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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.


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 Graduate Recruitment Fell by 5% in 2017, Says Survey

The number of graduates being recruited by major employers fell 5 per cent in 2017, the first annual drop in five years, according to a new survey. The Graduate Market in 2018 – a study by High Fliers Research of graduate vacancies, starting salaries and undergraduate work experience programmes at the UK’s 100 leading graduate employers – found significantly fewer graduates than expected were recruited in 2017. Private sector graduate recruitment was down 10 per cent despite overall employment levels remaining buoyant. Earlier this month, REC statistics suggested permanent employment was picking up pace, with demand for staff described as ‘strong’. Overall graduate recruitment by leading employers – including Goldman Sachs, Unilever and BP – had been forecast to rise by up to 10 per cent in 2017, but the report said uncertainty about the impact of Brexit was a key factor in a cut of 4.9 per cent year-on-year. The largest drop was seen in accounting and professional services firms, banking and finance and City investment banks in particular. However, employers are more optimistic about the year ahead, with graduate recruitment expected to recover by 3.6 per cent in 2018.

Uncertainty Drags UK Employer Confidence to Lowest Level since Brexit Referendum

Employer confidence had hit a net balance of -14 and the shortage of suitably qualified candidates for UK jobs has contributed to employer confidence dropping to its lowest level since the EU referendum, according to The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and ComRes’ JobsOutlook survey of UK businesses between 24 November and 18 December. Nearly a quarter of the 600 UK employers surveyed admitted that finding suitable employees for job vacancies was their most significant challenge. The proportion of employers that said they did not know their short-term hiring plans for temporary staff rose to 27 per cent, up from 9 per cent at the same point last year. Employer confidence was down 40 points – the lowest since the EU referendum on 23 June 2016. The net balance of hiring and investment decisions also fell, by two points to nine over the same period. Lack of skills or experience within organisations was cited as a challenge by 12 per cent of those surveyed. There was also a steep decline in the number of employers offering temporary staff permanent status, from 16 per cent in January 2017 to just 5 per cent this month. However, the survey found the main challenge to businesses was political and economic uncertainty, with more than a third giving this as a reason. A slightly higher proportion said they believed Britain’s economic conditions were worsening. Employers in the engineering and technical, health and social care, and construction industries were most likely to expect a shortage of staff for their permanent roles for the sixth consecutive month running. London-based employers had the strongest reaction to uncertainty, with close to half unsure about how many temporary workers they would take on in their organisation during the next three months. Organisations in the City could shed 10,500 jobs on the first day of Brexit, including back-office and client-facing roles spanning banks, insurance companies and asset managers, according to EY findings published in December 2017. Tom Hadley, REC director of policy, said employers’ increased awareness of the potential impact of Brexit on recruiting talent had played a large part in their declining confidence.

Staff Are More Creative When Boss is Humble, says Ohio State University Research

Staff demonstrate greater creativity when their boss is humble, according to research by Ohio State University. And academics studying workplaces in China have found that the effect is more marked if there is less distance between the manager and the team: when there is a greater power distance between the leader and their employees, humility can be seen as a weakness in a manager who is expected to be dominant and give strong direction. The researchers collected data on 72 teams from 11 information and technology companies in a city in China three times over six months. Team members were first asked to rate their leaders’ humility by agreeing or disagreeing with a series of statements. They also measured the power distance between team members and leaders by asking workers how confident they felt addressing concerns directly with their manager. Three months later, team members rated how much they shared information with each other and, after six months, leaders rated the creativity of their teams. The results showed that humble leaders encouraged higher levels of creativity within their teams when the power distance was low. This appeared to be because these teams shared more information with each other.

Top UK Universities Accused of BTec Admission Snobbery

Top universities have been accused of ‘institutional snobbery’ for failing to recognise vocational qualifications increasingly used by poorer teenagers as a route to higher education, according to an article in The Guardian. Almost half of white working-class and black British students in England are now reaching university with qualifications such as BTecs, according to new research from the Social Market Foundation (SMF) think tank. However, some of Britain’s most prestigious universities still fail to recognise the qualification. Campaigners warn that it creates a barrier to entry for disadvantaged students and acts as a brake on social mobility. New figures reveal that the number of school-age students studying for at least one BTec tripled between 2006 and 2014 to 150,000. Across England, 44% of white working-class children who make it to university have at least one BTec, according to the SMF. Its research also found that 48% of black British students accepted to university have at least one BTec qualification, and 37% enter with only BTec qualifications. Some universities fail to mention BTec entry requirements on their course pages and entry guides, or place very narrow limits on when they will be considered. Others actively refuse to consider BTecs.

Automation Driven Job Losses Will Deepen UK North/South Divide

Jobs based in the north of England are the most susceptible in the UK to being replaced or significantly affected by automation and globalisation, according to a new study. The report, published by the Centre for Cities think tank, found that seven of the 10 cities most likely to lose jobs because of upcoming technological changes were in the north. While on average 18 per cent of roles in southern cities were deemed at risk before 2030, this reached 29 per cent in certain northern locations and 23 per cent on average outside London and the south. The high concentration of warehouses, manufacturers and factory work mean roles there are more vulnerable to automation because of the “repetitive nature of work” found in such settings. The Centre for Cities said nine areas of the UK could lose an average of 21 per cent of their jobs by 2030, with administrative, shop and warehouse-based roles most at risk. This, it warned, was equivalent to 3.6 million jobs across the country as a whole. Mansfield, Sunderland and Wakefield were named the top three cities most susceptible to job losses, closely followed by Stoke, Doncaster and Blackburn. By contrast, ‘higher skilled’ areas could see just 13 per cent of jobs under threat: Oxford, Cambridge and Reading topped the list of the most secure locations, followed by Worthing, London and Edinburgh. There was a strong correlation between the risk of automation and the vote to exit the EU. The five most threatened cities all recorded Leave votes of more than 60 per cent in last year’s referendum, compared to just 30 per cent in Oxford and 26 per cent in Cambridge. But pay appeared to be the single most important determining factor in susceptibility to automation. Andrew Carter, chief executive of the Centre for Cities, said introducing robots into workplaces had the potential to compound the north-south divide, and deepen economic and political divisions.

TNE Students Outnumber Foreign Students in UK by 60%

A new report has revealed that there are now 1.6 times as many students studying for UK awards overseas than there are international students studying in the United Kingdom. There is a growing trend of UK higher education transnational education (TNE) identified by a new Universities UK International (UUKi) report, which claims to show the scale and scope of UK transnational higher education through regional breakdowns for the first time. It says UK TNE provision in higher education grew by 17% from 2012-13 to 2015-16. More than four in five UK universities offered some form of higher education TNE during that period, with Malaysia and Singapore the top host countries for UK higher education TNE. Asia hosted the majority of UK TNE students (52%), followed by Africa (15%), the European Union (13%), the Middle East (11%), North America (5%), non-EU (3%), Australasia (1%) and South America (less than 1%). The number of students studying for UK degrees in each of the world’s eight geographical regions increased by between 5% (EU) and 41% (Africa) from 2013-14 to 2015-16, but in the last year of that period, between 2014-15 and 2015-16, two regions (non-EU Europe and North America) experienced declines. Of the 20 countries which hosted the most students, seven were in Asia, six in the Middle East and Africa, four in Europe and three in the Americas, “demonstrating a take-up of UK higher education TNE across mature and emerging economies”, according to UUKi. Some 76% of students were on academic programmes in these 20 countries.

Marketing Managers Have Best Jobs in UK, says Survey

Marketing manager has been named the UK’s ‘best’ job for the first time since 2015 – as recruiters said the vast impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation meant the nature of the most in-demand and desirable roles would change rapidly in the years ahead. Glassdoor’s 25 Best Jobs in the UK list for 2018, published this week, found the role of marketing manager scored highest overall in a ranking that takes into account job satisfaction, base salary, number of available roles and overall Glassdoor score among employees. Marketing manager had a job score of 4.5 out of five, job satisfaction score of four out of five, and median base salary of £42,000. There have been 1,580 job openings for marketing manager roles so far this year on Glassdoor, the site said – a 60 per cent year-on-year increase. HR manager fell from fifth place in 2017 to sixth this year. The role had an overall job score of 4.3, job satisfaction score of 4.2, median base salary of £45,750 and 391 job openings.

IFC Study Aims to Boost Financial Inclusion

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has unveiled a study to help financial firms in Africa understand consumer perceptions and attitudes towards digital services. The World Bank Group’s private sector lending arm partnered with the MasterCard Foundation in the study aimed at growing financial inclusion in the continent. Sub-Saharan Africa leads the world in use of digital financial services with more than 277 million subscribers, 100 million of whom are active users, the latest report by the Global System for Mobile Communication Association shows. Kenya — the pioneer of the mobile money services — and Tanzania have nearly doubled the use of digital financial services since they were rolled out a decade ago. The study, part of Sh3.85 billion ($37.4 million) Partnership for Financial Inclusion initiative by the IFC and the MasterCard Foundation, focused on Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal and Zambia. The resultant report, ‘A Sense of Inclusion: An Ethnographic Study of the Perceptions and Attitudes to Digital Financial Services in Sub-Saharan Africa’, is based on a research conducted at the Africa Studies Center Leiden, University of Leiden (Netherlands). The resultant report, ‘A Sense of Inclusion: An Ethnographic Study of the Perceptions and Attitudes to Digital Financial Services in Sub-Saharan Africa’, is based on a research conducted at the Africa Studies Center Leiden, University of Leiden (Netherlands). The study established availability of financial mobile transactions has made it difficult for some users to dodge financial obligations from extended family members.

Calls for Business Idea Applications for Tony Elumelu Foundation Programme for entrepreneurship development

The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) is now accepting applications for business ideas that can transform Africa. The Programme provides critical tools for business success, including: Training: 12 weeks of intensive online training which guides creating and managing a business; Mentoring: A world-class mentor to guide during the early transformation stages of the business; Funding: $5,000* in seed capital to prove the concept, plus access to further funding; Network: Access to the largest network of African start-ups and TEF’s own global contacts. For further details: http://bit.ly/2qI0PnG

International Award Open for Outstanding Housing Projects

Outstanding housing projects that have made a huge impact on local communities are invited to enter the World Habitat Awards 2018. The awards – which are now open for entry – are run in partnership with UN-Habitat, highlighting the very best housing projects from across the world. David Ireland, Director of World Habitat, the Awards’ funders and co-ordinators said: “These awards are a great opportunity for you and your project to receive the recognition you deserve. We are not only looking for outstanding housing solutions but also where good housing is having a wider impact, on health, on energy or improved community cohesion. Recent winners from the past few years have included projects which have had a significant impact on people’s lives by tackling topics as wide-ranging as natural disasters and chronic homelessness.” Finalists and winners will receive international recognition for their innovative work, winning projects also receive a cash prize of £10,000, a trophy and have the opportunity to transfer their award-winning approach through peer-exchange activities sponsored by World Habitat. All housing projects which demonstrate the best in practical, innovative and sustainable solutions to current housing needs are invited to submit their entries via the World Habitat Awards website www.worldhabitatawards.org. Entries must be received by 31 March 2018.

Kenya Airways Starts Sales for Non-stop Daily Flights to New York

Kenya Airways has launched sales for a non-stop flight from Nairobi to New York. The inaugural flight is scheduled for October 28th this year. Kenya Airways becomes the first airline to offer a non-stop flight between East Africa and the United States of America. The airline already serves Africa, Europe, Middle-East, Indian sub-continent and Asia. The opening of the US destination completes an essential piece for Kenya Airways’ network, cementing its position as one of the leading African carriers. With over 40 American multinationals located in Nairobi and many more across Africa, the launch of daily flights is expected to further spur trade between America and Africa. It will be the fastest connection from East Africa to New York, with a 15 hours duration eastbound and 14 hours westbound. This schedule will allow connections to and from over 40 African destinations through Kenya Airways hub in Nairobi.

Dangote to Open $41 Million Cement Factory in Liberia

Dangote Cement Liberia Limited has signed an agreement with Liberia to invest in its cement industry. $41 million is expected to be invested by Dangote Cement in Liberia over the next ten years. The company will also be expected to maintain the roads leading to its terminals. The agreement will however be subject to review once in five years. For Liberia, the agreement brings in much needed foreign direct investment. In addition to recovering from a civil war, the Liberian economy recently suffered a setback from the Ebola crisis. The host community for the factory, also stands to benefit from the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes. Expanding into Liberia, also raises Dangote’s production capacity drawing it closer to its aim of being the biggest cement producer in Africa. Dangote cement currently produces about 40 million tonnes of cement per annum.

Exxon Mobil Set to Begin Oil Exploration in Ghana

International oil giant Exxon Mobil plans to enter Ghana’s oil and gas industry. The company showed initial interest in the country’s sector when it wanted to take up Kosmos energy but failed. Exxon Mobil and other international oil companies have now invested in the exploration of Ghana’s hydrocarbon development. The company is touted as the world’s largest integrated international oil company with daily production of about 4 million barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) and with revenue stream worth $218.6 billion as of 2016. In 2015, the company signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Ghana to assess its Deep-water Cape Three Point (DCTP) region. This region is a hundred miles off the coast with water depth ranging between 2,000 and 4,000 metres – according to a release from the Energy Ministry. According to Ghana’s GIPC, the company’s participation in Ghana will open up more job opportunities for Ghanaians in the oil and gas sector.

Ethiopian Airlines Outlines Plans for Hubs across Africa

Ethiopian Airlines is seeking to set up hubs in southern Africa, Central Africa and the Horn that connect neighbouring countries leading to faster trade, investment and tourism within the continent. They are working with Malawi and Zambia as southern Africa hubs. Another hub would be in central Africa, covering the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo Brazzaville and Chad. We are also in talks with neighbouring Djibouti, says the Airlines Group. With a large landmass and around one billion population, Africa has a high growth opportunity and by expanding the hubs, the airline will aid intra-Africa connectivity. Although Africa is reasonably connected with the rest of the world, the continent is not well connected to itself. Internal transport within Africa has been a major challenge especially because there are no open skies.

ITFC, Afreximbank join Efforts to Support African Trade with $100 Million and €50 Million Murabaha Partnership Agreements

The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), member of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group, and the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), a multilateral financial institution established by African governments and institutional investors, have signed a US$100-Million agreement and a EUR 50-Million Murabaha agreement with the aim of facilitating and financing exports amongst African countries and between Africa and the rest of the world. The facilities are intended to be used to support procurement from suppliers from the member and non-member countries, including local purchase, to promote trade across Africa.

South African Companies Pushing for Transformation, Statistics Show

Annual statistics for top leadership placements in South Africa has for the second year in a row shown a sustained increase in race and gender transformation, according to South African executive search firm, Jack Hammer. According to their statistics, there has been an 8% increase in BEE appointments in 2017, building on the near 10% increase logged the year before. The two-year upwards trend follows a period of very static placement statistics between 2012 and 2015, with the tide turning notably in 2016. The figues show that the increase in the number of BEE executive level appointments is significant and gaining momentum year on year, says Debbie Goodman-Bhyat, CEO of Jack Hammer. In 2017, total EE placements stood at 56%, up from 48.4% in 2016 and 39% in 2015. Black female appointments were up from 13% in 2016, to 25% in 2017. Appointments of foreign candidates dropped from 6.5% to 3%. Goodman-Bhyat says the continued increase is reflective of ongoing pressure to transform at senior management and executive levels within corporates, and also a growing pool of talent at senior management level to fill these positions. Notably, this data reflects EE appointments in the private sector, as opposed to in parastatals or government. There has also been a significant uptick in the number of female appointments in general, which were up from 32% in 2016 to 38% last year, she says. Here, the big shift has been with the appointment of black women, whose appointments increased by 12% last year.

Dangote Donates N1.2 Billion Structure for Business School in Bayero University, Nigeria

Nigerian business magnate, Aliko Dangote, is donating another N1.2 billion for running the business school in Bayero University, Kano. The building is a state of the art edifice and will effectively mark the commencement of study of business in the institution and the first in the Northern part of Nigeria. Dangote is also building a similar business school in the University of Ibadan. The Business Schools being undertaken by the Aliko Dangote Foundation, according to the President of Dangote Group is part of its efforts to build entrepreneurship in the sub-consciousness of Nigerians through revisiting school curricula to reflect entrepreneurship and manufacturing. The building is a modern Business School within the premises of Bayero University, Kano with auditoriums, lecture theatres, offices, classes, and library.

Orange and the CNED (National Distance Learning Centre) to Distribute Educational Content on Smartphones in Africa

Orange and the CNED (National Distance Learning Centre) have announced a partnership to facilitate access to educational content on smartphones in Africa. Hundreds of thousands of African students have difficulties accessing high-quality educational content. To address this, Orange is launching an offer in Africa to provide access to educational content from the best international universities and training centres. Orange’s direct contribution to this ambitious project is based on its infrastructures and networks which allow for the distribution of this content to people in the 19 countries in Africa where it operates, wherever they are located. In order to meet this objective, Orange and the CNED have established this partnership to distribute educational content. With over 29,000 people registered internationally and an excellent reputation across the world, the CNED confirms its position as a leader in Europe and French-speaking Africa for distance learning. It now has a large database of content, covering primary and secondary education, higher education and vocational training. The CNED’s content will be distributed in French in ebook format through the MondoCNED application. The content can then be downloaded onto smartphones where it can be read on any screen size and can even be available offline. This partnership is already available in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in the coming months will be introduced to other countries (Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, etc.). In addition to the CNED, other partners will be able to offer their educational content to Orange customers, notably French online universities, French-speaking universities and African universities which already produce their own educational digital resources.

Ten African Scientists among 2018 TWAS Fellows

Ten African academics are among the 55 new fellows of The World Academy of Sciences or TWAS – the second-best showing by scientists from the continent in nine years. Four South Africans and one each from Cameroon, Kenya, Morocco, Sudan, Uganda and Zimbabwe were elected TWAS fellows for excellence, announced on 26 January. Based in Trieste, Italy, TWAS is a global science academy uniting 1,228 scientists in 70 countries with the goal to promote scientific capacity in developing countries. Sixteen of the new members are women – an unprecedented 29% of the new class. The showing by the African continent is its second best in history and was achieved once before in 2004, although it fared better in 2009 when 11 fellows from the continent were chosen. In the latest list fellows from China and India dominated, while South Africa led the African chart with four members, compared to 2016 when it had only one, with Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Sudan and Morocco having one each. Candidates must also be scientists whose contribution to their respective fields meets internationally accepted standards of excellence, and they may be working or living anywhere in the world, but if based in a developed country, must demonstrate efforts to promote science in developing countries.

Sweden Extends Partnership with Flagship Rwanda University

A successful 16-year partnership between the University of Rwanda and several Swedish tertiary institutions, funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, has been extended for another five years. In terms of the new agreement, at least 15 Swedish universities will continue their partnership with the University of Rwanda, involving the exchange and transfer of knowledge in interdisciplinary research aimed at stimulating economic growth and social transformation. Since 2002, Swedish institutions, through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), have been the university’s single most important external partner in the development of research capabilities (training at masters and PhD levels both locally and abroad, providing research grants, building ICT, library and laboratory infrastructure), as well as strengthening of institutional capabilities (training of senior academic and administrative managers, and production of policies and strategies). In a statement, the University of Rwanda said the investment by SIDA has begun to pay off as the 2017 Ranking Web of Universities placed the university among the top 100 best universities in Africa and in the top 10 best universities in East Africa. The University of Rwanda is the second most influential university in East Africa after Makerere University in terms of the average citation index of its publications. The new agreement replaces the current UR-Sweden Program which is due to end on 30 June 2018. While the partnership has focused on research training, research management and research competences, the new phase is expected to empower research areas in line with global trends in social transformation in 10 clusters. The new phase seeks to cover major areas of research in the clusters with the aim of positioning Rwanda among the top performers on the Sustainable Development Goals, gender equality, environment, among others.

Ghana Mobile Money Deposits Hit $2.3 Billion in 2017

The amount of money mobilized outside the banking system through mobile money reached a record GH¢2.3 billion ending December 2017, according to data from the Bank of Ghana. The amount represents a growth of 84.6 percent over the December 2016 amount of GH¢1.3 billion. These funds mobilized through mobile money are currently held by banks. The data also showed that mobile money accounts reached 23.95million compared with 11.43million bank accounts as at end December 2017. The value of mobile money transactions was GH¢155.8 billion at end December 2017 showing a growth of 98.5 percent over December end position of GH¢78.5 billion in December 2016. MTN was top with the largest share of deposits, accounting for more than 90 percent of mobile money accounts held at commercial banks. MTN as at October 2017 had GH¢2.1 billion representing 93.5 percent of deposits held at commercial banks. Airtel/Tigo followed with GH¢79 million accounting for 3.56 percent share of the deposits. Vodafone had 2.52 percent of the market share with GH¢57 million deposits. Fidelity Bank led the pack in terms of the banks holding the largest share of mobile money deposits with GH¢583 million. ECOBANK had GH¢470 million, while CAL Bank held GH¢229m. Direct jobs created by mobile money through engagement of mobile money agents was 194,688 in December 2017 compared with 136,769 in December 2016.

GE Publishes New Report ‘The Future of Work in Nigeria’

In this 2017 issue, GE commissioned a survey of four key industries - Oil and Gas, Transportation, Healthcare and Power – for insight from their key leaders. The whitepaper titled "The Future of Work in Nigeria. Bridging the Skills Gap: The Key to Unlocking Nigeria’s Inherent Potential" as part of the company’s global ‘The Future of Work’ series to highlight the need for investment in sustainable skills development. In this 2017 issue, GE commissioned a survey of four key industries - Oil and Gas, Transportation, Healthcare and Power – for insight from their key leaders, including CEOs, HR and operations directors, on the impact of skills shortage on their businesses, as well as the ways to address skills shortages. The report highlighted quality education as crucial to Nigeria’s future socio-economic development and emphasized the strain as a misalignment between current curriculum and industry needs places on the country’s infrastructural development, while recommending dialogue as a first step and public-private partnerships as a key driver in enhancing the quality of education.

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