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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.

1 in 7 Older UK Workers Believe to Experience Age Discrimination

As many as one in seven older workers thinks their age has cost them a job, a new survey from Business In The Community (BITC) and the Centre for Ageing Better UK has revealed. The Becoming an Age Friendly employer report included a YouGov poll of more than 1,100 employees over the age of 50, which found one in seven (14 per cent) believed they had been turned down for a job due to their age. In addition, almost one in five (18 per cent) older workers had hidden or considered hiding their age in job applications. Almost one in three workers in the UK are aged 50 and over, with Mercer’s Workforce Monitor forecasting one million more over-50s will enter the workforce between 2018 and 2025. However, almost half (46 per cent) of BITC survey respondents said they thought their age would be a disadvantage in applying for a job, and one in four (27 per cent) had been put off applying because the roles sounded as though they were aimed at younger workers. While almost half (40 per cent) of employees over the age of 50 believe their workplace has a policy related to preventing age discrimination, 47 per cent said it had not made any difference to their treatment at work. In order to drive organisations towards more age-friendly cultures, the Centre for Ageing Better and BITC outlined five action points for employers, including a comprehensive flexible working provision, returner or re-entry plans for older workers, and an age-positive culture led by HR.

Tech Giants Dominate Most Recommended UK Companies List

Tech firms dominate the 2017 list of most recommended UK employers, with Facebook grabbing the top spot, in a recent Glassdoor survey. Analysis of data from former and current staff members, who voluntarily reviewed and rated the companies they work for, revealed that 90 per cent of Facebook employees would recommend the company to a friend. Computing and technology company Arm took second place, while Google, Microsoft, Expedia and Cisco Systems also made the top 20. As recruitment becomes increasingly social, experts warn that organisations must work harder to attract top talent, making employee experience a business priority. While tech companies may have taken the lead in employee recommendations, they have also found themselves under the spotlight for their HR practices in recent months. In a survey of 50,000 employees from workplace feedback platform ViewsHub, published last month, HR departments in technology companies were given an average effectiveness score of 2.66 out of five, falling short of the 3.45 average across 11 surveyed sectors.

UK Black Male Graduates Experience 7% Pay Penalty, Report Finds

Black male graduates experience earning on average 17 per cent less than white men, the equivalent of £7,000 when working full-time, according to a recently published report. Think tank the Resolution Foundation’s Opportunities Knocked? report also found black female graduates face a ‘pay penalty’ of 9 per cent – or roughly £3,000 on a full-time basis – compared to their white peers. Significant pay gaps between non-graduate white workers and non-graduate black and ethnic minority workers were also uncovered. For example, black men typically earn £2 less an hour than white men. For Pakistani and Bangladeshi men, the gap widens to £4. The pay disparities come despite significant improvements in educational attainment and employment over the past 20 years. The research discovered that between 1996-97 and 2016-17, the number of black men with degrees increased by 24 per cent and the number of black women with degrees increased by 28 per cent. The think tank’s report converted pay gaps into ‘pay penalties’ to account for differences in the characteristics of workers, such as age, qualifications, region of work, hours worked and type of contract.

Employees Waste 13 days a Year in Unproductive Meetings, Survey finds

Employees waste almost 13 days a year in unproductive meetings, a recent European study has revealed. The survey of more than 2,000 employees from the UK, France and Germany found the average employee spends 187 hours in meetings per year – the equivalent of 23 days. However, 56 per cent of these meetings were deemed unproductive by workers polled by hotel brand Crowne Plaza Hotel & Resorts. More than a third (34 per cent) admitted to switching off during meetings that lasted too long, while almost a quarter (23 per cent) of those surveyed said they had witnessed someone fall asleep in a meeting.

One Quarter of UK Employees Have Faced Discrimination in Past 12 Months

Almost one in four (23 per cent) UK employees has experienced workplace discrimination in the last 12 months, according to a recent study. The survey from soft skills training provider Learnlight revealed 12 per cent of workers had been discriminated against at work because of their gender, age, background, sexual orientation, culture or ethnicity. Roughly one in seven (14 per cent) reported witnessing discrimination against someone they knew at work in the past year. The research, which questioned 1,080 UK employees online, also found that only half (51 per cent) were sure their employer had a policy to promote workplace diversity and inclusion. One in five (22 per cent) employees said they weren’t certain their workplace was ‘truly’ diverse, while 19 per cent said their workplace was not diverse. And a quarter (25 per cent) of respondents were not certain their workplace was inclusive, with nearly one in five (18 per cent) saying it definitely was not inclusive. The survey also found one in three (30 per cent) employees believed their company’s diversity and inclusion policy was ‘usually’ adhered to, but one in ten (9 per cent) felt the policy was “just a tick-boxing exercise”. 

Almost Half of UK Workers are Mismatched to Their Job, Study Finds

Almost half (49 per cent) of UK workers are in jobs they are either under- or over-skilled for, research published by the CIPD has today revealed.  The Over-skilled and Underused: Investigating the untapped potential of UK skills report found more than a third (37 per cent) of workers have skills which would enable them to cope with more demanding duties than their role requires. Conversely, of the 3,700 UK employees surveyed one in 10 (12 per cent) reported they lacked some of the skills needed to carry out their job effectively. The survey found being unable to use skills effectively at work is linked to poorer job satisfaction, lower earnings and worse career progression prospects. Just 53 per cent of over-skilled workers said they were satisfied with their jobs compared to 74 per cent of people whose skills were better suited to their role. The CIPD research also found a quarter (24 per cent) of workers had not received any training in the past year. Older workers, low-wage workers, part-time workers and those who are self-employed were most likely not to have received training. Over a quarter (26 per cent) of workers surveyed reported a lack of opportunities was the biggest barrier to their career progression. The study called on employers to invest in formal training for line managers to enable them to better support their reports’ development. A nationwide government survey published in August revealed the number of UK workers who were overqualified for their job was around 2.5 million – 8.7 per cent of the workforce. Meanwhile, 1.27 million workers – or 4.4 per cent of the UK’s workforce – were identified as not having the complete set of skills they needed for their job.

UK Employers Could Be Forced to Report Pay Gaps for Ethnic Minorities

Employers could be required to report their race pay gap statistics under new plans revealed by Theresa May to increase ethnic minority representation at work. Announcing the launch of a consultation on whether mandatory reporting will help address disparities between the pay and career prospects of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) workers and their white colleagues, the prime minister remarked that too often ethnic minority employees feel they're hitting a brick wall when it comes to career progression. The consultation, which runs until January, will allow organisations to share views on what information should be published while avoiding “undue burdens on businesses”.  The move to report on ethnicity pay follows the decision by the UK government to require firms with more than 250 employees to reveal their gender pay gaps – though race pay is a far more complex area given the greater intersections between ethnicities, and the fact businesses are not currently required to collect information on their employees’ ethnic backgrounds. The prime minister is also due to unveil a Race at Work Charter aimed at increasing recruitment and career progression among BAME employees. May’s announcement follows the launch of a review by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) earlier this year, which will  scrutinise how employers have tackled barriers to BAME employee progression at work, one year after the 2017 McGregor-Smith Review into race in the workplace. That report found the UK economy could potentially benefit from a £24bn annual economic boost if BAME employees were given the same opportunities as their white counterparts.

African Development Bank Boosts Jobs for Youth with $2 Million Strategy

The African Development Bank’s Fund for African Private Sector Assistance (FAPA), has provided funds totalling nearly US $2 million to its Jobs for Youth in Africa initiative. FAPA, of which the Government of Japan is a major donor, along with the Austrian Government and the African Development Bank, will contribute $923,570 and $988,202 to finance the Bank’s Fashionomics Africa Digital Marketplace and Entrepreneurship & Innovation Lab (eLab) programs, respectively. Both programs form key components of the Bank’s Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy, which invests in high-growth sectors with potential to promote youth and women’s empowerment, as well as create 25 million jobs over the next decade. The Fashionomics Africa Digital Marketplace and Entrepreneurship & Innovation Lab (eLab) programs align with FAPA’s vison to create an investment-friendly climate for micro, small and medium-scale enterprises (MSMEs) on the continent. They will also provide platforms for strengthening and promoting entrepreneurship that target women and youth-led businesses. Launched in 2015, the Bank’s Fashionomics Africa initiative supports its “High 5” (http://bit.ly/2IeAT8x) priorities, in particular, the Jobs for Youth in Africa and Industrialization (http://bit.ly/2DvG0ST) agenda. FAPA’s latest support for this initiative will enable the development of the digital platform and application designed to increase and facilitate access to markets and finance; provide access to relevant information, mentorship and networking opportunities as well as develop the skills, competencies and qualifications of African designers and fashion entrepreneurs. The eLab program will provide innovative young entrepreneurs with financing, technical assistance and broader ecosystem support.

Internet Society Partners with Facebook to Expand Internet Connectivity in Africa

The Internet Society, a global non-profit organization dedicated to the open development, evolution and use of the Internet, has announced that it is partnering with Facebook to develop Internet Exchange Points (IXP) throughout Africa. An Internet Exchange Point is where multiple local and international networks, ISPs and content providers interconnect their networks together to efficiently exchange Internet traffic through an arrangement commonly referred to as Peering. Currently, 42% of countries in Africa lack IXPs, which means that most of their domestic Internet traffic is exchanged through points outside their respective country, usually through satellite or submarine fiber across multiple international hubs to reach their destination.  This can result in poor end-user experiences and discourages hosting content locally, which are some of the key factors towards the development of the local Internet ecosystem. Peering at IXPs helps keep domestic Internet traffic local by offloading traffic from relatively expensive international links onto more affordable local links. As a result, ISPs are able to offer improved Internet experiences for end-users and spur interest in hosting content locally. The Internet Society and Facebook will collaborate in promoting IXP infrastructure development, training and community engagement with the objective of increasing the number of IXPs and supporting the expansion of existing IXPs to meet the growing demand in Africa.  Studies have shown that (http://bit.ly/2xAuPDe) Internet users throughout Africa benefit from Peering as it enables faster, more affordable and reliable access to content. According to the Africa IXP Association (Af-IX), there are approximately 44 active IXPs located across 32 countries in Africa.  This has resulted in a 275% growth of locally exchanged Internet traffic over the last 10 years (there were 16 IXPs in 2008). During the same period, traffic exchanged at the African IXPs  increased from 0.16Gbps to 412Gbps with over 800 networks now connected at these IXPs  (http://bit.ly/2zrXk77).

Tanzania, East Africa's Most Populated Country Plans to Build 200,000 Affordable Homes Each Year.

The demand for housing in Tanzania is estimated at 200,000 houses annually, which results in a current housing shortage of 3 million houses. Alternatively, building materials are being explored as a way to deliver these houses on a rapid scale, according to the Center for Affordable Housing Finance in Africa (CAHF). The country is currently having a number of major building projects with a total capital expenditure of $40bn. The Tanzanian government has also introduced Mortgage for the public and each commercial Bank has been issuing mortgages for the past few years which aim is to deliver 200,000 affordable homes each year. Tanzania imports many of its construction materials to satisfy the high demand for construction locally, with the number of mortgage lenders in the market increasing from 3 in 2009 to 21 in 2015. The average mortgage interest rate in Tanzania fell from 22% to 16% during the same period.

SAP Africa Drives Innovation Opportunities via Universities

SAP Africa has announced the opening of eight new SAP Next-Gen Chapter universities in Sub-Saharan Africa. The main objective is to expand and drive innovation opportunities with SAP customers to help them accelerate into becoming intelligent enterprises. The following SAP Next-Gen Chapters universities are tasked with preparing the future purpose driven innovators for the SAP ecosystem and to accelerate universities across the Sub-Saharan Africa region. SAP Next-Gen Chapters operate as lighthouse universities and multipliers of SAP Next-Gen for universities and its affiliated centers locations such as University Competence Center (UCC) and Academic Competence Center (ACC). Key deliverables for the chapter universities include sharing best practices through connecting industry partners with academic thought leaders, researchers, students, startups, accelerators, tech community partners, purpose driven partners, venture firms, futurists, and SAP experts to reimagine the future of industries with SAP Leonardo, seed in disruptive innovation with startups, and build skills for digital futures.  Chapters universities support other affiliated member institutions in expanding their SAP programs on campus. This will ensure that students and faculties learn about business, technology and innovation using the latest technologies and methodologies. These African chapters universities will be joining other global SAP Next-Gen Chapters  that are already in operation. For more information, visit the SAP News Center.

African Development Bank Releases New Tool to Assess Resilience and Fragility in Countries

The African Development Bank has created and refined a new tool to diagnose fragility in countries, taking into account their capacities and  pressures they may be under. Called the Country Resilience and Fragility Assessment (CRFA), the tool offers a completely new method of assessing resilience and fragility using seven key criteria: political inclusiveness, safety and security, justice, the economy, social cohesion, the regional contagion effect, and climate change. By introducing, for the first time, the concepts of 'capacities' and 'pressures', this new tool brings much more rigour and effectiveness to the assessment of resilience and fragility, especially since it takes greater account of the national context. Before its approval by the Bank Board on 11 September, the CRFA, was subjected to a range of checks for reliability and effectiveness, conducted under the supervision of the Transition States Coordination Office, with support from the Bank's statistics and resource mobilization departments. In addition to assessing resilience and fragility, the new tool should also be useful for advocacy and communication and improving and strengthening   dialogue between the Bank and its regional members. It should also help to anticipate crises, thanks to an early warning system. The creation of a new fragility and resilience assessment tool is an important contribution to research efforts for greater effectiveness in the Bank's work. The CRFA provides better insight into every dimension of fragility, including the less obvious, making it possible to offer the most appropriate responses in terms of building a country’s capacity and resilience.

Dangote Now the Most Valuable Brand in Nigeria

Nigeria’s Dangote has emerged the most valuable brand among the top 50 brands in Nigeria for 2018. This is coming barely three months after the brand was adjudged the most admired brand of African origin by Consumers in a brand rating coordinated by South Africa based Brand Leadership in conjunction with Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE). Brand Nigeria, the Agency that coordinated the survey in Nigeria, in its report lauded the efforts of the handlers of the Dangote Brand because this is the first time a Nigerian brand would be achieving the feat since 2013. Unveiling the list of the top 50 brands, Mr. Taiwo Oluboyede, the Head of Brand Nigeria explained that 46 percent of the top brands amounting to 23 are Nigerian brands. Giving the highlights of the brands rating, he stated that Promasidor Nigeria Limited emerged the highest gainer jumping 15 points from last year, the followed by the trio of BUA, Nine Mobile and Olam all of which moved 12 points from last year position, while seven brands, Conoil, Channels TV, Union Bank, Access Bank, Chi, Toyota, and GTBank maintained their positions. He stated further that Fidelity bank came as a first entrant this year and Stallion Group making a fresh return to the top 50 brands this having exited before. The top 50 brands in Nigeria are the brands that have succeeded in delivering their promises to the consumers. Giving insights into how the evaluation of the top 50 brands was carried out, Soboyede said: “we used the Brand Strength Model (BSM index). It is model that measures a brand’s ability to deliver on its promise to the consumers from the consumer’s point of view. The model uses basic qualitative elements and there are seven variables that goes into the BSM model”. The Brand Africa 100 ranking is based on a survey among consumers 18 years and older, conducted in 23 countries across Africa. The countries, representing all African economic regions, collectively account for 75% of the population and the 74% of the GDP of Africa. African brands rose slightly to account for 17% of the Top 100 brands in Africa, non-African brands retained their firm position in Africa with 83% share of the Top 100 most admired brands in Africa. Brands from Europe leads the table with 40%, North America at 24% and Asia 19%.  West Africa 6% with only Nigerian brands and Southern Africa 6%. The Top 100 is dominated by technology and electronic brands (29%), consumer (non-cyclical) (19%), apparel (15%), automobile (8%), food (7%) and sports & fitness (5%) categories are the top categories.

South African Applications Sought for Chivas Venture 2019

The highly anticipated Chivas Venture 2019 – a global competition that gives away a share of $ 1 million in funding to the hottest social start-ups from around the world – is open for entries. The Chivas Venture provides a global platform for innovative for-profit enterprises that are using business to solve social and environmental problems by demonstrating how success is a blend of profit and purpose. In 2017, three of the top five South African finalists came from the SA Innovation Summit. Applicants will compete in the South African heats. Apart from the media exposure received, the 2019 winner will fly to the United Kingdom to take part in an intensive training program to hone their business and pitching skills. If your business blends purpose and profit, you could be the 2019 Chivas Venture winner. To find out more and to enter, visit Chivas Venture website.

South Africa ranks 94 out of 162 countries Measured in the Economic Freedom of the World Report

South Africa ranks 94 out of 162 countries and territories according to their economic system. Economic Freedom of the World (EFW) index measures the degree to which the policies and institutions of countries support economic freedom. In 2000, South Africa ranked 46th in the world, which meant being in the top 30% of economically free countries. Not only was it high on the index, but it was rising, destined to be one of the world’s freest and thus most prosperous countries. Unfortunately, instead of building on its post-apartheid achievement, SA started sliding down the rankings and is now in the bottom 40%. This means that South Africans now have less economic freedom than they had gained by 2000. Sliding down the index condemns countries to lower incomes, greater poverty, more inequality, reduced life expectancy, fewer political rights and liberties and bleak prospects for the quality of life. Hong Kong and Singapore top the index, continuing their streak as 1st and 2nd respectively. New Zealand, Switzerland, Ireland, the United States, Georgia, Mauritius, the United Kingdom, and Australia with Canada (tying for 10th) complete the top 10. The index is based on data from 2016 (the most recent year of available data) and measures the economic freedom of 162 countries and territories for which data are available. The 10 lowest-ranked countries are Sudan, Guinea-Bissau, Angola, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Syria, Algeria, Argentina, Libya, and, last-place, Venezuela. Some despotic backward countries such as North Korea and Cuba cannot be ranked due to lack of data. According to peer-reviewed research, people in countries with more economic freedom are more prosperous, enjoy more political and civil liberty, and live longer. Countries in the top quartile (25%), such as the UK, Japan and Ireland, had per-capita incomes of more than US$40,000 in 2016 compared with less than US$6,000 for the bottom quartile, such as Venezuela, Iran and Zimbabwe. Life expectancy is nearly 80 years in the top quartile compared with just 65 years in the bottom quartile. South Africa’s largest score reductions in economic freedom (where 1 is low and 10 high) are Judicial Independence down from 8.03 to 6.52, Independent Courts from 7.42 to 5,45, and Regulation of Credit from 10.00 to 7.50. See the full report at www.fraserinstitute.org/economic-freedom. Economic Freedom of the World: 2018 Annual Report ranks 162 countries and territories. The index appears annually and is produced by Canada’s Fraser Institute in co-operation with the Economic Freedom Network, a group of independent research and educational institutes in nearly 100 countries and territories including South Africa’s Free Market Foundation.

The Incredible Rise of African Rugby

Rugby is developing at an unprecedented pace in Africa. The popularity of the sport is booming all over the continent, and APO Group, the main Official Partner of World Rugby' African association, Rugby Africa, has released a new guide to the sport called “The Incredible Rise of African Rugby”. The document, downloadable from the APO Group website, provides information on the development of African national rugby unions, the grass roots game and key international competitions. There is also a section dedicated to the women’s game, which is developing at an even quicker rate than the men’s. In 2017, growth in player registration in African nations (excluding South Africa) was 66%, against an overall global increase of 27%. In the female game, the number of registered players has increased by 50% in the last year alone. This phenomenal growth at grass roots level is starting to bear fruit on the international scene. To download APO’s guide “The Incredible Rise of African Rugby”, visit: https://bit.ly/2oYs0XW.

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