Boring fight, but if Mayweather-Pacquiao were an African bank, here are 10 things their $300m payout could achieve

In one night, two fighters made enough money to immunise all the children born in Africa for five years, and let all São Toméans sit idle for a year.

IT was billed as the “Fight of the Century”, but the much-hyped Floyd Mayweather- Manny Pacquiao turned out to be a dull, insipid affair; Mayweather won by unanimous decision. 

Though both fighters were technically good, it didn’t make for great television. There was much ducking and dodging, especially from Mayweather, while the crowd was baying to see the spectacular knockout, someone splayed on the mat, or at least a flurry of dramatic punches.

There was none of that. Mayweather was booed by the crowd as he thumped his chest in victory, and Pacquiao, who tried to put up a spirited fight, after the match meekly said, “I thought I won.”

No matter, both fighters walked away with an estimated $300 million in prize money - few African economies create that much wealth in a day, let alone 36 minutes - and  since it was such a boring performance, one wonders if a well-run African development bank had that kind of money, what difference could it make for the continent if it were spent wisely. Here are some things the prize money could have achieved in Africa:

Bought laptops for 3 million children. The One Laptop Per Child project puts a price tag of $100 on each laptop; Rwanda is currently Africa’s leader in rolling out the devices to pupils, having distributed over 200,000 laptops, the third-largest deployment in the world after Peru and Uruguay.

Immunised all the children born in Africa from pneumonia for three years, or from diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus (DPT) for five years. There are 30 million babies born in Africa each year, and data from GAVI, the global alliance for vaccination and immunisation shows that the pneumococcal vaccine costs $3.50 a dose, while the three-dose DPT vaccine costs $2.04.

Have São Toméans do absolutely nothing for a year. $300 million is enough to take care of the Gross National Income (GNI) of The Gambia for three months, of the Comoros for nearly six months, or for Sao Tome and Principe for a whole year. In 2012, the GNI of The Gambia was estimated at $889 million, the Comoros was nearly $570 million, while Sao Tome and Principe was $261 million.

Installed full solar systems in 300,000 – 600,000 homes around the continent. A solar home installation, enough for lighting, powering appliances and a small water heater, costs anything between $500 and $1,000.

There are “lite” solar versions that include just lighting and mobile phone charging docks, such as one retailing at $150 from Lighting Africa, a joint World Bank-IFC project. The prize money could have bought the lite version for 2 million homes.

Pay for all the aid programmes in Angola for a year, or for Swaziland and the Republic of Congo combined for a year, with some change to spare. In 2012, aid flows to Angola were $242 million, while Swaziland got $88 million and the Republic of Congo $138 million.

Eliminated guinea worm, one of the most debilitating tropical diseases, with plenty of change to spare. South Sudan has the most known cases today, at 521, followed by Chad (10), Mali (7), and Ethiopia (4); these are the only four countries that still have transmission of Guinea worm. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Carter Center, the final drive towards elimination will need $62million between 2011 and 2015.

Pay off a year’s interest on debt payments for Kenya, and two years of interest on debt payments for Ethiopia. According to the World Bank, Kenya spent $256million on interest for debt payments in 2013, while Ethiopia spent $161million in the same year.

Bought up all the stocks traded on the Uganda Securities Exchange, the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (Tanzania), the Namibian Stock Exchange and the Bostwana Stock Exchange – combined. Data from the World Bank shows that $11.3 million worth of stocks were traded in Uganda in 2012, $20.9 million in Namibia, $26.7 million in Tanzania, and $113 million in Botswana.

Paid for two-thirds of the cost of launching a space shuttle.  According to NASA, the average cost to launch a Space Shuttle is about $450 million per mission. A number of African countries have been trying to get space programmes going, and the latest one is stuck at the feasibility stage. The Cape-Town based Africa2Moon struggled in raising an initial $150,000 last year, that was to be used to study whether such a mission would be practical.

Paid for enough doses to vaccinate 5.3 million people from Ebola, nearly the entire population of Sierra Leone of 6.5 million, one of the countries hardest-hit by last year’s Ebola outbreak. Several researchers are working on a vaccine, and in September 2014, it was reported that GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) was the furthest along, having entered phase I of human trials. According to Ripley Ballou, who heads the Ebola vaccine program for GSK, $25 million could produce up to 500,000 doses of the vaccine.

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