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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 news from the UK, Africa and around the world.

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

Artist-in-Residence Sought for Liberia-UK Program

As part of her commitment to support and provide opportunities for artists, Sarah Güsten-Marr set up the Gallery GM Artist-In-Residence program. This program has been designed to provide a platform for artists from all works life in Liberia to showcase their work at Gallery GM, with the goal of supporting the development of artists of diverse age, backgrounds and disciplines. The Artist-in-Residence program Liberia - UK is looking for spoken words artists, poets, culture dancer, creative artists, illustrators all of whom should be based in Liberia. The final artists will be flown to the UK all expenses paid for by Gallery GM in 2017. The winner will be selected in May 2017. Participating artists, poets will be given the space to maximize their creativity, and explore various aspects of their creative work. The Gallery GM headquarters are located in the beautiful Vale of York in the English countryside. Artists will have the use of one or two multi-purpose exhibition spaces to work and showcase their art. Since the foundation of the Artist-In-Residence program, artists, musicians and dancers among other disciplines have been welcomed to visit Gallery GM, most recently, Julian Junior Marvin; legendary guitarist from Bob Marley and the Wailers. For more information please visit https://www.gallerygm.com/

>, or find us on: Facebook: Gallerygm York; Twitter: @GMGustenmarr; Instagram: @gallerygm_york; Email: info@visitliberiaonline.org

UK Third-sector employees ‘are by far the most satisfied’

Working in a non-profit organisation is so satisfying it is the equivalent of a salary increase of £22,000 per year, according to new academic research. A study of British employees by Bard College Berlin professor of economics Martin Binder found that those working in the third sector – including charities and other NGOs – are significantly happier than their counterparts in the private sector. Binder said the findings could be explained by an increased enjoyment of day-to-day activities, and a feeling of usefulness. Workers in non-profit organisations are much more satisfied than their peers in private firms with the work they are doing, the hours worked and job security, said Binder’s report. While employees are not significantly more satisfied with their pay or promotion prospects but – given that they earn less on average – it is interesting to note that they are not less satisfied with their pay. Data taken from the British Household Panel Survey showed a significant positive impact on life satisfaction from working in a non-profit body, according to Binder who says that this effect is quite similar across the subjective wellbeing distribution, and exists also for those who are already happy and peg this effect at around £22,000 per annum, four-fifths of the average amount of equivalent income in the sample analysed, which was roughly £27,000.

Over 50,000 New UK Graduates are in ‘non-graduate’ Jobs

Over 50,000 new graduates in the United Kingdom are in non-graduate jobs – including lollipop ladies, factory workers and hospital porters – new figures showed, writes Javier Espinoza for <strong>The Telegraph.</strong>Non-professional roles included jobs as secretaries and clerks but close to 10,000 graduates were also involved in ‘elementary jobs’ including shelf fillers, security guards and farm workers six months after graduation. The figures, by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, also revealed that 13,900 new graduates are out of work.

Older Employees Will Make Up Largest group in UK Workforce by 2024

Insurance company Aviva has predicted that workers aged 50 and above will become the largest group in employment by 2024, representing one in three of all employees. The firm’s claim is based on new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which found that almost 10 million workers aged 50-plus are now in employment in the UK. The figures show the proportion of over-50s in the workplace has increased from 21 per cent in 1992, when these records began, to 31 per cent in 2016. The ONS found that 1.14 million people were not looking for work because they had retired – 152,000 fewer than in 2015. It attributed the fall in people retiring early, following a peak of 1.6 million in 2011, to a rise in the state pension age for women from 60 to 65. Further research published this week by PwC estimated that the UK could add around 5.8 per cent to its GDP (around £105bn) if employment rates of workers aged 55 and above matched that of the highest-performing EU country, Sweden.

Writers’ Projects Funding Available to Playwrights in Scotland

Funding is available to playwrights who are based in Scotland that will enable them to develop their projects. Playwrights’ Studio Scotland is looking for experienced mid-career or professional playwrights with ambitious and original ideas. Applicants must not have already received funding for the same activity. Successful candidates may apply for funding worth up to £3,250. They will also receive assistance from Playwrights’ Studio Scotland who will work closely alongside the playwright in order to ensure the success of the project, providing administrative support and financial management. Interested parties should note that resources are limited. Funding may be used to partake in a writing residency, conduct research, work with a translator, contract a director or actor for script development purposes or to include other artists in a collaborative process. Funding is intended for the purposes of being beneficial to the applicant’s writing and their career. Playwrights’ Studio Scotland is a development organisation and do not commission or produce plays. Therefore, this should not be treated as a commissioning or product fund. Funding should not be used for the purpose of contributing to production costs. Neither can it be used to substitute or top up theatre commissioning fees. When submitting their application, candidates should give details regarding the project outline, outline of costs and proposed timeline. Applications may be submitted via email or through the post and will be judged by a panel of industry professionals and Playwrights’ Studio Scotland staff. Applicants will be notified of the outcome by mid-December 2016. The deadline for applications is 18 November 2016. Further information may be found on the Playwrights’ Studio Scotland website

Less than 10% of UK Engineering Professionals are Women, Reveals Study

Jonathan Lee Recruitment has warned that if attitudes don’t change, the UK will continue to lag behind Europe when it comes to attracting and retaining female talent and that this could seriously hamper growth in industries that are crying out for skilled engineers. According to their study, the UK has the lowest percentage of female engineering professionals in Europe, at less than 10%, compared to Latvia, Bulgaria and Cyprus who are leading the way with nearly 30%. This, they say, is despite more females achieving higher A* to B combined grades in nearly all STEM subjects in 2015 compared with their male counterparts and data showing that in 2010 nearly 100,000 female STEM graduates were unemployed or economically inactive. Meanwhile, 64% of engineering employers say a shortage of engineers in the UK is a threat to their business and 32% are currently having difficulties hiring the right staff, according to the company. According to the company, this is a wake-up call to industry to think again about how to better engage with female engineers to benefit from their untapped potential. While some larger technical employers actively promote engineering as a career choice and fully embrace gender diversity, there are still very traditional corners of industry where the barriers to entry remain high. Across all the technical sectors, the demand for skilled engineers continues to grow, a problem compounded by the fact that so many of today’s highly skilled employees are more mature; potentially retiring within the next ten years, making it more important than ever to nurture and invest in existing and future talent.

Number of UK over-65s in Work Doubles in 12 Years

Official data has revealed that 1.14 million people aged 65 and over were in employment in the UK last year, up 3 per cent on 2014 and more than double the figure from 2004. According to statistics from the Department for Work & Pensions, more than one in 10 (10.2 per cent) of those aged 65 and over were working either full time or part time last year, four years after the abolition of the default retirement age. The government statistics also showed that 69 per cent of those aged 50-64 were in work – the highest on record. Three in four men and almost two-thirds of women in that age bracket were working, with the increase in the state pension age for women believed to be a significant factor. While former pensions minister Baroness Altmann hailed a “social revolution” that she said was giving the country an economic boost, charity Age UK voiced concerns that many people were delaying retirement because they were unable to afford not to work given low interest rates and increasing costs. Insurance company Aviva recently predicted that workers aged 50 and above would become the largest group in employment by 2024.

54% of South African Graduates Want to Work Abroad

The latest PPS Student Confidence Index (SCI), conducted among over 1500 South African students, has revealed that 54% of the respondents plan to move abroad for work purposes in the next five years following their graduation. Motshabi Nomvethe, Technical Marketing Specialist at PPS, states that while it is not good news that more than half of South Africa’s future professionals are planning to work overseas, these students should be encouraged to return back to the country once they have acquired international expertise and plough their knowledge back into the local economy. The 2016 PPS SCI was conducted among students in their fourth year or above, studying at a university or university of technology towards a profession-specific degree, such as engineering, medicine, law or accounting. Students answered questionnaires online, face-to-face on campus and via focus groups. The latest figures from the Stats SA Labour Force Survey indicate that an estimated 26.7% of South Africa’s population are unemployed. The Expat Insider’s InterNations Survey conducted in 2015 also revealed that the top three reasons why South Africans consider to move abroad are personal safety, the cost of living and the economic or labour market. According to Nomvethe, young professionals will need to adjust their expectations of living in a foreign country as they might also struggle to find a job in their chosen field in the first few months following their arrival. Moving to a different country in search of work might seem like a very exciting move but it is vital for individuals to remain realistic about the circumstances surrounding an international move and to thoroughly research and plan to better their chances of securing employment overseas.

Mobile Money Transactions in Ghana Increased Significantly

By December 2015, mobile money transactions in Ghana have increased to GH¢547.9 million from GH¢223.3 million in 2014, according to the Bank of Ghana. Financial inclusion is important as financial inclusion and financial development impact on poverty reduction and economic growth. According to the bank, financial inclusion makes interest rates more effective as a policy tool and facilitates the central bank’s efforts to maintain price stability,” he said. The proportion of the Ghanaian adult population using formal financial services rose from 29.4 per cent in 2011 to 40 per cent in 2014, while the Bank of Ghana’s interventions have enhanced financial inclusion in the country. Notably, a new national Payment Systems Strategy, which seeks to promote both the use of electronic payments over cash, and financial inclusion; and Electronic Money Issuers and Agent Guidelines aimed at promoting safe and secure issuance and acceptance of digital money.The effect of these two policy actions of the Bank has resulted in marked increases in mobile money transactions within the past three years. The amount of mobile money float balances with partner banks was GH¢223.3 million in 2014 compared with GH¢547.9 million in December 2015. There are 11 million registered users of the mobile money platform, but only 3 per cent are active in mobile banking, there are still some 42 per cent of the population that is unbanked.

GIBS ranked 1st in Africa again by Financial Times for Executive Education 

GIBS has, for the thirteenth year in a row, retained its top spot as the leading African and South African provider of business school executive education programmes – according to the prestigious annual UK Financial Times (FT) Executive Education rankings. Ranked at number 43, GIBS forms part of the top 15% of an estimated 300 leading business schools globally which vie for a position on the executive education rankings. GIBS is the only African business school ranked in the top 50, just below Cambridge Judge Business School. This global benchmark ranks schools globally by combining the views of open and custom programmes. The customised ranking relies on a survey of business school’s top clients, who are then invited to complete an online survey about the school that nominated them. For GIBS, clients who participated in the survey comprised not only leading South African corporates but also top multinationals operating across Africa and abroad. Business schools are also ranked on several other criteria including: preparation, programme design, teaching methods and materials, faculty diversity, new skills and learning, facilities as well as women participation, to name a few.

AT Kearney Releases 2016 Foreign Direct Investment Index

Global management consulting firm AT Kearney has released its 2016 Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Confidence Index. For the fourth consecutive year, the United States topped the Index with China taking second spot, despite slow global trade and increased macroeconomic uncertainty; particularly in emerging markets.  To this end, developed markets took eight of the top 10 places in the Index, and 80% of the 27 countries included. The countries are selected based on data from UNCTAD and represent over 90% of global FDI flows in recent years.  South Africa, which Good Governance Africa reports saw a 74% decrease in FDI flows in 2015 (to US$1.5-billion), ranked 11th out of 25 rated countries in 2012, dropping to 13th place in 2014. The country, which Business Day recently reported had dropped to the third-largest economy in Africa, behind Nigeria and Egypt, was not included in the 2015 ranking.

GE Opens New Healthcare Training and Skills Institute in Kenya

General Electric has inaugurated a brand new $13 million GE Healthcare Skills and Training Institute, an education facility for healthcare professionals in Nairobi. Through the new facility, GE has committed to training over 10,000 healthcare professionals from across Kenya and East Africa by 2020. The GE Training Centre will play a critical role in supporting the capacity development of biomedical engineers, radiologists and technicians, helping to reduce the skills gap, improve job prospects and build a solid national healthcare system. The GE Healthcare Skills and Training Institute will initially offer clinical applications and technical training courses for healthcare professionals in Kenya and East Africa; over the longer-term, it will be expanded to offer leadership, biomedical and clinical education courses, working with the Ministry of Health, private healthcare providers and other educational partners. GE Healthcare has also signed three new partnerships for skills building in Kenya and East Africa with the Kenya Medical Training College and global partners IntraHealth and Management Sciences for Health.

Ethiopian Airlines wins African Aviation ‘African Airline of the Year’ Award for 2016

Ethiopian Airlines has won the African Aviation ‘African Airline of the Year’ Award for 2016 during the 25th Anniversary African Aviation Air Finance Africa Conference & Exhibition and African Aviation Summit held in Johannesburg, South Africa.  The award was presented to Ethiopian in recognition of its financial performance, fleet modernization, route network expansion, in-flight service, overall customer care and its outstanding contribution to aviation development in Africa.

Newmark Hotels Announces Expansion into Africa

Newmark Hotels, Reserves & Lodges, the hotel management company, is embarking on an aggressive growth plan on the African continent.  A key strategic intervention for the group’s expansion is the establishment of Newmark’s first office outside South Africa in Lusaka and the creation of the Kaufela Collection in Zambia. Kaufela, which means ‘together’ in Lozi, brings together lodges of a certain quality standard under one management brand.    The Kaufela Collection has already signed three independent lodges (100 rooms) and plans to add another 400 rooms by the end of the year.  Newmark is currently taking on a new property in Zanzibar and a further 170-room business hotel in Lusaka. Newmark’s Director for Africa, Dr Hans Heuer, who is based in Newmark’s new Lusaka office says that the Kaufela Collection meets a critical need in Zambia.  The Kaufela Collection allows these lodges to retain their independence and individuality while benefiting not only from Newmark’s management, sales, marketing and reservations infrastructure but also its two representation offices in London and New York. The collection will be competitively priced for tourism and business groups and the Newmark name and reputation will promote confidence, assurance and awareness. The Lusaka office will also focus on other COMESA countries in Africa, such as Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Zanzibar.  Newmark’s portfolio is managed and, in some cases, invested in by Newmark.  The group, which was established in 2007, attributes much of its success to the fact that the brands in its portfolio retain their individuality.  The Newmark portfolio includes the Victoria & Alfred Hotel, Dock House Boutique Hotel & Spa, and the Queen Victoria Hotel at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town; La Splendida Hotel in Mouille Point, Cape Town, Western Cape; Motswari Private Game Reserve and Geiger's Camp in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, Limpopo; Nkomazi Game Reserve in Badplaas, Mpumalanga; The Drostdy Hotel in Graaff-Reinet, Eastern Cape; Coral Lodge 15.41 in Northern Mozambique; Nyungwe Forest Lodge situated in the Rainforest National Park in the South-West of Rwanda and Hallmark House in the Maboneng precinct in downtown Johannesburg (opening September 2016).

General Electric leads Joint Venture with Mara Group and Atlas Merchant Capital for African Infrastructure Funding

General Electric, together with the Mara Group and Atlas Merchant Capital are leading an initiative to create a joint venture dedicated to investing in the highly underdeveloped African infrastructure sector. The joint venture will seek to invest in infrastructure equity projects in selected countries throughout Africa. With the African population set to rise to 1.5bn by 2025, the continent’s economic growth potential is significant. According to the Africa 2030 report, the overall sense is one of progress and optimism and that changes are sustainable, making Africa an attractive socio-economic focus in the coming years. Africa presents high growth prospects in power generation, transport, oil & gas and other infrastructure areas including mining. The joint venture will focus on this broad set of segments by facilitating access to capital, thus offering the ability to execute and fully finance both advanced and early development stage projects. The hurdles to address are rapid urbanisation, and a growing middle class devoid of infrastructure. More than 50% of African nations including Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania and the DRC, don’t have access to electricity and an infrastructure investment of US$360bn in power production, power transmission, water storage, modern railways, port capacity and modern highways will be required until 2040. Furthermore, Africa needs to spend $90bn a year for the next decade in order to upgrade and maintain its existing infrastructure. In a statement issued by the group, they note that Africa is a continent of 54 countries, but there is very low connectivity between them. Intra-African trade, a key driver for economic growth, represents only a fraction of Africa’s total trade over the past decade and this is largely due to a growing shortfall in infrastructure development. The joint venture with GE and Atlas Merchant Capital aims to tackle the funding deficit and to contribute to fill Africa’s annual $50 billion infrastructure funding gap. The joint venture, alongside other sponsors of infrastructure projects, will use its relationships with lending banks and connectivity to power Africa and related institutions to meet the debt component of its funding.

World Bank Skills Project Targets Tanzania’s Youth

A new World Bank initiative has been launched to help Tanzanian youth improve the quality of their skills and tap into the country’s key economic sectors. The US$120 million programme will see at least 30,000 trainees in university, technical, vocational and alternative programmes benefit from an initiative designed to help eradicate deficiencies in workforce skills in Tanzania. The initiative is being funded under the World Bank’s International Development Association.Dubbed Education and Skills for Productive Jobs, the project aims to improve the quality, quantity and relevance of skills vital for sustainable development and employment. This will strengthen the institutional mechanisms of Tanzania’s new National Skills Development Strategy – NSDS 2016-2021 – which aims to boost the supply of quality labour for industries. According to the World Bank, it is critical that Tanzania promotes short-term approaches to capacity building such as short-cycle training and firm-based training in addition to vocational, technical and university training. Young people will be trained in key economic areas such as tourism and hospitality; agriculture, agribusiness and agro-processing; transport and logistics; construction; information and communications technology; and energy. According to a World Bank statement, Tanzanian firms have identified a skills gap that is higher than the average in Sub-Saharan Africa and the rest of the world. The country also has low levels of skills compared to other developing countries, and the gap is greater at medium and higher skills levels. An information document linked to the project states that about 32% of the population has either no primary education or incomplete primary education. Around 46% of people have completed primary education. In addition, a large proportion of unsuccessful firms have complained of skills constraints, with 63% reporting that a lack of workers with the right skills contributed to their failure. The improvement of human capital by helping to address the skills gap is critical for the attainment of the country’s goal to become an industrialised economy, create income opportunities and reduce poverty, said Bella Bird, World Bank country director for Tanzania, Malawi, Burundi and Somalia. The five-year initiative will be implemented in accordance with the Tanzanian government’s National Skills Development Strategy guidelines under the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Vocational Training. The project will support the progress of integrated reporting and management of information systems, to enable the ministry to collect, consolidate and use real time data on service delivery for planning and monitoring. Similarly, the project will support training institutions being funded to develop systems to track post-training employment of graduates.

Africa-Turkey Higher Education Partnerships Unveiled

Africa and Turkey have unveiled a higher education cooperation plan that includes setting up a joint university, networking among Turkish and African universities and enhancing student and academic mobility. The plan was the outcome of the first Turkish-African universities collaboration forum and education fair held in Ilgaz in Turkey and organised by Cankiri Karatekin University in partnership with Sudan's higher education and scientific research ministry, the Turkish Higher Education Council, and Turkish and African universities, as well as governmental and non-governmental groups with representatives from about 47 African and 19 Turkish universities. According to the final report of the meeting, approximately 80 agreements between African and Turkish universities have been signed, including the Mevlana Exchange Programme and joint exchange and collaboration protocols. Currently there are 5,437 students from African nations studying in higher education institutions in Turkey under Turkish government scholarships, according to a 27 May news report headlined “Turkey seeks deeper relations with Africa”. The Sudanese Turkish University’s mission will be to become a leading force in higher education and jointly deliver teaching-learning, research and community service of the highest possible standards, the proposal says. It will prioritise research, links with industry and community outreach, and strive to become a prestigious joint hub in technology, innovation and knowledge transfer.

US$20 Million for University’s Confucius Centre Upgrade

The government of China is investing a massive US$20 million in the University of Nairobi’s Confucius Institute, one of the big education projects by the Chinese in Africa. The investment – also one of the largest in any Kenyan university – will translate into new lecture theatres, office facilities, a dormitory and other public areas such as halls, cafés and restaurants. Construction of the facilities will commence in March 2017, according to a post on the university website, with the project being completed in the last quarter of 2018, should everything run smoothly. The Chinese government is also partly financing construction of a multi-million dollar Kenyatta University Teaching and Referral Hospital, the third such facility linked to a Kenyan university. Confucius institutes exist in 35 countries on the African continent. South Africa leads the way with five institutes in five different universities and three Confucius classrooms. It is followed by Kenya with four institutes in four universities while Ethiopia has two institutes and two Confucius classrooms. The Confucius Institute at the University of Nairobi was launched in 2005. Since 2006 more than 200 students have had an opportunity to study in China, according to the institute’s website. The university partners with Tianjin Normal University in a collaboration that includes the exchange of students and lecturers, with Chinese lecturers teaching the Chinese language at the University of Nairobi while a University of Nairobi lecturer teaches Kiswahili at Tianjin.

Standard Chartered Launches Africa’s Most Extensive Roll out of Mobile and Online Banking

Standard Chartered Bank is bringing its newest mobile and online banking platform to 1 million clients across 8 African markets, the most extensive digital rollout of its kind in Africa by an international bank. Supported by the Bank’s global-standard technology, clients will enjoy a consistent online experience across laptops, tablets or mobile phones, and the convenience of banking from the location of their choice. After the rollout to Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe in the first half of 2016, the Bank will launch fingerprint recognition technology in these markets later in the year, giving clients a more secure and convenient way to log in to their accounts. The launch is central to Standard Chartered’s strategy of using digital technology to deliver the future of banking to clients in Africa. The Bank last year announced it will invest $1.5bn in technology globally over three years. With Africa’s mobile penetration estimated to be around 67%, the launch brings Standard Chartered Mobile, Standard Chartered’s mobile banking application to Botswana, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe for the first time. In Nigeria and Ghana, mobile banking clients will move to the Bank’s standard global platform. Through Standard Chartered Mobile, clients can check balances, transfer money and pay bills securely, all through their smartphones. 

Mobile Money Will Power Africa’s Financial Growth, says Study

Mobile phones and rising connectivity in Africa will give rise to a new market in mobile financial services, creating explosive opportunities for business on the continent, research has found. The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) estimated that in three years, 250 million Africans without access to traditional banking services “will have mobile phones and a monthly income of at least $500”. That could translate to projected revenues of $1.5 billion from mobile financial services, the group said. In Kenya, the mobile money system has nearly 18 million users thanks to the M-Pesa service run by British telecom giant Vodafone’s subsidiary Safaricom. In Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous country and one of its fastest growing economies, mobile phones are now being used to push an electronic payment service by phone called M-Birr. This is all good news for Africa, where a mere 25 percent of Africans have a regular bank account, the group’s report said. The “high cost to serve and low margins of traditional bank accounts in Africa” are the main reasons for the oversight. However, sub-Saharan Africa leads the world in mobile money accounts, according to the World Bank. That number is projected to grow now that more than 50 per cent of Africans over the age of 15 own a mobile phone and since mobiles are a low-cost way to reach a huge market. Most Africans currently use mobile phones to transfer money but also to prepay utilities and purchase small items, as well as make debit-card transactions, BCG said. The survey of 11 countries in sub-Saharan Africa found that four in 10 Africans access the Internet using a smart phone, while three-quarters use a computer to get on the web. Since 2013, the number of Africans with access to the internet has grown by 8 per cent. In Ivory Coast, access to the Internet has gone from 200,000 in 2008 to 8 million in 2016 thanks to 3G. This connectivity, coupled with rising consumer classes and Africans’ increasingly optimistic outlook, will translate to over 1.1 billion consumers by 2020, the group said -- “more than the populations of Europe and North America combined”.

World Bank to Fund 24 Centres of Excellence at African Universities

The World Bank has approved a US$140 million credit for eight Eastern and Southern African countries to set up 24 centres of excellence in universities to strengthen postgraduate training and research in priority sectors. There are four excellence centres each for Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, three for Kenya, two each for Malawi and Zambia and one for Mozambique under the project being coordinated and administered by the Inter-University Council for East Africa or IUCEA, based in Uganda. The Eastern and Southern Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence Project, or ACE II, follows on ACE I, which was launched in 2014 for Western and Central Africa, with 19 centres of excellence selected across seven countries. IUCEA said each of the 24 African centres of excellence, or ACEs, would be funded by up to US$6 million over the project period of five years. They are expected to tackle development challenges facing the region through graduate training in masters, PhD and short-term courses, and "applied research in the form of partnerships and collaborations with other institutions and the private sector”, said IUCEA. Over the project duration of five years, collectively these ACEs are expected to enrol more than 3,500 graduate students in the regional development priority areas, out of which more than 700 will be PhD students and more than 1,000 will be female students, publish almost 1,500 journal articles, launch more than 300 research collaborations with private sector and other institutions, and generate almost US$30 million in external revenue. The ACEs will help to build the capacity of their host universities to provide quality postgraduate education with relevance to the labour market, and to conduct high quality applied research that seeks innovative solutions to key development priorities. They will be expected to develop partnerships with other academic institutions, nationally as well as regionally and internationally, and with industry and the private sector “to generate greater impact”. Further, the centres will help to improve governance and management of their host university and be role models for other higher education institutions, and will deliver outreach and create impact in society by delivering excellent teaching and quality research. The 24 ACEs, which were competitively selected from 108 proposals, will operate in five clusters of regional priorities – industry, agriculture, health, education and applied statistics. IUCEA said that by the end of the project in December 2022, it was envisaged that the centres “will have developed sufficient capacity to become sustainable regional hubs for training and research in their specialised fields, capable of leading efforts to address priority development challenges and improve lives in the region”.

French give US$30 Million Credit for University Growth in Kenya

The French Development Agency, or AFD, has given a US$30 million concessional credit line to commercial banks in Kenya to finance new and ongoing university infrastructure investment initiatives in strategic faculties. A memorandum of understanding signed between the Kenyan Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and the AFD shows that the grant will be available to all 39 chartered universities – 22 public and 17 private – to boost their efforts to tackle the challenges of relevance, access, equity and quality. This follows an earlier request by the ministry to the French agency for support for higher education expansion with the involvement of commercial banks, to support university infrastructure investments that are aligned with the national strategic plan, Vision 2030, and the current and future needs of the private sector and industries in Kenya. The AFD – a public financial institution that implements policy defined by the French government – will partner with three Kenyan commercial banks to provide the soft loans to universities. The areas of priority are agriculture, civil engineering, ICT, medicine and health sciences, energy resources (solar, oil and mineral), and science, technology and innovation. Eligible projects will be infrastructure investments such as laboratories, equipment, lecture halls and hospitals. Kenya needs to graduate a minimum of 1,000 doctoral degree candidates every year to be able to meet higher education and training needs.

Rwanda Campus Receives US$11 million to train Africa’s future ICT Leaders

Carnegie Mellon University has received US$10.8 million from the MasterCard Foundation to help train the next generation of technology leaders and entrepreneurs at its campus in Rwanda. The new commitment, to be channelled through the university’s college of engineering in the country’s capital Kigali, is expected to benefit more than 125 academically talented but economically disadvantaged students from Sub-Saharan Africa. The funding is part of the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program and aims to provide the institution with the much-needed financial muscle to extend academic opportunities to Africa’s top brains.In receiving the grant, Carnegie Mellon University or CMU joins a global network of 23 MasterCard scholarship partners, made up of influential education institutions, seeking to train the next generation of African leaders. Carnegie Mellon’s Africa campus in Rwanda serves as a regional ICT hub for East Africa. At the same time, it assists the Rwandan government in creating an innovation incubator to nurture students’ entrepreneurial skills. The funding is expected to help the institution produce more graduates to drive Africa’s economic transformation agenda. The institution, which graduated its first students in 2014, has seen at least 70 students from Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and the United States go through its programme. Africa has been keen to strengthen higher education, especially in science, technology and research, to build skills for the continent’s future growth. This has seen the continent capitalise on partnerships with strong African and global universities as well as international private institutions to contribute to development in priority areas.

Diaspora Remittances Rise from Kenyans Abroad

Kenyans living abroad sent home Sh14.8 billion (by current exchange rate) up from $143.5 (Sh14.5 billion) in April, a 2.3 per cent growth. The US remained the top remittance inflow source where $68.7 million (Sh6.9 billion) was sent home in May, despite a 4.7 per cent drop from April’s $72.1 million (Sh7.3 billion). It accounted for 46.8 per cent of total inflows, according to data collated by the Central Bank of Kenya. Money sent from Europe, the second highest inflow source, however, increased by 31.8 per cent to $46.6 million (Sh4.7 billion) from $40.6 million (Sh4.1 billion) in April. The data shows inflows from the rest of the world also increased by two per cent to $31.4 million (Sh3.2 billion) from $30.8 million (Sh3.1 billion) in April, and $28.4 million (Sh2.9 billion) in March. It accounted for 21.4 per cent of total inflows in May. Cumulative inflows in the 12 months to May increased by 11.1 per cent to $1.64 billion (Sh165.9billion) from $1.47 billion (Sh148.7 billion) in the year to May 2015, CBK data shows. Diaspora remittances have continued to grow year-on–year bringing in a significant amount of foreign exchange to the country, making it among top earners alongside tea, horticulture exports and tourism. The steady rise in remittance value is attributed to many factors including growing interest among Kenyans in the diaspora to invest in the local capital market, huge interest in government securities and a liberalised money transfer service sector which has brought down the transfer charges.

New Council to Boost Research and Innovation in Mauretania

The northwest African nation of Mauritania is to set up a council for scientific research and innovation to strengthen the capacity of universities and research institutions in science, technology and innovation-based development. The new initiative is first step in implementing a plan for restructuring and improving the research sector that was adopted in April 2016. With an estimated population of 4.1 million people, Mauritania has only two universities – the public University of Nouakchott and the new University of Science, Technology and Medicine Nouakchott. It also has an agricultural research centre in Rosso, a mining school and specialised institutes in the capital Nouakchott. The higher national council for scientific research and innovation will focus on preparing effective science and research policies and strategies and a national system of innovation, on advising government on technological issues, and on promoting national, regional and international science cooperation as well as capacity building. It will identify the country's priority needs, enhance the scientific and technological base in universities and research centres, promote links between universities and industry, and set up businesses to commercialise research findings. A scientific research agency will be established in order to implement the objectives and activities of the new council for research and innovation. The agency will be staffed by scientists, technologists and economists with specialist knowledge of science policy, who will provide training for students, government officials and policy-makers. It will also produce science and innovation policy reviews for the productive and economic sectors, briefing papers for policy-makers and advisors and raise the levels of governance of scientific research and innovation within Mauritania's universities and research institutions. Further, the agency will support universities to carry out studies and in-depth research aimed at boosting productive and economic development in order to promote a knowledge-based economy. Mauritania's lack of scientific capacity, weak linkages between universities and industry and low quality education, were outlined in the World Economic Forum's 2015-16 Global Competitiveness Report. Out of 140 countries, Mauritania was ranked 121 for technological readiness, 123 for quality of maths and science education, 131 for the quality of the education system, 132 for the quality of research institutions, 135 for the availability of scientists and engineers, and 140 each for innovation capacity, university-industry collaboration, and higher education.

New Diversity Index Helps Find Multinational Campuses

An aid to international students who want to find the most culturally diverse student campuses across some of the main destination nations was launched last week by Hotcourses, the global course search website. The Hotcourses Diversity Index uses official government data to demonstrate the mix of student nationalities at universities across the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. International students can additionally use the Feel at Home Index to find out the proportion of international students at a specified university who are of their own nationality. Hotcourses says that many students see access to a multicultural community as a vital part of studying abroad. The most diverse university is the UK’s University of Westminster, with 169 nationalities represented, according to the data. In the US it is Houston Community College with 151, closely followed by the University of Sydney with 144.

Orange Acquires Airtel in Sierra Leone

Orange has announced, together with its Senegal-based partner Sonatel, it has completed the acquisition of 100% of the mobile operator Airtel in Sierra Leone. Airtel is the leading mobile operator in Sierra Leone with over 1.3 million customers (on the basis of active customers within a 30-day period) for a total population of 6.3 million people. With a mobile penetration of around 50% of the population, Sierra Leone offers considerable growth potential, particularly at a time when significant investments are underway to extend the operator’s 3G network. This network, which already offers good coverage in Freetown and other major towns in Sierra Leone, is set to provide internet access to customers living outside major urban areas. The investments planned in the coming years will enable customers in Sierra Leone to benefit from the support of the Sonatel group and take advantage of the Orange group’s expertise and momentum in terms of innovation and development of the digital ecosystem. Following the recent launch of operations in Liberia and Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone becomes the 21st country in Africa and the Middle East to join the Orange group.

Universities Worsen Egypt’s Youth Unemployment

Egypt’s universities have failed to provide graduates with high-level, job market-related skills to fill more than 600,000 vacancies in the private sector, contributing to high levels of educated youth unemployment – and in some cases ‘wilful’ joblessness – according to the African Development Bank. In a position paper titled Addressing Informality in Egypt, which examines informal sector employment in Egypt, the African Development Bank or AfDB says most universities and other tertiary institutions in the country do not provide graduates with effective career guidance nor the skills required for private sector jobs. Many graduates continue to queue for public sector positions, remaining wilfully unemployed until a government post becomes available, creating a situation that the AfDB says has raised educated youth unemployment levels and produced a vicious circle. More bad news is that formal jobs in the public service in Egypt, as elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa, are disappearing quickly, according to Dr Shanta Devarajan, chief economist for the World Bank’s Middle East and North Africa division. According to Devarajan, Egypt has created a dysfunctional tertiary education system that is creating graduate unemployment instead of alleviating the problem. Having a degree, therefore, is no guarantee of employment. According to Dr Gita Subrahmanyam, research associate at the London School of Economics and Political Science and the expert who prepared the African Development Bank report, 70% of Egypt’s unemployed are between 18 and 29 years of age – and 60% of them have a university degree. In this regard, better jobs are hard to come by, especially among graduates from poor households who have no strong social networks in a country where employers in the formal sector often base hiring decisions on personal references rather than skills assessments. Amid efforts to find solutions to graduate unemployment, the AfDB has blamed the Egyptian government for failure to stop escalating informality in the employment sector and improve academic standards in higher education. Although the high degree of graduate unemployment in Egypt is linked to an adverse investment climate and limited growth of the private sector, the perception that university graduates could eventually get employment in the public sector has also had an impact on the quality of education available. As a whole, therefore, the system has not only contributed to low academic achievement in tertiary education but has failed to provide social mobility opportunities to poor and other vulnerable groups – despite low fees and, in some cases, free education. But even as universities are encouraged and motivated to improve the quality of graduates, the bank suggests there is an urgent need for Egypt to engage in reforms that bridge the fundamental disconnect between skills learned in school and those required by the private sector, boosting both employment and productivity.

Tigo Supports Tanzanian Government to Connect Secondary Schools to the Internet

Tigo Tanzania has entered into a partnership with the Ministry of Communications, Works and Infrastructure to facilitate the roll-out of internet access points in the country’s secondary schools so as to complement the e-Schools Project for a period of 2 years. As part of the agreement, the ministry will identify and provide a list of schools without computer labs to be connected and also guide the implementation of the project while Tigo will sponsor the infrastructural development in schools across the country that will include wiring classrooms and installation of wireless LAN with internet access points. Tigo’s e-Schools’ Project is one of the company’s strategic social investment projects and to date Tigo has been able to connect 31 public secondary schools in Tanzania with internet with an envisaged plan to connect 50 more this year. It is the first time that the government and a mobile network operator are cooperating on an ICT project of such a large scale and scope and the partnership will go a long way in imparting modern ICT skills and knowledge to the youth and enable them to face the challenges of the ever-changing information society and global economy. The e-school’s project is among various projects that Tigo has undertaken to support community initiatives through the telecom’s corporate social responsibility portfolio. They include donation of over 2,700 desks to needy primary schools in a sustainable venture that is meant to alleviate the serious shortage of desks in the country’s schools. Last year, Tigo partnered with Dar Teknohama Business Incubator (DTBi), a local NGO to offer scholarships worth over Tsh: 300m/- (about $ 136,363 ) to cover tuition fees, research fees, meals and accommodation for a period of four years to nine students undertaking ICT courses in local universities.

GE Invests R500 Million to Innovate in Africa for Africa

GE, one of the world’s biggest digital industrial companies, has officially opened its R500 million 2,700m2 facility, the GE Africa Innovation Centre in Johannesburg South Africa. The centre, a first for GE in Africa, is another big investment for GE, affirming that Africa and South Africa continue to be a good investment destination for big businesses, and that solutions to Africa’s challenges should come from Africa. The centre is the 10th GE Innovation Centre globally and the 1st Innovation Centre for GE in Africa. It is the first GREEN and LEED certified GE building in Sub-Saharan Africa and will be GE’s centre of excellence (COE) for innovation in Africa. As part of GE’s continued commitment to support SMEs the building was 90%+ built, designed, and executed by local businesses. It will be the home to GE’s innovation across Africa within its key business sectors such as aviation, energy, healthcare, oil and gas, power and transportation and will serve as the new headquarters for GE Healthcare. The cutting edge facility boasts an Experience and Exploration Centre, coffee shop and catering facilities, agile workspaces, Learning and Development Centre, Innovation Ideation and Collaboration Centre, as well as a GE Prototyping Laboratory and sustainable Healthcare Customer Experience Centre. The Healthcare Experience Centre is designed to mimic different care areas in a hospital environment and includes focused spaces to help familiarize customers with care area technologies in the operating theatre and intensive care unit, cardiology, oncology, maternal and infant care and general radiology and after sales service. Featuring virtual and augmented reality displays and a range of installed equipment, visitors will be treated to a glimpse of an interconnected and efficient hospital catering for both primary care settings and premium facilities. Further, the centre’s eight new permanent work stations will also provide customers with hands-on clinical education and applications training. The Centre will enable skills and SME development in Africa and serve as the basecamp for the Londvolota Enterprise Development Trust which launched in 2015 with a commitment to accelerating supplier development in South Africa and the equipping of SMEs to participate in the GE value chain. In South Africa GE has partnered with Transnet SOC to manufacture locomotives for export into the rest of Africa and on the Healthcare side was selected as the key technology provider for the new Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital, due to open later this year. In Nigeria, GE signed a landmark country- to- country agreement with the Federal Government of Nigeria, covering power, healthcare, transportation and oil and gas. In Kenya has its GE Africa headquarters as well as the GE Captital and Aviation Services (GECAS) business. GECAS is the leading aircraft leasing partner for Kenya Airway’s. In parallel, GE Healthcare is actively executing on a landmark $220 million modernization and capacity building program in support of the Kenyan Ministry of Health’s landmark healthcare transformation program. In Ethiopia, Ethiopian Airway’s is GE’s major partner in that country. GE engines will power most of the airline’s fleet and GECAS is the major lessor for Ethiopian Airlines. In Mozambique GE is fast growing and actively contributes to the sustainable development of Mozambique. For example, GE has invested $250 000.00 into scholarships granted to the University of Eduardo Mondlane students, and $250 000.00 in a science lab and capacity building at Unilurio University. In Angola GE has a MOU with the Angola Ministry of Water and Energy towards achieving the country’s 2000MW electricity target by 2016- 7000MW distributed power equipment. The ultimate goal of the centre is excellence and collaboration for GE, its customers and stakeholders across Africa.

PayPal Ranks Nigeria 3rd in Mobile Shopping

PayPal Holding, Inc. ranked the most populous black nation and the largest African economy Nigeria as the 3rd highest mobile shopper worldwide. The online payment giant is the most popular medium among Nigerian cross-border shoppers, and estimated 55 percent of all overseas online purchases in the past 12 months were done via PayPal. Nigerian mobile shoppers reportedly spent N128.1 billion ($610 million) in 2015 using PayPal, and on target for N172 billion ($819 million) this year. Facebook Inc. has also affirmed Nigeria as its biggest market in Africa, with 97 percent of its 16 million Nigerian users accessing the platform through their mobile devices. While China still remains the global leader of mobile shopping nations, with 86 percent of all its online shoppers using smartphones. Nigeria’s 72 percent is third after India’s 82 percent. Since PayPal commenced business in Nigeria, Nigerians are no longer limited to what they can purchase locally, but they now search the globe for better deals. The current mobile trend is predicted to continue to pave the way for entrepreneurs and boost their global business reach.

Visa Expands Footprint in Francophone Africa to accelerate Digital Payments and Financial Inclusion Efforts

Visa Inc has announced its intention to open an office in Côte d'Ivoire to reinforce its position as a leading payments technology company and to help bringing the benefits of electronic payments to the economy and a broader range of consumers and merchants across the region. An office in Côte d'Ivoire will facilitate the engagement with key stakeholders in the region; government, financial institutions, consumers and merchants in the ECOWAS region. This will help drive the company ‘strategy in Africa where two billion people live without access to financial services, according to the Global Financial Inclusion Index 2014. The expansion signals continued efforts by Visa to drive its undertaking with the World Bank Group to achieve universal financial access and providing electronic payment accounts to 500 million underserved people by end of 2020. The company will partner with the government and the clients to support the electronification of payments plans, engage in financial literacy activities, and provide solutions to increase the mobile-based payments in the region. Supporting the electronification of payments in Africa will contribute to the financial integrity of the financial transactions in the continent eyeing more foreign investments and will help increase the transparency of its monetary systems aiming at fostering economic development.

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