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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.

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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.

Graduates Lack Essential Work Skills, say UK Companies

Half of UK firms say that graduates do not have the workplace skills they need when they are first hired, according to a report. Many university leavers lack essential qualities such as teamwork and problem-solving, says a study of 174 employers by the Association of Graduate Recruiters. The AGR said schools should be teaching workplace skills rather than allowing the brunt of this to fall on employers.

UK Universities Admitting ‘Almost Illiterate’ Students, says Survey

UK universities are admitting students who are “almost illiterate”, lecturers warn as they complain that dropping entry requirements has led to a generation of undergraduates who cannot read, write or speak proper English. Almost half of academics (48 per cent) do not think that students are adequately prepared for university study, according to a Times Higher Education (THE) survey of over 1,000 academic staff. A third (33 per cent) of academic staff felt that international students do not have adequate language skills to study at university.  Plagiarism remains a concern, according to the survey, with 60 per cent of academics saying that they have caught students cheating at least once, and 28 per cent saying that they “regularly suspect” undergraduates of cheating. A number of lecturers also felt that the National Student Survey (NSS) shifts focus from academic quality towards students’ satisfaction and gave students “too much power”, with academic rigour suffering becoming a secondary consideration.

UK Firms Urged to Publish Ethnic Breakdown

A government-backed review has called for many firms to publish a breakdown of their workforce by race and pay. The report by Baroness McGregor-Smith said the economy could receive a £24bn annual boost if businesses stamped out ethnic inequality. It found that people from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds were still often disadvantaged at work. But the government has ruled out legislation on such a breakdown, opting for a voluntary approach instead. Her year-long review found that employment rates amongst people from BME backgrounds were 12% lower than for white counterparts. They were more likely to work in lower paid and lower skilled jobs despite being more likely to have a degree, and just 6% reached top-level management positions, the report found. Baroness McGregor-Smith said the UK had a structural, historical bias that favoured certain individuals. One of her main recommendations was legislation to make firms with more than 50 workers publish a breakdown of their workforce by race and by how much they are paid. Firms should draw up five-year diversity targets and nominate a board member to deliver them, she said. She also wants to see diversity as part of public procurement guidelines. And her report claims that tackling barriers to progression could boost GDP by 1.3%. She said that overt racism does still occur in workplaces, but she highlighted unconscious bias as being more pervasive and potentially more insidious. Only 74 FTSE 100 companies replied to her call for data for the report. She said that she was shocked that only half of those were able to share any meaningful information. Last year the Equality and Human Rights Commission said that the life chances for young minority ethnic people were "the most challenging for generations". A study by the TUC also found that Black, Asian and minority ethnic workers were a third more likely than white workers to be underemployed. Responding to the McGregor review, the TUC's general secretary Francis O Grady said that "without government action, racist discrimination at work won't simply disappear". But the minister ruled out new laws on firms.

Young Woman Engineer of the Year Award - 2017 Round Open to Entries (UK)

The 2017 round of the Institution of Engineering and Technology Young Woman Engineer of the Year Award has opened to applications. The Award highlights the achievements of women in engineering and encourages others to enter the profession. The Award is open to entries from young women holding a responsible position as a leading professional engineer in the UK. The award categories comprise the following: The Young Woman Engineer of the Year Award - this category recognises a young woman who has firmly established herself as a dynamic and technically excellent professional. The prize this year is £2,500. The Mary George Memorial Prize for Apprentices - this category awards an outstanding female engineering apprentice who has made a contribution within the workplace beyond the realms of her normal duties and demonstrated dynamism in her approach to the solution of engineering problems. The prize is £750. The Women’s Engineering Society (WES) Prize - this prize is awarded to the graduate engineer who is the runner-up in the Young Woman of the Year contest. The prize is £750. Applicants all three awards will be females under the age of 30 who are currently employed in UK Apprenticeships, Young Apprenticeships or Advanced Apprenticeships within the UK. The winner will be announced at the YWE Ceremony being held at Savoy Place on Thursday 7 December 2017. The deadline for receipt of applications is 7 July 2017. Further details can be accessed at the programme website.

UK Government Could Legislate on BAME Diversity if Voluntary Efforts Fail

Top UK businesses have been warned to do more to improve black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) diversity voluntarily – or face the prospect of mandatory diversity requirements.  In a letter to FTSE 350 companies across the UK, business minister Margot James urged employers to act on the recommendations set out in the recently published McGregor-Smith review into career opportunities for black and ethnic minority groups. Among the 28 recommendations outlined in the Race in the Workplace report, employers were advised to publish a breakdown of their workforce by race and pay, set aspirational targets and nominate a board member to deliver on those targets. The review found that BAME groups were being held back in their careers because of their skin colour. In particular, employment rates were found to be 12 per cent lower than their white peers, while just 6 per cent of those with BAME backgrounds hold executive-level positions. In her letter, James said: “It simply makes no business sense for people to be left behind because of their ethnic background and I am asking FTSE 350 companies to play their part in driving the agenda for greater diversity in the workplace. Genuine and lasting change must come from within the business community and I encourage companies to take forward Baroness McGregor-Smith’s recommendations.” According to The Telegraph, James’s letter appeared to warn employers that if no voluntary action was taken, the government would consider legislation. “We will [deliver] a clear and coherent message to the business community and the public sector on what needs to be done,” said the letter. Jonathan Ashong-Lamptey, researcher at the London School of Economics department of management, says, given the success of targets so far in improving gender diversity, ethnic diversity measures were likely to be just as successful.

Women Lack Managerial Support to Reach the Top, Report Finds

The lack of senior females in the executive pipeline could be linked to how they are line-managed, particularly at the mid-career stage, new research from the 30% Club suggests. Men were much more likely to get advice from managers on specific opportunities, with a view to deepening their skillset and getting the experience they need for promotions, such as MBAs or secondments, the research found. Women, on the other hand, were encouraged to adapt their approach and broaden their professional experience to open up a range of career options. Employees of both genders suffered from declining contact with their managers as they reached more senior levels. Junior managers worked closely with their reports, spending around 29 per cent of their time with women and 24 per cent with men. But this dropped to 5 per cent for both genders among senior managers and executives. Pavita Cooper, founder of More Difference and 30% Club steering committee member – who co-led the Just about managing research – said senior managers were not actively readying their direct reports for the next level of seniority. She said women needed to be pulled through for promotion much earlier on, to establish a better pipeline of female executive talent. Rachel Short, director of Why Women Work and 30% Club steering committee member – who also co-led the research – said it was important for managers to consider how much time they spend with their direct reports, because the research suggested that this correlated strongly with how positively or negatively reports of both genders reports viewed their managers. Short said the message needed to get out that “nobody is gender neutral”. Many of the managers interviewed were not actually aware they were treating male and female reports differently until they actually considered their approaches.

Film submissions open for Film Africa 2017

Film Africa celebrates the best African cinema from across the continent and diaspora. Now in its seventh year, the festival has become the key platform for African cinema in London and the UK. From Friday 27 October - Sunday 5 November 2017, we'll be bringing another exciting film programme of films to 10 venues across London. In line with our commitment to screening the finest and boldest contemporary African cinema, the festival accepts films of all lengths and genres, including fiction, documentary, animation and experimental titles. There is no submission fee and, while the main objective is to represent a wide range of films and filmmakers stemming from across the continent and the diaspora, Film Africa also accept submissions from non-African filmmakers whose films relate to Africa. The focus is on quality from a range of African countries and genres. Film Africa accepts entries via online submissions platform FilmFreeway.com. The deadline is 30 June 2017. We look forward to receiving your submissions. Film Africa is produced by the Royal African Society, in partnership with the British Council, the UK's international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations.

International students Worth £25 Billion to UK Economy

International students studying in the United Kingdom now generate more than £25 billion (US$30 billion) for the economy and provide a significant boost to regional jobs and local businesses, according to new research into the economic impact of international students – conducted for Universities UK by Oxford Economics – that shows that in 2014-15, spending by international students supported 206,600 jobs in university towns and cities across the UK. In total, the analysis found that, in 2014-15, on- and off-campus spending by international students and their visitors generated a knock-on impact of £25.8 billion (US$31 billion) in gross output in the UK. The spending of international students is additional to that of UK residents so provides an export boost to the UK. In 2014-15 they were responsible for £10.8 billion (US$13 billion) of UK export earnings. International students paid an estimated £4.8 billion (US$5.8 billion) in tuition fees to UK universities. This accounts for more than 14% of total university income. Some 88% – £4.2 billion (US$5.1 billion) – of this fee income was paid by students from outside the European Union. As well as tuition fee payments, international students spend money off-campus on a wide range of goods, services and activities. This amounted to £5.4 billion in 2014-­15. The transport and retail sectors are significant beneficiaries of international students’ spending. Their off-campus spending added £1.2 billion to the UK transport industry and £750 million to the retail industry. International students also attract a significant number of overseas visitors during their time studying in the UK. The spending by these friends and relatives, at hotels, restaurants and attractions, also makes a significant contribution to the economy, according to the analysis. Friends and relatives will often visit international students studying at UK universities, such as parents travelling to drop off or collect their children, or visit while on holiday. As the expenditure they undertake in the UK is additional to that spent by UK residents, it creates extra economic activity in the country. Visitors to international students in the UK spent an estimated £520 million – benefitting in particular the transport, hotels, hospitality, cultural, recreational and sports attraction sectors – generating an estimated knock-on impact of £1 billion in gross output. The UK is currently the second most popular destination for international students after the United States and attracts a substantial number of overseas students each year. In 2014-15 the 437,000 international students studying in the UK – with 125,000 from the EU and 312,000 from the rest of the world – made up 19% of all students registered at UK universities. This report is the latest in a series of studies commissioned by Universities UK looking at the impact of universities on the UK economy. London attracted 101,465 students from outside the UK in 2014-15, just over double the next most popular destination region, the South East (49,995 international students).

Quarter of Young UK Mothers Experience Maternity Discrimination

Almost four in 10 (39 per cent) young mothers have been questioned in job interviews about how being a mother would affect their ability to work, a new survey has revealed. The research from the Young Women’s Trust also found that a quarter (25 per cent) of young mothers – aged between 16 and 24 – have experienced discrimination of some sort when their employer found out they were pregnant. The study is additional evidence that young mothers experience discrimination more frequently than their older counterparts, said the Young Women’s Trust. Past research by the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the then Department for Business, Innovation and Skills found that working mothers under the age of 25 were six times more likely than older mothers to report being dismissed after informing their employer of their pregnancy. A tenth of young mothers left their job after health and safety risks weren’t resolved, found the study, and twice as many young mums (compared to mothers of all ages) said they felt under pressure to hand in their notice when they became pregnant. The Young Women’s Trust research also found that 26 per cent of young mothers had had requests for flexible working related to their pregnancy or child turned down by their employer. Four-fifths (80 per cent) of the 319 mothers surveyed said employers’ attitudes towards pregnant women or mothers with young children played an important role in their search for work – and this was more important than being offered different childcare options by the employer. More than four-fifths (83 per cent) of young mothers said it was important for more jobs to be advertised with flexible hours, while 81 per cent said they wanted to see more jobs advertised with part-time hours. A large proportion of the young mothers surveyed said being a parent had equipped them with valuable workplace skills, including budgeting (65 per cent), time management (60 per cent) and communication and negotiation (54 per cent).

10% of UK Employees Describe Work as ‘Horrible’

One in ten workers describe their job as ‘horrible’, a study for the UN International Day of Happiness finds. More than a third were negative about work but the same proportion ‘have only positive things to say’. The happiest are London workers while those in the south-west are the least content, say consultants Lee Hecht Harrison Penna.

Third Sector Awards 2017 Invite Entries

These nonfinancial awards, now in their 17th year, recognise the outstanding achievements of the third sector which includes registered charities, voluntary organisations, social enterprises and other not-for-profit organisations based in the UK. The awards were created in 2000 by Third Sector, which defines itself as the ‘the UK’s leading publication for everyone who needs to know what’s going on in the voluntary and not-for-profit sector’. The purpose of the awards is to discover and showcase the outstanding campaigns and big achievements of third sector organisations over the past year. Third Sector is looking for entries ‘from charities that know they’re doing great things, have innovative ideas they’re keen to shout about, can demonstrate effectiveness alongside strong employee and donor engagement and are passionate about highlighting the great talent that is the heartbeat of the sector'. Entry is open to all voluntary organisations based in the UK, including registered charities, not-for-profit organisations, social enterprises and campaigning groups. Agencies and consultancies may also enter on behalf of the voluntary organisations with whom they are working, if they have their client’s approval. Entries must cover work carried out during the period 1 May 2016 to 30 May 2017. Work that began in earlier years is eligible if it came to fruition during this period. Work that has been entered previously can be re-entered if the entrant can prove an improvement or change in the entry. Although there is no monetary award, winners find that the recognition brought by the Awards raises their profile, bringing greater awareness and credibility. The deadline for submitting entries is 4 May 2017 (midnight). The award ceremony will take place in London on 21 September 2017. The online entry system and full details about the awards can be found on the Third Sector Awards website

Mslexia Women's Poetry Competition 2017 Open to Established and Aspiring Female Poets

This annual competition is held by Mslexia, a publication with a focus on women's writing, in order to shine a light on the work of new and established female poets. Poems are welcome in any style, length or subject and may be submitted from anywhere in the world. The first prize winner will receive £2,000 and will have the chance to participate in a week-long writing retreat at Cove Park, Scotland’s International Artist Residency Centre. They will also have the option to attend a mentoring session with Amy Wack, Poetry Editor at Seren Books. The second and third place winners will receive a prize worth £400 and £200 respectively and 17 other finalists will each receive prizes of £25. There will also be a special prize worth £500 for the best poem from a previously-unpublished poet. Any number of poems may be published however only one may win a prize and the entry fee is £7 for up to three pieces of poetry. Sequences of differently-titled poems should be entered separately and a poem that is structured in various parts may be entered as one, singular poem. Each poem should be typed, single spaced and single sided, submitted on A4 pages. All poems will be judged by Sinead Morrissey and successful entrants will be informed by post during August 2017, with winning entries being published within the September/October/November 2017 issue of Mslexia. The next deadline for this competition is 19 June 2017. For further information, interested parties should visit the Mslexia website

Ageism is Most Common Form of Discrimination, say UK Employees

UK employees believe that ageism is the most common form of discrimination in the workplace, according to research that suggests a significant proportion of promotion decisions are viewed as unfair. Almost four in 10 employees (39 per cent) polled by Lee Hecht Harrison Penna felt age was the most common cause of workplace inequality, ahead of gender (26 per cent) and employment status (22 per cent), which covers part-time and flexible working. However, HR professionals who took part in the survey were most likely to say gender was the most prevalent form of discrimination in their workplace. Overall, 20 per cent of the 2,005 UK employees surveyed felt discriminated against in promotion decisions, and 29 per cent said the promotion process at their company was unfair. By contrast, 94 per cent of HR professionals said promotion processes were fair. Employees who said promotion processes were unjust were most likely to attribute the problem to a lack of guidance on how to climb the ranks. Women were significantly more likely to feel they had not been giving sufficient career guidance, with 40 per cent reporting this as an issue compared to 26 per cent of men. Employees and HR professionals agreed when it came to who deserves to be promoted. More than half (53 per cent) of staff said working hard and doing a good job were the most important criteria for promotion, a view echoed by HR professionals (41 per cent). Seventy per cent of organisations use quotas to some extent in their promotion processes, but 40 per cent of employees said more needed to be done to tackle a lack of diversity in their workplace and 26 per cent supported positive discrimination initiatives. Almost three-quarters (74 per cent) of employees said they would consider leaving a company if it appeared to lack diversity among its workforce. And 65 per cent of HR professionals said they felt promoting diversity leads to a varied workforce with a range of skills and outlooks, while a little over half (51 per cent) support it because it is expected within today’s society. In January, separate research found that half of employees aged 45 and over believed that workplaces ‘naturally cater towards younger employees’. Half said they were worried about their future in the workplace.

Low-skilled Sectors in UK ‘could face huge talent shortages after Brexit’

A cap on post-Brexit EU migration could result in significant labour shortages within certain sectors that are reliant on EU migrants, new research has warned. The food manufacturing sector, where 27.7 per cent of the workforce are EU migrants, would be hardest hit, according to the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), ahead of domestic personnel (19.5 per cent) and warehousing (15 per cent). In specific lower-skilled roles, the analysis suggests talent shortages could be particularly severe if migration was restricted after Brexit: 41 per cent of packers, bottlers and canners, 39 per cent of food process operatives and 21 per cent of fork lift truck drivers originate in the EU, for example. Labour shortages resulting from workforce turnover and tighter immigration control could push up the price of everyday goods and services, the report said. Marley Morris, senior research fellow at the IPPR, said it was “highly likely” that Britain’s immigration policy would change post-Brexit, despite some sectors in the UK economy being highly reliant on EU nationals in lower-skilled jobs. At the same time, he said British workers would be unlikely to fill these roles. Calling on the government to work with industry to develop a clearer plan towards a “high-pay, high-productivity economy to reduce the reliance on low-skilled EU labour”, the IPPR urged an “honest conversation” with the public about the continued need for lower-skilled migration after Brexit. The IPPR research came as Article 50 was formally triggered, marking the start of the two-year countdown to Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Lloyds Bank Foundation Identifies 10 Challenges for Small UK Charities

Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales has published a new report which points to 10 major challenges facing smaller charities as they look to the future. The report, ‘Facing Forward: How Small and Medium-Sized Charities Can Adapt to Survive’, identifies 10 political, economic, social and technological changes that will ‘dramatically affect’ smaller charities in the ‘turbulent’ times that lie ahead and suggests seven steps to help smaller charities prepare for the future. Brexit, an unpredictable economy, the constraints on local councils, the additional pressures on public services, sharp divisions in British society, as well as the digital divide are all a cause for concern. The report, however, sets out seven steps that smaller charities (those with an annual income of between £10,000 and £1 million) should consider as they prepare for changing circumstances. In response to the analysis, Lloyds Bank Foundation has also announced its own plans for better supporting small charities. The report can be downloaded from the Foundation's website

UK Government Announces New Fund for Small Charities

The Department for International Development (DfID) has announced that it will be launching a new fund for small charities this summer and a partnership with the Charity Commission to support smaller charities. The new Small Charities Challenge Fund will be aimed at small UK-registered civil society organisations with an annual income of less than £250,000. The innovation fund will be aimed at supporting small development and humanitarian organisations to scale up the excellent work they already do to help the poorest and most vulnerable communities in the world. The Small Charities Challenge Fund will launch in the summer. This will be the first time that DfID has launched a fund specifically for small charities. Further information will be provided once the Fund launches. It was also announced that DfID’s new partnership with the Charity Commission will provide support to strengthen the skills and capabilities of small and medium sized organisations when it comes to their managing humanitarian and development projects overseas. The full announcement can be read on the GOV.UK website

Millennium Stadium Charitable Trust Opens for Regional Grant Applications

The Millennium Stadium Charitable Trust has opened its regional grant scheme for applications from not-for-profit groups in Wales. Not-for-profit, properly constituted voluntary organisations, charitable organisations, groups of any age and voluntary groups working with local authorities with a remit to cover a region of Wales or a local authority area of Wales can apply now for grants of up to £7,500. Priority is given to organisations serving groups and communities suffering from the greatest disadvantage. Funding is available for projects in the following four areas: Sports, The Arts, The Environment, and the Community. The Trust is keen to help disabled people to challenge barriers and to be active and visible in their local communities. The deadline for applications is 1 July 2017 (noon). Full details can be found on the Millennium Stadium Charitable Trust website

Call for Applications: CODESRIA 2017 Gender Institut: Feminist Scholarship, Universities and Social Transformation in Africa

The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa, CODESRIA, invites applications from academics and researchers from African universities and research centers to participate in the 2017 session of the Gender institute, which will take place in Dakar, Senegal from June 12-23, 2017. Over the last two decades, CODESRIA has convened an annual gender institute to fortify efforts at integrating gender research and scholarship into the mainstream of social science in Africa. The overall objective of the gender institute continues to be to contribute to a greater awareness about gender issues in African social research milieus, the integration of gender analysis into social research undertaken in Africa, and the inclusion of gender approaches in the agenda of social science debates on methodology. Besides, the institute has served as a strategy to catalyze efforts by feminist academics in the universities to create space for women’s studies as a new epistemology in the study of the disciplines and challenge the prevailing androcentric view of society and culture. Ultimately, these efforts were not meant to be ends in themselves. They were part of the broader efforts to make universities in the continent much better and entrench them as critical spaces for the continent’s transformation. While past scholarship has focused on examining how the institutions have been made receptive to feminist scholarship and to the female gender in a physical and epistemological sense, it is time reflections were made on the extent that feminist scholarship has made universities in Africa better institutions for society; for the transformation project. How empowering has gender scholarship been in imagining better approaches to studying and producing knowledge on and about Africa? Candidates submitting proposals for consideration as laureates should critically interrogate the outcomes of feminist and gender scholarship in connection to the broad debate on the role of higher education in social transformation; understood more generally as the radical and fundamental changes in society’s core institutions, the polity and the economy, with major implications for relationships between social groups or classes, and for the means of the creation and distribution of wealth, power and status. Proposals should more specifically interrogate issues revolving around trends in knowledge production and consumption, its content, quality, utility and demand for Africa’s transformation and its fit with regards to sustainable development concerns in Africa. Candidates submitting proposals for consideration should be PhD students or early career academics in the social sciences and humanities and those working in the broad field of gender and women studies. Scholars outside universities but actively engaged in the area of policy process and/or social movements and civil society organizations are also encouraged to apply. The number of places available for laureates of this Institute is only fifteen (15). Africa-based academics and non-African scholars who are able to support their participation are also encouraged to submit proposals for consideration. The deadline for the submission of applications is 15th May 2017. Laureates will be informed of the outcome of the selection process by 30 May 2017. Selected laureates will be expected to prepare and submit completed draft research papers to be presented during the Institute to CODESRIA no later than 15th June 2017. Laureates will be expected to work on the submitted draft (and not on the abstract of the proposal) and prepare it during the Institute for subsequent possible publication. All applications should be sent by email to: gender.institute@codesria.sn. For further information: http://www.codesria.org

Kenyans Move Record US$ 33 billion on Mobile Money in 2016

Kenyans moved a record 33 billion U.S. dollars on mobile money in 2016, up from 27.8 billion dollars from the previous year, the latest data from Central Bank of Kenya said. The surge in transactions by about 6 billion dollars consolidates the country's global position in use of the technology that has revolutionized its financial sector. The volume of cash transacted on the platform surpasses Kenya's 2017/2018 budget, which is estimated at 25 billion dollars, underlying the role of the service to citizens and economy. In 2016, mobile money use peaked at 3.1 billion dollars per month in December, according to the regulator's data, up from 2.6 billion dollars last year. Kenyans on average transacted during the period 2.7 billion dollars a month up from 2.3 billion dollars in the previous year. East Africa's biggest economy citizens use mobile platforms to perform a range of financial services that include making money deposits, remittance delivery, payment of bills, withdrawal of cash and access of microfinance credit. In the period of review, according to the Central Bank, the number of mobile money subscribers hit 35 million from 31.6 million in 2015, which means only less than 10 percent of the country's people has not subscribed to mobile money. The number of agents during the period clocked 165,908 from 143,946 at the end of 2015 as the sector continued to be a key employer. Monthly transactions similarly swelled considerably, with East African nation citizens making over 146 million transactions a month from 107 million in 2015. Kenya has six mobile money service providers namely Safaricom, Airtel,Orange, Equitel, Tangaza and Mobikash. Safaricom's Mpesa is the most popular, carrying out over 90 percent of the transactions. The company last week partnered with its peers in Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda to enhance use of Mpesa in East Africa, an indication of expected growth. The apex bank's figures paint a healthy picture of growth of mobile money but Treasury has warned that collapse of service poses fiscal risks to the economy since various financial products have been leveraged on the payment channel increasing linkage between the technology and the banking sector.

World Bank Announces Record $57 billion Financing for Africa

Following a meeting with G20 finance ministers and central bank governors, the World Bank has announced a record $57 billion in financing for sub-Saharan African countries over the next three fiscal years. The bulk of the financing – $45 billion – will come from the International Development Association (IDA), the bank’s fund for the poorest countries. The financing for sub-Saharan Africa also would include an estimated $8 billion in private sector investments from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a private sector arm of the bank group, and $4 billion in financing from International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, its non-concessional public sector arm. In December, development partners agreed to a record $75 billion for IDA, a dramatic increase based on an innovative move to blend donor contributions to IDA with World Bank Group internal resources, and with funds raised through capital markets. Sixty per cent of the IDA financing is expected to go to sub-Saharan Africa, home to more than half of the countries eligible for IDA financing. This funding is available for the period known as IDA18, which runs from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2020. The IDA financing for operations in Africa will be critical to addressing roadblocks that prevent the region from reaching its potential. To support countries’ development priorities, scaled-up investments will focus on tackling conflict, fragility, and violence; building resilience to crises including forced displacement, climate change, and pandemics; and reducing gender inequality. Efforts will also promote governance and institution building, as well as jobs and economic transformation.

Ghana Targets Creating 1.5 Million Agriculture Jobs in Two Years

Ghana targets creating 1.5 million jobs in the next two years with plans to invest in agriculture as the West African nation seeks to produce more of its own food to cut the cost of imports, according to the minister for agriculture. The plan comes after President Nana Akufo-Addo was elected in December after pledging to boost the agricultural sector and create jobs in a country where almost half of people between 15 and 24 years are unemployed. While Ghana is the world’s second-biggest cocoa producer, it imports more than two-thirds of the staples such as wheat and rice that it needs, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The program is launching in April and will focus on raising the output of rice, corn, soya, sorghum and vegetables. The government will supply farmers with better seed and fertilizers while training them in growing techniques in a country where most production comes from small-holder farms, he said. The initiatives will help Ghana to reduce its reliance on imports. Ghana’s annual food inflation rate rose to 9.7 percent in December, from 8 percent the year before, as the cedi fell 11.3 percent against the dollar in 2016. The currency strengthened 0.6 percent to 4.31 against the dollar at 12:43 p.m. on Monday in Accra. Oversight of the Ghana Cocoa Board will move to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture from the Ministry of Finance, he said. The country wants to increase annual output to more than 1 million tons from the current season’s target of 850,000 to 900,000 metric tons. Cocoa and crude are the nation’s main commodity exports, with Ghana second only to neighbouring Ivory Coast as the world’s largest producer of the chocolate ingredient. The International Monetary Fund forecasts the country’s growth for 2017 at 7.4 percent and 8.4 percent for the following year.

No Winner of the 2016 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation has announced that there is no winner of the 2016 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership. The announcement was made following a meeting of the independent Prize Committee, chaired by Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim, and the Mo Ibrahim Foundation’s Board meeting. The Prize is intended to highlight and celebrate truly exceptional leadership, which is uncommon by its very definition. The candidates for the Ibrahim Prize are all former African executive Heads of State or Government who have left their office during the last three calendar years (2014-2016), having been democratically elected and served their constitutionally mandated term. Since being launched in 2006, the Ibrahim Prize has been awarded four times. The previous Laureates are President Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia (2014), President Pedro Pires of Cabo Verde (2011), President Festus Mogae of Botswana (2008), and President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique (2007).  Nelson Mandela was the inaugural Honorary Laureate in 2007.

Africa Intensifies Support for Climate Change Researchers

The African Academy of Sciences and the Association of Commonwealth Universities have selected 37 African researchers from different African universities for the third cohort of a programme supporting early career researchers in the field of climate change adaptation and mitigation. Under the Climate Impacts Research Capacity and Leadership Enhancement, CIRCLE, fellowship programme, the visiting fellows will spend a year in another university in Africa under the supervision of a senior academic, conducting research. The research focus areas include agriculture, energy, health and livelihoods, water, and policy. Climate change is increasingly being viewed as a priority area in African higher education. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, by 2020 between 75 million and 250 million people in Africa are projected to be exposed to increased water stress, and yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50% in some countries as a result of climate change. The participants are lecturers and researchers drawn from institutions in 10 African countries, including Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe. They are set to embark on projects that range from how climate change will impact different genders and the aged to the diet and food security of rural communities and how small-scale farmers perceive and are adapting to climate change, among others. By spending a year away from their university institutions, CIRCLE will provide the fellows with an opportunity to focus on and publish their research – an opportunity they might not otherwise have because of heavy teaching loads at most African universities. Launched in 2014, CIRCLE has successfully supported fellows to publish their research, ensuring there is a growing body of knowledge the continent can use to develop climate change strategies and interventions. The programme has also achieved a 50:50 gender balance in the recruitment of fellows, ensuring that female scientists have equal access to opportunities to grow their careers and contribute to developing the continent.

Mama Money Launches into Key African Markets

Mama Money, the South African fintech start-up that slashed the costs for Zimbabweans living in SA to send money home when it launched two years ago has expanded its money transfer service into Nigeria, Ghana and Tanzania. The business will expand into Mozambique, Malawi and Kenya by April. It has also earmarked a country outside of Africa for entry later this year. Mama Money’s technology and innovative social business model cemented its market position as an inexpensive and trustworthy money transfer operator for the SA-Zimbabwe corridor. Mama Money is a gold member of AlphaCode, a Rand Merchant Investments (RMI) club for fintech startup entrepreneurs. In Nigeria, Mama Money is connected to the 25 biggest banks and a mobile wallet called VKash. In Ghana, Mama Money is working with MTN Mobile Money and Airtel Money. In Tanzania, Mama Money’s launch partners are Vodacom M-Pesa, EzyPesa and Airtel Money.

Aiteo emerges as Nigeria’s leading Oil and Gas Company with Record Output

Integrated energy group Aiteo has announced a peak production of 90kpod just one year after its acquisition of sub-Sharan Africa’s reputedly largest onshore oil bloc OML 29. Aiteo acquired OML 29 in September, 2015 when oil major Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) fully exited the facility. At the time of the divestment, average production was 23Kbpod. But Aiteo says it has tripled this figure leveraging the diversity and skills of its work force and bona fides as a dynamic international energy conglomerate. Aiteo’s ambitious five-year objectives include tackling the power challenges in Nigeria head-on through its legacy investments in the gas-to-power value chain. The company’s main subsidiary Aiteo Eastern E&P is also a major infrastructure provider for Nigeria’s oil industry as the operator of the 97km Nembe Creek Trunk Line, an industry-wide evacuation pipeline for produced fluids covering much of the country’s Eastern Delta region.In the interim, Aiteo says it is developing a pipeline of power generation projects across Nigeria. The company is confident that its significant gas resources at OML 29 will transform the country’s oil rich Niger Delta region into a power generation hub of repute before long.

IOM Launches Campaign to Inform African Migrants of Dangers

So far in 2017, 19,567 migrants arrived by sea to Italy and after the latest shipwreck this past weekend, 521 have died at sea – 50 more compared to the same period in 2016. Most of these migrants are from Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Guinea, Senegal and Gambia – same as in 2016. Some of the migrants who make it to Europe and share their ordeal with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), reveal that their journey was far more dangerous than expected. Many are unaware of the dangers and risks of migrating with the assistance of smugglers, not only at sea or in the desert, but also in transit countries like Libya. Recalling the life-threatening risks along their journey is often very distressing and in many instances, most migrants wish to forget and move forward with their lives and therefore tend not to share their experience with peers who are still back home. The Aware Migrants campaign (www.AwareMigrants.org) aims to inform migrants from 15 countries – mostly in West Africa plus Tunisia and Egypt – about the dangers of migrating irregularly across the Sahara desert, Libya and the Mediterranean Sea. The campaign was launched in the target countries of transit and origin in Africa with social media, TV and radio spots.

Tigo Tanzania Awards $40,000 to Support Local Entrepreneurship Projects

Tigo Tanzania, in partnership with a non-profit organization, Reach for Change (http://Africa.ReachForChange.org), has given an award of USD 20,000 each to two winners of the 5th edition of the Tigo Digital Changemakers Competition. The competition aims at identifying and supporting social entrepreneurs who use digital tools and technology to improve communities and impact future generations. In addition to a substantial financial grant, winners are provided with access to Tigo and Reach for Change Incubator Program, which provides them with advice, expertise and access to global networks, enabling them to build financially sustainable social enterprises that create lasting, large scale change to the community. This year’s winners are Sophia Mbega and Nancy Sumari. Sophia Mbega impressed the judges with a grand digital initiative that is geared towards helping self-help women groups popularly known as VICOBA (Village Community Banks). She has come up with a mobile app that creates a collaborative platform that uses existing tools for financial and task management in a way that is adaptable to the African context. Through the app, all users, regardless of where they are, can transfer money from their mobile wallet to their Vicoba group account (directly from the app by using an USSD code), view all their financial records, profit generated, weekly reports, etc.

Only 1 in 4 Nigerian Applicants Gets University Place

Every year millions of Nigerian students fail to get into university. It will not always be because they did not study hard enough for entrance exams; instead, in many cases, it will be because there simply isn’t enough room for all of them, writes Yomi Kazeem for Quartz. New data from Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics and the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board shows that between 2010 and 2015, of the 10 million applicants that sought entry into Nigerian tertiary institutions, only 26% gained admission. The most obvious reason for this deficit is the capacity of local tertiary institutions compared to growing student populations. In total, there are around 150 private and public universities in Nigeria, with a capacity to carry 600,000 students. For a country with 180 million people, 62% of them 24 or younger, that’s nowhere near enough. In comparison, the United States has over 5,000 higher education institutions, and a population of 319 million. Given the lack of opportunities locally, some Nigerians opt for a foreign university degree, which can provide graduates with an edge in Nigeria’s competitive job market. But in a country where the minimum wage is only $57 per month, many can’t afford to pay for expensive foreign degrees. Online degrees from foreign schools are not an option either. Last September, Nigeria’s National University Commission said online degrees from foreign universities “are unacceptable.” NBS data also reveals a huge gender gap in education in much of Nigeria. In Nigeria’s northeast, with some of the lowest literacy rates in country and longstanding cultural beliefs which deem education for girls a luxury, female students made up just a small portion of the total student population between 2010 and 2015.

Five African Cities Remain in Mercer Top 100 Rankings for Quality of Living

Five Africa cities managed to remain in the top 100 rankings in regards to quality of living, with Port Louis in Mauritius topping the Africa chart at an overall 84th position. Durban (87) ranked the highest for quality of living within South Africa, closely followed by Cape Town (94) and Johannesburg (96). On the other side of the scope, Brazzaville (224) in the Republic of the Congo, N’Djamena (226) in Chad, Khartoum (227) in Sudan and Bangui (230) in the Central African Republic formed the four lowest-ranked cities for quality of living within Africa. Port Louis is the only Africa city which managed to fall within the top 100 rankings with the highest for infrastructure in 94th place. Cape Town missed it with 1 position ranking at 101st position followed by Tunis (104) in Tunisia and Victoria (109) in Seychelles concluding the top 4 Africa cities. Lack of infrastructure remains a challenge within Africa, with N’Djamena (224), Bangui (226), Conakry (227) in Guinea Republic and Brazzaville (228) in the Republic of the Congo forming the lowest rankings.

Africa’s Science Progress Hindered by Capacity

The 2017 Africa Capacity Report shows that capacity in its various dimensions, though improving, remains a problem for African economies generally, not just for Science Technology and Innovation (STI). But a more important message emerges: even though two-thirds of African countries have STI policies and strategies, their capacity to implement them remains very low. Most African countries have underdeveloped STI institutions and fail to effectively generate and deploy knowledge and technological innovations for socioeconomic growth. This challenge largely reflects how STI institutions are adequately staffed with skills, expertise, financial resources, infrastructural capabilities, and equipment. Encouragingly, the Report shows that it is possible to build STI institutions and use them for socioeconomic transformation, with a good number of African countries providing practical success stories based on strategies and initiatives that can easily be adapted to other countries. Notably, despite the growing emphasis on the importance of STI for Africa’s development, significant capacity bottlenecks still hinder countries from using STI in national development. Evidence suggests that African countries lack specific human and institutional capacities, critical technical skills, and resources to promote STI. To some extent, the capacity lag in STI is linked to the investment priorities of African countries, which have yet to convert their political commitments into practical programs for STI-based development. The current average of African spending on research and development (R&D) stands at about 0.5 percent—below the one percent of GDP pledged in 1980 and again in 2005. Unless countries build STI capacities to innovate and promote STI for development, Africa risks being left behind in the race toward inclusive globalization. Among the key findings, the Report shows that 91 percent of the 44 surveyed African countries consider training a High or Very High priority in STI. Other areas also rated as High or Very High priority were information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure (80 percent), patent rights and trademarks (80 percent), investment (75 percent), production/publication of scientific papers (72 percent), policy/strategy (70 percent), regulation/laws (65 percent). The Africa Capacity Report findings are in line with those of the ACBF Strategy for 2017–2021 which indicates that findings on the capacities needed to implement the African Union’s Agenda 2063 highlight serious gaps in critical technical skills to implement the Agenda’s first 10-year plan, including a shortage of as many as 4.3 million engineers and 1.6 million agricultural scientists and researchers.

GE’s Fuel-Flexible Power Plant Brings Vital Energy Boost to Ghana

GE has announced the order of a 200MW combined-cycle power plant to be operated by Amandi Energy Ltd in Aboadze, Ghana. The plant will help to add reliable and efficient capacity to the grid to tackle Ghana’s increasing demand for power. The plant’s construction will be overseen by Metka, a leading international engineering contractor. This turnkey plant will be powered by GE’s 9E.04 gas turbine with tri-fuel capabilities. Initially fueled by light crude oil, the switch will be made to indigenous gas from Ghana’s offshore Sankofa natural gas field once available. GE will also provide the steam turbine, heat recovery steam generator (HRSG), associated balance of plant, and 7-year CSA. Once operational, the 200 MW plant will be one of the most efficient power plants in the country and will generate the equivalent power needed to supply more than one million Ghanaian homes. The rugged 9E can burn more than 50 types of fuels and can switch between natural gas, distillate and heavy fuel oil while operating under full load. GE’s 9E.04 has multiple features that help reduce fuel costs and increase revenue, such as a 145 MW output and 37 percent efficiency in simple-cycle. GE has more than 3,000 E-class turbines installed throughout the world with 143 million combined operating hours. GE works with the government, corporate customers and other stakeholders in Ghana to support economic growth through infrastructure development in the power, healthcare and transport sectors. In 2014, GE opened a 200-capacity permanent office in Accra, and now has over 80 employees - 95% of which are Ghanaians.

African Better Business, Better World Report Highlights African CEOs and Entrepreneurs as Drivers of a Sustainable Future

African business leaders, entrepreneurs and economies can benefit from and help develop significant economic opportunities, worth US$1 trillion in the region and US$12 trillion globally if they pursue sustainable business models, says the African Better Business, Better World report from the Business and Sustainable Development Commission. The Business Commission’s global report, first launched in January 2017 ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos, shows how sustainable business models could open economic opportunities across 60 “hot spots” worth up to US$12 trillion and increase employment by up to 380 million jobs by 2030. More than half of the total value of the opportunities are in developing countries. In Africa alone, sustainable business models could open an economic prize of at least US$1.1 trillion and create over 85 million new jobs by 2030.

The Next Einstein Forum Launches Search for 54 young African Science and Technology Champions

The Next Einstein Forum (NEF) has launched the search for fifty-four science and technology Ambassadors, one champion from each African country. The selected NEF Ambassadors will join the NEF Fellows Class as part of the NEF’s Community of Scientists. NEF Ambassadors attend the NEF’s signature event, the NEF Global Gathering, the second edition of which will be held in March 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda. They will have the opportunity to network with emerging and world renowned scientists and technology leaders as well as industry and policy leaders at an innovative gathering that will focus on how science and technology can solve global challenges, boost sustainable growth and accelerate human development. NEF Ambassadors should be residents of an African country, under forty-two years of age, have completed advanced studies in science, technology or have significant entrepreneurial achievements. They should also have a track record of leadership in their community, be passionate about promoting science and technology, and have an active online profile and following. Applications are available at www.NEF.org/ambassadors and will be received until 26 May 2017. The final list of NEF Ambassadors will be published in September 2017. See the NEF Ambassadors video teaser here (http://APO.af/CiZbDv).

African Capital Markets Activity Decline in 2016 Amidst Economic Uncertainty and Global Political Upheaval, says PwC Report

2016 marked a challenging year for African equity markets in the wake of lower economic growth and political upheaval around the globe, largely as a result of the US elections cycle and the Brexit vote. African equity capital markets (ECM) broke a streak of three successive years of growth, recording a decline in overall ECM activity of 28% from 2015 in the number of transactions and 33% from 2015 in terms of capital raised. PwC’s 2016 Africa Capital Markets Watch publication analyses equity and debt capital markets transactions that took place between 2012 and 2016 on exchanges throughout Africa, as well as transactions by African companies on international exchanges. ECM transactions included in the analysis comprise capital raising activities, whether initial public offerings (IPOs) or further offers (FOs), by African companies on exchanges worldwide, as well as those made by non-African companies on African exchanges. Debt capital markets (DCM) transactions analysed include debt funding raised by African companies and public institutions. Many African economies, in particular those dependent on resources suffered in a low growth environment, significantly reducing ECM activity, and a continued lack of clarity around foreign exchange risk in Nigeria further discouraged foreign investment. Although overall ECM activity decreased in 2016 in terms of both transaction volume and value as compared to 2015, there was a significant increase in ECM activity, particularly IPOs, in the second half of the year, indicating the cautious optimism of issuers and investors as the year progressed. Since 2012, there have been 450 African ECM transactions raising a total of $44.9bn, up 8% in terms of capital raised over the previous five-year period 2011-2015.

Call for Applicants for 7th Orange Social Venture Prize in Africa and the Middle East

Applications for the 7th edition of the Orange Social Venture Prize in Africa and the Middle East (OSVPAM) are being accepted until 6 June 2017 21:00 GMT in the “Orange Social Venture Prize” pages of the website www.EntrepreneurClub.orange.com. As in previous years, the OSVPAM will be awarded to innovative projects which make use of information and communication technologies to improve living conditions for the peoples of Africa and the Middle East in fields such as health, finance, education and agriculture. New for this 7th edition, the competition will start with a national phase during which each of Orange’s 17 participating subsidiaries will examine projects submitted in its country and will designate three winners. The next phase will be an international one in which the winners of each country – 51 in all – will compete before an international panel of judges for the OSVPAM Grand Prize, with three winners receiving their awards during the AfricaCom Awards Ceremony in Cape Town, South Africa, on 8 November 2017. In addition to national prizes, the three international winners will receive 25,000 euros, 15,000 euros and 10,000 euros respectively, along with support from professionals in start-up creation and funding. OSVPAM is open to any student, employee or entrepreneur over the age of 21 whose initiative is less than 3 years old and who lives in Botswana, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea-Conakry, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Niger, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Senegal, Tunisia, Jordan, Liberia or Burkina Faso.

GE Oil & Gas Expands Global Footprint with new Sub-Saharan Africa Facility

GE Oil & Gas has opened a new facility in Takoradi Port, Ghana, expanding its global footprint and supporting local investment. The company committed to deliver more than 45,000 training hours for Ghanaian personnel over the next five years, as it seeks to build a world-class team locally. The facility, which will be the primary service centre for deep-water offshore projects in Ghana, has a 1,600 square meters indoor test area with capability for testing three subsea trees (XTs) simultaneously, and 4,000 square meters of indoor and outdoor storage. This new infrastructure is already playing a critical role in supporting the installation for Eni’s Offshore Cape Three Points (OCTP) project - for which GE Oil & Gas is supplying subsea and turbomachinery equipment - and will support the local community by helping to provide direct employment opportunities. It will also provide welcome support for the local supply chain, and for small and medium-sized enterprises.

IFC raises $500 million to Expand Financing for Emerging Market Projects

More than 40 institutional investors across the world, including central banks, official institutions, pension funds, and fund managers, have invested in the IFC’s $500m Social Bond program. The three-year global benchmark bond was 1.4 times oversubscribed. Maturing in March 2020, the bond was priced at 99.942% with a coupon of 1.75%. The IFC’s Social Bond Program was launched to expand financing for projects that benefit women-owned enterprises and low-income communities in emerging markets. IFC said that the program will provide finance to companies that buy from smallholder farmers, provide utilities for low-income households, offer affordable health services, education, or housing to low-income people. The funds will also be used to support financial institutions that lend to women-owned enterprises. The investors in the issue included Affirmative Investment Management, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, Calvert Research and Management, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the Praxis Impact Bond Fund, QBE Group, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and the United Nations Development Programme. The size of the issuance helps deepen the market for a new but rapidly growing category of sustainability bonds. IFC established the Social Bond Program to meet investor demand for regular benchmark issuance by merging two existing socially responsible bond products—the Banking on Women Bond Program and the Inclusive Business Bond Program. Those two programs have raised $268m and $296m respectively since 2013.

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