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ReConnect Africa is a unique website and online magazine for the African professional in the Diaspora. Packed with essential information about careers, business and jobs, ReConnect Africa keeps you connected to the best of Africa.

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Cisco launches Africa Training Programme

Cisco South Africa has announced a new skills development programme that will develop local next-generation network consulting engineers. The Global Talent Acceleration Programme (GTAP) to be based in Johannesburg, South Africa is the company’s second, following their first programme in Amman, Jordan in 20007. The South African facility will eventually act as a hub for emerging African talent. GATP will see selected candidates undergo a rigorous skills development and training programme that will combine theory, industry exposure and hands-on experience. Developed by Torque-IT, a Cisco and Microsoft training and services company, the programme is directed at associate-level and mid or professional level IT students with prior experience in Cisco networking. The programme will run between 12 and 18 months. Sixteen students have joined the programme for its first intake with applications expected to open for the second intake, later this year. Successful trainees will be hired on a fixed-term contract with Cisco for the duration of their training program. Thereafter trainees will be moved to a full Cisco, or Cisco-partner contract. More information about GATP is available through Cisco: (011) 267 1000. Source: www.sagoodnews.co.za

Four-Star Hotel to be Built in Soyo

The Angolan company Dánia will invest US$ 20 million in the construction of a 4-star hotel in the city of Soyo, in Angola’s Zaire Province. The hotel, Hotel Nempazo, will have 92 rooms and 12 suites. The investment is financed by the Angolan banks Keve and Espirito Santo, in an initiative aimed at assisting the government in the Tourism and Hotels sector. The project is expected to take 18 months to complete.

BHP Billiton Investments in Angola Surpass US$60 Million

BHP Billiton, a partner of Eskom Mining, has invested USD 63 million in the development of geological studies in Angolan diamond exploitation. BHP Billiton originally began operations in oil and in order to extend services to other areas of natural resources has since expanded to operate in the diamond industry.

NEPAD Business Foundation sets up African Project Management Office

The NEPAD Business Foundation has established a project management office (PMO) to create a new linkage within Africa. The PMO will provide information on NEPAD projects; the facilitation and co-ordination of projects; and partners and programmes across all sectors. Professional project management capability will ensure correct planning and budgeting, as well as accurate allocations of resources, finances and time. Administrative support provided by the project office will ensure that all projects have a greater chance of success as terms of reference, project charters, assistance in raising funding, interaction with NBF partners and cross-sectoral interaction will be facilitated by the PMO. Corporate companies joining the NEPAD Business Foundation will have access to the PMO for any large projects they are establishing in Africa. The PMO will also double-up as the centre for knowledge management for all sectors within the NBF, thus helping to co-ordinate and support sector activity. In addition, the PMO will assist each sector by tracking and reporting on sector progress, as well as driving and monitoring NBF-driven initiatives. The PMO will be financed initially through sponsorships, but the long-term intention is to be self-funding through facilitation fees and service fees and thereby contributing to the NBF’s sustainability in the years ahead. The establishment of the PMO is seen as a vital link to facilitate projects between government and the private sector, providing added value to NBF members. Source: Nepad

Angola is Africa’s Second Largest Exporter to Canada

In 2007, Angola was the second largest African exporter to Canada, with sales reaching USD 1.186 billion. Other top 2007 exporters to Canada were Algeria, South Africa, Nigeria, and Equatorial Guinea.

South Africa Writes Off Cuba's Debt of R926m

South Africa has written off nearly R1bn of Cuba's debt as the Caribbean island state is not in a position to repay the debt in the foreseeable future. This emerged after a post-cabinet news briefing yesterday when chief government spokesman said Cuba's debt position also had the potential to undermine bilateral economic relations between the two countries. The debt arose out of the insurance cover provided to Cuba by the Export Credit Insurance Corporation of SA for the export of diesel engines and pesticides in 1996.

Investment Guide to Kumasi, Ghana Launched

Launched in April, Invest in Ghana: Focus Kumasi. Is the first city investment guide in West Africa. This investors' Guide can be downloaded from the Millennium Cities Initiative website http://www.earth.columbia.edu/mci or the Columbia Program on International Investment website http://www.cpii.columbia.edu/. The Guide, the first city investment guide in West Africa, was prepared by the Millennium Cities Initiative (MCI) in cooperation with the Columbia Program on International Investment (CPII) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD. Kumasi is Ghana's second largest city and capital of the Ashanti region. It is an important commercial center. Its location, climate and safety, combined with Ghana's increasing access to foreign markets, make Kumasi attractive to investment in a number of areas. One sector of great potential discussed in the Guide is in the area of cocoa and its processing. Another concrete opportunity is the production of fruit juice made from different fruit growing in the region. Furthermore, opportunities were identified in the hotel sector and in retail. The production of pharmaceuticals also has great potential. Other areas with potential for investment include agriculture and agro-processing as well as manufacturing. The Guide outlines these opportunities, as well as relevant matters such as tax and regulatory conditions in Ghana.

NEPAD e-Africa Commission and Global Digital Solidarity Fund to work together

The NEPAD e-Africa Commission and the Global Digital Solidarity Fund (DSF) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Johannesburg, South Africato collaborate in bridging the digital divide between Africa and the rest of the world and within the continent. The MoU creates a framework for the two parties to collaborate in supporting activities related to ICT development and will contribute to the building of an information society by promoting and facilitating equitable and affordable access to ICTs in Africa. It is expected that the MoU will result in substantial support from the DSF to the NEPAD e-Schools Initiative, which is now going into the roll-out stage. Specifically, the Global Digital Solidarity Fund is looking at helping the NEPAD e-Africa Commission in the areas of ICT infrastructure development; e-services and applications; and human capacity building. The Commission and DSF will identify common projects in ICT development and will collaborate in fundraising activities, by facilitating contact with regional stakeholders, including governments, development banks, local authorities and companies. The commission and the DSF will also jointly explore innovative financial mechanisms to reduce the digital divide, including the promotion of the DSF "1% digital solidarity principle". This innovative financing mechanism, which may be adopted voluntarily, is a 1% contribution on public ICTs procurement contracts. The NEPAD e-Africa Commission is the ICT task team mandated by the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee to develop policies, strategies and projects at continental level as well as manage the structured development of the ICT sector in the context of NEPAD.

South Africa Aims at Producing 2,500 Engineers Each Year

The South African Government has announced that it plans to produce 2,500 engineers a year to deal with the country’s skills shortages and as part of governments Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition (Jipsa). The initiative targets a limited number of priority skills thought to be some of the key constraints to the country’s economic growth. As South Africa invests in roads, electricity, water and housing, there is a need for more engineers. According to Alan Hirsch, Chief Economist within the South African Presidency, the output of engineers from South Africa’s education system in 2007 had already increased to about 1,500 per annum from a low point of about 1,200 per annum at the beginning of the decade. To reach a target of 2,500 engineers per annum, the Government’s strategy includes an increase in the number of engineering graduates; a higher number of registered and practicing engineers and the retention and re-employment of retired engineers.

Vietnam and Angola Sign Cooperation Agreements

At the fourth session of the Vietnam-Angola Intergovernmental Committee, representatives from Vietnam and Angola signed cooperation agreements on education, training, tertiary education, and personnel training. Vietnamese officials committed to help Angola carry out projects on motorbike and bicycle assembly, farm industry, rice production, garment and textile production and cotton planting. Vietnam will also send agricultural experts to help Angola implement pilot projects to establish farms in the country. Angola requested Vietnam’s cooperation in ocean exploration and assessment of marine resources.

Nepad Regional Training workshop Held on Science and Technology

A regional training workshop on fisheries and aquaculture, science and technology and innovation systems was held in Lilongwe, Malawi in May 2008. It was organised by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) in collaboration with NEPAD, the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) and Bunda College of the University of Malawi. The workshop was attended by national stakeholders and regional fisheries experts from Ministries of Agriculture, research organisations and universities from Ghana, Malawi, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia. The objectives of the workshop were to introduce participants to the importance of science, technology and innovation for development in the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) region, introduce the concept of the national innovation system and explore the nature of STI policymaking and discuss the methodology used for analysing the innovation system in the agricultural sector in the ACP region and applying it to the fisheries sub-sector.

Ethiopia in Trademark First: New Coffee Brand Unveiled to Boot Income of Nation's 15 Million Coffee Farmers

The Ethiopian Government has launched an innovative and radical new brand management program to champion its fine coffee export industry and the nation's unique, distinctive coffees. It is the first time that an African nation has undertaken such a contemporary approach to developing its economy through brand management, and begins a new era in Africa's economic development and independence. Ethiopia is the historical birthplace of coffee, and exports more than 177,000 tonnes of coffee a year, representing about 15% of the world's total coffee production. However until now, the international promotion of these famous fine coffees has not been proactively managed by Ethiopia. While coffee professionals are very conscious of Ethiopia's distinctiveness, there is a significant opportunity to broaden consumer awareness and appreciation of coffee brands such as Yirgacheffe, Sidamo and Harar. Leading brand specialist Brandhouse was commissioned to create a distinctive and easy-to-use brand identity system for Ethiopian Fine Coffees and for the three initial trademarked fine coffee brands that will be used wherever these coffees are distributed and sold. The new brand identity comprises a central logo for Ethiopian Fine Coffee, which takes its inspiration from the coffee bean itself, together with individual designs for each of the coffee designations. Licensees are required to feature Ethiopia's new brand identity in their marketing as part of their licensee agreements. Licensing agreements are now in place with more than 70 companies in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa, with licensees committed to promoting Ethiopian Fine Coffees using the brand in their particular markets.

South Africa has World's Highest Brain Drain

South Africa has the world’s highest brain drain and worst skills shortages of 55 countries studied, according to Productivity SA and the 2007 IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook. South Africa also ranked last on infrastructure, internet costs, health problems, availability of qualified engineers and life expectancy. Its top rating – 1 – last year for electricity to industry is likely to plummet this year. South Africa also has among the world’s most severe shortages of those with finance skills and senior management competence ranking 52nd and 51st respectively. Productivity SA research showed that South Africa had a 3,2% per annum increase in private sector productivity since 1996 which fuelled international competitiveness. The 2007 IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook of which Productivity SA is a partner institute showed a drop in South Africa’s rankings from 38th position to 50th position out of 55 countries. Factors contributing include South Africa’s economic performance competitiveness dropping from 40th in 2006 to 54th in 2007, high unemployment and low GDP per capita. Productivity SA’s data shows that private sector business efficiency was steady at 32nd while productivity and efficiency increased from 56 in 2006 ranking to 44 last year. Stock market capitalization as a percentage of GDP was at an impressive 4 and adequate financing to companies from stock markets ranking 17th.

NEPAD tourism conference aims to spread the benefits across Africa

NEPAD, in partnership with the eThekwini Municipality, hosted a four- day international tourism conference and exhibition in May 2008 in the city of Durban, South Africa. The conference included a one-day workshop on the NEPAD Tourism Initiative, aimed at raising awareness, promoting dialogue and exploring ideas for an African tourism initiative to support the implementation of NEPAD. The workshop was an interactive session for sharing experiences by participating countries from across Africa and paving the way forward for ensuring continuous networking among African tourism professionals and institutions. The conference was in the context of the annual Tourism Indaba (Exhibition) as a NEPAD tourism flagship project. This is a South African tourism initiative which has been taking place in Durban on an annual basis over the past decade and brings together business organisations from various African countries and beyond to display and sell tourism products. Tourism is one of the priority areas NEPAD has identified in addressing the current development challenges facing the African continent, with the promotion of sustainable tourism presents a significant potential to diversify economic opportunities and generate income and foreign exchange earnings for African countries. Source: Nepad

UN and HP Partner to Boost IT Skills of Africa’s Youth

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and Hewlett-Packard (HP) have joined forces to help young unemployed people across Africa build their entrepreneurial and information technology (IT) skills. The Graduate Entrepreneurship Training Through IT (GET-IT) initiative will initially be launched in six nations – Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, Tunisia and Uganda – and eventually be expanded further to span the African continent. The scheme seeks to train youth and graduates, who are between the ages of 16 and 25 and do not have jobs, acquire IT skills and run their own businesses. GET-IT courses will focus on teaching practical solutions for businesses in finance, management, marketing and technology management. HP started the programme last year in 18 countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and its new partnership with the UN will allow it to extend its reach in Africa.

Ghana Launches E-Zwich

The National Switch and Smartcard Payment System that would link the payment systems of all licensed banks and non-bank financial institutions in the country has been launched. The e-Zwich, as it is called, operates under the new Universal Electronic Payments (UEPS) technology. It is meant to ensure that all commercial banks, rural banks and savings and loans institutions implement a common payment platform and biometric smartcard and a secure way of paying for goods and services throughout the country based on biometric identification. The introduction of the e-Zwich is an integral part of his government's overall vision of making Ghana the gateway to the West African sub-region, and transforming her into a major financial hub. Fundamentally, the system would allow Ghana to be a significant player in the global financial market and mark a major transformation in the financial and payment systems of the country. The system would involve building a common platform to electronically link all banks, sales outlets, rural and commercial banks, automatic teller machines and all such payment systems so that the public could get easier access to financial transactions. There will then be an e-Zwich smart card that will enable holders to use their thumbprint as a form of identification.

Africa is set to Benefit from a Comparative Study on the BPO Industry

Research for a study commissioned by the International Development Research Council (IDRC) will aim to bridge the gap of insufficient data and statistics on BPO in many African countries. The research will examine the BPO sector in developed and developing countries, said Edith Adera, IDRC program officer. The study is expected to provide empirical evidence and a deeper understanding of the success factors to better inform policy decisions and investment choices in the BPO industry. The study will engage BPO clients in the U.S. and U.K., African BPO pioneers such as Kenya and Ghana, emerging BPO service countries such as South Africa and Egypt and mature BPO services in India and Mauritius. The Regional Asian BPO Association will also be interviewed. The study will involve key stakeholders drawn from academia, industry and society, according to Tim Waema, a professor at the University of Nairobi and a member of the research team. By conducting the research in pioneering, emerging and mature markets, the study will provide deeper understanding and inform Africa's policy decisions and investment choices, Waema said. Many African countries lack legislation to guide the BPO industry. The study will identify the critical success factors in BPO industries in developing countries, he said. Policy and institutional environment, legal and regulatory considerations, incentives and infrastructure and bandwidth requirements will be examined. The findings will be published in a book called "The BPO Sector in Mature, Emerging and Pioneer Markets: Lessons and Opportunities for National Development." Source: Computerworld Africa

ANIP Launches Electronic Magazine

The 2007-2008 issue of In Angola Magazine is now available in an electronic format. The magazine offers readers timely information about Angola’s targeted sectors and development zones, investment potential and growth, a simplified investment process, and more. To view your copy of In Angola Magazine, please visit the ANIP website at www.investinangola.com

Private Investment up 45% in Angola

Private investment in various sectors of the Angolan economy rose 45% last year, reaching US$ 2 billion. Macroeconomic stability remains the key draw for investors, who are now shifting their investments to rural Angola. In 2007, 77% of investments were concentrated in Luanda.

IMC Aims to Build South African Brand Champions

The International Marketing Council of South Africa (IMC) has launched a multifaceted campaign aimed at building South African "brand champions". The campaign, produced for the IMC by Kaelo Worldwide Media, uses mass media as a tool to educate, stimulate debate and inspire, extended by direct training and engagement in organisations in order to have a powerful influence on behaviour. Kicking off the media component, inspirational stories highlighting South African people and organisations. The stories include fuel cell "Social Innovator" Rolf Papsdorf, "Trailblazer" Thabang Skwambane, an investment banker who cycled to Kilimanjaro for HIV/Aids orphans, and "Community Builder" Miriam Cele, the founder of the Gozololo Daycare Centre. Through the Brand Champion campaign, the IMC aims to communicate successes to potential brand ambassadors in an engaging way, both through a mass media campaign and through direct training activities. In addition to the 90-second inserts broadcast on e.tv, the campaign will include story inserts on community radio, regular national print media features in community papers, a book, and online coverage on SouthAfrica.info, linked to the Movement for Good. Source: Brand South Africa

African West Coast Cable for South Africa

The South African government has identified the Broadband Infraco-led African West Coast Cable (AWCC) project as a lead initiative to create a sustainable, competitive international bandwidth market in the country. The AWCC is a 3.8 terabit cable that will stretch from Melkbosstrand, outside Cape Town in the Western Cape province, to the United Kingdom with capacity terminating in London. The project, which is expected to be functioning in the middle of 2010, will have branching units to at least 10 countries along the west coast of Africa and have a design length of 13,000 kilometres. Costing about US$600-million (about R4.5-billion), the project has brought together 40 nations and some of the world's most influential telecommunications players in a joint effort to use state-of-the-art technology in linking more people more efficiently than ever before. The South African government created Broadband Infraco as a new state-owned enterprise to deliver affordable broadband to South Africans on an open access basis.

US Launches South Africa Workforce Housing Fund

USA-based International Housing Solutions (IHS) has raised some US$175-million (about R1.3-billion) in capital from institutional investors for its newly launched South Africa Workforce Housing Fund. HIS will use the fund to invest in rental and for-sale housing for low and moderate-income families in the country. IHS provides innovative financial solutions, including debt and equity, to owners and developers of affordable housing projects, opening its Africa head office in Rosebank, Johannesburg, in 2007. The company also expects several additional investors to commit further capital to the SA Fund, increasing its size to $240-million (about R1.8-billion), enough to fund the construction of an estimated 30,000 homes, and help meet the large and growing demand for housing in South Africa.

AGOA Admits Gambia Textiles

Gambia Textiles have been admitted under the African Growth and Opportunity Act [AGOA]. The AGOA initiative was started in 2000 with the aim of strengthening non-traditional exports into the United States of America via quota and duty-free exports. Hailed as one of the best enactments in the US for Africa, AGOA has been welcomed in most African States and has induced high foreign exchange earnings through non-traditional exports. Gambia became AGOA-eligible in 2002 [one of 26 countries out of 37 eligible countries in Africa] and tremendous efforts have gone into getting non-traditional exports in the country. The current trade visa allows export of textiles into the US on a quota and duty-free basis. We believe that upon receipt of the Certificate 9 for the commencement of exports, foreign exchange earnings from the export of non-traditional products will buttress the current inflow through groundnut and the tourism industry and see a strengthened Dalasi against the dollar.

RFS Opens New Office Complex in Gambia

Gambia’s first non-bank Financial Services provider, Reliance Financial Services has opened a new ultra-modern office in Churchill’s town Gambia. This is forms a strong part of the bank’s commitment to bring financial services to the doorsteps of most Gambians.

Kenya’s Safaricom IPO Oversubscribed

The Safaricom initial public offer brought in Sh191 billion in bids from local and international investors. The amount realized was considerably above the targeted Sh50 billion that the Government hoped to raise from 10 billion shares it offloaded in the market. Preliminary figures show that the local investors have oversubscribed their share offer by close to 254 per cent. This translates into Sh141 billion refund - an amount that can finance entire budgets of Roads, Water, Housing, Energy and Transport ministries' for and still remain with a reasonable change of Sh6.5 billion. According to preliminary data released by the Government, foreign investors paid a 10 per cent premium price for the issue to attract Sh76 billion ($1.15 billion). Locally, the issue mopped up a staggering Sh115 billion from the money market. The combined bids reflect a subscription rate of 382 per cent, or a 282 per cent over-subscription. The report indicated that the foreign investors would pay Sh5.50 per share after a successful book building process that attracted fund managers from South Africa and London, among other key pool of international investors. Source: Databank

Ghana Makes Its Largest Oil Discovery

Kosmos Energy says its oil field at West Cape Three Points is the largest discovery in deep water West Africa and potentially the largest single field discovery in the region. It said an appraisal of one of the wells drilled at the West Cape Three Points Block, christened Mahogany-2, and had encountered a substantial light crude oil column, based on what it described as "the results of drilling, wireline logs and reservoir fluid samples. The announcement comes at a time when global prices of oil are at their highest ever of $120 a barrel. Kosmos said the results showed that the Mahogany-2 well was in communication with the Mahogany-1 discovery well on the West Cape Three Points Block announced in June 2007 and the company's Hyedua-1 confirmation well on the Deepwater Tano Block announced in August 2007. The successful wells validated the fact that the Jubilee Field discovery was a significant oil field. The development sanction of the Jubilee Field project is expected this year, followed by- first oil production commencing as early as late 2009 to early 2010. Source: Databank

Tanzania’s Insurance Industry in Dire Need of Skilled Manpower

Tanzania's insurance industry faces a daunting task of finding adequately trained and skilled manpower. For over 30 years after the nationalization of industries, insufficient attention was directed towards training Tanzanians in this industry. The monopolistic nature of the insurance industry during the 30 years did not help either as Tanzanians became less aware of the need and advantages of insurance. Tanzania’s insurance sector was liberalized a decade ago. In 1998 the country had six insurers and the number has grown to 16 companies at present. Meanwhile, the Government has promised to continue providing a friendly environment to investors. The Government liberalized the insurance industry 10 years ago it wanted the industry to provide services in an efficient, cost-effective, competitive, economical, comprehensive and customer-driven manner. Source: Databank

MasterCard Foundation Launches Scholars Program to Expand Training of Microfinance Professionals

The MasterCard Foundation has launched its Scholars Program by awarding grants totaling $600,000 to six leading microfinance training institutes. The program will fund 200 scholarships for staff working in microfinance in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Middle East to participate in management and professional development courses. According to a recent study by the Center for the Study of Financial Innovation, the greatest risk facing the microfinance sector, which provides access to financial services to low-income populations in developing countries, is the uneven quality of management and limited staff capacity. Strong leadership and staff capacity is critical as the sector rapidly expands and faces new demands for services. The Scholars Program will help meet this need by extending educational and training opportunities to microfinance staff at the regional and local levels. The MasterCard Foundation is an independent, private charitable foundation headquartered in Toronto, Canada.

South African Home Affairs to Fast-track Skilled Foreign Applicants

The Department of Home Affairs is expected to improve its ability to process applications for work permits for highly skilled foreign applicants in the next few months. According to the Government, this forms part of the department’s efforts to improve its services and to get foreign skills in to the country. The department is currently involved in actively promoting South Africa as a hub for chemical, materials, civil, structural, and mining and quality engineers from abroad. As the country is experiencing a tight skills availability environment, the Government needs to not only to develop skills locally but to attract foreign skills, including the fast-tracking of high skills immigration.

Access Gambia Acquires Three Others

Access Bank Plc, the parent company of Access Bank Gambia has completed the acquisition of three commercial banks in Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. Access Bank Plc acquired 88 per cent interest in Omnifinance Bank through a combination of purchase of existing shares and injection of additional capital and acquired 75 per cent interest in Bancor Bank of Rwanda and a 90 per cent interest in Banque Privee du Congo.

Education is a Key Salary Determining factor in South Africa

Education has emerged as the greatest determining factor in South Africa when it comes to salaries, economist Mike Schüssler said at the release of the 7th United Association of South Africa (UASA) Employment Report. According to the report, a person’s education makes the biggest difference by far [in the salary a person earns], population group is the second biggest factor, and a person’s age is the third biggest factor for a South Africa. The theme of the 7th UASA Employment Report, which was researched and compiled by Mr. Schüssler, is “What are you worth?” In determining what an employee is worth, he said, a number of factors were brought into the equation including education, field of study, area of work, population group, age, whether or not a person had trade union membership, and the size of the business. Provincially, the report reveals that Gauteng is still the biggest earner, followed by Free State, Northern Cape, the North West Province, Limpopo, Western Cape, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, and in last place is the Eastern Cape.

European Union Invests US$ 774 Million in Angolan Development

The European Union has invested US$ 774 million in several projects in Angola, including rural development, the construction of 20 bridges and drinking water systems, as well as the rehabilitation of roads. Approximately USD 330 million has also been made available for the development of future undertakings.

NEPAD Conference Focuses on Promotion of Tourism in Africa

NEPAD held its first tourism conference in Durban, South Africa, in May 2008, and heard presentations from Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Mali, Rwanda, Nigeria and South Africa on the status of tourism in their individual countries and on the continent. The conference discussed ways in which tourism could be promoted at a national and continental level. All role players were urged to meet their responsibilities in tourism as one of the vehicles through which Africans can address some of the challenges facing the continent. All the participating countries agreed to the adoption of the recommendations for the promotion of tourism in their countries.

Pan African Parliament Celebrates Ethiopian Millennium

Members of the Pan African Parliament, sitting in Midrand, South Africa, briefly suspended their deliberations to celebrate the unique African Millennium of Ethiopia. The President of the Parliament, Dr. Gerttrude Mongella, together with Ambassador Mohamout Dirir, the Minister of Culture and Tourism, cut a red ribbon to mark the millennium, which comes seven years after that of the rest of the world because of Ethiopia's unique measuring of time. Activities for the celebration included an exhibition showcasing Ethiopian products and its various cultures as well as a gala dinner. Ethiopia is one of the oldest civilisations in the world and has a long recorded history. In addition to its calendar, Ethiopia has its own number system and alphabet and has never been colonised.

Shell opens Call Centre in Cape Town

Oil multinational Royal Dutch Shell has opened a global call centre in Cape Town, which will be used to service the company's customers in Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg, with centre operators conversing with their clients in Flemish and Dutch. The call centre will harness the Afrikaans language medium largely spoken in the Western Cape province, with Shell training speakers to converse in Flemish and Dutch over several weeks, allowing the Cape Town-based staffers to converse with customers in these countries in their own language. The language capacities - particularly with the international language medium of English - and the cosmopolitan nature of South Africa's cities placed the country in a good position to attract further investment in the sector. According to Shell, time zone synergy allows staffers to work day shifts, which would lead to cheaper costs, as employees did not have to be compensated for working night shifts in order to cope with time zone differentials. The centre has so far created 145 jobs in the city, with 300 new jobs envisaged by the end of 2010, Shell said.

Skilled Zimbabweans heading to South Africa

One of the tragedies facing Zimbabwe is the loss of highly skilled people on a daily basis, evident by the number of applications received by SAQA. Almost 60 percent of the foreign qualification evaluations undertaken by SAQA’s Centre for the Evaluation of Educational Qualifications (CEEQ) are for Zimbabwean work permit applications. According to the South African Qualifications Authority, of the 17 086 evaluations of qualifications it performed between January and September last year, 9 756 (57 percent) were for the purpose of processing Zimbabwean work permit applications. With limited local skilled workers and in line with Government initiatives to overcome this challenge, companies have taken to importing skills from other countries to meet the demand.

South African Business schools among Best in the World

Four South African business schools have been voted among the world's best in the 2008 Financial Times business school rankings. The Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) was ranked in 38th place among 50 business schools in the Top Executive Education Open Programmes category. The University of Stellenbosch's Executive Education programme (USB-Ed) earned its place in the category at 50th place. Wits Business School joined GIBS and USB-Ed in the rankings for the top 65 schools offering executive training programmes customised for particular companies. GIBS was ranked at 51, USB-Ed at 60 and Wits at 62. The University of Cape Town's Graduate School of Business maintained its place in the Top 100 Global MBA rankings, though dropped significantly from its 52nd place ranking of 2007 to 71st place in 2008. The Lagos Business School (LBS) in Nigeria is the only other African institution to appear in this year's rankings. LBS ranked 48th in the open enrolment programme category. The category was topped by the University of Pennsylvania, The London Business School and Columbia University.

Gambia Welcomes Intercontinental Airlines

Intercontinental Airlines has added to Gambia’s aviation list of airlines. The airline is yet to fully commence operations and officials say they came to Gambia because of its safe aviation industry and the high prospect for the growth of the industry. The launching of the new airline will facilitate and consolidate the country’s resolve to provide solutions in accessing and connecting nation states and communities. The airline provides customers the opportunity to buy their tickets from Guaranty Trust Bank, IBC or better still purchase it much cheaper on the Internet from anywhere in the world. Flights will be to seven destinations including Freetown, Dakar, Abidjan, Accra and Lome; followed by seven other destinations among which would be Ireland, Jeddah, US, UK, Dubai, among others.

Sonangol Acquires 49.9 Percent of Millennium Angola's Capital

A strategic partnership agreement has been signed between the National Fuel Society of Angola (Sonangol), the Portuguese Commercial Bank and the Atlantic Private Bank (BPA), foreseeing the acquisition of 49.9 percent, by the national oil company and BPA, of the social capital of Millennium Angola. According to the accord, the acquisition of the Portuguese bank's capital by the two Angolan business institutions shall be carried out through an operation of capital increase to be underwritten in cash. Based on the accord, the Millennium Bank of Angola, owned by the Portuguese Commercial Bank, will purchase 10 percent of the capital of the Atlantic Private Bank. Under the terms of the contract, the Millennium Angola will maintain its current status of subsidiary of the Portuguese Commercial Bank, but will start benefiting from the shares of Sonangol and of the Atlantic Private Bank, thereby reinforcing its speciality and capacity to become a renowned institution in the development of the Angolan financial sector and of the economy. Sonangol already owns 9.96 percent of the capital of Millennium -BCP, alongside the Eureko (Dutch mutual firm) as one of the main shareholders of the biggest Portuguese private banking institution.

African Development Bank Grants $200 Million Loans to Nigerian Banks

The African Development Bank (AfDB) said that it has granted about $200 million credit facilities to some Nigerian banks for onlending to the different sectors of the economy. AfDB told Nigerian journalists at the 43rd Annual General Meeting of the Bank Group in Maputo, Mozambique that the loans were meant for the development of infrastructure, health and social services. The loans were to enhance the growth of the Nigerian economy through the development of these sectors. Nigeria is now limiting itself to concessional borrowing with small interest rates and long repayment periods to facilitate the development of the economy. The bank was working with Nigeria to re-align its macroeconomic policies to the 7-point agenda of the current administration. AfDB is also working toward strengthening its presence in the field operations in Nigeria by allowing many of its workers to supervise projects in the country.

Ecobank to Raise Additional Capital

Shareholders of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, the parent company of Ecobank Gambia, have approved a special resolution authorizing the Board to raise additional capital of three billion dollars for operations over the next three years. The amount will be used to meet the minimum capital requirements of subsidiaries, fund specialized banking operations, expand its reach on the continent and beyond as well as invest in technology. Forty per cent of the shares will be allotted to existing shareholders through a rights issue and the remaining 60 per cent floated to the general public. Existing shareholders have equal opportunity to participate in the public share offer. Total Assets of the Ecobank group grew by 87 per cent to 6.6 billion dollars last year compared to 3.5 billion dollars in 2006. Similarly, profit after tax increased by 61 per cent to 139 million dollars up from 86.3 million dollars in 2006.Ecobank is listed on the Bourse Regionale des Valeurs Mobilieres of Abidjan, the Ghana Stock Exchange and the Nigerian Stock Exchange and has operations in 22 African countries.

Stanchart Profit Up 30% in Kenya

Standard Chartered Bank's pre-tax profit for the first three months of the year rose 30 per cent to Sh1.3 billion. This was against Sh1 billion recorded over the same period in 2007. The key driver to the profitability was interest earned on loans and advances, which went up from Sh978.9 million in 2007 to Sh1 billion, although the amount of money the company lent to its customers increased marginally from Sh36.8 billion to Sh37.5 billion. A strong contribution came from investment in government securities that brought in Sh576.3 million from Sh558.3 million. However, during the period under review, the group's investment in Treasury bills and bonds dropped from Sh24.2 billion to Sh23.1 billion.

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