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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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Oprah Winfrey Builds $40 Million School in South Africa

US TV host and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey has funded the building of a school in South Africa to educate girls from poor families. The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls of South Africais a 22 acre complex which comes equipped with a yoga studio and beauty salon. 152 young girls were handpicked by Oprahout of 3,500 applicants to attend. The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy will eventually cater for 450 girls who show outstanding promise but whose families cannot support their education.  The school incorporates 28 buildings, across a 50-acre site, with hi-tech classrooms, computers and science laboratories.  The girls who have been accepted come from families whose income is less than $700 (£350) a month.

The Oxford Nigeria Scholarship in African Studies Open for Applications

The African Studies Centre, University of Oxford, is offering an Oxford Nigeria Scholarship in African Studies for entry in October 2007. This scholarship is sponsored by Oxford and Cambridge society of Nigeria. The award is available only for study on the MSc in African Studies, and is open to citizens of Nigeria. In making the award, preference may be given to applicants who have obtained a first degree from an institution of higher education within Nigeria. Details of the MSc degree can be obtained by email from african.studies@sant.ox.ac.uk. The scholarship is open only to Nigerian citizens. Applicants should have a good 2.1 or equivalent for their undergraduate degree, and show evidence of a capacity for independent research as well as excellent writing skills in English. The scholarship will cover university fees, college fees and a stipend. Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply simultaneously for other scholarships and financial assistance. All applicants may also apply for the ORISHA scholarship (see the African Studies website for details). Those applying for a place on the MSc in African Studies and who are eligible to be considered for this Scholarship must ensure that their applications reach the University by 16 March 2007. Students may apply to any college admitting students for the MSc in African Studies.

MLA Awarded Elsevier Grant to Train Librarians in Africa

The US Medical Library Association (MLA) has been awarded an $80,000 grant from one of its corporate partners, Elsevier, a world-leading publisher of scientific, technical and medical books and journals, to train librarians in Africa, Asia and Latin America.The Elsevier grant is earmarked for 2007 HINARI/AGORA/OARE (HOA) related training workshops and will be used to fund 8 on-site workshops, one distance education course and the development of new training modules. This e-library training initiative will be based upon HINARI (Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative) training materials. The HINARI program, a collaboration between the World Health Organization (WHO) and major publishers, enables developing countries to gain access to one of the world's largest collections of biomedical and health literature. It is one of the principal projects designed to bridge the health information gap between developing and industrialized countries.

New Students' Loan Scheme to Begin in Ghana

The Students Loan Trust Fund, which is expected to replace the SSNIT loan scheme, would begin its operations in the next academic year. According to the trustees, the fund intends to issue loans amounting to ¢875.6 billion to students within the next three years. According to its Trustees, the Fund will be financed through the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) and is intended to reduce the burden on the country’s Social Security Trust, enabling it to focus on its core business of managing pensioners. The Trust is ready to issue out loans to students who will begin the next academic calendar year which is the 2007/2008 academic year, students who already are beneficiaries of the SSNIT loan scheme and are already in school, would not be part of the new scheme. Source: Accra Mail

GlobalGiving Connects US Diamond Consumers to African Causes

The socially responsible diamonds initiative launched in October 2006 by GlobalGiving and SA Gems, managing partner of The Private Collection of South African Diamond Program in collaboration with 27 US-based retail jewellers, has already raised more than $28,000 for four high-impact, grassroots projects in Africa. Through the programme, which will be ongoing, participating jewelers donate a portion of sales to locally-run projects in Africa selected by SA Gems in collaboration with GlobalGiving, the global online marketplace for philanthropy. Contributions will be allocated amongst four projects, which are enabling women in South Africa to fight the stigma of AIDS, poor communities in South Africa to install critically needed sanitation systems, coal-dependent communities in Kenya to develop and use alternative sources of energy and schoolgirls in Burkina Faso to have a mid-day meal, improving their ability to learn.

Women in Science Face Uphill Battle

Since the 1970s, women have surged into science and engineering classes in larger and larger numbers in the USA. Half of the nation’s medical students are women, and for decades, the numbers have been rising similarly in disciplines like biology and mathematics. Yet studies show that women in science still routinely receive less research support than their male colleagues, and they have not reached the top academic ranks in corresponding numbers. For example, at top-tier institutions only about 15 percent of full professors in social, behavioral or life sciences are women and at each step on the academic ladder, more women than men leave science and engineering.Institutions such as Rice University in the USA have been gathering promising female scientists who are graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to help them learn skills that they will need to deal with the perils of job hunting, promotion and tenure in high-stakes academic science. Source: New York Times Online

Internal Employee Conflicts Most Damaging to UK Businesses

Barclays Bank, City law firm Lewis Silkin and the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) have come together to announce research that highlights the costs and consequences of the most common and most damaging business dispute facing employers today – internal conflict with an employee. The research, coordinated by CEDR, shows how the costs associated with dealing with a disgruntled employee can rise cumulatively. The research was compiled using the experiential observation of the three participants in the research, all leading experts in this field, combined with fieldwork among 570 respondents in British businesses. This research follows the announcement by CEDR earlier this year showing that conflict costs British businesses a total of £33 billion a year. The new research also found that, second only to disputes with customers, internal disputes involving managers and employees have the biggest impact on the performance of businesses, but that internal disputes were far more numerous. Source: bytestart.co.uk

Highly Skilled Test introduced for Migrants to UK

The UK has begun the implementation of the first part of a points based system for managing migration by introducing new rules for highly skilled foreign workers applying to enter the country. Professionals and entrepreneurs will now face a more rigorous test of their capability, enabling the UK to select who they determine as the most likely to benefit the UK’s economy. A mandatory English language requirement has also been added to the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) both at initial application and also at the extension stage.

Gender Pay Gap, Once Narrowing, Is Stuck in Place

According to the New York Times, the gap between the pay of women with college degrees and the pay of male college graduates has actually widened slightly since the mid-’90s. For women without a college education, the pay gap with men has narrowed only slightly over the same span. Last year, college-educated women between 36 and 45 years old, for example, earned 74.7 cents in hourly pay for every dollar that men in the same group did, according to Labor Department data analyzed by the Economic Policy Institute. A decade earlier, the women earned 75.7 cents. The reasons for the stagnation include both discrimination and the rising number of women staying home with young children who might otherwise be earning high salaries. The pace at which women are flowing into highly paid fields also appears to have slowed. Today, the discrimination often comes from bosses who believe they treat everyone equally, women say, but it can still create a glass ceiling that keeps them from reaching the best jobs at a company. Women have continued to pour into high-paid professions like law, medicine and corporate management where they were once rare, but the increases seem to have slowed. At the very top of the income ladder, the gap is probably even larger. Source: New York Times Online

London's Employers rely on Foreign Skills

Almost half of London’s employers rely on migrant workers to plug skills gaps, new research has revealed. The CBI’s and KPMG’s London Business survey of 93 London employers, representing half a million workers, found that 48 per cent were reliant on staff from other EU countries and 37 per cent on non-EU workers. Two-thirds of respondents (67 per cent) expected skills shortages to be the biggest obstacle to growth over the next six months, up from 53 per cent a year ago. Source: cipd.co.uk

Flexible Working could Benefit UK Micro Businesses

Flexible and home working could help to alleviate the problems of transport capacity and congestion, as well as improving the UK's environmental credentials, according to Work Wise UK. The campaign, which is widely backed by business and the unions, believes that the Eddington Report on Britain's transport needs failed to consider the solution that, it insists, is both achievable and realistic. According to Work Wise, the rigid work structure adhered to by many of the UK's firms is largely dictated by culture - wasting time and resources, damaging the environment, and affecting stress levels. A recent survey by the Institute of Chartered Accountants for England and Wales found that three quarters of micro businesses agreed that flexible working could improve their productivity and efficiency, the Bristol Enterprise website reports.Source: PCG Group

Foreign Born Entrepreneurs Account for 25 % of US Startups

According to a study by researchers at Duke University, an estimated that 25% of technology and engineering companies started from 1995 to 2005 had at least one senior executive—a founder, chief executive, president or chief technology officer—born outside the United States. Immigrant entrepreneurs' companies employed 450,000 workers and generated $52 billion in sales in 2005, according to the survey.California led the nation, with foreign-born entrepreneurs founding 39% of startups, even though they make up only 25% percent of the state's population. In New Jersey, 38% of tech startups were founded by immigrants, followed by Michigan (33%), Georgia (30%), Virginia and Massachusetts (29%). The study also found that 26% of U.S. tech startups have founders, CEOs, presidents or head researchers from India. Source: diversityinc.com

South African Human Rights Centre wins Top UN Award

The University of Pretoria’s Centre for Human Rights, an institution established during the worst excesses of the apartheid era, has been awarded the prestigious Unesco Prize for Human Rights education for 2006, beating 49 candidates from 37 countries. Set up in 1986, the centre recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. In the early 1990s, it contributed to the creation of South Africa’s new Constitution and Bill of Rights, widely considered to be among the most progressive in the world. It then broadened its activities to human rights education and training in South Africa and other African countries. Unesco awarded the US$10,000 (about R70 000) prize in recognition of the centre’s “outstanding contribution to the cause of human rights in South Africa and to the advancement of a human rights culture by means of education and training of professionals in South Africa, other countries on the continent and beyond”.

Women Account for less than 2% of Fortune 500 CEO Jobs

Women have made some gains in navigating corporate hierarchies over the last 30 years, but it is still rare for a woman to reach the top. While top business schools are producing an increasing number of female M.B.A.’s, only about 16 percent of corporate officers at Fortune 500 companies are women, according to Catalyst, an organization that studies women in the workplace. The numbers are even fewer at the rank of Chief Executive jobs where women only account for nine, or less than 2 percent, of the chief executive jobs at Fortune 500 companies. While during the past year, several women have taken the reins at large, prominent Fortune 500 companies such as Kraft Foods, PepsiCo and Chevron, women remain underrepresented in the corporate suite. In the most recent Catalyst report on women in the workplace, 53 companies have no women as directors, while 182 other companies each have only one woman on the board, according to the report. Source: New York Times Online.

95% of Women in Business in UK Have No Regrets

Almost 95% of women who start up in business said it had 'exceeded' or 'lived up to' their expectations, an everywoman study reveals.The research, conducted by business support, training and networking organisation everywoman, found that over 94% of women who were running their own business had 'no regrets' and said that it had 'exceeded' or 'lived up to' their expectations. The biggest challenge facing women business owners is winning clients and securing new business.When asked what they considered to be the key factors in being a successful business owner, 7 in 10 said 'self-belief' was the most important. Source: Business Link

A Quarter of British Workers are considering a Job Change

According to a research study by ISR, 24% of UK employees are ready to change job compared to 10% in Germany and 12% in Italy. However, the figure for ‘high performing’ companies reduces to 13%.  Almost half of employees polled feel that their company is doing a poor job in keeping its most talented employees. The report states that organisations are finding it hard to motivate and retain their talented staff because they are not providing an acceptable level of development opportunities.  A further report by Bibby Financial Services reports that 49% of recruiters say that their major concern for 2007 is attracting good quality candidates and winning new business. Source: recruitmentmatters.com

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