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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.

UK Public Backs International Students Migration

A ComRes poll conducted for Universities UK in April found that 73% of the British public would like to see the same number or more international students coming to study in the UK, after discovering the contribution they make to the economy and jobs. The survey found that two-thirds (64%) of British adults think international students have a positive impact on the local economies of the towns and cities in which they study; and 61% believe that international students also have a valuable social and cultural impact on university towns and cities. Three out of four also believe that international students should be allowed to work in the UK for a fixed period after they have graduated, rather than returning immediately to their home country after completing their studies. Since the 1990s immigration for study for a year or more has more than doubled. Much of the increase happened from the early 2000s, reaching a peak of 238,000 in 2010. Since then the Home Office has introduced numerous measures to strengthen compliance with its sponsored study (Tier 4) route for non-EU nationals entering the country and tighten conditions for sponsors or recruiters of international students, and immigration for study has fallen. These measures have included the removal of the right to work for international students other than at higher education institutions (2011), closure of the post-study work route for new entrants (2012), a five-year time limit on study for bachelor and masters degrees (2012), giving immigration officers the power to refuse applicants if there are doubts about their genuineness (2012), reducing a sponsor’s acceptable refusal rate from 20% of applications to 10% (2014), and making sponsors apply for accreditation every year (2010). Also, since 2010 there has been a shift away from international recruitment for the further education sector towards recruitment to the higher education sector. Four-fifths of non-EU nationals immigrating for formal study now apply for higher education. There has also been a shift in where students granted Tier 4 student entry clearance come from. The share coming from China changed from 15% in 2010 to 35% in 2016 and the share from India fell from 20% to 7% in those years.

Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust Accepting Applications for December Deadline

The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust is currently accepting applications across its priority areas. The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust (JRCT) is a Quaker trust which supports people who address the root causes of conflict and injustice. The Trust is interested in funding work which focuses on removing problems through radical solutions, and not simply about making problems easier to live with. Groups must have a clear sense of objectives and innovative and imaginative ideas. Applications are currently being accepted in the following priority areas: Peace and Security to support a transition towards the use of 'soft', rather than 'hard' power as a first line of response to conflict within society and around the world; Power and Accountability to support people to create a world in which power is more equally shared, and in which powerful institutions are responsive and accountable to wider society and aligned with the long-term public interest. Rights and Justice to promote racial justice and equality of opportunity as a basis for a harmonious multi-racial, multi-ethnic society in the UK, Sustainable Future to develop and promote sustainable, low-carbon alternatives to the current consumerist and growth-based paradigm, and Northern Ireland to fund work which will contribute as a strategic level to the ongoing transformation of the Northern Ireland conflict. JRCT accepts applications from registered, excepted or exempt charities based within the UK that are undertaking work at a national level. This means work that seeks to make positive change across the UK as a whole, or across one or more of its member countries - England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. The deadline for applications for Power & Accountability, Rights & Justice, Northern Ireland, Sustainable Future and Cross Cutting applications is 4 December 2017 (12 noon). The deadline for Peace & Security applications is 10 December 2017 (12 noon). The next deadlines will be in March and April 2018. Further information and an online application form can be found on the Trust's website.

Poor Careers Advice Could Cost UK £90bn a Year

Businesses and schools must work together to improve awareness of career options, because bad jobs advice could cost the UK £90bn in lost GDP a year, a new report has warned. In a survey of 2,000 secondary school teachers, parents and careers advisers by Kier Construction, almost three-quarters (74 per cent) of parents said they felt careers advice was too focused on academia, and 68 per cent said their children did not receive enough careers advice at school. More than half of pupils (65 per cent) aged 11-13 got no official advice and 27 per cent of 13 to 15-year-olds received just one hour. The lack of understanding about the range of career paths available to children, combined with Brexit uncertainties and recruitment shortfalls, could cost the UK £90bn GDP from the construction industry alone, the report warned. Experts have also cautioned that a lack of detailed careers advice could affect the future employability prospects of children.

Women Feel Less Visible at Work than Men, Study Finds

Women feel less able to speak up in the workplace than their male counterparts, a new study has found. Just 8 per cent of women, in comparison to 15 per cent of men, said they found it easy to make their voice heard in the workplace. The women surveyed were also 60 per cent more likely than men to say they never felt comfortable expressing themselves in a work environment – 3.7 per cent of women compared to 2.2 per cent of men. The research from RADA in Business – a subsidiary of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art – revealed that, of the 1,000 business people who took part in the study, female respondents were 33 per cent more likely to feel uncomfortable in meetings with their manager than their male counterparts, and 12 per cent more likely to feel uncomfortable meeting with an organisation’s board members or senior management. Female respondents also typically said they felt more comfortable when meetings were limited to one-to-ones, rather than larger affairs.

UK Men and Younger Workers Moving Away from Full-time Roles, Finds Study

Most full-time employees in the UK now enjoy some degree of flexible working, with men and younger workers increasingly likely to shun the traditional nine-to-five, a study published today has found. Timewise’s survey of more than 3,000 people found that 63 per cent of permanent, full-time employees now work flexibly, using a broad definition of the term that includes those who often work from home, as well as people on reduced hours or flexible working patterns. Seven out of 10 millennials working full-time now do so flexibly, according to the research, and men (84 per cent) are almost as likely to want to work part-time or flexibly as women (91 per cent). Additionally, a quarter (25 per cent) of full-time workers said they would prefer to work part-time, even allowing for a reduced salary. Recent analysis of Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures suggested the UK now has more people who are overemployed and would like to reduce their hours than those looking for additional hours. However, the study showed that decisions about flexibility were still made locally by managers, rather than as part of a strategy, which meant flexibility was often incompatible with progression or was not accepted by managers. The survey found that fewer than one in 10 roles paying more than £20,000 on a full-time equivalent basis were advertised as being flexible. In August, the Equality and Human Rights Commission called for legislation to build flexibility into all recruitment advertising.

US Charges Highest University Fees in OECD

Full-time university students in America pay the highest tuition fees among the 30 nations covered in the latest OECD report, Education at a Glance 2017. The United States is by far the most expensive with annual fees exceeding US$8,000 a year in public universities and more than US$20,000 in private institutions. In a third of the countries evaluated, public universities do not impose any charge at all for bachelor degree students. In addition, in 10 of the countries annual fees are equivalent to less than US$4,000, whereas in Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand they exceed US$4,000 and are up to US$8,000 per year – that is, almost matching the US. Private universities are less bound by government regulations but are also less supported by public funding, the OECD report states. That means the institutions are more dependent on tuition fees as a revenue source, which is why private universities in America, Australia and Italy charge far higher fees than their public counterparts. In fact, the costs are US$4,000 a year more than in public universities. At least 75% of students in high-cost countries, however, have access to government-backed loans or scholarships and grants. Also, of the countries that impose tuition fees, half also vary the charges according to the field of study. Engineering, manufacturing, construction, social sciences, journalism and information, together with health and welfare, tend to have the highest costs, while education and information and communication technologies or ICT tend to have the lowest. The analysis found that institutions partly cover their costs, other than through charging students and their families, by tapping into internal resources such as endowments, or by raising revenue from other sources. The rest has to be met from fees. Financially backing students and their families enables governments to encourage participation in education, while also indirectly funding universities, the report says. Channelling funding to institutions through students may also help increase competition among the universities and encourage them to better respond to student needs. According to the OECD data, the difference in fees between public and private institutions tends to be very large in several countries. In Australia, Japan and South Korea, the average tuition fee for a bachelor degree is more than US$8,000 in private universities, compared with between US$4,500 and US$5,300 in the public institutions. In the United States, the average annual tuition fee in independent private universities to complete a bachelor degree is more than two-and-a-half times the average charge in the public institutions. In Italy, they are about three times as high and up to 60% higher in the French community of Belgium, and in Hungary and Israel. Elsewhere, the difference at the bachelor level is much smaller or non-existent: Neither public nor private universities charge tuition fees in Finland, Slovenia and Sweden. A third of OECD countries charge similar tuition fees to full-time students in public universities regardless of the level of the programme – bachelor, masters or PhD. In public institutions in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Norway, Poland, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia (except for doctoral programmes), Sweden and Turkey there are no fees.

Half of Brits ‘don’t have the digital skills employers need’

Almost half (43 per cent) of UK adults don’t possess the digital skills required by most job vacancies, research published has found. The study by Barclays, which surveyed 6,000 adults and assessed 88,000 job adverts, revealed that nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of jobs now require digital competencies such as word processing, database, spreadsheet or social media skills, but many UK jobseekers failed to match up. However, Barclays also discovered that employers were willing to pay a premium for those workers whose IT skills went beyond the basic and included programming and software design. Staff with these skills can typically expect to command £10,000 more per year than less tech-savvy job hunters.

Only One-Third of UK HR managers ‘confident they are not prejudiced’ when Hiring

Just a third (32 per cent) of UK HR managers report feeling confident they are not prejudiced when hiring staff, according to a controversial new study. Close to half (48 per cent) admitted bias affects their candidate choice, while a further 20 per cent said they could not be sure they acted without bias when recruiting, the figures from digital recruitment platform SomeoneWho revealed. Around three-quarters (74 per cent) of respondents reported witnessing discrimination during the course of a recruitment process, while a quarter (25 per cent) said they observed discrimination during recruitment on a regular basis. The figures are likely to prompt widespread debate, though there is no suggestion that HR professionals are more likely to be biased than other functions with hiring responsibility, and the survey itself offers no comparison or broader context. The study also focused predominantly on HR roles in small businesses. It is no surprise that bias creeps into the interview room to some extent, but the research shows that an alarming number of HR managers are actively ruling out candidates based on factors that are discriminatory – education, accent or gender – which is clearly unacceptable, says the organisation, pointing out that one in ten respondents admitted they would avoid hiring a woman applying for a male-dominated role, and a similar proportion (11 per cent) said they would be reluctant to recruit a recently married woman, as they were more likely to go on maternity leave soon. A fifth (18 per cent) of HR managers said they would overlook a pregnant candidate. Meanwhile, 10 per cent would reject someone who went to a state school and 8 per cent would cast aside someone who was privately educated. Around a tenth (11 per cent) would decline a candidate whose accent was hard to understand, and 4 per cent would reject them if their name was hard to pronounce.

UK Women ‘tolerating high levels of workplace stress’, Finds Study

Women are putting up with high levels of stress and unhappiness in the workplace, with new research revealing that 70 per cent ranked their stress levels at five or higher out of 10. The findings from global management consultancy Lee Hecht Harrison Penna also showed that almost half (52 per cent) of women worked at least one additional hour per day, while a similar proportion (51 per cent) would not seek the same kind of career if they lost their job tomorrow. This research indicates that women are tolerating higher levels of stress and unhappiness at work than they should be. Of course, feeling pressure at work is somewhat inevitable, but we shouldn’t accept that full-blown stress or unhappiness at work is just a given, said Mel Barclay, head of career transition at Lee Hecht Harrison Penna. Women are not alone in facing difficulties achieving work-life balance. A global study of 250,000 participants by the University of Georgia, published in July, found that men were struggling to juggle work and family life just as much as women, but felt less able to talk about the issue openly because they feared negative career repercussions or threats to their masculinity.

African Innovation Foundation - Call for Applications: Innovation Prize for Africa 2018 Awards “Investing In Inclusive Innovation Ecosystems”

The African Innovation Foundation (AIF) has announced the seventh edition of the Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) (www.InnovationPrizeForAfrica.org) themed “investing in inclusive innovation ecosystems” thereby inviting submissions (http://APO.af/etvQr6) to reward the best home-grown innovations on the continent. The annual Award seeks to celebrate outstanding breakthroughs that deliver practical, and commercially viable African solutions that are innovative and sustainable. With each edition, IPA has gone from strength to strength attracting innovators across disciplines and with outstanding solutions to African challenges. The call for entries will run for three months with a submission deadline of 10 January 2018 at 23:59pm GMT. IPA’s goal is to strengthen African innovation ecosystems by supporting a culture of innovation and competitiveness, whilst spurring growth of innovative, market-driven African solutions to African challenges. Specifically, IPA honours and encourages pioneering achievements that contribute towards developing new products, increasing efficiency and/or saving cost in Africa. Applications will be accepted from all Africans including those living in the diaspora. This edition encourages greater participation from women innovators who are increasingly playing a key role in driving African economies forward through business and entrepreneurship.  The submissions will be judged on the backdrop of IPA’s themes supporting social and economic innovation in the following five categories: manufacturing and service industry; health and well-being; agriculture and agri-business; environment, energy and water; and ICT showcasing ground-breaking innovations. IPA 2018 winners will be announced at an annual ceremony in July 2018. The Award is the leading innovation event on the African calendar, bringing together some of Africa’s most inspiring innovators and entrepreneurs, leaders of hubs and accelerators, angel and venture capital investors, development institutions, government leaders, media practitioners and  other game changers. This year’s theme ‘Investing in Inclusive Innovation Ecosystems’ calls for African governments and innovation stakeholders to invest in building bridges for more inclusive ecosystems that will accelerate and scale African innovation at all levels of society. The aim is to increase access to innovative financing and know-how and to enhance collaboration between African nations to enable local innovators to access higher value markets for their solutions at a faster rate. In addition to the lucrative share prize of US$ 185 000 cash, selected innovators are offered many opportunities including access to the AIF networks via its platform, ZuaHub (www.ZuaHub.org), where AIF connects innovators with resources and help them grow. The selection process will be led by an expert panel based on their knowledge and experience within the aforementioned IPA five key sectors as well as their influence and contributions to the tech and business industry on the African continent. For more details, please check this link (http://APO.af/8S5lc3) and apply for IPA 2018 NOW by clicking here (http://APO.af/Chb1YA). Watch the video (http://APO.af/GDvzdR) for all the information you need on IPA 2018.

Marriott International Continues Expansion in Africa to Generate $8.5 billion Investment and 50,000 Jobs

Marriott International has announced further expansion plans in Africa with seven new hotel signings. Marriott International was the first global chain to make a significant investment in Africa with the acquisition of Protea Hotels for $210 million in 2014. The company is targeting over 200 hotels with 37,000 rooms open or in the pipeline by 2022, equating to around $8.5 billion of capital investment by its real estate partners, reinforcing its continued commitment to expansion in Africa and solidifying its leadership on the continent. The investment is expected to generate substantial economic activity and around 50,000 direct and indirect jobs once the hotels open. Today Marriott International hotels are present in 20 African countries: Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia. The company is expected to foray into new markets including Benin, Botswana, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, and Senegal and has signed 1300 new rooms marking the debut of Marriott International into Ivory Coast while strengthening its presence in existing markets including Ethiopia, Ghana and Nigeria.

Dangote signs $450million jumbo sugar production Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Niger State

In a move for self-sufficiency in sugar production through the government’s backward integration policy, Dangote Group has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the State Government for the establishment of a jumbo $450million state-of–art and fully integrated sugar complex. On completion, according to the President of the Group Aliko Dangote, the project will generate over 15,000 jobs in the state and bring about a complete economic turn-around for the state. The $450million pact will see the company producing raw sugarcane on 16,000 hectares of land at Lavun Local Government through an out-grower scheme. The company, which is currently operating out-grower schemes in rice production in several states, has Africa’s largest sugar refinery in Lagos and a sugar cane plantation in Adamawa State. Dangote said his investment was informed by his Company’s firm belief in the potentials of the Nigerian economy, adding that the new outlay will add value and create jobs for Nigerians.

Absa Bank Limited and China Development Bank Conclude a $100 million Agreement

Absa Bank Limited, a subsidiary of the Barclays Africa Group, has successfully concluded a five-year $100 million Special Facility Agreement with the China Development Bank (CDB). This is the first major transaction between the two lenders and is geared towards providing funding to Small and Medium Enterprises (SME). This will also benefit BAGL’s existing and prospective SME clients across the continent, which will be reached through its 12-country presence. The initial drawdown is based on Absa’s current funding needs, and may be increased in the future to assist with new funding opportunities within BAGL’s operations. China Development Bank, one of the biggest lenders in Africa, was founded in 1994 as a development financial institution under the leadership of China’s State Council. The bank has assets of circa $2 trillion, and is the world’s largest development finance institution. Furthermore, CDB is the largest Chinese bank for foreign investment and financing co-operation, long-term lending and bond issuance.

Stanford Graduate School Launches Two Educational Opportunities to Empower Youth and Entrepreneurs in Southern Africa

Stanford Graduate School of Business has announced a USD $3 million, three-year partnership with De Beers Group to empower young, budding entrepreneurs and owners of established businesses in Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa through two new educational programs launching in 2018. Stanford is expanding two of its successful programs to Southern Africa: the Seed Transformation Program and the Stanford Go-to-Market program for accelerating business ventures to market. These programs exemplify Stanford GSB’s commitment to creating lasting global impact by bringing the Stanford experience to new regions, engaging promising business leaders globally, transferring knowledge, and building relationships. Through these new programs, Stanford GSB has an opportunity to share insights through hands-on management education for students, while also gaining a better understanding of the business climate and unique economic attributes of Southern Africa. The Seed Transformation Program launched in West Africa in 2013 and expanded to East Africa in 2016, and will open a third location in India later this month. Faculty, staff, and coaches have trained more than 500 business leaders with the goal of promoting prosperity in these regions. Both the Seed Transformation Program and Stanford Go-to-Market program will be headquartered at the Botswana Innovation Hub, a science and technology park in Gaborone, Botswana. The initiative will be supported by a range of government entities in Botswana, including the Botswana Innovation Hub, the Botswana Ministry of Tertiary Education, and the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport & Culture Development.

South Africa’s Graduate Unemployment Rate Set to Rise, says Research

The rise in unemployment in South Africa is expected to continue until 2018 with graduates most affected, according to Professor Carel van Aardt, a researcher at the Bureau of Market Research at Unisa. His prediction follows Statistics South Africa’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey which showed another increase in the unemployment rate which was at 27.7%, from the 26.5% in the last quarter. The increase marked the highest unemployment rate in the past 14 years. the Bureau of Market Research conducted research to predict economic trends for 2017 and 2018. “It appears from this analysis that economic growth rates will be below 1% in 2017 and 2018, while the elasticity rate between GDP and employment growth will weaken further to 0.3%. As a result, the number of unemployed will grow by more than a million between 2016 and 2018,” he said. Van Aardt said this would result in increased unemployment among graduates as well. The absorption rate of new graduates and economically inactive graduates returning to the labour market was on the decline.

Partnership to Introduce Liberia’s First PhD Programmes

The Association of Liberian Universities has signed a memorandum of understanding with Ghana Technology University College and the MS Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences in India to deliver the first ever PhD programmes in Liberia. The programmes which are in the areas of engineering and technology, pharmacy, dental sciences, management and commerce, science and humanities, art and design, and hospitality management and catering technology are expected to roll out by the close of the year. The programmes are an important step to delivering higher education in Liberia.

Ghana’s Economy Records 9% Growth in Quarter 2

Ghana’s economy grew by 9 percent in the second quarter of 2017, the highest recorded since the third quarter of 2014 when it grew by 13.5 percent, according to the Ghana Statistical Services (GSS). Compared to same to period last year, the economy grew by 1.1 percent; and 6.6 percent compared to quarter one of 2017. Measured in monetary terms, the oil GDP estimate at current prices at purchaser’s value for the second quarter of 2017 was GH?45.3 billion compared to GH?38 billion in the same period last year; and GH?44.7 billion in the first quarter this year. The non-oil GDP estimate at current prices for the second quarter of 2017 was GH?43.3 billion compared to GH?37.6 billion in same period last year. This, Acting Government Statistician, Baah Wadieh said, is attributable to the improvement in oil production which sped up growth in the mining and quarrying subsector. Health and social work also grew by 18 percent; information and communication by 15. 6 percent; water and sewage by 13.3 percent; education by 9.6 percent, crops by 8.3 percent, and cocoa growing at 15.6 percent. The contribution of the mining and quarrying subsector far outstrips the other sectors and due to the input of oil and gas production, that subsector grew by 188 percent. The services sector remains the largest contributor to GDP, even though industry outpaced it in terms of the growth of rate for the period. The sector’s contribution to GDP was 62 percent, followed by industry which recorded 26.5, with agriculture trailing at 11.5 percent. Meanwhile, the services sector grew by 5.6 percent; industry 19.3 percent; and agriculture grew at 3.4 percent. The managers of the economy have set end of year overall GPD target of 6.3 percent, and non-oil rate at 4.6 percent.

Burundi Launches First Doctoral School

Burundi’s first doctoral school, to be located at the University of Burundi, has been launched. The new school is geared towards developing scientific capacity for sustainable development and meeting the challenge of graduate employability, according to Juma Shabani, the school’s director. The concept of a doctoral school emerged from the implementation of the Bologna process of building the European Higher Education Area. A doctoral school provides doctoral education in one or all the university’s disciplines. The concept differs from a school of postgraduate studies which encompasses training for PhD and masters degrees as well as postgraduate diplomas. Burundi's doctoral school will also contribute to the training of academic staff and researchers needed by the other higher education institutions. The University of Burundi is also expected to play a major role in facilitating the integration of the country’s institutions into the East African Community Common Higher Education Area that was launched on 20 May 2017. Registration will be open to all Burundian citizens as well as students from the East African Community and the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries. Priority will be given to assistant lecturers of the University of Burundi. Priorities for the doctoral school include the development of a virtual library, the organisation of lectures and research programmes, and preparation for student exchanges to some universities in Belgium and the East African Community sub-region. The new school faces challenges including the inadequacy of qualified academic staff and researchers required to supervise PhD students, insufficient research laboratories and up-to-date scientific journals. Out of 127 countries, Burundi ranks 122nd in the Global Innovation Index 2017 report entitled “Innovation Feeding the World” which surveys economies using metrics ranging from patent filings to education spending and provides policy-makers with a high-level take on innovative activity that drives economic and social growth. Burundi was ranked 117 for tertiary education enrolment, 114 for human capital and research, 124 for knowledge and technology outputs, 104 for university-industry research collaboration, 99 for gross expenditure on research and development, and 100 for graduates in science and engineering. In order to meet its challenges, the University of Burundi will implement a system of co-supervision of theses in collaboration with experts and researchers from universities in the North and South, and facilitate student mobility aimed at the use of world-class research laboratories. In this regard, the University of Burundi has already signed more than 20 partnership agreements with African and European universities.

Tanzania Signs Contract for Largest Medical Equipment Factory in Africa

Tanzania plans to construct the largest medical equipment manufacturing factory in Africa. The Government has signed a contract with Neusoft Medical Systems Company Ltd from China. The new development will be capable of designing and manufacturing a wide range of medical products. The products will nevertheless help diagnose, monitor and treat diseases and conditions that affect humans. The facility should be capable of manufacturing Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and X-ray machines. The factory will be the largest in Africa and will not only manufacture medical equipment but also offer training to local medical specialists. Additionally, this initiative will benefit the country in terms of the new technology that the Chinese company have. Manufacturing of the medical equipment will take place in Tanzania and buyers will be able to buy the equipment directly at lower prices.

Kenya Tops Financial Inclusion Ratings

Kenya tops the world in financial inclusion, with latest reports giving the country a rating of up to 86 per cent above global heavy weights like Brazil. According to the 2017 Brookings Financial and Digital Inclusions Project Report released early this week, the country emerged top among 26 countries that provide easy access to financial services to under-served people, beating Brazil, South Africa and Nigeria who scored 79, 78 and 74 per cent respectively. The analysis was based on four dimensions of financial inclusions which saw Kenya achieve an 89 per cent score on country commitment, 89 per cent on mobile capacity, 94 per cent on regulatory environment, and 78 per cent on adoption of mobile money services. The study came on the heels of the Oxford Business Group’s banking inclusion report which showed that 75 per cent of Kenya’s population live within a three-kilometre radius of a financial institution. The report shows that although commercial banks operating in Kenya have declined from 43 in 2015 to 41 this year, the country is way ahead of other leading economies in the continent like South Africa and Nigeria who have higher population. Only 22 commercial banks are operating in Nigeria against a population of 180 million while South Africa has 19 commercial banks serving 55 million people. Kenya’s population currently stand at 44.2 million. The country’s financial inclusion has been on an upwards trend, rising from 59 per cent in 2013 to 73 per cent in 2015 when the country had 1,523 bank branches. The inclusion rate rose to 75 per cent this year on the back of increased agency banking services. According to the report, the country had 40,224 agents linked to 17 commercial banks by March last year, conducting 79 million transactions valued at Sh442.2 billion. Additionally, Kenya has 13 micro-finance banks and 77 foreign exchange bureaus. The market has over 4,000 saving and credit cooperative societies (Saccos), 180 dully licensed by the Sacco Societies Regulatory Authority.

Uganda Mobile Money Transactions Hit New Heights

A report by Bank of Uganda found that the annual amount of money transferred through mobile money totalled Shs 43.83tn in 2016, up from Shs 32.7tn in 2015. This accounts for a 34 per cent jump in value. BOU said the volume of transactions also increased by 40.5 per cent to 974.7 million in 2016 from 693.3 million a year before. The growth is attributed to the convenience of the platform that allows users to send money at their own time of convenience. As at December 31, 2016 there were seven mobile money service providers: MTN, Airtel, Uganda Telecom, Africell, M-Cash, EzeeMoney and Micro Pay. Uganda Communications Commission 2015/16 annual market and industry report said the number of registered mobile money telephone lines increased to 21.5 million as at the end of 2016 from 21.1 million as at end of December 2015.

Women ‘tolerating high levels of workplace stress’, finds Study

Women are putting up with high levels of stress and unhappiness in the workplace, with new research revealing that 70 per cent ranked their stress levels at five or higher out of 10. The findings from global management consultancy Lee Hecht Harrison Penna also showed that almost half (52 per cent) of women worked at least one additional hour per day, while a similar proportion (51 per cent) would not seek the same kind of career if they lost their job tomorrow. 

Wafacash and WorldRemit expand partnership to offer instant money transfers across West and Central Africa

Morocco-based financial services company Wafacash is scaling up operations with leading digital money transfer service WorldRemit to offer instant money transfers across West and Central Africa. The companies already work together in Morocco and Senegal, but will expand into Cameroon, Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger and Cote D’Ivoire before the end of the year. The new service will let WorldRemit customers in over 50 countries transfer money as easily as sending an instant message, using the app or website. WorldRemit’s digital, mobile-first model significantly improves security and compliance standards. Senders no longer need to visit a bricks and mortar agent, which can be inconvenient and time consuming - often forcing hard working migrants to take time off work to stand in line. Wafacash is a subsidiary of Attijariwafa Bank, one of Africa’s major banking institutions. It has a reputation for excellent customer service, and ambitious regional growth plans. The company currently has pay-out points at Wafacash offices and Attijariwafa Bank branches and agents, enabling customers to pick up funds quickly and conveniently. Remittances in the region have experienced a decade of strong growth, amounting to a projected $34 billion across Sub-Saharan Africa in 2017. According to the World Bank, the value of remittances to Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire and Senegal grew by an estimated 86%, 130% and 74% respectively, between 2006 and 2015. Morocco alone received over$7 billion in 2015 according to the World Bank, the equivalent of 7% of its GDP.

Oil Offers Uganda Major Opportunities, says IMF

The International Monetary Fund recently stated that the oil reserves in Uganda may account for around four percent of the country’s economy annually in the next few years if managed well.  The anticipated positive economic impact in Uganda from the oil and gas sector is promising but the full effect of this will only benefit the country and its citizens through judicious planning and implementation of the proposed pipeline. Uganda is a new entrant into the oil and gas market. The proposed oil pipeline stretching from Uganda oil fields to the Tanzanian port of Tanga will be the world’s longest electrically heated crude oil pipeline. It is estimated to be one of the most expensive projects to develop upstream, midstream and downstream infrastructure and the country is looking to capitalize on lessons learned in other developing oil & gas markets, as well as from established producers.

Ratings Agency, Standard & Poors Affirms Nigeria Ratings at ‘B/B’; Outlook Stable.

The rating agency says Nigeria’s economic outlook is stable on the back of oil sector growth. The Nigerian Government depends largely on oil for its revenue, thus a positive outlook suggests the recent economic growth currently being experienced in the country may continue to improve. S&P says Nigeria’s stable outlook signals assessment that oil sector improvements will support higher economic growth, fiscal revenues, among other things. S&P says Nigeria’s stable outlook signals assessment that oil sector improvements will also support higher current account receipts over next 12 months. Improvements experienced in 2017 with higher oil production will help increase foreign currency supply and keep current account in balance. S&P says ratings on Nigeria constrained by view of low level of economic wealth, weak external position, among other things. S&P says ratings on Nigeria also constrained by view of real GDP per capita trend growth rates below those of peers with similar levels of development, and future policy responses that may be difficult to predict.

East Africa attracts $1.6 Billion in Foreign Capital

East Africa has received $1.6 billion from foreign investors, Kenya taking the bulk of the 55 deals recorded in the past eight months. Data from I&M Burbidge Capital shows that the initial public offering of Vodacom Tanzania, and the purchase of Sadolin Paints by Japanese firm the Kansai Paint were some of the region’s biggest deals. The Vodacom IPO raised $213 million, with foreign investors buying 40 per cent. Tanzania emerged as the second largest market for private equity deals, with most of the capital going into communication, infrastructure and resources sectors. It is followed by Uganda and Rwanda. Executive director of the East Africa Private Equity & Venture Capital Association (EAVCA) Eva Wairigia attributed the rise in private equity activity in the region over the past two years to both macro factors and industry development.

NEPAD Launches 5% Agenda initiative for infrastructure financing in Africa

The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) - African Union’s economic development programme – has launched its 5% Agenda campaign. The launch took place five years after a January 2012 African Union Summit adopted the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) which sets out 51 cross-border infrastructure programmes and more than 400 actionable projects in four sectors. According to the World Bank, the continent needs to spend $93 billion annually (44% for energy; 23% for water and sanitation; 20% for transport; 10% for ICTs; and 3% for irrigation) until 2020 to bridge its infrastructure gap, which is currently removing an estimated 2% of GDP growth every year. On the other hand, Africa only managed to close 158 project finance deals with debt totalling $59 billion over the decade 2004-2013, which represents only 5 percent of infrastructure investment needs and 12 percent of the actual financial flows. The 5% Agenda campaign highlights that only a collaborative public-private approach can efficiently tackle these issues and calls for allocations of institutional investors to African infrastructure to be increased to the declared 5% mark. The launch of the campaign gathered high-level international investors and business leaders, including members of the PIDA Continental Business Network (CBN) which is spearheaded by NEPAD and constitutes a CEO-level private sector infrastructure leaders dialogue platform on PIDA. According to a 2016 McKinsey report, institutional investors and banks have $120 trillion in assets that could partially support infrastructure projects. Now more than ever, Africa needs to tap into this available. As banks face additional regulatory challenges and as governments have limited fiscal space, it is becoming increasingly urgent to unlock additional flows from long-term institutional investors such as insurers, pension funds, and sovereign wealth funds. For pension and sovereign wealth funds to be able to invest in large-scale infrastructure projects in Africa, a variety of issues need to be addressed to strategically and intentionally facilitate long-term allocations. Chief amongst these matters is the need to reform national and regional regulatory frameworks that guide institutional investment in Africa. Likewise, new capital market products need to be developed that can effectively de-risk credit and hence, allow these African asset owners to allocate finance to African infrastructure as an investable asset class to their portfolio. All these issues are at the heart of the 5% Agenda roadmap, which is the backbone of NEPAD’s campaign.

Siemens signs MoU with Madagascar to Accelerate Country’s Power Generation

Siemens has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Republic of Madagascar to cooperate and identify measures to fast track power generation in the country and work towards increasing capacity by an additional 300MW by 2019. Other key aspects of the agreement include an assessment of the electrical grid based on the new power generation sources; applying financing concepts that will ensure the long-term sustainability of these infrastructure initiatives; and creating opportunities for local upskilling and job creation during construction and operation. Currently, Madagascar has 676MW of installed generation capacity and it is estimated that access to electricity is around 20%. Opportunities exist to increase the installed capacity through hydropower and explore oil reserves to meet the targets set by government. The primary goal of this agreement is to increase national power generating capacity and to connect the local population to the power grid. A reliable and extensive power supply system is the fundamental prerequisite for economic growth, says the company.

Hilton Launches Africa Growth Initiative

Hilton has committed a total of $50 million over the next five years towards the Hilton Africa Growth Initiative to support the continued expansion of its Sub-Saharan African portfolio. These funds are intended to support the conversion of around 100 hotels (roughly 20,000 rooms) in multiple African markets into Hilton branded properties, namely into its flagship Hilton Hotels & Resorts brand, the upscale DoubleTree by Hilton and the recently launched Curio Collection by Hilton. These hotels will receive all the benefits associated with Hilton’s industry-leading brand proposition and world-class commercial platforms. Guests will also be able to take advantage of Hilton’s innovative technology platforms such as online check-in and the ability to choose individual rooms when booking via the Hilton Honors App. Hilton currently operates 19 hotels in the Sub Saharan Africa region with a further 29 in its pipeline. It has held a presence on the African continent for over 50 years.

European Business School Launches STEM Employability Program in Africa

One of Europe’s leading business schools, ESMT Berlin, has launched an innovative program designed specifically to strengthen the employability of mathematics and science graduates across Africa. Thirty graduates from ten African countries have started the first academic module of the Industry Immersion Program (IIP) in Cape Town, South Africa. Launched by ESMT Berlin and the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), the IIP is a six-month program that prepares mathematically and technically trained students to transition from an academic environment to an applied industry setting. The program includes two academic modules as well as a 12-week internship with industry partners across Africa. The academic aspect includes topics such as business etiquette and presentation skills, corporate strategy, finance and accounting, data analytics, and organizational behaviour. The Industry Immersion Program seeks to strengthen the employability of mathematically and scientifically excellent graduates from six AIMS campuses across Africa (Ghana, Senegal, Cameroon, Tanzania, South Africa and Rwanda) by providing a practically oriented and sustainable supplementary curriculum to those who seek a career in industry or in business. Currently, AIMS provides a world class postgraduate program in Mathematical Sciences to top graduates from across Africa. However, not all participants are suitable or desire to take the academic path to PhD level. So currently there is considerable wastage as participants who do not follow PhD level academic training return to their home countries without sufficient training to enter into the workforce or the ability to use their world-class quantitative training in business. The ESMT AIMS Industry Immersion Program aims to bridge this gap. Specifically, the programme will enable highly intelligent, scientifically trained African graduates to contribute to the economic transformation of Africa by immersing them in a practical, skills-based employability program to develop basic managerial and organizational skills in the cohort, facilitate potential entrepreneurs to succeed with their ideas by imparting an understanding of business and entrepreneurial principles, foster behavioural competences in participants that are demanded by employers globally and develop business linkages between African graduates and German business operating in Africa through internship and post-graduate employment.

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