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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 Universities Generate £100 Billion and One Million Jobs

UK universities now generate a knock-on impact of nearly £100 billion (US$131 billion) for the UK economy and support close to a million jobs throughout the United Kingdom, according to new figures published by Universities UK. The vice-chancellors’ body’s latest study on the impact of the higher education sector on the economy – produced for Universities UK by Oxford Economics – found that universities now support more than 940,000 jobs in all parts of the UK, equivalent to 3% of all employment. In total, UK universities, together with their international students and visitors, generated £95 billion of gross output in the economy in 2014-15. The gross value-added contribution of universities’ own operations to gross domestic product or GDP, at £21.5 billion (US$28 billion), is larger than that made by a number of sizeable industries. It is 22% greater than that produced by the entire accountancy sector and almost 50% more than the contribution of the advertising and market research industry. In terms of annual turnover, universities now generate larger turnover than the UK’s legal sector, the advertising and marketing sector and air- and spacecraft manufacturing. University leaders have, however, warned that this contribution to the economy and jobs should not be taken for granted, as UK universities face increased global competition and uncertainty over Brexit negotiations and government policy on immigration and tuition fees in England. The report examines three channels of spending which stimulate economic activity: Universities’ direct impact reflects the operational expenditure they undertake to supply the teaching and research, residence and catering, sport and other activities; the indirect impact occurs as a result of universities’ expenditure on inputs of goods and services from UK suppliers. Additionally, international students’ subsistence expenditure and the spending of their visitors; and the induced impact arises as universities and the firms in their supply chains, and firms in the supply chains of businesses providing the consumer goods purchased by international students and visitors, pay their staff wages. These workers spend a proportion of this income in the consumer economy, mainly at retail and leisure outlets. These impacts then ripple out across these outlets’ UK-based supply chains. Universities are often the largest employers in their area and, through links with businesses and in attracting students from overseas, they bring in significant investment from around the world to all the UK’s nations and regions. UK universities face many challenges, including increased global competition, uncertainty over student funding and the potential impact of Brexit.

A Quarter of UK Retirees Head Back to Work, Study Reveals

Around a quarter of UK retirees return to work, with most of those heading back to within five years of retiring, according to a new study. The research by the University of Manchester and King’s College London also found that men were 26 per cent more likely than women to return to paid work following retirement, while people whose partner still worked were 31 per cent more likely to return following retirement than those whose partner did not work. Additionally, those with post-secondary qualifications were almost twice as likely to return to work than those with no qualifications.

UK Businesses Expect to Increase Investment in Diversity

More than a third of hiring decision-makers at UK organisations (35 per cent) expect to increase investment in diversity and inclusion initiatives, according to a new study by Glassdoor. The employer review site surveyed 750 hiring decision-makers in the UK and US and found that employers were increasingly placing a higher value on diversity and inclusion programmes, with 59 per cent reporting that a lack of investment in diversity and inclusion was a barrier to attracting high-quality candidates. But despite plans for greater investment, only 28 per cent were optimistic that they would make progress towards their diversity and inclusion goals in the next 12 months. This group also reported that they felt six times more likely to convert applicants to ‘quality hires’ because of improvements in diversity and inclusion. Diversity and inclusion programmes were also seen as being important in attracting candidates. Nearly one in five of those surveyed said these types of initiatives were among the elements that have the greatest influence on a candidate’s decision to join an organisation.

One in Seven UK Employers Reluctant to Recruit Women over Maternal Concerns

Almost one in seven (15 per cent) employers say they would be reluctant to recruit a woman they thought might later have children, according to research published today that shows an alarming level of everyday maternity discrimination in the labour market. The survey, conducted for women’s charity the Young Women’s Trust, heard that of 800 professionals with power over HR decision-making, a significant number would think twice about hiring women in their 20s and 30s who might have children in the future – even though it is illegal to make recruitment decisions on these grounds. The figure was greater among men (18 per cent), although 10 per cent of women had the same concerns. Overall, 29 per cent of those surveyed expressed some degree of concern about hiring women under 40. The findings follow the trust’s earlier research, which found that almost 40 per cent of young mums had been illegally asked in job interviews about how being a mother would affect their ability to work. A quarter of respondents in the latest survey indicated that their organisation takes account of whether a woman is pregnant or has young children during decisions about career progression or promotion – a further violation of the law. Around a third said men and women would never take an equal role in caring for children, and a further 27 per cent said it would take more than 10 years for men to take an equal role in parenting. The previous research from the trust correlates with these new findings. Its poll of 319 mothers aged between 16 and 24 previously revealed that a quarter experienced discrimination when their employer found out they were pregnant. Eighty per cent said employers’ attitudes towards pregnant women or mothers with young children played an important role in helping them find work.

Governance for Development in Africa Initiative - 2 PhD scholarships

The Centre of African Studies at SOAS, University of London, is pleased to announce the extension of the Governance for Development in Africa Initiative, funded by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, for another three years, until 2021. The focus of the project remains the same in terms of creating a dedicated environment to support the study of the socio-economic, political, and legal links between governance and development. The Centre of African Studies offers 2 PhD scholarships to African nationals as part of the Governance for Development in Africa Initiative funded by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. The deadline for submission of applications is 31 March 2018. For more information on how to apply please visit: www.soas.ac.uk/gdai/gdai-phd-scholarships.html

African Universities Look to Centres of Excellence to Bridge University-Industry Gap

Universities from Southern and Eastern Africa are looking to partnerships between 'African Centres of Excellence' and the private sector to help promote relevant and quality education. Academic representatives from eight African countries reviewing how to ensure that African Centres of Excellence play a bigger role in facilitating research that can be translated into business concepts and service solutions in partnership with industry. Funded by the World Bank, the Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence Project is aimed at promoting regional specialisation among participating universities in Africa in areas that address regional challenges and strengthen the capacities of these universities to deliver quality training and applied research. According to Professor Aaron Mweene from the University of Zambia, it was time to speed up social transformation through greater collaboration between the academy and the private sector. Mweene said Zambia had recently established two centres of excellence, one of which specialises in infectious diseases and whose practical interventions with the support of the private sector had significantly reduced the transfer of infectious diseases. While Rwanda hosts four centres of excellence – for energy, internet of things, education, and data science – its government emphasises that a lot still needs to be done to solve societal issues through partnerships with the private sector. Carnegie Mellon University, based in Kigali, serves as one of the country’s centres of excellence and is partnering with the Rwandan tax services with the aim of raising domestic revenues. Business communities need to be engaged earlier in planning, implementation, monitoring and review of curriculum, research projects and other income generating projects to build sustainable partnerships.

Tanzania Makes Strides in Bringing Financial Services to its Citizens

According to the 2014–2016 Tanzania National Financial Inclusion Framework the level of formal financial access in the rural areas of Tanzania is 8.5% compared to 23% in the urban areas and totally excluded rural population is 60% compared to 45% in urban areas. The ninth edition of the Tanzania Economic Update highlighted the country’s extraordinary progress in bringing financial services to 62% of its population today compared to 11% in 2006, making it a regional leader in the use of digital financial services and putting it on a solid footing to achieve Universal Financial Access by 2020. Hundreds of thousands of low-income people have gained access to financial products including credit, savings and money transfers through leveraging of technology to bring financial services closer to the unbanked.

Financial Transactions in Cameroon Exceed CFA 870 Billion in 2016

Financial transactions in Cameroon via Mobile money reached 870 billion CFA francs in 2016, APA learned from the Telecommunications Regulatory Agency (ART). The value of transactions between 2014 and 2016 increased from 200 billion CFA to 870 billion CFA, an increase of 670 billion CFA in two years. This amount is the result of 84 million transactions per SMS, because since 2011, the year of introduction of Mobile Money Services in Cameroon, e-money is gaining momentum across the country. In addition to money transfer, Mobile Money users pay electricity, water or TV bills from this payment method. With a penetration rate of mobile telecommunications of 80 percent in Cameroon, just over 18 million subscribers, Mobile Money services have found a favourable market for their development. According to financial analysts, the banking rate, which is less than 20 percent in Cameroon, could hardly evolve because of the mobile money service that users find simpler and more adapted to their concerns.

University Tracks Rise in US Student Visa Denials

California State University, Long Beach said there’s been a sharp increase in the number of international students denied student visas by United States officials abroad. University officials tallied about a dozen visa denials for students entering this semester, three times more than last year, according to Southern California Public Radio. The current US administration has openly denied US entry to foreigners who present a danger to the security of the country. The increased scrutiny and visa denials of potential university students appear to be applying that policy approach to a population that many observers believe will do more to help the US than hurt it.

Barely Half of UK Graduates are in Graduate-Level Jobs

UK universities have come under pressure to justify their tuition fees after new CIPD research revealed that a little over half of graduates are in graduate-level jobs six months after leaving education. Graduates are also earning well below the UK average wage, while female graduates are paid less than men, according to The graduate employment gap: expectations versus reality. Just 52 per cent of university graduates had found graduate-level jobs six months after graduation, while almost a third were earning less than £20,000, compared to the UK average wage of £28,300. While the average salary for male graduates is £24,000, women are paid just £21,500. STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) graduates were found to be more likely to be unemployed after six months than the average graduate, despite successive government strategies designed to prioritise such degrees. The report accused the government of ‘inflating’ official figures and claiming that 77 per cent of graduates are in graduate-level jobs six months after graduating, by including jobs that do not necessarily require a degree such as fitness instructors, youth and community workers, choreographers and dancers. It recommended that universities should be prevented from charging students the maximum level of tuition fee unless better outcomes are delivered.

Dangote Rice Launches Youth Graduates Rice Farming Project in Nigeria to Reduce Unemployment

A multi-million Naira Youth Farming Initiative that will engage teeming unemployed Nigerian graduates in rice farming has been launched by the Dangote Rice Limited in Kogi State. The Dangote Youth Rice Farm project, mainly an out-grower scheme for youths only was flagged off at the Lower Niger River Basin Authority, Kampe, Ejiba in Yagba West local government area of the state where youth have embarked on rice cultivation over 100 hectares of land. The rice farm project, which was preceded by a special training for the youth farmers on the dynamics of the rice farming, will see the youths cultivating the rice paddy on 100 hectares of land, which will then be bought over by the company for processing. Under the scheme, the Dangote Rice Company provides the seedling, anti-pest-chemicals, and fertilizers while the Basing Authority provided the land for the young farmers. The project is a new dimension to the efforts by the pan-African conglomerate, the Dangote Group, at ensuring food security and creating job opportunities in Nigeria especially for the youths saying this Initiative is in line with the vision and commitment of Dangote Industries Limited to create a new generation of agri-preneur that will revolutionize the Nigerian agricultural sector.

Technology Drives Expansion of Ghana’s New International Airport Terminal

Ghana’s largest airport is expanding its capacity to meet significant growth in international passenger traffic, increasing the airport’s capacity to five-million passengers a year. The country’s aviation industry has witnessed significant growth over the past decade due to the discovery of petroleum and gas reserves, sustained domestic demand and the growth of the tourism sector. SITA, the global air transport IT provider, has worked closely with both MAPA, the construction company building the new terminal, and Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL), the airport operator, to ensure that the new terminal has the most up-to-date technology to support the country’s modern airport infrastructure. SITA already provides technology for Terminals 1 and 2 at Kotoka International Airport and will ensure that its world-class technology is fully integrated with the existing terminals from day one. This will deliver smooth passenger and baggage processing, and efficient operations across the entire airport. SITA is deploying its latest passenger processing technology including common use Check-In Desks and Self-Service Check-In Kiosks, allowing the airport to maximize its capacity by enabling airlines to cost-effectively share the same infrastructure. The airport will also make use of SITA’s state of the art Baggage Management technology that will assist airlines in tracking bags every step of the way, helping them meet IATA’s Resolution 753 requirements from day one.

Dangote Strengthens Its Pan-African Markets

Leading pan African cement manufacturer, the Dangote Cement has maintained its strong hold in the Nigeria domestic cement market accounting for 65 percent of the Nigerian market volume, while other African plants’ volumes went up by 7.5 percent to 7.0 mta. The Cement company has in the past months expanded its operations across Africa with the coming on stream of the 1.5 mta integrated cement plant in Mfila, Republic of Congo even as an acting chief executive officer has been appointed for the company. According to the unaudited results for the nine months ended September 30, 2017, the plant which began operations last month has almost doubled the size of the cement sector in the country. The Congo plant brings to 10 the number of Dangote Cement plants across Africa. Analysis of the results indicated that the company recorded strong volumes in Senegal, Ethiopia and Cameroon. In the nine months under review, the 1.5 mta clinker grinding facility in Douala, Cameroon sold approximately 938 kt of cement, indicating an increase of 16.4 percent on the 806 kt sold during the same period in 2016. The company attributes the increase in sales to a number of factors ranging from strong brand recognition, increased point of sales branding, improvements in sales and marketing strategies to higher visibility through trade shows. Dangote Cement Ethiopia increased sales by 16.8 percent to nearly 1.7 mta in the first nine months of 2017 representing capacity utilization of approximately 88 percent. The cement plant in Pout, Senegal sold 1.0 mta of cement in the period under review, up by 21.7 percent on the comparable period of 2016. This represents almost 89 percent capacity utilization at the factory.

GE and Gauteng Province, SA, Sign MOU to Collaborate on Key Economic Sectors

The Gauteng Province and GE have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate on projects in the key economic sectors of Energy and Healthcare. Under the MoU, GE and the Office of the Premier will work together to identify critical areas for collaboration and leverage on the vast economic opportunities within the Gauteng Province. The collaboration will also see GE support the Premier’s Office’s “Tshepo 1 Million” programme, an employment creation and entrepreneurship development programme aimed at training, skilling and mentoring young people through empowering projects.

GE Partners African Leadership University to Empower African Professionals with Digital Skills

The African Leadership University and GE Africa have announced the launch of the ALU Africa Industrial Internet Program. Powered by GE, the program combines the best of GE’s technical expertise with ALU’s unique learning model in a 12-month professional training program that merges the essential business and technical skills necessary for African professionals to succeed in a digital industrial environment. The program which begins in January 2018, reemphasizes GE’s position as the world’s premier digital industrial company. In an increasingly connected industrial ecosystem, a staggering amount of data is being generated every moment. Commonly termed ‘Industrial Internet’, it involves connecting software, industrial applications and intelligent analytics to businesses, enabling unprecedented gains in productivity and innovation from these massive datasets. Leveraged effectively, this paradigm shift in industrial thinking will allow African companies to leapfrog competition and establish the continent as an industrial powerhouse. However, this requires a new generation of talent with a strong technical foundation in big-data analytics, machine learning and web application development, as well as the business acumen to translate technological improvements into business results. The AIIP employs a blended learning model to participants with a mix of online learning and periodic 3-5 day in-person intensives to be held at the GE Africa Innovation Centre in Johannesburg. This approach provides flexibility to participants enabling them to learn from industry experts, and at the same time, immediately apply what they learn in the program in their daily jobs. The program includes hands-on training on artificial intelligence and machine learning with ALU’s unique entrepreneurial leadership program to prepare professionals for leadership roles entrepreneurial, technology driven work environments. Participants will work with best-in-class technology including GE’s pioneer platform for the Industrial Internet - Predix to build applications that can solve complex problems for industrial companies. Participants will be taught by industry practitioners who bring in years of experience in their fields.

African Innovation Foundation Prize Announced

The  African Innovation Foundation (AIF) has announced the seventh edition of the Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) themed “investing in inclusive innovation ecosystems” thereby inviting submissions 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.

Orange Launches Brand in Sierra Leone

Telecom operator Orange has officially launched its brand in Sierra Leone, with Airtel Sierra Leone now becoming Orange Sierra Leone. The acquisition of Airtel Sierra Leone was finalised in July 2016 by Orange, together with its Senegal-based partner Sonatel, allowing the Orange Group to reinforce its presence in West Africa. Following the rebranding, Orange Sierra Leone will rank with one of the world’s most powerful brands and stands to benefit from being part of a large international group. As part of Orange, it will gain access to the Group’s expertise, technical know-how and an extensive product and service portfolio. With its considerable presence on the African continent, a strategic focus for the Group, Orange offers strong growth potential for its Sierra Leonean operation. With a population of seven million people, Sierra Leone has significant potential for growth in mobile services. Following the acquisition of the company, Orange has committed itself to improving the quality and availability of its services by venturing into untapped and underserved geographical areas, offering to the people of Sierra Leone the innovation that Orange is delivering elsewhere. Orange is present in 21 countries in Africa and the Middle East, where it has more than 127 million customers as of the end June 2017. With 5.2 billion euros in revenues in 2016 (12% of Orange’s total revenues), this region is a strategic priority for the Group. Orange Money, its flagship offer for money transfers and mobile financial services, is currently available in 17 countries and has more than 34 million customers.

Ghana Offers Tax Relief for Private Universities

The Ghanaian government has announced that privately-owned universities will be granted tax relief to encourage them to admit more students and private institutions will no longer be required to pay corporate income tax. According to the Government, investing in the country’s private educational institutions will significantly boost the reputation of the sector, potentially making the country an attractive destination for investors. The government believes that, giving the institutions tax breaks will enable them to focus on improving and maintaining their facilities in order to attract more students from all over the continent and will grant relief from corporate income tax paid by privately-owned and managed universities to the extent that profits are ploughed back to expand or maintain facilities.

RUFORUM Teams with Mastercard Foundation to Build African Agricultural Capacity

RUFORUM – the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture – has teamed up with the Mastercard Foundation in a partnership that aims to transform African agricultural universities to contribute meaningfully to Africa’s development. MasterCard Foundation is pioneering efforts to enable African agricultural graduates and agriculture universities to better respond to developmental challenges through the enhanced application of science, technology, business and innovation for rural agricultural transformation. Over a period of eight years, the MasterCard Foundation and RUFORUM team will provide 110 Bachelor and 110 Masters scholarships tenable at Egerton University in Kenya and Gulu University in Uganda. Since 2004, RUFORUM has supported the training of over 2,152 postgraduate students and the generation of over 300 agricultural technologies, and mobilised over US$169 million for strengthening postgraduate education in Africa.

Facebook Launches Nigeria Initiative to Drive Innovation and Skills Development

Facebook has launched a new nationwide initiative in Nigeria to further cement its commitment and investment in the country, and across the continent. Incorporating a series of high profile partnerships, training programmes and a physical space that will serve as a centre for learning and skills development, this set of initiatives is aimed at helping to develop and nurture communities, including small businesses, the tech and start-up ecosystem, youths and creatives. In partnership with CC Hub, Facebook will be opening the doors to its first community Hub space in the heart of Lagos, scheduled to open early next year. ‘NG_HUB from Facebook’ will be a multi-faceted creative space, which will connect and bring together developers, start-ups and the wider community to collaborate, learn and exchange ideas. The NG_HUB will also host a start-up incubator programme, as well as bespoke trainings, guest speakers and a dedicated event space, all aimed at attracting the best talent and driving innovation in Nigeria’s tech ecosystem. Additionally, across Nigeria, Facebook will be supporting several existing tech Hubs to serve the communities outside Lagos. The hubs will function as learning centres for local communities, providing multiple opportunities for training and access. Facebook is committed to working with Nigerian small businesses, tech entrepreneurs and the next generation of leaders to better understand and utilise the power of digital tools for economic growth. Launching a series of learning-based programmes facilitated by local training partners, these have been designed to provide skills that lead to employment and to support the growth of small businesses. The goal is to train and support over 50,000 students, small businesses and creative entrepreneurs across the country through a series of scaled digital skills trainings, as well as long-term impact programmes.

Mercer Launches Francophone Africa Hub in Morocco

Mercer, a global consulting leader in health, wealth and career and wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc. has announced an expanded footprint as part of an important initiative to strengthen service to the Francophone region of Africa. Through its new Casablanca Financial City hub in Morocco, Mercer will bolster its Health business and further penetrate the African market with Wealth and Career solutions.  Mercer currently serves clients in 41 of Africa’s 54 sovereign states.  The firm is expanding its market presence to match the burgeoning business landscape. North Africa continues to show great promise and Mercer’s ongoing investment in Francophone Africa and throughout the continent will enable it to service evolving client needs with greater flexibility and customization. Mercer already has a presence in Francophone African markets by providing Africa Health and Risk Solutions (AHRS) for multinational companies seeking standardized benefit structures in more than one country and pricing power through placement of coverages in the international insurance market. Mercer’s existing Moroccan client base is serviced locally through an established strategic partnership with AFMA, the largest brokerage in the country. 

African Development Bank to Invest $10 Million in Food Fund to Boost African Agriculture

The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) today approved US$10 million equity investment in Phatisa Food Fund2 (PFF2) to boost agriculture and nutrition across Africa. PFF2 is a second-generation Fund which builds on the success of its predecessor African Agriculture Fund (AAF), sponsored by AfDB along with other DFIs including the French Development Agency (AFD), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and Development (AECID). Phatisa, PFF2s fund manager, is a South-Africa based private-equity, corporate finance and advisory company operating across Africa, incorporated in January 2008 as a limited company in Mauritius. “Phatisa” is Xhosa word for “helping to carry.” PFF2 is targeting a capitalization of US$ 300 million to invest across Africa with a focus on Sub-Saharan Africa.

Facebook Launches Tech Training Hub in Nigeria

Facebook is launching a "community hub" and training program in Nigeria, its biggest market in Africa. The hub will offer support to tech startups and will also train 50,000 young people and SMEs in digital skills across the country. Opening in 2018, it will be Facebook's first tech space in Africa as the social media company follows in the footsteps of search giant Google who in July launched an ambitious initiative to train 10 million young people in online skills over five years. US technology companies are increasingly turning to Africa's large youth population to grow their market. In Nigeria alone, there are 22 million monthly Facebook users; 10 million of them log in daily to the platform, all on mobile devices, Facebook says. Facebook wants to grow its African user base and has been investing heavily in Africa, recently appointing a regional director based in South Africa. In August, founder Mark Zuckerberg visited Nigeria and Kenya for the first time and visited the Co-Creation (CCHub). He met with developers and entrepreneurs and spent time learning about the startup ecosystem in Nigeria. During that visit, Zuckerberg announced an investment of 24 million dollars through his Chan Zuckerberg Initiative in Andela, a tech startup that trains software developers in Africa and gives them full-time roles in international companies.

New Funding May Offer Spin-Offs for African Universities

African universities stand to benefit – through partnerships – from the German Research Foundation’s new annual €533 million (US$626 million) seven-year Excellence Strategy that seeks to stimulate competition among universities in Germany, according to a foundation spokesperson. The Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies has been funded since November 2007 and focuses on cooperating with young researchers and universities in Benin, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique and South Africa. Broadly, the Excellence Strategy is mirrored by a range of programmes aimed at installing centres or clusters of excellence in Africa, said Finetti. The Excellence Strategy aims to strengthen top-level research at German universities and further improve Germany’s position as an internationally visible and competitive place for research. It is set up as a competition in two funding areas. The Clusters of Excellence is for project-based funding in internationally competitive fields of research at universities or university consortia. The second, Universities of Excellence, aims to strengthen universities as individual institutions or as university consortia, while further developing their leading international role on the basis of Clusters of Excellence.

Black Academics in South Africa Could Soon Outnumber Whites, says Study

Although more than 80% of the country’s population is black, its academic sector has remained disproportionately white – a legacy of the apartheid era. But over the past decade, the proportion of black South African researchers has risen steadily: from 26% in 2005 to 35% in 2015, according to a study published in Higher Education last month, writes Sarah Wild for Nature. The proportion of white academics decreased by more than 10 percentage points over the same period, to 49% in 2015. The authors suggest that in the next decade, more than 4,000 researchers – about 27% of the country’s academics, and most of them white men – will retire, which should create opportunities for younger researchers. Black researchers could outnumber white ones sometime between 2020 and 2025, they say.

WorldRemit Raises $40 Million for African Expansion

Money transfer company WorldRemit has raised $40m to drive its next phase of global growth, aiming to serve 10 million customers connected to emerging markets. Half of these customers will be in Africa.  As part of the expansion, WorldRemit will enable customers in Africa to transfer money to 148 countries as easily as sending an instant message, using the WorldRemit app. Countries in Africa which now receive remittances through WorldRemit, will become send countries. Most importantly, the new service will make sending money within Africa faster, easier and low cost. According to the World Bank, inter-Africa transfers are amongst the most expensive in the world. Money transfers to Africa account for more than half of WorldRemit’s total volume of transactions. The company currently handles 74% of remittances to popular mobile money services across Africa like MTN, Ecocash, Tigo Pesa, Vodafone M-Pesa and Airtel Money, making it the global leader in mobile-to-mobile international money transfers. Since its last funding round in 2015, WorldRemit has launched 206 new services across the globe and has grown its transaction volume by 400%.

Two African Student Scholarships on Offer: MSc/MA in Global Media and Communications (LSE and UCT)

Applications are open for a unique two-year programme which enables students to study for one year at LSE in London, the UK’s media capital, and one year at the University of Cape Town (UCT) – the top-ranked university on the African continent with close links to Cape Town’s media and film industry and NGO sector. Two LSE Master’s Awards (LMA’s) are earmarked for African offer holders on the MSc/MA double degree in Global Media and Communications (LSE and UCT). Offer holders should be African residents and preference is given to students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The awards cover the first year of study at LSE, are means tested and up to the value of full fees and living costs at £1,200 per month. Students interested in the scholarship opportunity are advised to apply by 31 March 2018. Further information can be found here.

Rwanda Aims to Go Cashless by 2024

The Rwandan central bank is conducting a countrywide sensitisation campaign to raise awareness among the business community, professional groups and general public about the benefits of embracing electronic payment (e-payment) facilities. The drive is part of efforts to deepen use and access to e-payment systems like credit cards and e-wallets and hence fast-track the realisation of Rwanda's goal of being a cashless economy by 2024. However, experts say the cost of transactions is still high which discourages many people from using e-payment services provided by banks, telecoms and businesses. This has forced the National Bank of Rwanda (BNR) to call on financial institutions and other concerned stakeholders to review their pricing models and align toward encouraging the uptake of digital payment solutions. The 2016 McKinsey Report estimated digital financial service to have potential of boosting annual GDP of all emerging economies, including Rwanda, by at least $3.7 trillion by 2025 or by 6 per cent above projected GDP.

2018 African Youth Energy Innovator Submissions Open

Africa Energy Indaba is proud to present the second African Youth Energy Innovator Showcase in 2018.  Africa needs to invest in and grow its next generations of energy leaders if its countries and the broader continent are to compete in the global arena. Africa Energy Indaba is committed to empowering talented young Africans by allowing them to be seen by the industry experts and energy decision makers. Africa Energy Indaba wants to encourage empowerment and help find solutions to energy problems in Africa. We want to foster inspirational and innovative thinking, starting with the talented youth in Africa. Eligible individuals must be between 18 to 35 years old and have citizenship of any country in Africa. http://www.africaenergyindaba.com/ayei/

Heineken Lays Foundations for First Brewery in Mozambique

Its new brewery, incorporating the latest technologies, represents a $100 million (€85 million) investment. Located in the province of Maputo, between the Marracuene and Manhiça districts, the brewery will have a production capacity of 0.8 million hectoliters and will brew high quality beers for the domestic market. The first bottle of beer is expected to come off the production line in the first half of 2019. HEINEKEN Mozambique started its activities in 2016 through a sales and marketing office, importing international beers including Heineken®, Amstel, Amstel Lite and Sagres in the country to offer more choice to Mozambican consumers. The construction of HEINEKEN’s very first brewery is a major step forward for the company’s presence in the country. With this significant investment, HEINEKEN Mozambique is expected to create 200 direct jobs and support additional indirect jobs through its entire value chain. Aligned with the HEINEKEN ambition of sourcing 60% of its agricultural raw materials in Africa by 2020, HEINEKEN Mozambique will explore the possibility of locally sourcing the raw materials it will need to produce its beers. One of the objectives of this project will be to improve crop yields as well as the capabilities and living standards of Mozambican farmers, contributing to the economic development of the country.

5 New Airlines to Start Operations in Ghana

About five new airlines are undergoing various stages of processing to commence operations in Ghana.  The development is expected to bring significant improvements to Ghana’s aviation industry. Director General of the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority, Samuel Allotey said the arrival of the new airlines will bring competition and more options to travellers. The new airlines include Asamoah Gyan’s airline, which has already received an air carrier license. Others are Montrac Air, Goldstar Air, Smile Air, as well as DAC airlines that are currently undergoing certification. Currently, Ghana has only two local airlines operating – Starbow and Africa World Air. Experts believe the development could lead to some short-term constraints with local air transport.

West Africa’s Biggest Solar Farm Launched in Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso is now home to West Africa’s biggest solar farm, a 33-megawatt plant located in the town of Zatubi, outside the capital Ouagadougou. Built at a cost of $56.7 million, the 55-hectare (approximately 135-acre) farm is expected to power tens of thousands of households in the country. It was funded through donations from the European Union and a loan from AFD – France’s development agency. Only about 20% of Burkina Faso’s 17 million population have access to the national power system. The majority depend on other unsustainable power generation options. The country is aiming to meet 30% of its power needs through solar energy by the year 2030. Most African countries that have longed depended on hydroelectric and thermal energy are now shifting to solar energy with abundance of the sun in the region. South Africa hosts the biggest solar farm on the continent with a 175MW facility (Solar Capital De Aar) in De Aar, located in the country’s Northern Cape region. The facility spans across 473 hectares and was officially opened in 2016. The facility is also reputed to be the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere and the Middle-East region. It took a little over two years to build and at the time was said to have employed over 369 people during its construction.

APO Group and Mara Foundation create strategic partnership for Mara Mentor programme

APO Group, the African media relations consultancy and Mara Foundation have announced an exclusive partnership agreement with special focus on Mara Mentor’s flagship programme, Mara One-on-One. Mara One-on-One objective is to support the start-ups and growth of young businesses by connecting successful businessmen and businesswomen with passionate entrepreneurs for six months personalised mentorship. As part of the new collaboration, APO Group will provide an ideal loudspeaker effect, through media relations, to report on the success of the Mara Foundation’s Mara Mentor programme. With operations in 54 of Africa's markets, APO Group will be the conduit for the mentors and mentored to keep track of their activities through the world. Mara One-on-One aims to support the start-ups and growth of young businesses by connecting successful businessmen and businesswomen with passionate entrepreneurs for six months personalized mentorship. This initiative is designed to help young enterprises survive the cut-throat world of business by creating alliances with strong players who have already succeeded in running successful companies. Through this programme, young entrepreneurs will be able to position their businesses for sustainable growth through one-on-one sessions with a Mentor drawn from the top of the business world.

African Business Community commits to Investment in Skills for Youth Employment and Job Creation

More than 400 representatives of youth, business, education practitioners and policy-making from 44 countries across the African continent as well as European partners have called for improving job perspectives of the African Youth through employment oriented education and skills development. The call was made at the recently concluded “Africa Talks Jobs” (ATJ) conference held at the African Union Commission (AUC) headquarters in Addis Ababa. The recommendations call for a stronger engagement of the African business community in providing opportunities for skills training and joint offers with education institutions. Governments shall provide the necessary frameworks as well as favourable conditions for young entrepreneurs. At the same time, education at all levels and youth activities need to better address labour market demands and equip the youth with skills to start their own businesses. Included in the communiqué is also the call to ensure the recognition of degrees and other qualifications across the continent to enable voluntary labour migration. 120 African companies and business associations, under the auspices of Business Africa, have also committed to investing in skills development and partnership with education institutions for job skills education and training. The conference was organized in the headquarters of the African Union Commission (AUC) by the AUC, the New Partnership for Africa`s Development (NEPAD) and the continental umbrella organization for the private sector – Business Africa. To back the engagement of the business community AUC, NEPAD and Business Africa signed a declaration of commitment to foster the business community’s role in partnerships with education and job creation.

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