in engineering and attract talent to different regions where manufacturing takes place.

Of course, there are constraints on these plans. The most obvious in South Africa is the lack of access to uninterrupted energy sources. Another constraint is that it is difficult to raise seed capital for projects related to Environmental, Social and Governance improvement.

More funding is needed in South Africa to support innovative startups.

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The education minister promised all schools would have a library by 29 November – SA

Traditional wooden steps in front of a vast bookshelf in a vintage library. Image used for illustrative purpose. Getty Images

Three-quarters of public schools still don’t have libraries, in spite of a 2013 promise.

Nearly three quarters of public schools still don’t have libraries, in spite of a 2013 promise by the Minister of Education. Archive photo: Lucas Nowicki

– In 2013 Education Minister Angie Motshekga promised that all public schools would have libraries by 29 November.

– But there is no chance that this deadline will be met.

– According to the department’s latest figures, which date from 2021, nearly three-quarters of schools do not yet have libraries.

About three quarters of South African public schools don’t have libraries and the Department of Basic Education (DBE) is set to miss its 29 November deadline for fixing this.

Libraries are among the minimum requirements for public schools set in 2013 by then Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga after pressure from Equal Education. According to the 2013 Minimum Norms and Standards:

– All schools must have a school library or media centre and a minimum, adequate and suitable school library collection.

– The core suitable library collection must be regularly replenished according to the requirements of a particular school.

The document set three, seven and ten-year deadlines for issues regarding public school infrastructure. The deadline for the library requirement was 29 November 2023.

But there is no chance the deadline will be met.

An Education Facility Management System report from last month shows that in August 2021, 74% of 22,697 public schools were without libraries. Of the schools with libraries, 43% were not fully stocked, meaning only 14% of the country’s public schools had fully stocked libraries. More recent figures are not available.

Putting a library into each school would require an investment of over R8bn in the next seven years, according to an April 2023 DBE infrastructure report. But the DBE report does not mention any plans to invest any money at all in libraries.

According to a recent international literacy survey, 81% of grade 4 learners in South Africa cannot read for meaning.

Tatiana Kazim, an Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) legal researcher, said the South African Human Rights Commission views library books as a necessary material to learn how to read and write.

“When access to the internet in South Africa is so patchy and so unequal, there’s still a pressing need for physical resources, like books and libraries,” she said.

“Why not public schools?”

Lunga Nqadolo is managing director of The Bookery, a civic organisation that builds libraries in South African schools.

She said libraries are important not only for the books they provide, but also as spaces for children to do homework and enroll in extra lessons, reading groups and other activities. This early exposure gives children a better chance at succeeding in academic work later, she said.

Private schools usually have well-stocked libraries, Nqadolo said. “And one has to ask, ‘why not public schools? Why is that a question?’”

In July 2023, The Bookery built and stocked a library with 4,000 books at Zibodla Primary School in the Eastern Cape town of Mqanduli. Zibodla was the 93rd library The Bookery has constructed, and two more are being prepared. They receive over 850 applications from schools every year to help build libraries.

The percentage of schools without libraries is highest in the Eastern Cape at 93%, followed by Limpopo at 91% and the Northern Cape at 80%, according to the DBE data.

Buyiswa Nogcinisa, the principal at Zibodla, said the library has helped her 160 students tremendously. She had been trying to get a library for years because the school only had a few books.


“We are always struggling with learners who cannot write, who cannot read and who cannot speak,” she said.

Nogcinisa said the school hosts phonics and writing programmes in the library. She still needs more equipment, like overhead projectors.

Nqadolo said if the government was doing its job properly, then organisations like The Bookery would not need to exist.

According to the National Treasury’s 2023 Estimates of National Expenditure, R48.7bn has been allocated to the education infrastructure grant and school infrastructure backlogs grant over the budget period through 2026. But this money will be prioritised for building new schools, providing sanitation, supplying water and repairing infrastructure.

The department plans to distribute 60 million workbooks for grades R to 9 in languages, mathematics and life skills to public schools that request them, according to the expenditure estimates. There is no mention of libraries.

The DBE did not respond to requests for comment from GroundUp.

GroundUp sent emails to the DBE’s media desk and departmental spokesperson, Elijah Mhlanga, on Thursday and Monday. There was no response. Mhlanga also did not answer or return several phone calls on Monday.