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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 Apprenticeships Numbers Continue to Fall

The latest figures from the UK Department for Education revealed another drop in starts. The figures showed 261,200 apprenticeship starts between August 2017 and March 2018, compared with 362,400 in the previous academic year – a decrease of almost a third (28 per cent). The release coincided with the three-year anniversary of the government’s commitment to achieving three million apprenticeship starts by 2020. A Department for Education report, released last month, revealed that there had been 1,119,600 apprenticeship starts between May 2015 and July 2017. Adding this to the figures disclosed in yesterday’s release brings the total starts since May 2015 to 1,380,800, meaning the government is less than halfway to achieving its aims. Following April 2017’s significant overhaul of the apprenticeship system, employers with an annual pay bill of at least £3m are required to pay 0.5 per cent as a levy, which they can recoup in training vouchers. Experts accused the government of failing to respond to concerns about the levy, despite a consistent decline in starts since the charge’s introduction.

Four in Ten UK Employees Run Side Jobs Along Main Jobs

As many as four in 10 working adults in the UK are running ‘side hustles’ alongside their full-time career, in a growing trend with major implications for organisations, new research has revealed. According to whitepaper The Side Hustle Economy, published by Henley Business School, side hustles – defined as small businesses or secondary jobs that people run in addition to their primary career – generated an estimated income worth £72bn for the UK economy, or 3.6 per cent of GDP, in 2017. They are now being undertaken by 39 per cent of all employees. Yet despite the increasing trend, with the number of workers balancing a full-time career and a secondary job expected to double by 2030, the survey of more than 500 business leaders and 1,100 adults found that half (49 per cent) of organisations had no fixed policies around the practice. A failure to adapt to side-hustling trends could lead to issues in retention, the survey warned, with one in five respondents saying an unsupportive employer attitude would make them more likely to switch jobs.

‘Gut Feeling’ Still Most Common Deciding Factor in Hiring, says Survey

More than a quarter (28 per cent) of employers say gut feeling is their main reason for hiring someone, a survey published today has found. By contrast, the research by recruitment website Indeed discovered just 23 per cent of the more than 1,000 company decision makers questioned said relevant experience was their main reason for taking somebody on board, while the same proportion felt strong interview performance was the deciding factor. Only 8 per cent said good qualifications was their main driver for hiring somebody. Hays’ What Workers Want 2018 report reported that 84 per cent of job applicants have had a negative experience during interviewing, with the main reasons being that interviewers were unprepared (39 per cent) and there was a lack of structure to the interview itself (38 per cent). Meanwhile, previous research by TotalJobs discovered employers started to develop their gut feeling about a candidate before they even got through the door of the interview room, with almost three-quarters (74 per cent) using social media to research a candidate in advance. As that research also showed, just a third (36 per cent) of jobseekers were aware employers did this. The research from Indeed also revealed businesses’ main reasons for rejecting job candidates. Having insufficient experience topped the list, with one in five (21 per cent) citing this. This was followed by misunderstanding an individual’s suitability for a job (19 per cent) and spelling and grammatical errors in a CV (19 per cent).

Corporate Online Presence Now Essential to Attract Talent, says Survey

A credible online reputation is becoming increasingly essential for attracting top talent, research published today has found. The survey found that seven in 10 (70 per cent) jobseekers would not apply for a role until they had researched their would-be employer’s online reputation, and more than half (56 per cent) said they would not apply to a company that lacked an online presence. The survey, which quizzed 545 UK workers in April about their job-hunting preferences, also discovered more than half (57 percent) would “automatically distrust” a business with no digital identity, especially true for graduate jobseekers, who often turn to the internet when looking for a role. The Indeed research also found that a “strong brand name” remained an asset, with only 11 per cent of jobseekers saying a recognisable name was “unimportant” when looking for a job. According to the survey, the internet is fast replacing word of mouth as a source of information on how employers treat their staff, with less than a quarter (23 per cent) of jobseekers willing to overlook a company’s negative online reputation.

UK Businesses Risk an ‘abyss-like’ gap in Leadership, Warns Survey

A third (33 per cent) of UK employees think their company does not do enough to prime or identify potential leaders, creating pitfalls in succession planning, according to research published today. The study by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) also revealed that nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of workers thought that not enough training was offered to potential leaders before they moved into a leadership role, and one in five (22 per cent) said their business lacked support structures for workers who wanted to move into management. Helen Brand, chief executive at the ACCA, said identifying and training potential leaders was an “essential part of any business strategy”, but the survey results suggested it “isn’t a priority” for many companies. The ACCA also said its research highlighted “how British firms aren’t investing enough in succession planning” after a quarter of respondents said they could not name their next boss if their current one quit. The ACCA survey also found that 29 per cent of respondents had not moved into a management position because there was “no opportunity to move up”, while a quarter (25 per cent) said there was no financial incentive for the additional responsibility. More than one in ten workers said they did not seek a management role because their organisation lacked inspirational leadership role models.

One-Third of Bosses ‘reluctant to hire women in case they have children’

Nearly one in three bosses would reject a female candidate because they fear she might start a family, research published today has found. The controversial survey of 501 UK managers also discovered one in four would turn away a woman because she was a single parent, 29 per cent because she had young children and 28 per cent because she was recently engaged or married. Almost two in five (37 per cent) admitted they would advertise roles as available to men only if the law allowed them, while a similar proportion (40 per cent) said they thought men were more dedicated to their jobs. The law firm’s survey also revealed one in seven (14 per cent) bosses did nothing to support mothers returning from maternity leave, while a third (36 per cent) thought women were more of a future investment risk than men.

Black Male Graduates in UK Experience £7,000 Pay Penalty, Report Finds

Black male graduates in the UK experience earning on average 17 per cent less than white men, the equivalent of £7,000 when working full-time, a report published today has found. 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.

Age Discrimination Still Rife in Workplaces, says UK Government Committee

Age discrimination remains rife in the UK workplace, and particularly in the recruitment market, according to an excoriating report from an influential government committee. Discrimination, bias and outdated practices exist right across the business world despite having been explicitly outlawed under regulations introduced in 2006, the report from the Women and Equalities Committee found. The committee relaunched a 2017 inquiry into the topic after repeated concerns that age discrimination legislation was not being sufficiently enforced. It heard evidence from older workers that they were regularly discriminated against in the job market and were disproportionately likely to be selected for redundancy. Bias – and potentially illegal discrimination – was a “significant problem” in the recruitment process, the committee found. It said the recruitment industry had failed to take the “robust” action required and urged the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to use its powers to investigate the issue. The committee said that while the current employer-led approach to discrimination brought some advantages, it did not present a strong enough challenge to discriminatory practices or attitudes. New research from the Centre for Ageing Better suggests the issue is pressing. Over-50s now make up 31 per cent of the UK workforce, it said, but in a survey of more than 500 UK employers only one in five said an ageing workforce was being discussed strategically in their workplace. A quarter (24 per cent) of employers thought their organisation was unprepared for demographic change, and only a third said they provide support, training or guidance for managers on how to handle age diversity

UK Businesses Struggling to Find Skilled Staff, says Research

More than nine in 10 (91 per cent) UK businesses have struggled to find skilled workers in the past year, according to recent research. The Open University Business Barometer, which surveyed 950 senior business leaders to monitor the UK’s skills situation, found shortages are now costing businesses £6.3bn a year in recruitment fees, inflated salaries, hiring temporary staff and training workers. David Willett, corporate director at the Open University, warned “buying skills and not building them” was a short-term view and businesses should take a more sustainable approach by using training to address skills gaps. The majority (70 per cent) of senior business leaders surveyed said their recruitment processes were more drawn out than they hoped, taking on average one month and 22 days longer than expected. Nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) reported spending £1.2bn more this year on recruitment. Two-thirds (67 per cent) of employers said they felt obligated to increase the salary on offer for talented workers with in-demand skill sets, resulting in an additional spend of £2.2bn. Meanwhile, many organisations said they had resorted to either hiring workers with lower skills than they had intended (63 per cent) or leaving the role unfilled (51 per cent). The research also found employers spent £1.5bn on employee training and an additional £1.5bn on temporary staffing last year. More than half (53 per cent) of business leaders thought their skills gaps would worsen over the next year, and 44 per cent expected their organisation to struggle financially during that time. But, three in five (61 per cent) employers said the apprenticeship levy should “help to reduce the skills shortage in the next five years”. However, recent Department for Education figures revealed that apprenticeship starts were down 34 per cent compared to this time last year.

UK Slipping to Third Place in International Education

The United Kingdom is likely to lose its position as the second most popular destination globally for international students and be overtaken by Australia, as a result of UK government policy, according to research findings published from the Centre for Global Higher Education at the UCL Institute of Education, University College London. It even suggests this may already have happened.Currently the UK attracts the second-highest number of international students after the much larger United States. The paper’s author, Professor Simon Marginson from the Centre for Global Higher Education, used standardised UNESCO data to investigate incoming tertiary students across the most popular international student destination countries between 2011 and 2016, and tracked trends in individual countries after 2016. He said: “What we are seeing is a seismic shift in the global student market. UK higher education is still highly valued internationally, but the government has held down the growth of international student numbers for five years, by limiting new student numbers and post-study work visas. Meanwhile, competitor nations are strongly promoting their international education.” Marginson found that there has been little growth in the number of international students entering the UK since 2012. The numbers of international students entering the UK rose by 2.6% from 2011-15. This compares with the US growth rate that was more than 10 times as high, at 27.9% for the same period, which the paper attributes to the Obama administration’s open-door policy. Unless UK policy changes tack, the nation will continue to lose global market share. When the data for 2018 come in, it is possible that Australia will have already passed the UK in total international student numbers (both Europe and rest of the world together). Marginson said the UK remains strong in Europe, but its position in Europe will take a hit after Brexit. While the UK has for many decades been in clear second place next to the US, countries like Australia are putting policies into practice that are attracting a larger share of globally mobile students. If Brexit shuts down free movement and European students have to pay full international fees in the year of study rather than UK fees supported by tuition loans, the number of EU students entering the UK is likely to decline sharply. If the number of European students entering the UK drops, Marginson predicts that Germany, the Netherlands and France are the EU countries most likely to see increased international student numbers in the future.

Kenya Slashes Vocational/Technical Institution Fees to Grow Critical Skills

Kenya has allocated US$160 million for technical institutions in the new financial year and slashed fees for students in technical and vocational education institutions and raised public funding in its latest bid to grow the critical skills base needed to achieve the country’s economic ambitions. The new fees structure will be effected in September when students will pay below US$150 on average annually for certificate courses in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges. This reform was announced by Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto in what has been a slew of interventions focused on the colleges. The funding, which is over 30% higher than last year, is expected to aid the recruitment of an additional 2,000 technical training instructors and capitation grants for students. This will also see the establishment of 15 new technical training institutes and the development of a curriculum development assessment and certification centre. The reduction of fees for students in technical institutions is a calculated financial intervention that is expected to woo more students into these institutions. Additionally, the government will now give an annual bursary of US$300 for every student who joins the technical institutions. The students will access the funding through the Higher Education Loans Board, the agency that disburses loans to university students on behalf of the government. This is expected to buttress the government's plan to have at least 70,000 learners in technical and vocational education institutions in the next five years. Kenya plans to have at least one vocational and technical institution in each of the 290 constituencies in the next two years. The initiatives are the latest in a string of efforts to revive a sector that has in the recent past faced collapse as focus in the education sector shifted to universities. Educationists say the success of Kenya’s growth ambitions is hinged on an adequate supply of a critical mass of technical skills. The government said it has identified technical courses such as automotive engineering, plant engineering, masonry, plumbing and other crafts as key drivers of its growth plan. The country’s economic blueprint for the next five years is built on four pillars: food security, affordable healthcare, manufacturing and housing. The renewed focus in the technical training sector has also attracted interest from private organisations who argue that for Kenya to become industrialised by 2030, it must strengthen the technical and vocational education and training system which is currently eroded by low investment. The shift in policy comes as the World Bank recently warned that Kenya and by extension East Africa risked missing its long-term economic growth targets due to a widening disconnect between labour market skills needs and the graduates of higher education institutions. This was as a result of a general decline in the supply of technical and vocational skills, constraining economic prospects.

90% of International Money Transfers to Rwanda Via Mobile, says Report

Up to 90 per cent of international money transfers to Rwanda come through mobile wallets, a new survey indicates, highlighting the growing importance of mobile money transactions. The report by WorldRemit, a leading international digital money transfer company, says that Rwanda – along with Tanzania – is experiencing the fastest growth in mobile money remittances in East Africa, increasing on average 9 per cent month-on-month. WorldRemit is an online money transfer service that provides international remittance services to expatriates and migrant workers. Transfers to mobile money accounts make up 90 per cent of WorldRemit’s transactions to Rwanda, and is growing rapidly, according to the company, and the rapid surge is in line with Rwanda’s push towards a cashless economy, with the National Bank of Rwanda estimating that mobile money account users increased by 18 per cent in 2017. WorldRemit is the leading global provider of remittances to mobile money – processing 74 per cent of all international transfers via mobile money accounts. In Rwanda, WorldRemit partners with Tigo/Airtel and MTN mobile telephone operators. According to WorldRemit, remittances through mobile money accounts are “faster, lower-cost and more accessible” than transfers to bricks and mortar agents. In line with this, WorldRemit’s data shows that Rwandans send money more frequently via mobile money platform – 2.6 times a month to mobile money accounts, compared to just 1.4 transactions to offline locations. Mobile money remittances are recognised as a key driver of financial inclusion.

Audit Reveals Skills Deficits in Zimbabwe

An audit has revealed that, despite a national literacy rate above 90%, Zimbabwe has an appalling deficit of skilled professionals, particularly in the engineering, sciences, technology and agricultural sectors. The Zimbabwe National Critical Skills Audit released in Harare in July – 34 years after the last audit in 1984 – indicated that the country has a skills deficit of about 94% in engineering and technology, and 97% in natural and applied sciences. Willie Davison Ganda, director of research development and innovation in the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development, who presented the findings noted that in agriculture, there is a huge deficit of 88% and skills availability of 12%. Because it is largely an agriculture-driven economy, it means 68% of our people employed in agriculture do not have formal skills in agriculture. In medical and health sciences there is a huge deficit of 95%, meaning a 5% availability of skills. This means that certain conditions can’t be treated locally because there are no experts. In applied arts and humanities, there is a deficit of 18%. Ganda said since the last skills audit, the economy had changed phenomenally, hence the need for a new systematic approach that bridges the literacy versus the skills gap. The country has a high literacy rate of above 90% but now needs to bridge the gap to transform knowledge into tangible goods and services by making sure they train relevant skills beyond the high literacy levels. Unless immediately attended to, it is feared that the skills gap may scupper current efforts to modernise and industrialise the country through science and technology by 2030. But government says it has already established the Department for Human Capital Planning and Skills Development to ensure that skills audits are done regularly and that the nation is continuously looking at ways to transform the education system. The Zimbabwe National Critical Skills Audit is one of three initiatives, including the Zimbabwe National Qualifications Framework and the Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency, announced on 10 July to drive the country’s transformation agenda.

Nissan Announces Expansion Plans in Africa

Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. has unveiled a major expansion strategy in the Africa, the Middle East and India region as part of the company’s six-year midterm plan. Nissan aims to build on its strengths in markets including South Africa, India, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and parts of sub-Saharan Africa. The company plans to maintain and build on solid profit margins in the region. Nissan will further develop strong partnerships and use local talent to meet growing vehicle demand. Industrywide sales in the region are expected to rise by about 40% to more than 12 million vehicles a year by 2022. Nissan plans to increase its market share in South Africa, now at 10%, substantially over the course of the plan. The company’s sales in South Africa jumped by 26% to 53,400 vehicles in fiscal year 2017. The introduction of new models, including the new Nissan Micra, is expected to boost demand further. Nissan is working to build on its strong market position in Egypt, where it’s the only manufacturer with its own plant, and on the company’s first-mover success in Nigeria, where Nissan vehicles are assembled with a partner. Nissan is studying further manufacturing opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa.

E-Learning Hub for African Universities Now Operational

An e-learning hub for African universities mooted by the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in 2017 is now operational, offering more than 35-member universities from across Africa access to free content intended to enhance the teaching of agriculture. The hub will enable students, staff and researchers in universities to access free online learning material, providing them with up-to-date quality material on subject areas such as sustainable food systems, food and nutrition security, responsible governance to secure tenure rights and equitable access to land, fisheries and forests, among others. The RUFORUM-FAO e-learning hub for African universities will also offer material on climate-smart agriculture, food losses and waste, food safety, social protection and resilience, child labour, gender equity and women empowerment, and responsible agriculture investments. The content, developed by experts in various fields for learners from Africa and across the globe, will be delivered in major international languages used in Africa, including English, French, Portuguese and Spanish. It comprises a mixture of multimedia content, targeted learning strategies, dynamic screens, interactive tests, and exercises with feedback and illustrative case studies, that help to make complex topics accessible to both new and more experienced learners wishing to update their skills in a way that is not covered by the traditional university curriculum. It will be easy to use and integrate with other online learning content offered by universities but is also for those that do not provide any form of online learning. In 2017 the FAO and RUFORUM conceived of the idea – now a reality – of making free content available to students, researchers and staff aimed at enhancing the capacity of graduates to meet the changing demands of the agricultural sector on the continent.

IFC Invests $60 Million in Bank of Africa Group

IFC has announced a $60m investment in a regional risk-sharing facility to support Bank of Africa Group’s lending to small and medium enterprises in eight African countries, facilitating growth and job creation in the region. IFC’s investment will cover as much as 50% of the risk on up to $120m equivalent in loans to local SME’s in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Tanzania and Togo. Half the facility is earmarked for women-run businesses, and for climate-related improvements, such as energy efficient equipment upgrades, small solar or biomass systems, and climate-smart agricultural supply chains. This facility will allow BOA to extend over 5000 loans to underserved SME’s in the next five years. It could have a transformational impact in the participating countries, seven of which are low income, and five fragile or conflict-affected. The investment was made possible with support from the Women Entrepreneurs Opportunity Facility (WEOF), launched by IFC through its Banking on Women Program, and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women. Further support came from the Global SME Finance Facility, a blended-finance partnership among IFC, the UK Department for International Development, and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. SMEs are a prime source of growth, jobs and innovation, but can only succeed when they can access sufficient financing. In sub-Saharan Africa, where roughly 350 million new jobs will be needed in the next 20 years, they account for 30% to 60% of GDP, and 67% of jobs. The WEOF is a facility dedicated to expanding access to capital for 100,000 women entrepreneurs globally. IFC’s Banking on Women Program has committed 64 investments globally worth $1.71bn and advised on 39 projects since its launch in 2010. Of these, the WEOF has supported about $1bn in commitments to financial institutions in 26 countries.

Ethiopia to Launch 5-Year Urban Development Plan of $860 Million

Ethiopia will launch, in about three months, a program of institutional and infrastructural urban development that will benefit 6.6 million people, according to the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing. Called the five-year program of urban infrastructure and institutional development (UIIDP), this new plan will be implemented in 117 cities and will cost nearly $ 860 million. According to Amlaku Adamu, head of the Bureau for Improving Urban Revenues, local economic development, including job creation, especially for the benefit of young people, the promotion of gender, as well as the construction of cities resilient to climate change are part of the objectives of the program. This five-year program follows two previous development programs for urban local authorities launched successively from 2009, at a cost of $ 300 million and $ 556.5 million.

African Development Bank Launches Coding for Employment Programme

The African Development Bank, together with partners – The Rockefeller Foundation, Microsoft and Facebook – have launched a Coding for Employment Program. By training youth in demand-driven Information and Communications Technology (ICT) curriculum and matching graduates directly with ICT employers, this new Program prepares Africa’s youth for tomorrow’s jobs and unleashes the next generation of young digital innovators from the continent. Coding for Employment will create over 9 million jobs and reach 32 million youth and women across Africa. The Coding for Employment Program is at the centre of the African Development Bank’s Jobs for Youth in Africa Initiative (https://goo.gl/21mhqU), which aims to put Africa’s youth on a path to prosperity. By 2025, the Jobs for Youth in Africa Initiative will equip 50 million youth with employable skills and create 25 million jobs in agriculture, information communications and technology and other key industries across Africa. Over the last 15 years, the African Development Bank has invested US $1.64 billion in programs to prepare youth for careers in science, technology and innovation. Putting youth at the centre of Africa’s inclusive economic growth agenda is at the forefront of the African Development Bank’s investments and its “High 5s (www.AfDB.org/en/the-high-5)” priorities —building businesses, feeding the continent, expanding power and integration, and improving the quality of life for the people across the continent by preparing youth for today’s competitive digital world.

Ecobank named Africa’s Best & Most Innovative Retail Bank

Ecobank was named Best Retail Bank in Africa after impressing judges with the strides it has made to leverage digital financial services and an enhanced service model, to be the retail bank of choice. The ever-improving feature set of the truly revolutionary Ecobank Mobile App, which has now been downloaded by more than 5 million people, took the prize for Innovation in Banking, thanks to the way it has redefined borderless and inclusive banking, along with several other transformative innovations designed to deliver financial services to all. Ecobank is committed to providing the range of financial products and services that meet the day-to-day banking, transactional and investment needs of all Africans. Ecobank enjoyed a 40% increase in customer numbers during 2017 and the bank aims to serve 100 million customers by the end of 2020. The Ecobank Mobile App aims to deliver real convenience to customers and with its removal of barriers to entry, at affordable price points, is an integral part of Ecobank’s strategy. It is the first unified banking application across 33 countries and enables customers to do their banking activities where and when they want, 24/7 and 365 days a year, conveniently on their mobile phones. It allows transactions in 18 different currencies and in four languages (English, French, Portuguese and Spanish). The app includes the multi-featured digital payment solution, Ecobank Pay, which enables customers of any bank to pay for goods or services. It unifies all of Ecobank’s digital payment offerings for internet payments, paying bills and airtime top-ups by mobile.

Anheuser-Busch to Build New Brewery in Fast-Growing Mozambique

Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s biggest brewer, will start building a more than 2 million hectolitre a year brewery in Mozambique in the second half of next year. The Mozambique investment will look to fend off competition from rival Heineken, which is the middle of building a $100 million brewery in the southern African country. It will also help AB InBev keep pace with demand in a market that saw growth over more than 20 percent in the first half of this year, and the land acquired for the project would allow for further expansion of brewing capacity in the future. AB InBev paid roughly $100 billion to buy rival SABMiller in 2016, giving it a substantial presence on the continent of more than a billion people. It has operations in 15 markets mainly in southern and east Africa, but also Ghana and Nigeria in west Africa and it announced plans in March to invest $100 million in a new 1 million hectolitre per year brewery in Tanzania, where beer volumes jumped by a fifth last year and its local unit Tanzania Breweries TBL.TZ already runs four facilities.

DP World to Build and Operate New Logistics Hub in Mali

Global trade enabler DP World has signed a 20-year concession with an automatic 20-year extension with the Republic of Mali to build and operate a 1000-hectare modern logistics hub outside of Bamako, the capital and largest city of Mali. The multimodal logistics platform, Mali Logistics Hub (MLH), will have inland container depots (ICD) and Container Freight Stations (CFS) that will facilitate the import and export of goods. The Mali Logistics Hub will be located on the main road corridor from Dakar, Senegal to Bamako and close to the Dakar - Bamako rail line and will be capable of handling 300,000 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit), 4 million tons of bulk and general cargo. The first phase of the project, with an estimated initial investment of $50 million, will support the growth of the Malian economy by streamlining the import and export of goods. Construction is expected to start in 2019 and is to take approximately 18 months to complete. DP World will also provide the Republic of Mali with three locomotive trains to boost cargo & passenger traffic along the Bamako-Dakar rail system. Furthermore, the Mali logistics hub will significantly reduce processing times for products entering the Malian market as part of efforts to reduce obstacles to trade and economic development. DP World will also implement its online paperless facilitation platform to accelerate the movement of goods as part of the agreement.

IFC to Support Renewables in Africa

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is setting up a joint platform with Moroccan company Gaia Energy Holding to develop wind power and other renewable energy projects in Africa. This new platform is expected to begin with a pipeline of 22 projects, originally developed by Gaia Energy, located in nine countries in North, West and East Africa. The schemes’ combined potential capacity will exceed 3 GW, according to IFC’s announcement. Gaia Energy is currently active in 10 countries across Africa. The joint platform will be implemented under the USD-150-million (EUR 128m) global infrastructure project development fund IFC InfraVentures and will also be supported by the EUR-114-million Finland-IFC Blended Finance for Climate Program.

Mobile Cash Transactions Up in Kenya

The value of mobile-based transactions rose by Sh108.86 billion in the first six months of the year, reflecting the growing dominance of mobile payment services, Central Bank of Kenya’s (CBK) data shows. Mobile payments hit Sh1.92 trillion between January and June from Sh1.81 trillion in a similar period last year, putting average daily transactions at Sh10.61 billion. Key sectors of the economy such as financial services, retail and wholesale trade, agriculture and health are increasingly integrating mobile payments into their operations. This is in line with rising mobile subscriptions, which stood at 44.1 million or 95.1 per cent penetration in March, according to the Communications Authority of Kenya July data. The CBK data did not break down the share by mobile operators but Safaricom’s M-Pesa controls more than three-quarters of the transactions. Mobile money has become a key pillar of Kenya’s economy, with last year’s transactions valued at Sh3.4 trillion payments representing 46.95 per cent of Kenya’s national wealth – gross domestic product (GDP) – which stood at Sh7.75 trillion last December.

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