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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.

HR Issues Dominate UK Whistle-blower Complaints, says Report

HR-related issues topped the list of complaints made by whistle-blowers last year, comprising nearly 30 per cent of reports to UK financial sector whistleblowing hotlines, new research has found. Expolink’s annual benchmarking report, which covered more than 600 organisations worldwide and examined 13,377 original incident reports, discovered that breaches of duty of care, grievances with colleagues or managers, gross misconduct and unfair dismissal were the main HR-related complaints flagged. HR was the largest reporting category across 11 of the research’s top 13 UK sectors. The report also found that whistleblowing calls in general from the British financial sector surged 41 per cent in 2017. Meanwhile, reports relating to sexual harassment or abuse rose by 89 per cent year-on-year and by 236 per cent compared with the previous quarter. The researchers suggested that this was likely linked to increased awareness around the issue, sparked by the likes of the #MeToo movement. 

Brexit Hits Interest in Studying at UK Universities, says Survey

Nearly two in five prospective students from within the European Union said they were less interested in studying in the United Kingdom because of Brexit and nearly one in three are not aware that students who start their course in 2018-19 would continue to pay the same fees as domestic students for the duration of their course, according to a new survey. Against this, students from countries outside the EU, including Pakistan, Sudan, Ethiopia, China and Hong Kong, are significantly more likely to be interested in studying in the UK as a result of Brexit, largely due to the drop in the value of the pound, making UK education more affordable. These are two key findings of the sixth annual International Student Survey by QS Enrolment Solutions – which claims to be the largest of its kind. The survey contacted 67,172 prospective international students from 191 countries who plan to study abroad, 28,020 of whom were considering studying in the UK. The report of the survey calls on the UK government to work with universities now to develop a “comprehensive programme of engagement in key target markets to help promote one of the UK’s greatest exports, higher education”. The survey found that giving international students a strong sense that they are welcome when they are choosing a university is crucial to maintaining the UK’s status as a top international study destination. The degree to which a place feels welcoming is one of the most important factors influencing prospective students’ choice of country to study in, with 69% of respondents citing it as an important consideration. Welcoming campaigns continue to be an effective strategy to combat the negative perceptions around Brexit, with 82% of respondents saying that campaigns like #WeAreInternational and #LondonIsOpen persuaded them that the UK is welcoming. Welcoming campaigns are most effective with prospective international students from China (85%), India (85%) and Nigeria (83%).

Robots to Replace Fewer Jobs than First Thought

AI and robots are expected to replace significantly fewer jobs than previously thought, says the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). While a 2013 Oxford University study found that nearly 35 per cent of jobs in the UK were at ‘high risk’ – defined as a greater than 70 per cent chance – of being automated over the next 20 years, new research suggests a more accurate figure is only 12 per cent. The latest study accounts for differences between jobs with the same title, whereas previous research did not. Additionally, a third (32 per cent) of jobs across the OECD’s 32-member countries face “significant upheaval” because of automation. The study shows that automation mostly affects the manufacturing industry and agriculture, but some service sector jobs are also susceptible to being automated. Roles that have the greatest risk of automation are those with low skill requirements and often low wages, with many entry-level and student jobs being at a higher risk of automation than jobs held by older workers.

UK Big Businesses Could be Forced to Explain Executive Pay Gaps from 2020

Large UK businesses could be forced to divulge executive pay gaps under new laws being presented to parliament today, amid growing concerns that top dog pay remains out of touch with that of most workers. Under the proposed rules, listed companies with more than 250 UK employees will be required to publish, and justify, the pay difference between their chief executive and their average worker, also known as their pay ratio. Businesses will also need to explain how their directors’ actions reflect the interests of their shareholders and employees, what responsible business arrangements they have undertaken and what effect a share price rise could have on executive pay. Assuming parliament approves the measures, they will come into force on 1 January 2019 and companies will need to start reporting their pay ratios from 2020. Last August, a report by the High Pay Centre and the CIPD revealed that the average pay ratio between FTSE 100 chief executives and their workers in the 2016 financial year was 129:1, while the pay ratio between FTSE 100 chief executives and the average UK worker was 160:1. Meanwhile, more than a fifth of FTSE all-share companies found themselves on the Investment Association’s public register of listed companies facing shareholder rebellion during 2017’s annual general meeting season – defined as those receiving votes of 20 per cent or more against any proposal or withdrawing resolutions before their meeting. Pay ratio reporting forms part of the government’s wider industrial strategy, the white paper for which was published last November. The government formally revealed plans to require companies to publish pay ratios in August 2017.

Millennials Increasingly Look to Global Mobility for Career Progression

Millennials, along with some of generation X, increasingly expect to take part in an overseas assignment to help meet their long-term career ambitions, according to research by the RES Forum.  The 2018 Annual Report for RES Forum –  an independent community for global mobility (GM) professionals with 1,500-plus members from more than 750 multinational organisations – showed a noticeable push for individualised talent management as younger generations joined the workforce. The report also explored Dickmann’s SAFE strategy – smart organisational development, agile strategic advice, flawless programme management and efficient GM people effectiveness – to global mobility, which aims to help businesses “design, execute and refine successful strategies, structures, policies and practices”. The report also charted the major trends and explained how GM departments could increase their success while preparing for the future. Among the major trends explored, the speakers focused on employee experience. The report also argued that businesses could benefit from tweaking packages to support individual employee’s career aspirations, especially as the UK geared up to leave the EU. Scenarios like this could be relatively low cost, but small differences could go a long way in improving employee engagement. Brexit also featured in last year’s RES Forum report. 2017’s research revealed that more than a third (34 per cent) of multinational employers with UK operations were worried it would become more difficult to attract the right talent after the UK left the EU. 

ARUA Launches First Centre of Excellence

The African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) has launched the first of 13 ‘centres of excellence’ – with this centre focused on inequality. The African Centre of Excellence for Inequalities Research (ACEIR), hosted by the University of Cape Town, aims to understand the drivers and consequences of inequality in Africa. It intends to address the analytical and measurement needs that are required for policy interventions and civil society action to turn the tide against inequality, according to a statement. Led by Professor Murray Leibbrandt of the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit at the University of Cape Town (UCT), the centre is part of ARUA’s strategy for expanding collaborative research through the development of research teams, a strategy which allows stronger universities in the ARUA network to augment the capacity of less endowed universities. ARUA, established in 2015, is a network of 16 of Africa's leading universities with a common vision to expand and enhance the quality of research done in Africa by African researchers. ACEIR will operate through three nodes, namely, the Poverty and Inequality Initiative of UCT, the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research of the University of Ghana and the University of Nairobi in Kenya. ACEIR has received a grant from Agence Française de Développement (AFD) for its initial work and each of the three nodes will receive direct financial support from AFD. According to an ARUA statement, Africa’s inequality dynamics are a key global issue, particularly given the fact that over the next 30 years the continent’s population will make up a rapidly rising share of the world’s population. The initial research programme will cover the following: Using census and survey data to profile and map inequality and poverty; Describing and analysing contemporary inequality using household surveys; Analysing the dynamics of poverty and inequality using panel data; and using the above evidence as a platform for dialogue over strategies to overcome poverty and inequality.

African Diaspora Fellows Ready for Joint Research

The Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program (CADFP) has selected 43 African universities in Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda to host 55 African-born scholars to build partnerships between home and host universities and address priority needs in host universities and countries. 

The visiting fellows, most of whom are now teaching in universities in the United States, will work with their hosts for up to three months on a wide range of selected projects. Many of them have paired up with scholars from their home countries to apply for the fellowships funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and managed jointly by the Institute of International Education (IIE) and the United States International University-Africa (USIU-Africa) in Nairobi. Kenyan projects dominate among those selected for the programme, with a total of 18 among the 54 selected originating from Kenyan institutions. The rest of the selected projects are based in Nigeria (15), Ghana (9), South Africa (5), Tanzania (4) and Uganda (3). The majority of successful Kenyan projects came out of private universities including USIU-Africa, which put forward a project to develop simple‚ efficient and low-cost water treatment technologies for use in areas lacking municipal water treatment facilities. According to the IIE statement, the projects include controlling malaria, strengthening peace and conflict studies, developing a new masters degree in emergency medicine, training and mentoring graduate students in criminal justice, archiving African indigenous knowledge, creating low cost water treatment technologies, building capacity in microbiology and pathogen genomics, and developing a forensic accounting curriculum. A total of 18 alumni will also return to their original host institutions to build on previous successful collaborations, or travel to a new institution in Africa to conduct additional projects, while others will participate in knowledge production workshops. Since it was founded in 2013 the initiative has awarded a total of 335 fellowships to scholars who travel to Africa for projects executed from universities on the continent.

AIMS Announces Female Climate Change Science Fellows

A programme under the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences Next Einstein Initiative (AIMS-NEI), aimed specifically at increased female participation to contribute to a more sustainable societal response to climate change, has announced its first climate change science fellows. Dr Nana Klutse from Ghana, Dr Jessica Nosizwe Paula Thorn, a South African national living in the United States, and Dr N'Datchoh Evelyne Touré from Ivory Coast will each receive between US$25,000 and US$31,000 over one year for the fellowship. AIMS-NEI launched the Fellowship Program for Women in Climate Change Science in 2017. The fellowship addresses barriers for women scientists such as pregnancy, childbirth and establishing a family head-on: the funding includes allocations for up to three dependents. Sixteen to 20 fellowships will be awarded from 2017 to 2022 to outstanding female scientists from all over the world who are applying substantive mathematical science concepts to address pressing climate change issues relevant to Africa. The programme was made possible by a grant from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and support from Canadian government, as part of a broader effort by AIMS-NEI to build the intellectual capital needed to solve the numerous challenges to Africa’s development resulting from climate change.

Mobile Money a Leading Payment Platform in Many Emerging Markets

The seventh annual state of the industry report on mobile money that was released recently by GSMA, shows that at the end of 2017, the global use of mobile money increased by 25 per cent to reach 690 million accounts compared to 2016 figures. In 2017, the industry processed transactions worth a billion dollars a day, generating direct revenues of over $2.4 billion. The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting nearly 800 operators with almost 300 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and internet companies. The 2017 results according to GSMA, were based on the strong growth in customer registrations during last year, which led to the addition of over 136 million new registered accounts. The data was generated from more than 90 countries and the GSMA report provides a comprehensive picture of mobile money and highlights the impact that greater financial inclusion has on lives, economies, and innovation. Mobile money is a leading payment platform for the digital economy in many emerging markets, Nigeria inclusive. The mobile money market in Nigeria has also witnessed some levels of growth, following the introduction of cashless initiative by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Several bank customers across Nigeria now prefer to transfer and receive money through their mobile phones, using different short codes that are specific to different banks. The new trend has helped to decongest the banking halls as customers now perform most of the financial transactions with their mobile phones and mobile devices from the comfort of their homes and offices that were hitherto performed by bank staff in the banking halls. Analysing the report, the Director General, GSMA, Mr. Mats Granryd, said some of the trends in mobile money in 2017 included the accelerated growth of bank-to-wallet interoperability, the growing adoption of smartphones, the proliferation of Financial Technology (FinTech) companies, the digitisation of new sectors of the economy, and renewed efforts by companies and governments to reach the most vulnerable and underserved. GSMA also reports that in 2017, for the first time, the growth of the industry was led by regions other than Africa. South Asia has recorded a yearly growth of 47 per cent and has become the fastest-growing region in terms of registered accounts.

Hopes for New School Model to Reduce Pressure on South Africa’s Universities

The Department of Basic Education hopes its new ‘three-stream model’ for boosting technical skills at school level will make studying at technical and vocational education and training colleges more attractive and reduce demand for university places, writes Tamar Khan for  Business Live. Basic education has historically channelled learners into two streams: an academic stream that led to the national senior certificate (matric), and a technical vocational stream that led to a qualification within the National Qualifications Framework. After grade nine, learners could either stay at school or transfer to technical and vocational education and training colleges. The three-stream model, which the department began piloting in 2017, adds a technical occupational stream, which has a greater emphasis on practical training than the vocational stream. It also directs more resources into the provision of technical skills, which the National Development Plan says is essential if South Africa is to produce more artisans and boost employment.

Applications Open for The Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program

The Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program (CADFP) is a scholar fellowship program for educational projects at African higher education institutions. Offered by IIE in collaboration with the United States International University-Africa (USIU-Africa), the program is funded by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY). Over the past four years, the program has funded 270 Fellowships at 102 African universities. Applications are now being accepted through July 6, 2018 at 11:59 PM EDT for the Spring 2018 competition of the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program (CADFP) More info on applying can be found here. 

Mobile Money Drives Financial Inclusion in Togo, says World Bank

In World Bank’s latest Global Findex, it is shown that Togo has made considerable improvements in 2014-2017. Under the sub-Saharan Africa category, Togo recorded the financial inclusion rate, ahead of countries like Côte d’Ivoire, Madagascar, Chad or Mali. While in the region, proportion of individuals with more than 15 years having a bank account almost doubled over the period reviewed (from 23% in 2011 to 43% in 2017), in Togo this figure soared from 18% to 45%. Now, almost 25% of adult population (+15 years old) have a traditional bank account. The surge was mainly driven by mobile payment and more than 10% of Togolese in the financial system have both a bank account and a mobile money account. A trend which is very likely to be more accentuated in the years to come, especially with the rise of mobile penetration rate (currently at about 80%). Truly, this is because many find mobile money as the best option to prevent corruption, even if the technology is not devoid of challenges. Despite all progress made by Togo regarding financial inclusion, the country, like other developing nations, also has to overcome the gender barrier in this framework, which widened by 10% over the past few years.

Marriott Hotels Debut in West Africa with the opening of Accra Marriott Hotel, Ghana

Marriott Hotels, part of Marriott International, has announced its debut in West Africa, with the opening of Accra Marriott Hotel. Owned by African Hospitality Limited, the hotel is strategically located opposite the Kotoka International Airport, making it the perfect “Gateway to West Africa”. Set in the heart of Airport City, a burgeoning urban development, the Accra Marriott Hotel is just a few kilometres outside of the central business district providing easy access to major corporate businesses, government entities and well-known city landmarks.

Falling Student Numbers in Kenya Raise Concerns for Higher Education Sector

Private investors and the Kenyan government are staring at millions of dollars in losses as several universities record falling student numbers, leaving universities with significant underutilised capacity. Survey data released by the country’s Ministry of Education recently indicate that a majority of universities are struggling to attract students to take up some courses under the state-funded regular programme. To make matters worse, all the students previously enrolling for the lucrative self-sponsored courses are now being absorbed under the regular programme. Since last year, the number of successful candidates graduating from secondary schools has fallen substantially after the government tightened examination rules to weed out thousands of cheaters who had over the years taken advantage of a sloppy monitoring system. In terms of a government directive issued at the beginning of this year, public universities are to directly absorb all secondary school leavers who score a mean grade of C+ and above. Those below the cut-off will no longer be allowed to enrol for degrees. This is a departure from the past when they had the option of entering universities as privately-funded students. The state, through the sector regulator the Commission for University Education, also barred universities from offering bridging courses, often taken by students who lacked sufficiently high grades to qualify for degree courses. The changes have significantly drained universities of potential students, raising questions over the viability of costly expansion projects embraced by several higher education institutions over the past few years. Statistics show that slightly fewer than 70,000 students qualified to join universities this year after attaining the requisite grades in the 2017 secondary examinations. Previously, at least half of these students were joining universities under the self-sponsored programmes while an equal number would be enrolled for regular courses. The number of those joining public universities is at least 18,000 lower than in 2017. Of the qualified candidates, only 62,851 have expressed an interest in joining universities this year, which suggests that over 7,000 students have opted not to enrol in any of the available courses. Data released recently by the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) – the body that places qualified students in universities – show that universities had at least 132,686 slots available in 2018. Educationists are justifiably concerned about the sustainability of Kenya’s higher education system and predict it is set for a major restructuring.

New Commonwealth Scholarships Announced to Honour Queen’s Service

150 new graduate scholarships, named in honour of the head of the Commonwealth and testament to her widely admired decades of service, will be made available. The announcement was made by the United Kingdom’s Prince Harry, in his role as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador, at the start of the Youth Forum, which formed part of the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting held in London in mid-April. The new scholarships will begin next year – 70 years after the founding of the club of ex-colonies of the former British Empire as equal and sovereign partners, and 60 years after the original Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan (CSFP), which already offers some 800 awards a year to students in low- and middle-income countries. From next year all Commonwealth scholarships will become Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships. Education has long been seen as a key way of delivering the aims of the Commonwealth – to promote understanding and cultural links among the 2.4 billion population, of whom 60% are below the age of 30. The scheme is being backed with a £5 million (US$6.8 million) grant from the UK Department for Education, with additional support being sought from other leading Commonwealth partners, with the money added to the CSFP endowment. The new awards, available to cover full fees, travel and living allowances for two-year masters degrees, come on stream from the new academic year with up to 30 a year on offer, hosted at nominated universities in what are deemed middle- and low-income countries such as Ghana, Sri Lanka, Rwanda and South Africa.

MoneyGram Launches Money Transfer Services to Bank Accounts in Ghana

MoneyGram has announced the launch of a money transfer service directly to any bank account in Ghana. Funds can be sent via MoneyGram online or at any one of MoneyGram's thousands of locations around the world. The money can be accessed in minutes either in person, online or through an ATM. The new account deposit service in Ghana is a part of MoneyGram's overall strategy to accelerate its digital growth and provide customers with convenient and accessible, technology-based financial services. According to the World Bank, in 2017, $2.2 billion flowed into Ghana, up 4.3% compared to 2016 what makes the country fifth largest remittances recipient in Africa. The inflows come mainly from the United States ($585 million), Nigeria ($395 million), the United Kingdom ($286 million), Italy ($145 million) and Germany ($115 million).

South Africa’s GIBS Ranks in World’s Top 50 Business Schools for Executive Education

The University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) has once again been ranked among the world’s 50 best business schools by the esteemed UK Financial Times in its 2018 Executive Education ranking. This is the 15th year that the institution has been ranked in this annual ranking which covers both customised programmes which are tailor-made for corporate customers and open programmes designed for leadership within organisations. Several parameters are used to compile this ranking which is based on the satisfaction levels of corporate clients and individual participants. With a combined ranking of 42, GIBS continues to hold its own as the leading African business school in this highly competitive space on par with the world’s premier business schools such as London Business School, MIT; Sloan, and Stanford Graduate School. The ranking looks at the best 90 business schools offering customised programmes and the best 75 offering open-enrolment programmes worldwide and highlights the quality and suitability of the programs and teaching excellence.

Coca-Cola Africa to Invest $100 Million in Kenya

Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA), the continent’s largest soft drinks bottler, has announced a plan to invest $100 million in Kenya over the next five years. The company says the money will be spent improving infrastructure and launching new products. The company plans to introduce 50 new products in Kenya.  Local Managing Director Daryl Wilson says many of those new products will include various sugar-free and flavoured water beverages. Coca-Cola already has more than 130 existing product lines in the country. The company has launched a 7 billion Kenyan Shilling ($69 million) new juice line at its Nairobi plant. It operates four bottling plants in Kenya. CCBA’s distribution system includes 300 official distributors reaching across the country of 45 million people. The company operates in a dozen sub-Saharan African countries including Ethiopia and South Africa. Coca-Cola’s African expansion plans are not limited to Kenya.  The company will open at least five factories in Ethiopia, its most profitable market, over the next five years

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

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

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