Welcome to another edition of knowledge dispatches and my name is Samuel Ajayi, this is the last Knowledge Dispatches for this month which has been an eventful one.

  1. We woke up seven days ago to the news that the Suez Canal has been blocked, given the contentious history of the canal, it was interesting (and a bit hilarious) to find out that the culprit is the Evergiven, a large container ship that was stuck across the breadth of the Suez canal, this meant about 10% of global ship movements were at a standstill for a couple of days, some estimates say for each hour of delay, 400 million dollars was lost amounting to over 9 billion dollars lost per day. Although this is not the first time the canal has been blocked by a large boat, it's the first time in the age of social media. This event only further reinforced how important and interconnected the global supply chain has become, for example, this blockage may theoretically lead to a toilet paper shortage. From a foreign policy perspective, David Fickling wrote a long thread on the links between the Suez stuck ship, China's foreign policy, and Singapore which is quite worth a read, this Bloomberg article also makes the same point. As this email was being concluded, news filtered in that the Ship has been 'unstucked’.

  2. Bangladesh celebrated its 50th independence day anniversary some days back and it's one of those Asian countries that shows some promise. The story of the country's independence is an incredible one and its growth despite its political landscape is something of note. The implementation of common-sense policies has basically ensured that the country's people have been flourishing and Tobi Lawson quipped on Twitter, Economic Growth matters. The relatively stable system is under threat if we are to believe this Economist article. The growth of Bangladesh presents an interesting challenge to Nigeria as it's on its way to another record nobody wants.

  3. Microchips are getting scarce, for example, several carmakers and phone makers are pushing back delivery dates. This is yet another important highlight of the pattern of economic production and reminiscent of the “semiconductor wars” of the 70s. No surprises that the American Government is becoming more strategic on supply chains. The responsibility for supply is beginning to fall more to TSMC which in some types of chips holds up 90% of the market share according to this Financial Times piece. There is also always the threat that China is going to invade Taiwan which several American security experts view as highly possible. This means there is pressure on TSMC to situate their factories elsewhere and they’ve been making those commitments like this planned factory in Arizona. However, Foundries are incredibly capital intensive and expertise is even harder which means their competitors are finding it difficult to compete with them. This means TSMC is a potential chokepoint for the world, the implications of which we will find out in the coming years.

  4. Matt Clancy wrote this essay about how more science leads to more innovation and it got me thinking about the state of science in our primary and secondary schools. It sent me down a rabbit hole and this paper shares the data on the science scores in WAEC between 1995 and 2002 and according to this paper, and although there have been significant improvements in the WAEC since then in recent studies such as this one. The challenges are still the same, for example, Nigeria has yet to match the UNESCO guideline on the percentage of the budget to be dedicated to education which is between 15 to 20 percent.  The focus will have to change if the country wants to improve its human capital as the world moves forward.

  5. Nigeria’s COVID vaccination continued and you can now track the number of vaccinations carried out per state here, that gives us a clear sign of progress so far. The private sector has also gotten in on the action as MTN Nigeria has gone ahead to secure some Vaccines for Nigeria, it's a welcome development but it speaks to a lack of capacity that Nigeria is having to rely on Vaccine handouts this way. Meanwhile, it seems Vaccination status may be required for access to travel and some have expressed worry about the potential implications of such a move.

Some other interesting articles we read

Age of Invention: Sails Force

Revolutionary Road: Thomas Sankara and the Agitation of Burkina Faso

An era of wolves

Till next time, cheers.