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Items filtered by date: Tuesday, 16 May 2017

The dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is here. Sthe Shabangu, Lead: Public Relations, Public Affairs and Corporate Citizenship, Samsung Africa Office asks whether we are doing enough to ensure Africa is ready.

Africa is standing before a small window of opportunity to grow future-ready leaders equipped to take on a new era of industry. It will be our ability to come together and develop those leaders that will determine whether we fly or fall.

The tough reality is that radical disruption to skills requirements in the workplace is headed our way as we edge towards the next Industrial Revolution. Research presented at the World Economic Forum on Africa last Sthe Shabangu, Lead: Public Relations, Public Affairs and Corporate Citizenship, Samsung Africa
week shows that in South Africa alone, 39% of the core skills required across industries will be completely different in three years' time.

Yet, the Forum also brought forward concerning statistics which paint a picture of a continent that is struggling to develop skills for today, never mind skills for tomorrow. Indeed, WEF's Human Capital Index reveals that sub-Saharan Africa currently captures just 55% of its human capital potential, when compared with the global average of 65%.

On the one hand, employers say an under-skilled workforce is holding their businesses back - as many as 41% of all firms in Tanzania and 30% in Kenya. But on the other hand, just 50% of Africa's school-age children are enrolled in secondary school, and a startlingly low 7% in tertiary education. The gap between skills required and skills administered is greater in Africa than in any other region in the world.
Radical intervention is needed.

It's simple, if we fail to adequately upskill our youth, we will be guilty of throwing away the future of an entire continent. By 'we' I don't just mean the government or education providers, but you and I, the people and private entities who wake up each morning on this vibrant continent we call home.

The opportunity

The good news is that every challenge also presents an opportunity. While the next Industrial Revolution will brings a massive wave of disruption, it also brings the promise of completely new job descriptions which will call on dynamic and exciting skills sets.
According to findings from WEF, our continent will need young individuals who can combine digital and stem skills with more traditional skill sets. Africa is going to need significant numbers of digital-mechanical engineers and business operations data analysts, to name a few.

How do we get there?

The million dollar question is: how do we grasp hold of this golden opportunity to see our continent transition into a new industrial era? I believe the answer lies in the stories that belong to remarkable young individuals like Ken Gitonga.

Ken is the administrator of the Samsung Engineering Academy in Nairobi. The Academy, which was launched in Nairobi in 2014, revolutionises traditional education by providing technical and vocational training for school learners, tertiary students and employed youth. As will become evident from Ken's story, the strength of the Academy lies in its ability to provide talented individuals like Ken, not only with the skills they need to succeed, but also to invest back into their communities.

Ken has been making things from as young as six years old, when he built himself a toy car out of wire and wood. He would use sticks, wires and just about any empty household item he could find, to create his own 'gadgets'. As he didn't have a lot of money growing up, these gadgets were his toys.

While Ken was given the opportunity to develop his considerable skills by attending the Academy himself, he now uses his talents to help grow the skills of the next generation. His analytical mind serves him well in this pursuit. Through his planning and logistical genius, he has created a bespoke work station programme that enables students to effectively learn about a particular electronic device. Every day, Ken prepares the course materials needed by the Academy's lecturers and helps deliver course content when needed.

His is just one of the many stories currently unfolding as Samsung continues to drive the development of skills-for-employability amongst the youth in Ethiopia, South Africa, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria through the Engineering Academy Initiative.

As a continent of individuals and entities, both private and public, we need to come together to push forward initiatives like these so that we can grasp hold of the unique opportunity that stands before us; growing a generation of talented young individuals ready to take the continent forward.

Together, we can be unstoppable.

Published in Opinion & Analysis

There are strong rumours that Nigeria could be having a national carrier in the shortest possible time as the Federal Government completely takes over two airline companies.

A likely merger and conversion of assets of Arik Air and Aero Contractors is one of the options being considered by the Federal Government (FG) in the buildup to a new national carrier for the country.

The option, according to sources, is due to the alleged debt burden of the airlines. Besides, despite government’s recent intervention since their takeover by the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), the airlines are not promising in terms of operations and debt payment.

The conversion plan, though already faulted by some stakeholders, will further reduce private domestic operations to six airlines, with the attendant debt burden and legal issues for the prospective national carrier.

The antagonists urged the government to start the airline from the scratch, ensuring it is publicly owned and free from political interference.The defunct Nigeria Airways was the country’s national and flag carrier between 1958 and 2003. The airline, fully owned by the Federal Government, was liquidated over mismanagement, corruption and over-staffing, with its indebtedness put in the region of $78 million (N23.8 billion).
While its asset was bought over by Arik Air in 2007, no fewer than 6000 workers were still being owed severance packages to the tune of N78 billion.Floating a new choice flag carrier has been on the front burner of discourses by the current administration since 2015. The government, penultimate week, appointed advisers to help set it up and develop its aviation infrastructure.

Top sources in the Ministry of Aviation told The Guardian at the weekend that “all options, including the rumour surrounding Arik Air, Aero, are all on the table to choose from. “Left to some parties, government should just build a strong carrier from these troubled airlines. Not only Arik or Aero. There are other defunct airlines, about 10 of them, still owing government.

“So, government is aware of these options and other issues that can come out of it. I can tell you that the best of all the options will be taken to suit the interest of all Nigerians. That is why the matter is currently before advisers to recommend appropriately. But for now, nothing has been decided,” a source, who craved anonymity, said.

Arik Air, which emerged from the assets of the defunct Nigeria Airways some 10 years at the giveaway price of N600 million drew the displeasure of some stakeholders who are now insisting that the Federal Government should take over the “national assets” from the airline.

The 28-aircraft capacity flag carrier was taken over in February amid the allegation that the former managers were indebted to the tune of N387 billion. In fact, it was last week rumoured that there were some moves by AMCON to liquidate the airline and sell it to the Ethiopian airline or go into merger to birth a new national carrier. Both claims were, however, denied by the agency.

Its Head of Corporate Communications, Jude Nwauzor, said even if government wanted to take that route, “it will not be under the table.”But the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said a group of six advisor firms, including German carrier Lufthansa that currently services Arik, would counsel the government on setting up a national airline, an aviation leasing company and a maintenance hanger in line with the administration’s planned concessioning of the airports.

Reacting to the development, the Secretary General of Aviation Round Table Initiative (ART), Group Captain John Ojikutu (rtd), sanctioned a new carrier but with a caveat. According to him, the shareholding in the proposed airline should be 55 per cent for the nation while foreign technical investors should hold the rest 45 per cent.

He offered that the 55 per cent should be distributed as follows: 36 per cent for the states, with each of them holding one per cent; 18 per cent for principal investors from every state, each holding 0.5 per cent while Abuja and its principal access one per cent.

To the Chairman of Nigerian Aviation Safety Initiative (NASI), Capt. Dung Rwang Pam, the conversion of the two beleaguered airlines should be a second thought after all moves to restructuring and returning them to profitability might have failed.
Meanwhile, stakeholders have called for the full implementation of Aeronautical Information Services (AIS) procedure in the country as the world celebrates the 2017 AIS Day today.

The Aeronautical Information Services Association of Nigeria said the implementation borders on safety standards contained in Annex 15 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago 1944).Its president, Babatunde Shittu, noted that the theme for year’s celebration, “No AIS is left behind”, was apt.


Credit: Nigerian Guardian

Published in Travel & Tourism

Vodacom Group Ltd., South Africa's largest mobile operator by subscribers, is buying a $2.59 billion stake in Kenya's Safaricom Ltd. in the hope of popularizing the highly-touted East African mobile money service M-Pesa across the broader continent.

Vodacom said it has agreed to acquire a 35% stake in Safaricom, Kenya's biggest mobile operator, from Vodafone International Holdings B.V. by issuing 226.8 million new ordinary shares. The deal is a reshuffling of the pack for Vodafone, which has big stakes in both companies, in Africa.

Based on Vodacom's closing price Friday of 152.49 rand per Vodacom share on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, the deal is worth 34.6 billion rand ($2.59 billion), a 5.9% discount to the Safaricom share price on the Nairobi Securities Exchange at closing ahead of the announcement. Vodacom shares are up 0.1% year-to-date, while Safaricom shares are up 5.7%.

"Acquiring a strategic stake in Safaricom will provide our shareholders with access to a high growth, high margin, high cash generation business operating in a high growth market," Shameel Joosub, chief executive of Vodacom, said in a statement. He added that he hopes the closer cooperation between the two companies will help drive the adoption of M-Pesa in Vodacom's other markets.

Analysts have previously said that M-Pesa, which has struggled to gain traction in some of the continent's more developed economies such as South Africa, doesn't hold much value for consumers who are already included in the formal banking sector. Vodacom scrapped the service in South Africa altogether last year amid poor uptake by consumers.

Vodacom, which is majority-owned by Vodafone Group Ltd., plans to acquire 87.5% of the issued share capital of Vodafone Kenya Ltd., which holds a 40% interest in Safaricom and is wholly owned by Vodafone. Vodafone will retain a 12.5% interest in Vodafone Kenya, and about a 5% interest in Safaricom, after completion of the proposed transaction. Vodafone will subscribe for new Vodacom shares, and its interest in Vodacom will rise to 70% from 65% currently.

Vodacom says it hopes to "create further value through closer cooperation between both companies, including best practice sharing; replication of Safaricom's success in M-Pesa in Vodacom Group's other territories; and the creation of new Pan-African enterprise solutions in contiguous markets in East Africa."

Vodacom, with 66.8 million customers on the continent, expects the interest in Safaricom to contribute about 15% of its earnings, based on Vodacom's net profit for the year ended March 31, which rose from a year earlier, due to strong customer additions in South Africa, where the company added 3 million subscribers.

Net profit rose 3.9% to 13.42 billion rand. Revenue rose 1.5% to 81.28 billion rand.

The company declared a second-half dividend of 4.35 rand a share, making the total dividend for the year 8.30 rand a share.

Vodacom said its international operations continued to be affected by currency volatility as well as new customer registration processes. In 2015, Nigerian authorities fined MTN Group Ltd., Africa's largest telecommunications company, billions of dollars after it failed to disconnect improperly registered SIM cards by a government-imposed deadline, under regulations meant to combat terrorism. Other governments have since ordered similar disconnections of unregistered users under new subscriber registration legislation.

Still, Vodacom said its international operations added 2.5 million customers for the year, with international data revenue up 2.3% to 4.11 billion rand, thanks to a 29% increase in customers that use data to 13 million.


- Dow Jones Newswires

Published in Telecoms

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