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Africa Growth Initiative’s top 5 figures of 2021

Each week, the Brookings Africa Growth Initiative team highlights figures related to African economic growth and development. These so-called “Figures…

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This article was originally published by Brookings

By Leo Holtz, Tamara White

Each week, the Brookings Africa Growth Initiative team highlights figures related to African economic growth and development. These so-called “Figures of the Week” include visuals from recently published reports that reveal something significant or interesting about trends on the continent. In the final “Figure of the Week” of 2021, we review the five most-read posts from this year.

1. Addressing Africa’s extreme water inequality

Access to water remains a pervasive development issue across the continent: In fact, according to the World Resources Institute (WRI), 1 in 3 Africans face water insecurity and approximately 400 million people lack access to basic drinking water in sub-Saharan Africa. Figure 1 shows Africa’s exposure to water-related risk, accounting for vulnerability to floods and droughts, water stress, and seasonal variability. Overall, although the degree of water risk varies throughout the continent, large swaths of the continent face high and extremely high water-related risk factors.

Figure 1. Africa faces some of the highest water risk in the world

Source: Climate Change Is Hurting Africa’s Water Sector, but Investing in Water Can Pay Off,” World Resources Institute, 2019.

2. Africa’s renewable energy potential

Although Africa’s current energy mix is almost entirely composed of fossil fuels and biomass, in the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) quarterly publication Finance and Development, IMF researchers forecasted that renewable energy will become the most prominent source of the continent’s electricity by the next century. Most notably, they projected that solar will generate the lion’s share of Africa’s energy mix by 2100. The authors explore how scientific advances in renewable energy technology, its falling costs, and the continent’s geography contribute to renewable energy’s rising importance as a source of electricity in Africa.

Figure 2. Africa’s energy mix: Present and projected

Figure 1. Africa’s energy mix: Present and projected

Note: CCS (carbon capture and storage) is an emerging technology that captures carbon dioxide (CO2) directly from the source of pollution (e.g., coal power plant) and sequesters it to reduce emissions and prevent it from entering the atmosphere.
Source: Gregor Schwerhoff and Mouhamadou Sy, “Where the Sun Shines,” Finance and Development, IMF, 2020.

3. Mobile money dominates fintech investment in Africa

Africa remains the world’s largest adopter of mobile money transfer systems, accounting for approximately 70 percent of global mobile money transactions and two-thirds of the world’s mobile money transaction volume by value. Financial Technology Partners, a boutique investment banking firm, notes that digital payments led financial technology (fintech) investments in Africa over the past decade, in terms of both financial and transactional volume. In addition to digital payments outpacing other fintech investments, 2019 (the most recent data in the study) recorded nearly twice as much investment in Africa’s fintech sector with only slightly fewer deals than the prior year.

Figure 3. African fintech investment flows over time

Figure 2. African fintech investment flows over time

Source: Source: Financial Technology Partners, “FinTech in Africa: Leapfrogging Legacy Straight to Mobile,” 2019.

4. Industries without smokestacks in South Africa and Uganda

As part of a multiyear project examining prospects for creating jobs for Africa’s youth, two of AGI’s frequent partners conducted country case studies to find the potential for industries without smokestacks (IWOSS)—service-sector industries that mimic traditional industries’ ability to absorb labor and grow—to spur inclusive growth, economic transformation, and job creation for workers with different skill levels.

According to the Development Policy Research Unit’s South Africa case study, the share of IWOSS in overall employment is growing, accounting for 66.7 percent (8.8 million) formal private sector jobs in South Africa in 2018. In contrast, the contribution of non-IWOSS sectors fell: For example, mining’s contribution to GDP dropped from 19.5 percent to 8.1 percent between 1980 and 2018 (Figure 1). Overall, the team found that IWOSS has the potential to absorb labor, but tourism and horticulture specifically are more likely to absorb low-skilled labor and are poised to experience tremendous growth if certain constraints are not addressed.

Figure 4a. Contribution to GDP by industry, South Africa, 1980 and 2018

Figure 1. Contribution to GDP by industry, South Africa, 1980 and 2018 (percent)

Source: Allen, C., Asmal, Z., Bhorat, H., Hill, R., Monnakgotla, J., Oosthuizen, M., and Rooney, C. Employment creation potential labor skills requirements, and skills gaps for young people: A South Africa case study. (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 2021).

The Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) in Uganda found similar broad trends, but noted differences in particular subsectors. In other words, like in South Africa, the prominence of IWOSS has grown in recent years, especially compared to manufacturing, but the fastest-growing subsectors for Uganda have been agro-processing and tourism. Tourism in particular has been a major contributor to Uganda’s economic growth, comprising 7.7 percent of the country’s GDP as of 2019 (Figure 4b). The case study authors find that, like in South Africa, in Uganda, horticulture, agro-processing, and tourism have the potential to create much-needed jobs.

Figure 4b. Uganda’s tourism performance, 2000-2017

Figure 2. Uganda’s tourism performance: 2000-2017

Source: Guloba, M., Kakuru, M., Ssewanyana, S., and Rauschendorfer, J. Employment creation potential labor skills requirements, and skills gaps for young people: A Uganda case study. (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 2021).

5. COVID-19 impacts on foreign direct investments in sub-Saharan Africa

The complex health and economic challenges created by the pandemic throughout the African continent have had significant impacts on foreign direct investment (FDI) both to and from the region, as shown in the 2021 World Investment report published by the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development. Figure 5a shows some of the report’s main findings: FDI inflows were already on a decline, and COVID-19 continued to have a negative impact on investment globally and regionally.

Figure 5a. Foreign direct investment inflows, 2007-2009 and 2018-2020

Figure 1. Foreign direct investment inflows, 2007-2009 and 2018-2020

Source: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, World Investment Report. 2021.

FDI outflows were also impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but, again, varied across and within regions (Figure 5b). In fact, according to UNCTAD, FDI outflows from Africa fell by two-thirds, from $4.9 billion in 2019 to $1.6 billion in 2020.

Figure 5b. Foreign direct investment outflows, 2007-2009 and 2018-2020

Figure 2. Foreign direct investment outflows, 2007-2009 and 2018-2020

Source: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, World Investment Report. 2021.

Energy & Critical Metals

Rivian Stock Alert: RIVN Shares Just Lost Out on Market Cap to LCID Stock

Step aside, Rivian (NASDAQ:RIVN)! There’s a new electric vehicle (EV) startup leader based on market capitalization, and its name is Lucid (NASDAQ:LCID)….

Step aside, Rivian (NASDAQ:RIVN)! There’s a new electric vehicle (EV) startup leader based on market capitalization, and its name is Lucid (NASDAQ:LCID). Recently, Lucid’s market cap of $62 billion surpassed Rivian’s market cap of $58 billion. After Rivian ballooned to as high as $179 following its initial public offering (IPO), shares have slumped lower to the mid-$60 range. Furthermore, shares of RIVN stock are down more than 35% year-to-date (YTD). While LCID stock is down roughly 7% YTD, Lucid’s superior YTD performance has allowed Lucid to surpass Rivian in terms of market cap.

Rivian sign outside the company's HQ in Silicon ValleySource: Michael Vi / Shutterstock

Both Rivian and Lucid offer investors an opportunity to invest in an early stage EV startup. However, the valuation of these two names is what is holding some investors back. Furthermore, competition from legacy automakers like Ford (NYSE:F) and General Motors (NYSE:GM) is also heating up. On top of that, investors should be aware of the elephant in the room, namely Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA).

Last quarter, Rivian reported revenue of $1 million on top of a $1.23 billion loss. On the other hand, Lucid reported revenue of $232,000 with a $524.4 million loss. While these two EV makers remain unprofitable, investors should be reminded that it took Tesla 18 years to become profitable. Tesla achieved this accomplishment in 2020 and delivered 500,000 vehicles that year.

What’s Next As Lucid Overtakes Rivian Stock

An investor should also factor potential growth into their investment thesis. Rivian currently has 71,000 reservations for the R1T and R1S models. Meanwhile, Lucid has 17,000 reservations for its Air sedan, representing a book value of $1.3 billion. Lucid has also confirmed its goal of producing 20,000 vehicles in 2022. Furthermore, CEO Peter Rawlinson is “confident in our ability” to achieve the goal.

Rivian has not yet released a 2022 production goal, although the EV maker stated that it expects its 2021 target of 1,200 vehicles produced to fall “a few hundred vehicles short.” Rivian is also working on a new $5 billion EV plant in Georgia. Construction for the plant will start this year, with a finalization date set for 2024. The new plant is expected to be able to produce 400,000 vehicles per year. However, building new plants isn’t cheap, and Rivian is expected to report $8 billion of capital expenditures through 2023.

Both companies are currently spending billions of dollars to power future growth. Investors will want to keep up to date with reservation reports and company updates as these two EV producers try to make a name for themselves.

On the date of publication, Eddie Pan did not hold (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

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Energy & Critical Metals

What Will Be China’s Impact On Uranium Markets?

Coming back to the Daily Dive is Joe Kelly, CEO of Uranium Markets. He joins us to talk about the
The post What Will Be China’s Impact On Uranium Markets?…

Coming back to the Daily Dive is Joe Kelly, CEO of Uranium Markets. He joins us to talk about the impact of Kazahkstan on the uranium market (0:54), Japan’s play for the nuclear power (4:41), and the prospect of US giving tax credit to nuclear firms (5:53). Joe also discusses China’s shift from coal to nuclear on the uranium space (7:29), the effect of Belgium shutting its nuclear plants (9:28), and his outlook for uranium in 2022 (10:48).

Uranium Markets has a full-service nuclear fuels brokerage desk assisting its customers to optimize their positions in the uranium market. The firm takes pride in combining its strong financial brokerage experience and a deep understanding of the uranium marketplace.

 

The author has no securities or affiliations related to any organization mentioned. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

The post What Will Be China’s Impact On Uranium Markets? – The Daily Dive appeared first on the deep dive.

Author: Jay Lutz

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Energy & Critical Metals

Without a Doubt, Lithium’s “White Gold” Label is Merited

2022.01.21
Electrification and decarbonization are anticipated to be one of the biggest investment trends of 2022.
Just two weeks into the new year, we’re…

2022.01.21

Electrification and decarbonization are anticipated to be one of the biggest investment trends of 2022.

Just two weeks into the new year, we’re already witnessing a big rally in EV battery minerals, perhaps a precursor to what could be a historic year for metals considered vital to the energy transition.

Nickel prices last week surged to its highest in a decade, with investors betting on a global scramble for supplies of the EV battery material.

Another key battery mineral that has seen its prices soar is lithium, which started 2022 on a record high, continuing its strong form from last year. Data from S&P Global Platts last week showed that lithium carbonate prices in China have now risen 35% on month and are up 531% on the year.

And this uptrend in lithium (and other EV battery metals) is only going to continue, according to those within the battery metals industry.

Caspar Rawles, chief data officer at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, the world’s leading lithium price reporting agency and EV supply chain data provider, notes that the early transactions from 2022 suggest that “lots of legs” are left in this rally.

Gavin Montgomery, research director for battery raw materials at Wood Mackenzie, recently said in a Financial Times article that lithium prices are unlikely to crash, as they did in previous cycles.

“We’re entering a sort of new era in terms of lithium pricing over the next few years because the growth will be so strong,” he added.

According to a December report from S&P Global, further demand growth in 2022 will mean a lithium deficit this year as use of the material outstrips production and depletes stockpiles.

Supply is forecast to jump to 636,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent in 2022, up from an estimated 497,000 in 2021 — but demand will jump even higher to 641,000 tonnes, from an estimated 504,000, the report said.

Lithium Supply Problem

Driving the latest lithium rally are near-term risks that are threatening deeper shortages in the metal’s supply, from plant maintenance and Winter Olympics curbs in China to pandemic-related labor shortages in Australia.

“The lithium market is extremely tight at present, so spot prices are very sensitive to any supply disruptions,“ Alice Yu, analyst at S&P Global Market Intelligence, recently wrote in a note to Bloomberg.

As we speak, lithium prices are still rising in China as consumers look to restock ahead of the Chinese New Year festivities at the end of the month and early February. The high level of buying in the world’s biggest EV economy also pushed prices higher in other regions such as Europe and the US, according to Fastmarkets.

Beyond the short-term issues, there are challenges for lithium supply to expand fast enough to avoid a prolonged market squeeze over the coming years.

Skeptics point to Rio Tinto’s controversial lithium project in Serbia, which is now on hold due to environmental protests, and the growing concerns around the sustainability credentials of South America’s brine-based production, as long-term threats to global supply.

“Customers are realizing that new supplies are very difficult to bring on,” said Tony Ottaviano, CEO at Australian lithium miner Liontown Resources, in the Bloomberg report. His company recently signed an agreement to ship lithium to South Korean battery giant LG Energy Solution from 2024, when its project is scheduled to start.

Last week, BlackRock’s Evy Hambro, global head of thematic and sector-based investing, told Bloomberg TV that commodity prices may stay high for decades as mining companies struggle to keep up with demand from the energy transition.

“We’ve got decades worth of high rates of investment into infrastructure as the world seeks to decarbonize. That’s a widely held consensual view,” he said.

Among the key raw materials listed was lithium, which is set to face fresh demand from the creation of a “greener world”.  Bloomberg New Energy Finance (NEF) estimates that, by 2030, consumption of lithium (and nickel) will be at least five times current levels.

Hambro still sees the mining sector as remaining undervalued, given its importance in providing the materials like lithium needed to decarbonize the global economy.

“It seems as though this core element of the transition has been completely ignored by many investors,” he said. “At some point people will realize how essential these businesses are for the transition and capital will flow into them, and that should change the valuations.”

More Expensive EVs

The tightening supply of metals is happening just as EV uptake around the world is about to explode, which is exerting serious cost pressure on battery production.

In fact, we could see the first rise in battery prices since 2010 this year, potentially undermining global efforts to speed up the adoption of EVs and clean energy technologies, analysts say.

Between 2010-2021, battery pack prices had dropped a staggering 89%, from above $1,200/kWh to $132/kWh in real terms, BloombergNEF’s annual battery price survey showed in November.

Li-ion battery prices dropped by 6% from $140/kWh in 2020 to $132/kWh in 2021, but could now rise to $135/kWh in 2022 in nominal terms due to higher raw material prices, BloombergNEF estimated.

According to the research provider, even low-cost chemistries like lithium iron phosphate (LFP), which have been used more in 2021 and are particularly exposed to lithium carbonate prices, have felt rising costs throughout the supply chain in recent months.

Since September, Chinese producers have raised LFP prices by between 10-20%, according to BloombergNEF estimates. Indeed, the average price of these cells is now the same as the average price of high-performing nickel-based cells in the first half, at around $100/kWh.

If other technology improvements cannot mitigate the higher cost of raw materials, the point of breaking below the critical threshold of $100/kWh battery pack price could be pushed back by two years from BloombergNEF’s current expectation of 2024.

“This would impact EV affordability or manufacturers’ margins and could hurt the economics of energy storage projects,” the research provider warned.

“Higher battery price creates a tough environment for automakers, particularly those in Europe, which have to increase EV sales in order to meet average fleet emissions standards,” said James Frith, BNEF’s head of energy storage research and lead author of the report.

Automakers may now have to make a choice between reducing their margins or passing costs onto consumers. Either way, some carmakers are likely to lose out in the global race to produce affordable EVs after failing to meet their ambitious targets.

In the grand scheme of things, the clean energy transition could be costlier and more distant than initially thought. Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), said last year:

“Today, the data shows a looming mismatch between the world’s strengthened climate ambitions and the availability of critical minerals that are essential to realizing those ambitions.”

US Falling Behind

The United States still lags behind both China and Europe when it comes to the production and domestic uptake of EVs, and the world’s biggest economy has made it loud and clear it wants to challenge its rivals’ dominance.

In an executive order, US President Joe Biden has already set a national goal for 50% of new car sales by 2030 to be electric. Jumpstarting his EV initiative is a proposed $7.5 billion spending package to build a network of 500,000 EV charging stations across the country.

Meanwhile, its EV industry is also making more noise than ever. Nearly every major automaker in the US has announced a transition to electric vehicles; Tesla delivered almost one million cars in 2021, while new electric vehicle companies like Rivian and Lucid are rolling out new models off the line.

However, to power these new EVs requires more batteries — and the materials to build them.

According to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, EV growth will be responsible for more than 90% of demand for lithium by 2030. The UK-based consultancy forecasts that demand for lithium is set to triple by 2025, rising to 1 million tonnes and outpacing supply by 200,000 tonnes.

So for the US to really become an EV powerhouse, it needs to first solve its lithium supply problem.

Over 80% of the world’s raw lithium is currently mined in Australia, Chile and China. Moreover, China controls more than half of the world’s lithium processing and refining, and has three-fourths of the lithium-ion battery megafactories in the world, according to the IEA.

The US, meanwhile, mines and processes only 1% of the world’s lithium, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS). There is only one lithium mine in operation, Albemarle’s Silver Peak, which extracts lithium from brine outside of Tonopah, Nevada, outputting a paltry 5,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate a year.

However, this is not to say we can rule out the US as a major producer of lithium, dubbed “white gold” for its vital role in rechargeable batteries and high demand.

Next Lithium Hub?

The US had been the leading producer of the metal until the 1990s, so scarcity is not a problem.

Within its borders are almost 8 million tonnes of lithium in reserve, ranking it among the top five countries in the world, according to the USGS.

So, with the right amount of investment, a burgeoning domestic “mine to battery to EV” supply chain is certainly within reach. Several projects are already in the works across the states of Nevada, North Carolina, California and Arkansas.

Nevada looks to be the focal point of the next “white gold rush” given the abundance of lithium-rich brines and clays, plus its history of lithium production dating back to the 1960s. It currently hosts the only US lithium mine, for now.

Conclusion

Lithium prices have already set new records to begin the year; China’s lithium carbonate prices jumped to over $47,500 last week, representing a six-fold increase over January 2021.

The BMI lithium index has already shot up by 280% year-on-year, and nearly 12% over the past month alone.

Some are predicting that this run is far from done. Australian lithium miner Allkem told Reuters this week that lithium carbonate prices could explode in the second half of the year, rising by about 80% to over $20,000/tonne in the six months to December.

“It’s a very, very tight supply market and as a result of this we’re seeing this very rapid increase in pricing,” the company representative said.

Strong demand for lithium-ion batteries for EVs and other applications is expected to put a strain on the global supply of battery raw materials, which will likely invoke a string of new investments.

China’s biggest battery makers and miners are already gobbling up lithium assets left, center and right, with more deals still left to be done. Without a doubt, lithium’s “white gold” label is merited.

With the global race to secure minerals in full throttle, there will be calls made to companies holding lithium projects within the most prolific regions of the world.

Richard (Rick) Mills
aheadoftheherd.com
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