RCA Flag
RCA Flag
Connecting Africa’s Skilled Professionals
RCA Flag

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.


A round-up of recent careers, business and other news from the UK, Africa and around the world.

A round-up of recent news from the UK, Africa and around the world.

UK Women change ‘foreign sounding’ names to get hired

Around one in five of 540 female black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) jobseekers said they had resorted to using false names in job applications because they fear their ‘foreign sounding’ names will mean they face bias in the recruitment process, according to research in a poll carried out by name-blind headhunting firm Nottx.com. Four in five believe their gender and ethnicity are barriers to employment. More than half of 460 men polled believe they have been subjected to ethnic discrimination, but less than a tenth has changed their name. Almost all respondents who changed their name when applying for jobs reported a higher level of call-backs from potential employers. The name-blind research came as the Trades Union Congress (TUC) published its own data revealing that people with BAME backgrounds were up to three times more likely to be unemployed than equally skilled white people. Its analysis of labour force data from the Office for National Statistics showed that BAME workers with A-levels or equivalent had a 14 per cent unemployment rate in the UK – compared with 4.5 per cent for white people with the same qualifications. BAME unemployment across all adults was 9.5 per cent, compared with 4.7 per cent for the white population. Statistics published by the Department for Work & Pensions showed there were now 670,000 more black and minority ethnic (BME) workers in employment in Great Britain than in 2010.

Sponsors Sought for "Reggae for a Cause" Project

The German-based Centre of Jamaican Culture and Development is seeking to establish “Reggae For A Cause” a project between Africa and Jamaica. The purpose of "Reggae For A Cause” is for poor descendants of enslaved people to make a journey back to Africa to learn more about their roots, the culture of their ancestors and see the places where they were imprisoned before they were crammed together on the slave ships and brought across the Atlantic Ocean to America and the Caribbean. It will also help them to define who they are and reinforce their identity and dignity. For the beginning the first destination will be Ghana in West Africa to visit places like "Cape Coast Castle", "Elmina Castle" and "Fort Christiansborg" also named as "Door of no Return". Step by step it is planned to extend the project throughout the Caribbean and more African countries where once black people were taken from and forced into captivity. First one flight per month is planned, from Montego Bay, Jamaica Sangster International Airport", nonstop to Accra, Ghana Kotoka International Airport. We would like to set up two locations in Ghana, one for reception events and one for a "Restoration Center" for accommodation and sustenance of the vacationers. Each vacationer will stay for two or three weeks according to the raised donations for fulfilling this moral issue. This project will also help to boost Ghana's economy through tourism. The project "Reggae For A Cause" is registered at the crowd-funding organizations betterplace.org, boost-project.org and socialfunders.org.

HSBC Launches £10 Billion Lending Fund to Support UK SME Market

HSBC has launched a new £10 billion lending fund to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK, as part of an overall commitment to make banking simpler and more affordable. This new fund is the largest package of support to be announced by HSBC for the UK SME market and underpins the bank's support by putting SMEs in a stronger position to be making investments that will stimulate local economies and create more jobs. The fund, which will be allocated regionally across the UK, has been announced to meet strong demand from UK SMEs and follows the success of an £8 billion fund HSBC, launched in 2015. HSBC’s 2016 SME Fund and broader package of support includes: A £10 billion UK-wide fund for SMEs, allocated regionally across the UK; A free banking offer of up to 18 months for start-ups and 12 months for switchers; The introduction of year-long fixed-price £5.50 monthly account tariff, to commence at the end of a customer’s initial free banking period; Changes that will make banking cheaper for customers: a reduction in the Personal Guarantee Fee from £80 to £10 for any lending facility above £10,000; The launch of the Business Lending Eligibility Checker (BLEC) – an online tool offering potential new customers a credit decision in principle for loans of up to £30,000 in less than three minutes; and a free text alert service for informal overdrafts, which will help customers avoid paying informal overdraft fees and interest. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK, whether they are a start-up or established business, focused either on the domestic market or looking to trade internationally, may apply. Applications can be made at any time.

UK Staff Working from Home passes 1.5 Million Mark

The number of UK employees who say they ‘usually’ work from home has climbed by almost a fifth over the past decade, passing 1.5 million, though the overall take-up rates for home working may be slowing. New research from the TUC found that 1.52 million employees classed themselves as working from home in 2015, up 241,000 (19 per cent) on 2005 figures, with millions more regularly or occasionally following suit. Almost two-thirds of habitual home workers were in their forties and fifties, with IT, agriculture and construction the most frequently cited sectors. The south west and the east of England saw the highest penetration of home working, with Northern Ireland lagging behind – just one in 48 employees there regularly worked from home. When the self-employed and other members of the labour market are included, the total number of those working from home reached more than four million, up by more than half a million since 2007. The biggest growth in home working, across both employees and the wider population, has been seen among women. This tallies with ONS employment statistics this week, which found that, as the retirement age for women has been gradually pushed up from 60 over recent years, thousands of female workers who would previously have retired have remained in the labour market.The employment rate for women reached 69.2 per cent in March, the highest since comparable records began in 1971, the ONS said. Overall, the number of people in work has reached a record 31.5 million, according to this week’s figures, marking an employment rate of 74.2 per cent.

Finance and Health most Stressed UK Professions, Survey Finds

Workplace stress is causing organisations to lose 24 days of productive time per employee each year, with some industries losing up to 27 days, a study has found. The combination of an average of five days of sickness absence for stress-related illness per year, and the time employees say they have lost through reduced productivity, suggests that the economy could stand to lose £57bn a year through work-related stress. Some industries were found to be more greatly affected, with healthcare and financial services losing 27 and 25 days per year, per employee respectively. The study, by VitalityHealth, Mercer, the University of Cambridge and RAND Europe, found that the high-tech sectors were least affected, but still lose a yearly average of 19 days of productivity per employee. The research found some correlation between activity levels and productivity. While physical activity levels in the financial services industry were found to be in line with the national average (64 per cent), 62 per cent of employees in the healthcare sector were found to be in the healthy range for activity levels. Workers in high-tech professions – who were also the least stressed  – were found to be the most physically active, with 72 per cent of employees in the healthy range for activity levels. Alcohol consumption, poor diet and smoking have long been identified as having a significant impact on long-term health, but work-related stress and a lack of physical activity have been creeping up the agenda in recent years.

Nominations Open for the 2017 Queen's Awards for Enterprise

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2017 Queen's Award for Enterprise and Queen's Award for Enterprise Promotion. The Queen's Awards for Enterprise are the UK's most prestigious Awards for business performance. They recognise and reward outstanding achievement by UK companies. Awards can be won under any of the following three categories: International Trade - recognising companies that have demonstrated growth in overseas earnings; Innovation - recognising companies that have demonstrated commercial success through innovative products or services; Sustainable Development - recognising companies that have integrated environmental, social, economic and management aspects of sustainable development into their business. Any United Kingdom 'Business Unit', whether large, medium or small, which produces goods or provides services can be considered for an Award if it carries out activities which meet the specified criteria. Winners are announced annually on 21 April, the Queen's birthday. The recipients will be presented with an engraved crystal glass commemorative item, a Grant of Appointment and will also be invited to a reception at Buckingham Palace. Individuals that have made an outstanding contribution to the country's enterprise culture may be nominated for this strand and there is no allocation to particular regions or territories. Nominations for each strand of the 2017 Queen's Awards for Enterprise must be submitted by midday on 2 September 2016. Further information and access to the online application pages can be accessed at the GOV.uk website

UK Men Earn More as Fathers, says Study

UK men who become fathers are paid almost a quarter (21 per cent) more than their childless co-workers, according to a TUC analysis of 17,000 people’s earnings – but working mothers receive 11 per cent less than women without children. The study also found that fathers with two children earn 9 per cent more than those with just one child. Though it drew no conclusions about the reasons for this salary uplift, commentators have speculated that men work longer hours, and are the recipients of positive stereotyping at work when they become fathers, whereas new mothers fall foul of “deep-rooted prejudice”. The TUC based its findings on an ONS analysis of those born in 1970, enabling it to control for age and seniority. It was only able to compare figures for biological parents, rather than step or adoptive parents. The report also cited international studies that have shown recruiters favour CVs from fathers over childless men, but mark women down if they are mothers. The latest ONS statistics, published in November 2015, showed that the broad gender pay gap between men and women in full-time employment stood at 9.4 per cent in April 2015, compared with 9.6 per cent in 2014.

EY Raises Parental Leave to 16 Weeks in the United States

Ernst & Young LLP has announced that new mothers and fathers in the U.S. will now be eligible for up to 16 weeks of fully paid parental leave. The new parental leave policy is available to men and women welcoming a child through birth, adoption, surrogacy, foster care or legal guardianship. EY also announced that it will provide generous benefits for fertility, surrogacy and adoption. On average, nearly 1,200 EY people in the US, half of which are men, take paid parental leave each year. Upon the arrival of a child, EY’s current US policy offers 12 weeks for new birth mothers and six weeks for dads and adoptive parents, subject to eligibility requirements. The new policy increases benefits for all eligible parents and positions EY as a 1st mover in equalizing parental leave benefits for men and women among the Big Four, Accenture, IBM and other professional services firms. The new benefits will also offer financial assistance of up to $25,000 per family for adoption, advanced reproductive technology procedures (ART) including for surrogacy, and medically-necessary egg and sperm freezing. These financial assistance benefits will go into effect on January 1, 2017. EY’s marketplace research has also uncovered the impact paid parental leave benefits have on employees and businesses. Earlier this year, EY and the Peterson Institute for International Economics released a global survey that explored gender equity issues within executive-level positions. The survey found that the countries with the highest percentages of women in leadership, including in the boardroom and at the executive level, offered fathers 11 times more paternity leave days than those countries at the bottom. Additionally, EY’s global generational research in 2015 found that 38% of US millennials would move to another country with better paid parental leave benefits and men were more willing to change jobs or give up a promotion, to better manage work and family than women. Findings like these, further demonstrate how paid parental leave policies help recruit and retain top talent. In addition to these enhanced benefits, EY also provides a comprehensive package of family-friendly support services to help new and expectant parents manage work and caregiving responsibilities.

UK Lags Behind EU Neighbours on Workplace Gender Equality

The UK is falling behind other European countries on workplace gender equality, ranking in eleventh place – behind the Nordics, France and Spain – according to a new survey. The Glassdoor Economic Research report, conducted with Llewellyn Consulting, looked at the female-to-male labour force ratio, the proportion of female managers and the gender gap in employment rates by educational attainment across 18 countries. The pay difference between women with no children and those with children was found to be the highest in Ireland by 31 percentage points. The difference was also high in Germany and the UK – at 23 and 14 percentage points respectively – and lowest in Spain and Belgium (three percentage points or less). The study found women to be widely underrepresented at board level. Norway has the highest proportion of women on boards (36 per cent), owing partly to a legislation-based quota system introduced in 2006. In France, Finland and Sweden around 30 per cent of board members are women. In Denmark, the UK, Italy and Germany, it is around 26 per cent, while in Estonia the proportion is only 8 per cent. One area where the UK fares well is in its proportion of female managers: it ranks in third place for this measure, behind only Sweden and Norway. In Sweden, Norway the UK and Portugal, more than 35 per cent of managers are women, while in Austria, Germany, Greece, Italy and Denmark the proportion drops to below 30 per cent. Across Europe, women were found to be less likely to be employed full time than men, but the gender employment gap for those who attended university was found to be around half of what it is for those with less than upper secondary education.

UK Staff Seeking New Jobs at a 2 Year High

The number of UK employees who are looking for a new job has reached a two-and-a-half year high, while job satisfaction is also at its lowest level in two years, a survey by the CIPD has revealed. The CIPD/Halogen Employee Outlook, which surveyed more than 2,000 people, found that almost a quarter of employees are currently looking for a new job, up from 20 per cent in autumn 2015. This is the highest level since autumn 2013, when 24 per cent of respondents said they were job-seeking.  Net job satisfaction has also decreased substantially since last autumn, from a net score of +48 to +40. Although job satisfaction was found to have dropped across all areas of the economy, the private sector fared worst, declining from +50 to +41. In the survey employees were split over the statement 'this organisation really inspires the very best in me in the way of job performance', with 34 per cent disagreeing and 35 per cent agreeing. While 33 per cent said their organisation can fulfil their career aspirations, 36 per cent said this is 'unlikely' or 'very unlikely'. And while 44 per cent believe their organisation provides opportunities to learn and grow, 30 per cent disagree. There has also been an increase in the proportion of employees who believe they are over-qualified for their role, which now stands at a third compared to 29 per cent in autumn 2015. Women and part-time workers are most likely to feel over-qualified. Another area of dissatisfaction for some is around performance management systems. While more than two-fifths of employees believe their organisation's approach to performance management is fair, almost a fifth said it is 'somewhat unfair' or 'very unfair'. Overall, the employees surveyed are happy with their line managers. Among the 80 per cent who said they report to a supervisor or line manager, satisfaction sat at +47 (up from +44 in autumn 2015). Although the majority said their line managers treat them fairly (67 per cent), make clear what is expected of them (59 per cent) and are supportive if they have a problem (57 per cent), only 24 per cent said their line manager has coached them on the job, and relatively few discuss training and development needs (38 per cent) or act as a role model (34 per cent). The survey also found that while employees are mostly aware of the purpose of their organisation (+70), far fewer are motivated by this key purpose (+28).  When it comes to health and wellbeing, employees' ability to achieve a balance between work and home has remained stable over the last few years, although 37 per cent reported feeling under excessive pressure at least once a week. Almost a third of employees (31 per cent) said they come home from work exhausted 'often' or 'always'. This was more likely in the private sector (22 per cent) than the public (17 per cent) and voluntary (14 per cent) sectors.

Third Sector Awards 2016 Invite Entries

These nonfinancial awards, now in their 16th year, recognise the outstanding achievements of the third sector which includes registered charities, voluntary organisations, social enterprises and other not-for-profit organisations based in the UK. The awards were created in 2000 by Third Sector, which defines itself as the ‘the UK’s leading publication for everyone who needs to know what’s going on in the voluntary and not-for-profit sector’. The purpose of the awards is to discover and showcase the outstanding campaigns and big achievements of third sector organisations over the past year. Third Sector is looking for entries ‘from charities that know they’re doing great things, have innovative ideas they’re keen to shout about, can demonstrate effectiveness alongside strong employee and donor engagement and are passionate about highlighting the great talent that is the heartbeat of the sector'. Entry is open to all voluntary organisations based in the UK, including registered charities, not-for-profit organisations, social enterprises and campaigning groups. Agencies and consultancies may also enter on behalf of the voluntary organisations with whom they are working, as long as they have their client’s approval. The 2016 categories have been updated and refreshed along with the introduction of new awards for teams, agencies and organisations that provide support to the third sector. The former Britain’s Most Admired Charities awards have now been fully incorporated into the Third Sector Awards opening up a host of additional opportunities to be recognised for their achievements. This year there are 26 entries which must cover work carried out during the period 1 May 2015 to 30 May 2016. Work that began in earlier years is eligible if it came to fruition during this period. Work that has been entered previously can be re-entered as long as the entrant can prove an improvement or change in the entry. The deadline for submitting entries is 2 June 2016 (midnight). Groups that miss this deadline have until 16 June 2016 to apply; however, they will be charged a late fee of £50 plus VAT per entry. The award ceremony will take place in London on 14 September 2016. The online entry system and full details about the awards can be found on the Third Sector Awards website.

Pregnancy Discrimination Pervasive in the UK reveals Research

Extensive new research commissioned by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) shows worrying evidence about the extent and nature of disadvantage in the workplace related to pregnancy- and maternity-related discrimination across the UK. Survey interviews with 3,254 mothers and 3,034 employers cover their views and experiences on a range of issues related to managing pregnancy, maternity leave and mothers returning to work from maternity leave. Mothers responded to a combination of survey questions which covered: feeling forced to leave their job; financial loss; negative impact on opportunity, status or job security; risk to or impact on health or welfare; harassment/negative comments; negative experience related to breastfeeding; negative experience related to flexible working requests, and any other negative experiences. Overall, three in four mothers (77%) said they had a negative or possibly discriminatory experience during pregnancy, maternity leave, and/or on return from maternity leave. Around one in nine mothers (11%) said they felt forced to leave their job. One in five mothers (20%) said they experienced harassment or negative comments related to pregnancy or flexible working from their employer/colleagues, while one in ten (10%) mothers were discouraged from attending antenatal appointments. Over two thirds of mothers (68%) submitted a flexible working request and around three in four of these mothers reported that their flexible working request was approved. Around half of mothers (51%) who had their flexible working request approved said they felt it resulted in negative consequences. While the majority of employers (84%) reported that it was in their interests to support pregnant women and those on maternity leave , more than a quarter (27%) felt pregnancy put an unreasonable cost burden on the workplace and 17% believed that pregnant women and mothers were less interested in career progression and promotion than other employees. While the majority of employers were also positive about managing most of the statutory rights relating to pregnancy and maternity (for each statutory right, more than half of employers felt it was reasonable and easy to facilitate) some employers thought particular statutory rights were unreasonable or difficult to manage. As women make up almost half of the UK workforce (around 47%), the research findings do not present a positive picture for gender equality. The percentage of women who are working or actively seeking work is at its highest level on record (around 72%) and around 11 million (78%) of parents work – therefore, supporting parents to join and stay in the labour market is a priority for the Government.

Fewer than one in 10 UK Vacancies Offer Flexibility

A campaign to create one million flexible or part-time job vacancies by 2020 is focusing on changing employer recruitment practices, after research found that fewer than one in 10 job vacancies offered candidates the opportunity to work flexibly. Analysis of five million job adverts in the second half of 2015 showed that just 8.7 per cent of roles with salaries equivalent to at least £20,000 per year declared an offer of flexible working. Meanwhile, 79 per cent of people searching for part-time or flexible roles said the jobs market was “broken”. Timewise has launched the ‘Hire Me My Way’ campaign to showcase employers that are committed to discussing flexible working options during the recruitment process, and to provide free careers advice for jobs seekers trying to navigate the flexible jobs market. It is almost two years since the UK Government extended the right to request flexible working to all employees with at least 26 weeks' service. Under the legislation, employers are required to deal with such requests in a reasonable manner and give answers within three months unless otherwise agreed.

English Students Face Highest Levels of Debt

English students in universities in England now face some of the highest tuition fees in the world – higher than in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – and the highest average debts at graduation, according to a new study. The typical English student faces debts of over £44,000 (US$64,500) at graduation. Even compared with graduates of US private for-profit universities – who graduate with about £29,000 of debt – estimates suggest that English students fare worst, the study, Degrees of Debt, published by the Sutton Trust says. Partly due to generous scholarships, the average graduate of private non-profit US universities, which include the Ivy League, finishes with £23,000 of debt despite the typical course lasting four years compared to three in England. However, the vast majority of English students’ study-related debt is held by the state, which has relatively clear repayment conditions compared to other Anglophone countries and the system is income-contingent. While UK graduates do have to pay interest rates of up to 3%, in the US, only a minority of students are repaying loans under income contingent arrangements, and they face even higher interest rates. hile UK and Australian graduates can take a ‘repayment holiday’ when their income dips, only 19% of US students receiving the most common federal loans are enrolled on similar schemes. The abolition of maintenance grants this September – which were reintroduced when tuition fees rose from £1,175, depending on income, to £3,000 in 2006 – will leave The government has also decided to freeze the threshold at which graduates start repaying loans, at £21,000, which will accelerate the rate at which students pay back loans resulting in higher monthly payments. Tuition fees in England are higher, at an average of £8,800 (with a cap at £9,000), than for students going to a home state public university in the US (about £6,600). Fees for students out-of-state and at private universities are often higher in the US, but many have generous bursary schemes that offset fees for low- and middle-income families.

Ockenden International Prize 2017 Invites Entries from UK and Ireland

The 2017 awards are now open to registered charities with projects/programmes that have been successful in improving the lives of refugees and/or internally displaced people. In 1999, the Ockenden Venture became Ockenden International and concentrated nearly all its work overseas (Sudan, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Pakistan, Iran and Uganda). First presented in 2013, the Ockenden Prize awards US$100,000 to the winner and US$25,000 each to the two runners-up. The cash prizes recognize and reward innovative work that can be shown to promote self-reliance among refugees and/or internally displaced people (IDPs). Submissions for the Prize must be from recognized and registered charities, which can also elect to nominate a project by a registered partner or affiliate organisation. There are no geographical limits on the locations of the projects. To be eligible, projects, programmes or activities must benefit refugees or displaced people; have been initiated no earlier than 1 June 2013 (ie, no more than 36 months before the opening date for the current year’s applications); have helped refugees and/or displaced people as the prime focus of the project with a strong emphasis on promoting self-reliance; be able to show that there have been measurable achievements and outcomes leading to real change in the lives of those helped; and provide, where possible, evidence of independent external evaluation. The deadline for entries is 31 August 2016. Full details can be found on The Ockenden Prizes website

Ghana’s Vice-President Calls for Universities to Move Away from Liberal Arts

Universities across Africa must move away from liberal arts courses in order to make higher education relevant and ensure the continent is not left behind in today’s technological world, Ghana’s Vice-president Kwesi Amissah-Arthur said while opening the second Times Higher Education Africa Universities Summit in the capital Accra. Student intake was still dominated by the humanities, which enrol close to 60% of students in Ghana’s public universities, said the vice-president. Also, gender access was below target with female students constituting just a third of the student population, and only a third [of that third] enrolled in scientific-oriented courses. Amissah-Arthur called for a more radical admission policy founded on a technology-based curriculum. According to the VP, increasing access to non-marketable skills has created graduates with expectations but few employment prospects, calling it a waste Africa cannot afford. Amissah-Arthur said that like their counterparts on other continents, African universities must develop ideas through critical thinking and must challenge orthodoxies that impede progress. The vice-president said higher education institutions across the continent must reinvent themselves as well as maintain their relevance. Among their key objectives should be the pursuit of scholarship and developing and maintaining academic standards. Universities free from interference could teach and conduct research without being dictated to, he said, and it was crucial to identify new and efficient ways of delivering outputs.

The Guardian Nigeria launches online TV Platform

Nigerian newspaper, The Guardian, has launched an online TV platform, Guardian TV. Guardian TV will provide exclusive video interviews, as well as up-to-the-minute videos from across the world, and will be available on virtually any device that has an internet connection, including personal computers, tablets, smartphones, and Smart TVs. Guardian TV has partnered with some of the world’s top online news and video outlets in order to provide it’s viewers with the best in news entertainment and sport. Partners include Al Jazeera, AFP, Reuters, CNBC Africa, Bloomberg, Forbes Africa TV and France 24. The list also includes Blustar Entertainment, Ebony Life TV, Ovation TV, Frontera, Channels TV, and Omnisport, the world’s number one sports content provider. The website, www.TV.Guardian.ng, was officially launched today, and The Guardian’s Executive Director, Toke Alex Ibru, is confident Guardian TV will revolutionise the short form video content market in this part of the world. The service is being launched in partnership with Ventra Media Group a full-service digital marketing and rights agency whose range of services includes digital strategy, growing social media audiences and planning, as well as buying digital media for brands and content owners. The launch of Guardian TV comes after the complete re-launch of The Guardian’s digital platform. The new service is part of a continued investment by the group in to its digital operations and products. The organisation has signalled its intent to launch products and services that can compete on an international basis.

Ethiopia Pushes Mobile Money

Ethiopia, Africa's second most populous country and one of its fastest growing economies, is pushing a new electronic payment service by phone - called M-Birr, or "mobile-money" - in a bid to bring millions into the banking system and financial services. Government "safety net" social security payments to some of the poorest people are now transferred with a few key strokes. The service cuts out cumbersome bureaucracy, that previously forced customers to travel long distances and spend time waiting for requests to be processed, sometimes having to return the following day to collect the cash. Created by Irish company MOSS ICT, the service was launched in Ethiopia early 2015, in collaboration with several banks and five Ethiopian micro-finance institutions. It follows in the footsteps of neighbouring Kenya, whose M-Pesa service run by British telecom giant Vodafone's subsidiary Safaricom has become a leading force in the sector. Users are encouraged to create a bank account to avoid losing up to a fifth of the monthly allowance offered -- an average of 137 birr ($6) a month -- in transport costs to collect the cash. In Ethiopia, M-Birr has some 150,000 users. The innovation not only improves the distribution of social security benefits, but also paves the way to opening up a potential market of tens of millions for a banking system which is as yet hugely underdeveloped. Less than a fifth of Ethiopians had a bank account in 2014, against three-quarters in neighbouring Kenya, according to the World Bank. But Ethiopia is experiencing strong economic growth, estimated by the IMF and the World Bank at nearly 10 percent annually over the past decade. The economy is still heavily dependent on agriculture, especially coffee, with the vast majority of the country's workers involved in the sector, and the government has set a target of increasing the number of bank account holders to 80 percent by 2020 and to double the number of bank branches in the country.

Africa Must Prioritise Higher Education Now, says UNESCO

Africa cannot wait until 2030 for the next round of global goals to address the urgent need for quality higher education. Despite higher education targets being included within Sustainable Development Goals 4.3, 4.9 and 17, these goals do not address the critical need for improved quality. Rather, they centre on incremental development, enrolment rates, unsustainable practices and international dependency. African higher education does not have time to linger on ineffective policies. UNESCO warns that by 2025, 258 million Africans will reach higher education enrolment age. If this explosive student-age population growth could be channelled into higher education, national development across Africa would greatly benefit. However, if Africa and the international community continue an incremental development approach, prioritising basic education before higher education development, the region’s innate talent pool will remain untapped.

M-Pesa Customers Exceed 25 Million, says Vodaphone

Vodafone Group PLC said Monday the number of active customers using its mobile phone-based money transfer and financing service M-Pesa has increased to over 25 million. In the year to end-March, customer numbers increased by 27% to 25.3 million across Africa, Asia and Europe, Vodafone said. This growth was supported by market launches in Albania and Ghana. During the year Vodafone entered into various government partnerships, including a partnership with the Ministry of Social Development in Lesotho to pay welfare grants using M-Pesa, and a series of deals with partners to allow M-Pesa customers to transact with other services across borders.

Tanzania Telecom Ventures into Mobile Money Services

The State-run Tanzania Telecommunications Company Limited (TTCL) is venturing into mobile money transfer services as it seeks to enter the competitive market that already has four players. It will utilise an unstructured supplementary service data (USSD) technology to rollout its services soon, officials have said. The company has contracted a payment technology provider, Novatti Group Ltd, to supply technology equipment worth $850,000 (about Sh1.87 billion) to implement the project. Novatti Group Ltd will supply the state-owned telecommunications firm with technologies that will include a short messenger centre (SMSC) and USSD services. TTCL has been providing mobile phone services for years now. Using its CDMA technology, it has been offering mobile voice and data services only and has about 50,000 to 60,000 customers countrywide. With this major transformation, TTCL will compete with the rest of other players in the mobile telecommunications industry. Major competitors in money transfer services include Vodacom (M-Pesa), Airtel (Airtel Money), Tigo (Tigo Pesa) and Zantel (EzyPesa). The number of mobile phone subscribers hit 39.8 million in December last year, according to Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) figures. TTCL maintains a one-per cent market share with a total of 304,214 subscribers.

African Universities to Gain from 59 New Fellows

A total of 59 African-born scholars based in the United States and Canada have been selected to join universities in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda to work on academic projects with their peers as part of the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program or CADFP. According to Dr Paul Zeleza, CADFP chair and vice-chancellor of the United States International University-Africa, or USIU-Africa, in Nairobi, Kenya, the programme’s advisory board has also selected 41 African universities to host the fellows based on collaborative project proposals submitted by the universities. “The visiting fellows will work with their hosts on a range of projects across disciplines that include, but are not limited to, research methods, agroforestry, development of e-learning modules, special education, nursing, curriculum development, music and academic writing,” said Zeleza. Now in its third year, CADFP is designed to alleviate Africa’s academic brain drain, build capacity at host institutions and develop long-term, mutually beneficial collaborations between universities in Africa and the United States and Canada. The programme is funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and managed by the Institute of International Education in collaboration with USIU-Africa, which houses the secretariat. Visiting fellows remain at the host institution for 14 to 90 days.

Evolving Tax Systems across Africa Leading to Rising Revenues

African governments are prioritising and modernising tax reforms, according to new research by the OECD and partners. Between 2000 and 2014, all eight countries covered in the analysis – Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Mauritius, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia – posted increasingly strong tax to GDP ratios. These higher ratios are a strong indication that governments are mobilising a greater share of the nation’s wealth for public spending through taxation. As a percentage of GDP, all eight reported tax revenues of between 16.1 and 31.3 percent. Corporate income tax revenue to total tax revenue ratio was considerably higher than the  OECD average of 8.5 percent, hovering in the 13 to 18 percent range. Since 2000, rising taxes on income and profits have propelled tax revenues in the eight countries higher, with corporate tax making up a big part of it. Value added tax revenues have also gone up. Whereas globally personal income taxes constitute around a quarter of all tax revenues, in Africa these make up only about 10 percent. The wealthy tend to benefit the most from informal tax regimes. In South Africa, for example, around 114,000 high net worth individuals are not registered with the tax authority. This costs the government an estimated $10.9bn in lost revenue. However in many cases, African governments are beginning to shore up porous, informal tax systems. Heavy reliance on non-tax revenues - such as resource rents and aid - is acute among many lower income nations. Of the eight countries analysed, those with the lowest national incomes had comparatively higher non-tax revenues. But these revenues tend to be more volatile than taxes which can lead to financial instability, according to the partners on the report.

South Africa, Botswana and Tunisia Best for African Entrepreneurship

New research indicates that South Africa, Tunisia and Botswana are the most promising countries in supporting entrepreneurial new businesses in Africa, according to Analyse Africa’s analysis of data from the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Index. In South Africa, the cost of starting a business has dropped significantly in recent years, from approximately $355 in 2010 to $21 in 2015. Simplifications to the registration process for starting a new company have helped to reduce costs. It also ranks first in Africa for the availability of the latest technologies, according to the Global Competitiveness Report. Tunisia also performs well within Africa. Its advantage is the high quality of maths and science education available, ranking third in the region for 2015-2016.  Access to finance has also improved. In 2015, 11.8 percent of Global Competitiveness Survey respondents cited this is as the greatest problem facing entrepreneurs in the country, compared to 17.7 percent in 2010. In the World Bank’s Doing Business Report, Botswana has consistently been ranked as one of the top destinations to do business in Africa, ranking in the top 4 since 2009. Botswana has also seen the number of new firms increase significantly, averaging a 9 percent increase per year between 2009 and 2014. It also records the highest new business density in Africa with 13.11 new registrations per 1,000 adults. Nevertheless, the challenges remain significant. In recent years these three countries have also been struggling with high youth unemployment. In South Africa it stands at 50 percent, Tunisia 34.5 percent, and in Botswana 29.4 percent. All three countries also displayed lower rates of GDP growth than the African average of 3.6 percent through 2015, with Botswana at 2.59 percent , South Africa at 1.40 percent , and Tunisia at 1 percent. The hope is that fostering entrepreneurship will help solve the high youth unemployment rates, also providing a boost to growth. Although these countries have shown marked progress, Africa as a whole compares poorly to the rest of the world. Regionally, it ranks below the world average across all indicators for the Global Entrepreneurial Index. There are still many barriers that hinder new businesses such as corruption, poor education and lack of access to finance.

Vodacom Discontinues M-PESA in South Africa

Vodacom will discontinue its M-Pesa mobile payment offering in SA at the end of June, the mobile network said in a statement. According to the company, Vodacom’s decision is based on the fact that the business sustainability of M-Pesa is predicated on achieving a critical mass of users. Based on its revised projections and high levels of financial inclusion in South Africa, the company sees little prospect of the M-Pesa product achieving this in its current format in the mid-term. The decision does not affect M-Pesa outside SA.

Spike in University Enrolment Challenges Kenya

Kenya’s total university student enrolment rose 22.8% last year, marked by increased female enrolment and driven by massive infrastructure development, the introduction of new courses and the opening of more satellite campuses. According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the country’s data custodian, enrolment shot up from 361,379 to 443,783 during the year, creating a new layer of challenges for universities that will now have to seek new funds to expand facilities to cope with the surge. Female student enrolment has grown much faster than that of males as the country continues to grapple with a demographic shift that is seeing more women take up places in employment and learning institutions. According to the recently released Economic Survey 2016 – the annual statistical bulletin documenting all government data – the number of female students rose 24.9% in the review period, up from 147,412 to 184,164. This is compared with an increase in male student enrolment of 21.3% (up to a total of 259,618) in the same period. Public universities were the biggest contributors to the sharp growth in overall enrolment, despite the lower increase in institutions’ finances. During the year, enrolment at public universities increased by 25.4% from 289,733 to 363,334 with female enrolment rising by 26.3% compared to male enrolment at 24.8%. Enrolment in private universities climbed 12.3% from 71,646 to 80,448. The rise in the number of students seeking places will pile pressure on the Higher Education Loans Board or HELB, the agency that disburses loans to students on behalf of the government. In its latest assessment of Kenya’s economic prospects, the World Bank said that despite the rapid expansion of Kenyan higher education over the past two decades, universities have failed to produce employable graduates and there is a shrinking supply of skilled labour. The bank faults universities for a focus on revenue generation and weak quality assurance mechanisms. Government data shows that the number of both public and private universities has grown to 68 – up from 58 in 2011. There are 22 public chartered universities including three technical universities and nine public university constituent colleges. The rest are private institutions.

Tigo Leads 4G Deployment in Tanzania

Tanzania’s digital lifestyle telecom operator, Tigo, is now the leading mobile telephone company with the fastest and widest 4G LTE network in the Tanzania. Tigo 4G has impacted positively on Tigo customers lifestyle enabling them to enjoy a faster internet connection. The Tigo 4G technology is five times faster than 3G technology. From inception in April 2015 in Dar Es Salaam, Tigo 4G LTE has expanded to Arusha, Tanga, Dodoma, Morogoro, Moshi, Mwanza, Tabora, Musoma, Bukoba, Kigoma and Shinyanga and plans are underway to cover all major cities before the end of this year. The Tigo 4G LTE network provides faster internet speed to surf and download content and in making uninterrupted Skype calls. The 4G LTE significantly enhances the customer experience in in high definition video streaming. With the current partnership with YouTube, Tigo customers can also enjoy free video streaming at night. Tigo Tanzania has become the second largest player in the Tanzanian telecom market with the highest growth rate, recent statistics by the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) have revealed.

Equatorial Guinea Government Empowers Nationals with ‘Historic’ Oil & Gas Technical Training Program

The Ministry of Mines, Industry and Energy of Equatorial Guinea has signed an agreement with the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT Polytechnic) to provide comprehensive technical training to Equatorial Guinea nationals in Calgary, Alberta, in Canada. The two-year program, which will provide the students with core and specialized oil and gas knowledge, is part of the government’s drive to promote workforce nationalization in the industry. SAIT’s International Workforce Development and Workforce Nationalization Training have been successful in transferring technology to Africa countries, boosting national capacity and promoting local content. The first partnership between SAIT and Equatorial Guinea saw the training and development of the first nationals to work in the oil and gas industry, specifically on the offshore Zafiro complex, the country’s largest oil field. Students will receive a world-class curriculum that covers production field operations, energy asset management, maintenance of operations and electrical instrumentation and mechanical training. Underpinning the program will be extensive safety training. Upon completion, every student will receive an SAIT Certificate of Achievement and will return to Equatorial Guinea equipped to handle the rigorous demands of the oil and gas industry. Equatorial Guinea produces nearly 300,000 barrels per day of petroleum liquids and exports 3.7 million tonnes per annum of liquefied natural gas to markets worldwide. As the output of its offshore legacy oilfields decline, the country is investing heavily in improved oil recovery methods and technologies to maximize every drop in reserve. Equatorial Guinea operates at the cutting edge of industry practices and is expanding its role in the energy value chain through megaprojects that push the technological envelope. This includes the Fortuna floating liquefied natural gas facility, which will be the first of its kind for Africa when it produces first gas in 2019, the Bioko Oil Terminal and the Riaba Petrochemicals Complex.

CAMES Ministers Agree to Harmonise University Curricula

Ministers from CAMES, the Conseil africain et malgache pour l'enseignement supérieur – African and Malagasy Council for Higher Education – which represents 19 Francophone African states, have agreed on measures to develop higher education, according to reports in Dakar. The recommendations include development of information and communication technologies and digitisation, setting up a strategy for intellectual property, and strengthening open and distance education. They committed themselves to “make known the existing initiatives” so other countries could improve their capabilities, and to invite CEMAC – the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, one of the CAMES regions – to join in the action to motivate its members. On distance education, the ministers called for identification of real needs, rather than offering mediocre courses lacking in quality. They expressed the wish for “development and circulation of quality assurance tools” which the member states would monitor. They also adopted resolutions concerning the CAMES 2017 budget, a guide to accountancy and financial procedures, and publication of notices of vacant or newly created posts. The ministers agreed that the 34th CAMES ordinary session would take place in Yaoundé, Cameroon, in May 2017. Themes already proposed include ‘violence in universities’, ‘partnership between public and private higher education institutions’ and ‘CAMES thematic research programmes: Problems, issues and national structures’. The members of CAMES are: Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea-Conakry, Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal and Togo. The organisation’s headquarters are in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

Orange Completes Acquisition of Tigo in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Orange has announced that it has completed the acquisition of 100% of the mobile operator Tigo in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The mobile market in the DRC is undergoing significant growth and is currently the largest mobile market in Central and West Africa, after Nigeria. With a population of more than 80 million people and a relatively low mobile penetration rate of 50% of the population, the country offers considerable growth potential for Orange. The consolidation of Orange’s and Tigo’s operations in the DRC will enable Orange to strengthen its presence in the country. This acquisition illustrates Orange’s development strategy in Africa where almost one in ten people are already customers. In this zone, the Group aims to reinforce its positions as a leader in the countries in which it is present.

Skills Deficit a Barrier to Growth in Cameroon and Africa, says World Bank

Cameroon’s ambitions to become a middle-income economy by 2035 are more likely to be realised if the country invests heavily in specialised higher education in engineering, technology and computer-aided management, according to a World Bank report promoting a demand-led approach to skills development as a strategy for industrial take-off. The study, Fostering Skills in Cameroon: Inclusive workforce development, competitiveness and growth, argues that Cameroon has a very small cohort of highly trained workers that could help the country to boost its technological catch-up agenda. But the country also has “significant deadweight loss with respect to the available skills in the system and the use of those skills”, says the report, which was co-authored by Shobhana Sosale, development specialist for the World Bank’s Education Global Practice, and Kirsten Majgaard, economist for the World Bank’s Africa Region. This deadweight loss means that university graduates in Cameroon have the highest unemployment rates – partly because most university graduates tend to opt out of lower-skilled jobs, and partly because of a shortage of jobs requiring highly skilled workers. According to the report most university graduates have generalised as opposed to specialised skills and avoid taking jobs in rural and remote areas. The country’s tertiary education system is also deemed to be highly inefficient, with costs of education and training outweighing social benefits. While the government has identified infrastructure development, wood processing, agribusiness, tourism, extractives and information and technology as entry point sectors to building an emerging economy by 2035, manpower challenges remain key barriers. For example, Cameroon has the one of largest natural forests in Sub-Saharan Africa after the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but professional workers in the wood industry constitute about 18% of the workforce, and only 3.5% are high-level university graduates. The country also suffers from the absence of a well-organised structure for vocational and technical training for the wood industry, as well as a lack of forestry experts with knowledge about conservation, reforestation and forestry management. As in most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, graduate unemployment is rife in Cameroon, standing at 50% for graduates aged 25 to 34 in possession of at least an undergraduate degree. The report suggests that a high quality technical education could improve employment prospects for such cadres, while workers with a strong engineering and technology background have the potential to help the country achieve structural transformation. While infrastructure development holds potential for graduate employment, the country lacks a wide range of specialists that include highly trained engineers and other skilled workers. Also, according to the World Bank most university graduates shun jobs in infrastructure development to the extent that most workers in the sector have only primary education. Amid efforts to reverse the situation, the World Bank is urging the government and private sector to realise that infrastructure development has been shifting from labour-intensive capacity to high-tech processes that are increasingly computerised. Consequently, more higher-end skills are needed, including skilled supervisory personnel and long-term skills development. Cameroon currently has about 250,000 students in its universities but just 5% are pursuing engineering – a level too low to support Cameroon’s development plans. This compares with 26% in business, 24% in law and 20% in the humanities.

EBRD Increases Africa Investments

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) increased its investments in Africa 38.7% to approximately $1.41 billion in 2015.

Orange launches 6th edition of the Orange Social Venture Prize in Africa and the Middle East

Orange has launched a call for candidates for the 2016 Orange Social Venture Prize in Africa and the Middle East. The Orange Social Venture Prize, which aims to encourage start-ups that use innovation to fuel development on the African continent, is being extended to the Middle East and, this year, includes a Special Cultural Content Prize. Applications may be made until 21 September 2016 on the EntrepreneurClub.Orange.com website, Orange's new portal for entrepreneurs in Africa and the Middle East.The projects of 4 start-ups will be recognized during the awards ceremony with prizes of 25,000, 15,000 and 10,000, while 5,000 euros will go to the winner of the Special Cultural Content Prize.The 10 finalists of the Prize and the “Entrepreneur Club’s choice” award will also receive special support from the Grow Movement NGO for 6 months.Net users are invited to participate in the selection by choosing their favourite project on the new Orange portal for entrepreneurs in Africa and the Middle East, EntrepreneurClub.Orange.com The Orange Social Venture Prize showcases entrepreneurs offering innovative products and services meeting the health, agricultural, educational, energy, commercial or industrial needs of local communities. In its 6 years of existence, the Orange Social Venture Prize has been exceedingly successful, with some 2,600 projects received. This strong turn-out by candidates illustrates the entrepreneurial dynamics and telecommunications potential of Africa and the Middle East. Any entrepreneur of 21 years and older and any legal entity in existence for less than 3 years may participate in the Prize at no cost, regardless of nationality. The projects presented must concern a service to be deployed in at least one of the 18 African and Middle Eastern countries listed in the contest rules.

Standard Chartered to Launch Mobile and Online Banking in Africa

Standard Chartered is to launch its mobile and online banking platform in eight African countries, according to Reuters, as the lender seeks to grow in Africa at a time when some European banks are retreating. StanChart will launch the service for its 1 million customers in Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe in the first half of 2016, the bank's regional head for retail banking Jaydeep Gupta said. Gupta said StanChart hopes to grow long-term retail banking revenues in Africa by three to four times the pace of the region's growth in economic output. StanChart is expanding its physical presence in the region, adding 10 branches in the Nigerian capital of Lagos as part of a strategy to focus on Africa's capital and top-tier cities which Gupta said account for roughly 80 percent of consumer banking revenues. Africa accounts for 10 percent or around 8400 of the lender's total employees.

Welcome to the new, upgraded ReConnect Africa website.
Please help us provide you with information relevant to your needs by completing the fields below (just this once!)