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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.

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Applications Open for Thomas Gale Scholarship for SOAS Summer School

There are four scholarships available, two will be awarded to undergraduate students from the USA and two will be awarded to undergraduate students from Kenya. Students are able to apply for one of the three week summer school courses offered as part of SOAS Academic Summer School. This is a fully paid for scholarship, up to the value of £3,000. This amount covers the tuition fee, accommodation fee, flights, visa costs and a stipend for living costs. This scholarship is aimed at students who would not ordinarily be able to afford to come to SOAS Academic Summer School. Applicants must be a citizen of or ordinarily resident in Kenya or the US. International students who are studying in either of these countries are therefore not eligible for these awards. Applicants must be currently enrolled on an undergraduate programme at either a US or Kenyan university and must meet the general entrance and English language requirements for the Summer School as they are stated on the entry requirements page.

The Guardian Launches Positive BAME Action Work Programme

The Guardian believes there should be a better representation of our diverse society in journalism, and each summer offers up to 12 two-week placements for students or graduates from ethnic minority backgrounds. Successful applicants will learn about different aspects of the profession, gaining an insight into the workings of the newspaper, website and our multimedia department. At the end of the two weeks, we offer each participant a chance to come back and spend one more week with the desk that they felt was most useful and interesting for them. The initial two weeks take place over the summer (July - September). The third week can take place at any time up to one year afterwards to suit the desk and the student. During their time here, each student is also assigned a mentor. The scheme is unpaid, though reasonable daily travel expenses will be reimbursed. You can read more about the positive action scheme and what it meant to past participants here. To apply for the Journalism Positive Action Scheme (Ethnic minority), please click here

Boards with More Women 'deliver 36 per cent better return on equity'

Boards with more women on them make more money. This is according to the global stock market index MSCI that found companies with more women on their boards typically delivered a 36 per cent better return on equity. The report Women on Boards: Global Trends in Gender Diversity on Corporate Boards is a further boost to groups aiming to improve gender equality in the boardroom. It found that groups with strong female leadership delivered a 10.1 per cent equity return, opposed to a 7.4 per cent return for those companies without this characteristic. Some 1,643 companies were considered in the MSCI report, which defined 'strong female leadership' as one that had a female CEO and at least one other woman on the board. Due to limited historical data authors of the report said they could not prove 'causality' or clearly establish why more gender diverse boards exhibited some 'superior financial characteristics'. The MSCI research also found that companies with more women directors had, "fewer instances of governance-related controversies such as cases of bribery, corruption, fraud and shareholder battles". Yet despite this finding MSCI said it could not substantiate claims that women were more risk averse or that having more women on boards indicated stronger risk management. The MSCI report also examined barriers for women reaching board level and found that while women had less C-suite experience than men - often cited as a reason why there are fewer women directors - on the whole they "outpaced men in achieving advanced educational degrees". A glass ceiling effect may be in play here, the report noted, as the leadership experience of male and female directors were broadly similar across non C-suite roles. MSCI research has found that based on a 'business as usual' approach the 30 per cent goal for female directors will not be met until 2027. It suggested two alternative mechanisms to meet the target: the accelerated conversion approach; and accelerated turnover. The former approach would double the proportion of new board seats taken by women reducing the time it takes to meet the 30 per cent target by five years. Meanwhile the latter approach would keep the current rate of women taking new board seats at the historical rate but turnover of existing board seats would be increased to meet the 30 per cent by 2020 target.

Internet Has Changed Job Seeker's Behaviour, says Survey

Job search behaviour has changed dramatically as technology has evolved, but many employers and HR professionals still rely on traditional methods of finding and attracting talent, research has found. A survey on jobseeker trends revealed that a third of employees who changed jobs in 2014 rated internet sites as the most effective channel for finding a new post. Every year, nearly 20 per cent of workers around the world change jobs, with 55 per cent of jobseekers opting to use online recruitment sites to look for employment, the study suggests. But, while internet job adverts allow employers to reach a wide target audience, candidates are also able to subscribe to numerous job updates, and so spend more time casually browsing employment options, said Kazumasa Sakurai, partner at The Boston Consultancy Group (BCG), the firm that conducted the research. UK job seekers were particularly compelled by the success of online job searching, with 52 per cent of respondents stating that internet job sites were most effective and important in helping them find a new job. The joint study from BCG and research consultancy, Recruit Works Institute, questioned more than 13,000 people from 13 countries, to shed light on the channels used, time spent and the income change experienced by global jobseekers. Mobile recruitment continues to be one of the most popular methods of finding work, with 76 percent of respondents saying they access recruitment sites via a mobile electronic device with internet access, like a smartphone. When asked how long it took to find a new position, respondents in the UK spent an average of 14 weeks - compared to the global average of 13 weeks - nine weeks of research and applications, and a further five weeks until an offer was received. However, the survey found that UK job seekers were overwhelming more satisfied when they changed jobs, despite just 51 per cent receiving a salary increase with their move. This is compared to the global average of 57 per cent of respondents who received a pay rise as a result of changing jobs. While internet job sites were the preferred channel of highly educated individuals and those in developed countries, the majority of the 33 per cent of people who relied on referrals to find a new job, were less educated and older.

58% of UK Grads in Non-Graduate Job Roles Makes University a 'Gamble'

Young people are putting their future careers at risk because they don't understand the types of jobs that are available across the UK, a report from City and Guilds has warned. Demand for full-time undergraduate places at UK universities rose by 2 per cent in 2015, despite research suggesting that less than a third of roles will be available to graduates by the time they enter the jobs market. According to the 'Great Expectations' report, more than two thirds (68 per cent) of young people plan to go to university, despite a third of them not knowing what they would study. Just 19 per cent of the 3,000 14-19 year olds surveyed had considered alternative routes to work, including apprenticeships or employment schemes. Kirstie Donnelly, managing director of City and Guilds, said with the average debt on leaving university now standing at £44,000, many young people were staking a lot on a "far from certain outcome". According to the CIPD, a significant over-supply of young people joining the labour market from university had led to 58 per cent of graduates landing in non-graduate roles. The City and Guilds report suggested that a single-minded focus on university was in part down to poor quality careers advice given to young people about the workplace. Rather than giving careers advice based on real local labour market intelligence showing the jobs that will be available to them, 14-19 year olds are being exposed to a narrow range of careers, with a one-size-fits-all education route to get there, it said. Campaigners have suggested that greater careers advice and information on the local labour market should be extended to teachers, parents, and guardians who often play a big role in influencing young people's career decisions.

Applications Open for MSc Scholarships from Mo Ibrahim Foundation

The Centre of African Studies offers 3 MSc scholarships to African residents as part of the Governance for Development in Africa Initiative funded by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. In order to be considered for funding, applicants must first secure a place for the MSc by applying directly to the SOAS admissions office. Once the place is secured, the applicants can apply for the scholarship. Candidates will be assessed on academic merit by a panel consisting of SOAS academic members. The assessment of your application will be based on the information in your scholarship application. Selectors will be looking at the following: academic achievement and evidence of critical analytical capabilities; references; supporting statement; evidence of interest in and knowledge of linkages between governance and development. Please note that CAS reserves the right not to award scholarships and will only award them where there are applicants judged to meet sufficiently high academic standards and with demonstrable interests in fields relevant to the objectives of the GDAI. Deadline to apply: 30 April 2016

UK Racial Pay Gap Grows as Black Employees are Better Qualified

UK workers with degrees who identify as black, African, Caribbean, or black British earn 23 per cent less than their white counterparts on average, according to analysis from the TUC. In contrast 'unqualified' workers - those more likely to be in jobs at, or close to, the minimum wage - earn "virtually" the same amount irrespective of their ethnicity. But the racial pay gap widens as people attain higher levels of education, with black graduates earning £4.33 an hour less than a white employee with a degree. TUC analysis of the ONS Labour Force Survey figures found that the ethnicity pay gap is at its widest at degree level. Black workers with A-levels earn 14.3 per cent less on average than their white counterparts. At GCSE level, black employees typically get paid 11.4 per cent less than their white peers. The pay gap between white workers and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) employees, regardless of education, stands at 5.6 per cent. While the gap for black workers is much higher at 12.8 per cent. The TUC's findings come as British Prime Minister David Cameron has announced plans to force universities to release comprehensive data about the gender and socio-economic background of students who apply for places, the number offered places and the number of drop-outs. He attacked Britain's top universities for falling to recruit more black students, and said the fact that there are no black generals in the armed forces, and just 4 per cent chief executives from an ethnic minority in the FTSE100, "should shame our nation". The TUC has urged the government to tackle the growth of casualised work, which disproportionately affects BAME workers. It also encouraged employers to analyse and publish pay data by ethnicity as well as taking action to tackle discrimination in recruitment through measures such as anonymised CVs.

Poor UK Recruitment Policies Deter Thousands of Young People

Young people continue to fall victim to "broken recruitment processes" that leave many with lower self-esteem, and a negative impression of the industry they initially sought to break into, according to a joint report from Business in the Community (BITC) and City and Guilds Group. One in five (22 per cent) young people who had a bad experience of a recruitment process were put off a company completely, while one in ten was put off a whole sector, the survey of 4,000 young people revealed. The report warned that inadequate recruitment processes are putting talent pipelines in jeopardy, with the potential to significantly damage future success of the business. According to the survey, one in three young people found the job application process difficult, and of these, 44 per cent said they ended up losing confidence. This led to 26 per cent saying they were less likely to apply for other jobs. Recruiters are not making it any easier for young people struggling with the process: According to results of a 2015 BITC survey, while 39 per cent of businesses claim to ask for no previous experience for post school-leaver roles, 42 per cent of recruiters are asking what skills they can demonstrate. The survey is published alongside the launch of 'Future Proof', a new campaign from the business groups, to help breakdown barriers faced by 18-24 year olds entering the market. It includes online resources to help organizations break down some of the most common barriers faced by young people, including a lack of previous experience (57 per cent); location (41 percent of respondents); to not having the right qualifications (28 per cent); and the 'cost' of recruitment process (18 per cent).

Big Lottery Fund Launches Online Tool for VCSE Sector

The Big Lottery Fund, in partnership with the Cabinet Office, has developed a new online tool for voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations that are keen to improve their performance and sustainability. The new free online VCSE Strength Checker aims to help VCSE organisations across the UK to develop and improve their resilience by producing a free personalised report highlighting an organisation's key strengths and areas to help them become more effective, including sustainability, marketing, strategy and planning, track record, quality and impact. The Big Lottery Fund says that it will continue to work with the Cabinet Office to promote the tool and look for opportunities for development. Organisations will also be signposted to other sources of support and funding including social investment. Information generated through the report could also help organisations in planning funding bids to trusts and foundations. The Big Lottery Fund expects the tool to be most beneficial for small-to-medium organisations, although larger VCSEs are welcome to use it as well. The VCSE Strength Checker is available on the VCSE Strength Checker website Third sector organisations in Northern Ireland and Scotland will receive support through the Path to Impact project which will work with 100 VCSE organisations, 50 in each country, to help them better understand and strengthen their capacity. The Path to Impact project will use the online diagnostic Core Capacity Assessment Tool (CCAT) to help VCSE groups to better understand their strengths and areas for development, allow support providers and funders to deliver more targeted support, and provide a comparative dataset on the capacity of the NI and Scotland VCSE sectors for the first time. The project will also run workshops and one to one support for the groups that take part to help them understand and address the findings of the assessment, and share learning within the sector. Information on the Path to Impact project can be found on either the ACOSVO website or the Chief Officers 3rd Sector website

UK Employers Fail to give Fifth of New Joiners Appraisal after First Year, study reveals

Research released by Enterprise Study shows that a shocking number of employees do not offer annual performance reviews. Just one-in-five staff employed for longer than a year said they have yet to experience their first annual review. The survey of 2,168 full-time UK employees over the age of 21 found that 19 per cent of people in employment for a year hadn't had an appraisal yet. Of those who had been through one, 43 per cent had to request it themselves, with 27 per cent having to wait more than six months to have it. The findings reveal a disappointing level of employee neglect at an important early stage of these new-joiners careers. As well as revealing how a dearth of appraisals will impact morale, the research also exposed the reasons why employers were failing to sit down to discuss performance. Respondents identified managers 'being too busy' as the single-biggest reason for a lack of appraisals (38 per cent), with only 57 per cent of staff saying their managers initiated an appraisal themselves. The findings suggested that some employers believe their small size and more informal nature does not require a structured appraisal process. Staff said the fact they worked in a 'small environment' (35 per cent) was a key reason why appraisals didn't happen. Nearly a fifth (19 per cent) also blamed the 'informal setting' they worked in for 'not creating the need for an annual appraisal'.

Launch of the 2016 Edie Live Innovation Zone Competition

Edie Live's Innovation Zone Competition is specifically designed to promote and support innovation in the UK's sustainability space. The contest will identify the best ideas that can be turned into market-ready propositions. The competition scope includes, but is not limited to: energy efficiency; process/resource efficiency; circular economy and other new business models; onsite low-carbon or renewable energy solutions; building efficiency; low-carbon transport; energy storage; and smart management. Finalists will be given a dedicated poster site on the Innovation Zone at edie Live on 17-18 May 2016 at the NEC Birmingham, and the opportunity to showcase their innovation to an audience of investors and venture capitalists, along with the show's visitors from the business and public sector. They will also be invited to present their innovations for the judging panel and show visitors in the brand new presentation area. The overall winner of the Innovation Zone Competition will receive a £6,000 support package of services. This will include 15 hours' of legal advice from Pennington Manches and 25 hours' of commercialisation support services from CLT. The competition is open to UK SMEs (up to 250 employees and a turnover not exceeding €50 million) that have developed a new or emerging technology, system, process or business model. The deadline for receipt of applications is 18 March 2016. See the websitefor more details.

UK in Top Ten Countries Worldwide for Attracting Skilled Migrants

The UK is seventh in the world for its ability to attract, develop and retain highly-skilled migrants, a report has found. The study, the Global Talent Competitiveness Index, by Adecco Group, international business school INSEAD and the Human Capital Leadership Institute, found the UK had retained its 2014 spot as the seventh most talent competitive country. Also holding their places from 2014 were Switzerland (first place), Singapore (second), Luxembourg (third), the United States (fourth) and Sweden (sixth). Jumping from eighth in 2014 to become the fifth most talent completive country in 2015 was Denmark. The UK ranked fourth among countries most likely to attract businesses with foreign ownership and seventh as the country most likely to attract international students. However, it ranked lower for other factors, including 56th for attracting female graduates and 71st for the gender earnings gap. The report comes as the UK government seeks to tighten up on migration, with Prime Minister David Cameron pledging to cut net-migration to tens of thousands. The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), the body commissioned by the government to look at Tier 2 visas, the route by which most non-EU highly-skilled workers enter the UK, has today published its recommendations. To restrict the volumes of Tier 2 migrants MAC has proposed raising the overall salary threshold from the current £20,800 to £30,000, with a lower threshold of £23,000 for graduates. It has also recommended an immigration skills charge of £1,000 per year for each Tier 2 migrant employed by UK companies to incentivise employers to reduce reliance on migrant workers and encourage investment in training UK employees. MAC has also recommended tightening the Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) route, which allows multinational companies to transfer key personnel from overseas branches to the UK for temporary periods of up to five years.

2016 European Business Awards Launched

The European Business Awards recognise and promote excellence, best practice and innovation across the European business community. The annual Awards are judged in line with the broad aims of the European Union, and recognise the achievement of companies that have successfully developed and implemented winning growth strategies, exceptional ethical credentials, outstanding customer focus and forward-thinking innovations. Applications for 2016 are invited under the following categories: The RSM Entrepreneur of the Year Award; The Business of the Year Award with Turnover of €0-25m; The Business of the Year Award with Turnover of €150m or higher; The Business of the Year Award with Turnover of €26-150m; The UKTI Award for Innovation; The ELITE Award for Growth Strategy of the Year; The Award for Environmental & Corporate Sustainability; The Employer of the Year Award; The Award for Customer Focus; and The Import/Export Award. The deadline for applications is 15 July 2016. See the website for more details.

Black African Graduates 'Most Overqualified' in UK

Figures show that 40 per cent of Black African graduates face discrimination in the jobs market. A report compiled by Joseph Rowntree Foundation for the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has made recommendations following the revelation that Black African graduates top the list as the most overqualified in jobs suggesting that they face greater discrimination. According to the report, 40.8 per cent of black African graduates are currently overqualified for the roles that they work - the largest proportion of any group, followed by Bangladeshi graduates (39 per cent). The paper lays out two challenges for ethnic minority young people, unemployment and underemployment. Despite the increases in the number of aspirational ethnic minority students pursuing higher education, the results have failed to prove a direct correlation between educational attainment and job prospects. Calling for targeted action from local authorities, the paper cites evidence of discrimination in the job market against BME graduates to emphasise the need for a strategy led by councils to introduce positive action on recruitment drives, and targets for BMEs in apprenticeships. The recommendations place local authority at the core of any long-term strategic changes emphasising that without targeted strategies, the gap between ethnic minorities is unlikely to close.

UK Employers Missing Qualified Talent by Rejecting Flexibility

Employers that fail to offer flexible working are losing out on a good proportion of highly-qualified recruits, a report has warned. The report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), which looked at parents, older people and disabled people, found only 6.2 per cent of 'quality' job vacancies were advertised with options to work flexibly. This compared to 47 per cent of those asked who said they wanted to work flexibly. The study quantified a quality job as one with a full-time equivalent salary of £19,500. According to the findings, 1.9 million people who could benefit from a quality flexible job hold the necessary qualification levels to attain one (National Qualifications (NQF) Level 3 or above, or a trade apprenticeship). The research said offering quality roles with flexible hours could help raise 25,200 people out of poverty. It said more than 1.5 million people were currently in part-time work below the pay rate for a quality job. A further 154,000 people are not working but seeking part-time work. According to JRF, people in part-time work are often paid less because of the types of occupations likely to offer part-time roles. The report said 77 per cent of full-time workers with NQF Level 4 and above work in managerial, professional and associate professional jobs, while only 56 per cent of part-time workers with this level of qualification work in these types of roles. The study found part-time workers earn less per hour than their full-time counterparts at every level of qualification. A part-time worker qualified to NQF Level 4 and above earns £3.51 less, those with trade apprenticeships earn £3.42 less and NQF Level 3 workers earn £2.64 less.

Cost of Employing non-EU Staff Likely to Rise for UK Businesses

It has been predicted that the cost of hiring non-EU staff, or assigning them to the UK from an organisation's overseas offices, would rise considerably and a recent report by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has recommended just that. The impact of the committee's recommendations for those organisations that only sponsor one or two non-EU workers is probably marginal. But for companies that sponsor 10, 20, 50 or more workers, there could be real ramifications for the way the UK part of the business is staffed. The MAC, an independent advisory body, was asked by the Home Office to look at reducing skilled migration to the UK. Particular emphasis was put on preventing businesses from recruiting cheap foreign workers instead of British people. The committee found some evidence of undercutting but it was largely in the public sector - cheaper foreign nurses and teachers were cited in the report and picked up by the press. The MAC also questioned whether employers were doing as much as they could to upskill workers already living here. The MAC recommendations include tighten the immigration rules for skilled sponsored workers; increasing the minimum salary that has to be paid to sponsored workers, generally by around £8,000; paying sponsored workers assigned to a client contract at least £41,500, up from salaries typically set at about £30,000; and charging employers a £1,000 'immigration skills charge' for each year of sponsorship for a skilled worker. The committee has also suggested tightening the rules for graduate recruitment; preventing companies assigning staff to work as 'intra company transferees' until they have two years' company experience (up from one year at present); and a review of whether those staff assigned should be paid accommodation, cost of living and other allowances.

Generation S Shuns Employers with Poor Ethical Record, finds Survey

Employers with a blemished record on ethical issues will miss out on much sought after 'Generation S' talent, a study has revealed. As issues such as slave labour and environmental pollution have moved up the agenda for consumers and politicians, highly qualified career movers, dubbed Generation S - for sustainability - are shunning jobs at organisations with poor ethical records. Research by the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA), conducted with more than 1,000 of its members, found that environmentally friendly and sustainability-focused roles are becoming the career change jobs of choice. It found that more than two-fifths (42 per cent) of professionals who now work in these roles consider themselves "career changers". Generation S are most frequently in their mid-thirties, equally split between men and women, and hold above-average qualifications (45 per cent had a masters degree or doctorate). The survey found Generation S would refuse to work for an employer with a record of using slave labour (39 per cent), generating high levels of pollution (37 per cent), employing unsafe working conditions (48 per cent), poor environmental performance (53 per cent), or with questionable investments and unethical practices (56 per cent). More than a third said they were concerned about the negative impact some industries and organisations have on the environment. In addition, 90 per cent of IEMA members who have moved to a more ethical employer reported high levels of career satisfaction. The study showed that people moving into these roles come from a wide variety of backgrounds including finance, operations, marketing and communications, and research and development. More than a third said they had high levels of job satisfaction because they had a career in which they could make a difference (35 per cent). A further 28 per cent said their position offered a lot of variety, while 59 per cent said their roles were challenging.

One in Four UK Jobs Unfilled due to Skills Shortage, UKCES reveals

Almost a quarter of job vacancies last year were caused by the widening skills crisis across the UK, while 14 per cent of employers report skills gaps in their existing workforce, a report by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) has found. UK employers had 928,000 vacancies in 2015, 209,000 (22 per cent) of which were down to a skills shortage. In 2011, there were just 91,000 so-called skills shortage vacancies. While 19 per cent of employers reported having at least one unfilled vacancy, up from 15 per cent in 2013, six per cent of employers said they had at least one skills shortage vacancy, up from four per cent in 2013. The UKCES report, Employer Skills Survey 2015, found that roles with particular difficulties recruiting included machine operatives, with 33 per cent of vacancies defined as being affected by a skills shortage, up from 25 per cent in 2013. Skilled trades continued to have the highest density of skill-shortage vacancies (43 per cent). The construction sector was also found to be also significantly affected, with employers struggling to fill one in three vacancies, up from one in four in 2013, while the financial services sector has seen the sharpest rise in skills shortages, rising from ten per cent in 2013 to 21 per cent in 2015. More than two-thirds of employers with difficulty recruiting reported a direct financial impact through either loss of business to competitors, increased operating costs, and/or having to outsource work. A number of attributes were reported to be lacking in applicants for skills shortage vacancies including: time management (47 per cent), customer-handling skills (39 per cent) and having specialist skills or knowledge (64 per cent). The study found 14 per cent of employers reported skills gaps in their existing workforce, stating approximately 1.4 million staff lacked proficiency in their current role - around five per cent of the UK workforce. The most common skill lacking was the ability to manage their own time and prioritise tasks (59 per cent). A further 48 per cent were said to be lacking specialist skills or knowledge.

Millennials Most Demanding generation to Manage, say UK Employers

Millennials are more demanding on managers' time and need more support in the workplace than any other generation, according to a recent survey. When 1,000 bosses were asked which of their workforce required most guidance in the workplace, 63 per cent admitted millennials, (people born between 1980 and 2000), in comparison to baby boomers (those born 1946-1964), generation X (those born 1965-1979) and generation Z (post-millennials). The survey from Cascade HR showed that 48 per cent of managers felt millennial employees were most reliant on detailed targets, and needed regular progress meetings to stay motivated. However, the majority (89 per cent) also agreed millennials were highly career driven. Millennials were also cited as the generation most incentivised by reward and praise (41 per cent), followed by generation X at 26 per cent, baby boomers at 22 per cent and generation Z at 11 per cent. Over half (51 per cent) of bosses said it was difficult to find and retain millennial workers because they expected more from their employers. Michael Jenkins, chief executive of Roffey Park Institute, said its own research had shown millennials expected support to be forthcoming and looked for a personal focus to their development more than other generations. He said this group enjoyed learning in an experimental style, which meant a high degree of feedback was required, as well as reassurance when things do not turn out as expected. Jenkins added that many organisations struggle to retain a consistent millennial workforce, with many employers stating that their retention periods for the younger generation had declined to their lowest level. The study showed that when it came to other traits, 39 per cent of bosses cited generation X as the most self-sufficient workers, with baby boomers coming a close second (34 per cent). Generation X was also believed to be the generation with the biggest desire for a work life balance; an opinion cited by 37 per cent of managers.

MasterCard Foundation Launches Youth Employment Initiative in Africa

The MasterCard Foundation has launched an innovative youth employment initiative in Uganda and Ghana. The "Youth Forward Initiative" is a partnership between The MasterCard Foundation, Overseas Development Institute, Solidaridad, GOAL, NCBA CLUSA and Global Communities. This five-year, US$74 million initiative will reach more than 200,000 economically disadvantaged young people, aged 15-24. It is focused on youth living on less than $2 per day, who are out of school, unemployed or underemployed and are seeking quality employment or the opportunity to start their own businesses in the growing agricultural and construction sectors. This innovative model uses a holistic approach that combines market-relevant skills training, mentorship, internships and access to financial services to help young people transition out of poverty and into sustainable livelihoods. The Youth Forward Initiative will be implemented through partnerships with four consortia comprised of 28 organizations. In Ghana, Solidaridad will lead a group of organizations that plan to create business and job opportunities for young people in the cocoa sector and Global Communities will do the same, focusing on the construction sector. In Uganda, GOAL and NCBA CLUSA will lead consortia connecting young people to employment and entrepreneurship opportunities in the agricultural sector. In addition, Overseas Development Institute (ODI) along with Development Research and Training (DRT) of Uganda and Participatory Development Associates (PDA) of Ghana have been engaged to generate critical learning about the initiative. The Youth Forward Initiative specifically targets sectors in Africa that have the highest potential for job growth: agriculture and construction. The World Bank expects that 72 percent of young people will be engaged in household enterprises in agriculture over the next five years. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that the construction sector will generate 5.1 million jobs over the next 10 years.

Private Equity Funds Invested $6.1 billion in West Africa from 2007-2015

Private equity funds have invested $6.1 billion in West Africa between 1 January 2007 and 30 June 2015, according to a report by the African Association of Private Equity (ACVA). In total, 311 transactions were carried out in the region during the period under review. The breakdown of these transactions by country however, shows strong disparities. Nigeria and Ghana hold 65% of the volume of transactions and 93% of the value of all completed transactions. According to ACVA, West Africa has seen its share in the total number of transactions of private equity recorded grow from 25% during 2007-2010 to 28% between 2011 and June 30, 2015. In value terms, the share of the region increased by 9% between 2007 and 2010, to 25% between 2011 and June 30, 2015. The sales to commercial purchasers (trade buyers) represent a significant proportion of these outflows, notably in the services sectors, and in financial and consumer goods.

Air France to Establish East and West African Hubs

Air France-KLM has announced plans to establish regional hubs in Abidjan and Nairobi, for West Africa and East Africa respectively. The Air France group will rely on Air Côte d'Ivoire (which it holds 20% stake) to help facilitate the establishment of the West Africa hub. In Nairobi, the Air France group will build on Kenya Airways, a public company in which it holds a 26% stake. According to the company, it plans to "cover the continent of Africa through long haul capitalistic partnerships with African companies, this will then cause a surge in the number of passengers on the continent." Air France currently flies to 46 destinations in Africa, with up to 415 flights per week operated by Air France, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, and the low cost subsidiary,Transavia.

Orange to Acquire100% of Mobile Operator Cellcom Liberia

Orange has announced it has entered into a firm agreement with Cellcom Telecommunications Limited to acquire, through its subsidiary Orange Côte d'Ivoire, 100% of Cellcom's Liberia subsidiary, the leading mobile operator* in Liberia, with the strongest market commercial momentum. Orange will provide its marketing expertise and world-class technical capability to further strengthen the network operator, enhance services to consumers and contribute to the economic growth of Liberia. Cellcom's founders and employees will remain involved in the business to ensure a smooth integration, support performance and continue long-standing relations with the Government of Liberia. This acquisition is part of the international development strategy of Orange, which aims to accelerate its growth by entering new emerging markets with high potential. This will enable Orange to strengthen its positions in Africa, which is a strategic priority for the Group. Liberia is a country of over 4.3 million inhabitants, with a mobile penetration rate of 66%, lower than in many neighbouring countries. With a national mobile license and its significant market share in the country in number of subscribers, Cellcom has excellent potential for growth over the coming years. The completion of the transaction remains subject to approval by the competent authorities.

Nigeria-Cameroun Submarine Cable Goes Live

MainOne, a leading telecoms and network services provider in West Africa, has announced that the high capacity Nigerian-Cameroun Submarine Cable System (NCSCS) connecting Lagos, Nigeria and Kribi, Cameroun has been completed and went live last month. The new submarine cable system will address increasing demand for reliable broadband connectivity in Cameroun, and is a key component of the country's strategic plan to provide internet access to its citizens via a National Broadband Network. The submarine cable installation, which commenced in June 2015 following a tripartite partnership between MainOne, The Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, Cameroun and Huawei Marine Networks, had investment provided by the Cameroun Government. The six-pair, 1,100 kilometer repeater submarine cable system will deliver capacity of up to 12.8Tbps to broadband users in Cameroun and is being lit with 40GB capacity from Day 1. This extension is expected to boost Cameroun's extremely low fixed broadband penetration, currently estimated to be circa five percent (5%). Built with branching units for strategic extension of its connectivity into Nigeria's Escravos in Delta State, Qua Iboe in Akwa Ibom State, and Bonny Island in Rivers State, MainOne has concluded plans for a distribution hub in Port Harcourt, designed to bridge the technology gap between the South-South and the rest of Nigeria.

Ugandans in the Diaspora Set to Remit via Mobile Money

Ugandans living abroad could soon be able to send money directly to MTN mobile money accounts of people in Uganda. Online money transfer business firm, Worldremit, is set to partner with MTN Uganda to actualise this, although MTN Uganda has not confirmed. Should the partnership come to pass, Ugandans in the diaspora who want to send money home will have to install a Worldremit application on their phones. This will be synchronised with those of MTN mobile money users where the money is to be sent. Over the last 10 years, the amount of money remitted by Ugandans abroad has been increasing. According to the 2015/16 Budget speech, the remittances increased from $411 million (Sh1.4 trillion) in 2006 to $816 million (Sh2.8 trillion) in 2011 and had reached $915 million (Sh3.1 trillion) in 2014. Much of it was sent via Western Union or MoneyGram and Ria. As of October 2015, there were 7.5 million MTN mobile money subscribers. At least 3.5 million of these were active, according to information on the MTN Uganda website. The company adds that more than Shs1.8 trillion is transacted monthly on its mobile money platform. Worldremit will have to contend with Western Union and MoneyGram that already have a presence in the country. Western Union and MTN Uganda currently offer the same kind of service Worldremit seeks to offer in Uganda.

African Centre for Advanced Studies in Management, Université Paris-Dauphine and the ICD sign Agreement for West African Islamic Finance Academy

The African Centre for Advanced Studies in Management (CESAG), and the Islamic Corporation for Private Sector Development (ICD) (www.ICD-idb.com) have signed an agreement for the implementation of an academic program of Islamic Finance in West Africa. This agreement involves University of Paris-Dauphine as the third partner in carrying out this initiative. The agreement was signed in the presence of the Governor of the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO). The program aims to articulate certificate, qualification, and diploma awarding training and research and consulting activities in the field of Islamic finance. This is to ultimately establish an academy of excellence in Islamic finance in West and Central Africa. The ICD is committed to contribute and mobilize necessary resources to promote the program implementation. Université Paris-Dauphine, with its experience with its Executive Master in Islamic Finance, will provide the expertise required for the design and implementation of training, research and consulting programs as well as the supervision of academic affairs. CESAG will participate in the design and implementation of training, research and consulting and ensure the deployment of the program in West Africa. Diplomas and certificates will benefit from the quality mark and the reputation of Paris Dauphine and CESAG.

ICT infrastructure Specialist Flexenclosure Establishes New Business with Focus on Nigeria

Flexenclosure, a specialist developer of intelligent power management systems and pre-fabricated data centres for the ICT industry, has set up a new company in one of its key markets - Nigeria. The new company - Flexenclosure Technology Solutions - is a wholly owned subsidiary of Flexenclosure AB in Sweden and will serve Flexenclosure's operations and growing number of customers in the West African region.  It will be headquartered in Victoria Island, Lagos, the business hub for all major telecommunications and multinational companies in Nigeria. Flexenclosure has already deployed hundreds of eSites, its trademark hybrid power system for off-grid and bad-grid cell sites, in Africa and is in the process of deploying significantly more as a result of recent orders.  A pioneer in green power solutions for the telecom industry, Flexenclosure deployed several hundred eSites for Airtel in Nigeria as early as 2011 and has also built 15 data centres across the country. Flexenclosure is a fast growing supplier of advanced infrastructure for the information and communications technology industries.  Its two key products are eSite, a hybrid power system for off-grid and bad-grid cell sites that delivers 24/7 network uptime and diesel-related cost savings of up to 90 per cent; and eCentre, custom-designed, prefabricated data centre buildings that are fast to deploy, energy efficient and easy to expand.

16 Million People in Nigeria Come to Facebook Every Month with 100% on Mobile

16 million people in Nigeria visit Facebook every month with 100% of them coming on mobile. Each day, 7.2 million people visit Facebook with 7 million on mobile. During the past five years, the global Facebook community has more than doubled in size, and its community in Nigeria continues to grow. According to the company, the mobile platform people use the most in Nigeria is Facebook and up to 77% of Nigerians on Facebook use their mobile device to discover new products and services. Nigerians are sophisticated mobile users and this sophistication is increasing fast.

Innotribe calls on the Best Startups in Africa

Are you an Africa-based startup that wants to benefit from expert mentoring and in-depth industry feedback? Apply now to the Innotribe Startup Challenge! Launched in 2011, the Startup Challenge has become one of the leading global startup competitions, connecting the financial services industry with more than 650 fintech startups around the world and reaching over 4,000 audience members through global showcases and networking events. Last year for the first time Innotribe, SWIFT's innovation arm, partnered with ARC to bring the Startup Challenge to Africa, showcasing vibrant businesses and a genuine spirit of innovation. It highlighted how much SWIFT's member institutions are keen to understand the fintech innovation that is happening in their own communities and the importance for local startups to benefit from in-depth industry feedback and gain exposure at a global stage. As a result, Innotribe has evolved its Startup Challenge to focus on emerging fintech ecosystems (Africa and Latin America in 2016), moving from a global competition to a local programme, supporting innovation where demographic trends, economic growth and regional integration projects are creating fertile ground for new technologies to emerge. Applications to the 2016 Startup Challenge for Africa are now open until mid-March 2016. The successful applicants will be announced in April 2016. If you're interested in applying to the programme, please read the Terms and Conditions to get all information you need.

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