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African Economic Conference: The do’s and don’ts of youth employment

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African governments, working with civil society and the private sector, should formulate deliberate policies to boost employability, particularly of the continent’s youth, according to regional surveys presented at this year’s African Economic Conference (AEC) in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

Researchers Abou Kane from Senegal, Joachim Tindo from Cameroon and Togo’s Mawussi Djahini-Afawoubo administered the survey to analyze the labor market in their respective countries.

The survey results on Wednesday dominated discussions at the three-day conference, hosted by the African Development Bank in partnership with the United Nations Development Program and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. The theme of the conference is: “Jobs, entrepreneurship and capacity development for African youth.”

Kane’s study, which sampled 2,755 people in Dakar, assessed the impact of state-run support programs. “The support programs improved the employability of the beneficiaries, but they did not sufficiently boost self-employment.”

According to him, Senegalese men have easier access to employment and are more likely to be in permanent jobs than women.

“The government and the private sector should encourage and sustain these programs. Moreover, women and young people should be taken into consideration to improve their situation,” he said.

“The programs proposed have a positive overall effect on confidence (86% of respondents), the judgment of capacities (87%) and bringing young people closer to the labor market (61%).”

Tindo explored the participation of young people in public employment in Cameroon, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Chad and Senegal. His study found that the economic crisis of the mid-1980s in sub-Saharan Africa had severe consequences for Francophone economies.

“These countries had high unemployment rates during this period. For Cameroon, the unemployment rate exceeded 20% between 1993 and 1994,” Tindo said.

Togolese researcher Djahini-Afawoubo examined how labor market policies affect the transition from training to working life. He called on governments to aid the formalization of small businesses in a bid to ensure stable and decent jobs for young people.

“Governments should also ensure that fixed-term jobs are deliberately created as part of state labor market policies. This could include measures to reduce the cost of labor for formal businesses and reduce the tax burden,” he added.

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AfDB presents findings of the Angola Green Mini-Grid Market Assessment

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The African Development Bank hosted a webinar to present the findings and recommendations of the Angola Green Mini-Grid Market Assessment report, implemented through the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa.

The assessment was conducted with the technical assistance of Carbon Trust, in collaboration with the Government of Angola, and in consultation with key stakeholders such as development partners and private sector representatives. The report assesses key enabling factors required for large scale mini-grid development, as well as the overall potential of the mini-grid market in Angola, in alignment with the country’s energy sector development strategy.

The report estimates that 9.9 million people, representing 32% of Angola’s total population, and 47% of the non-electrified population, could be best served by mini-grid solutions. It also highlighted the regulatory gaps that exist in the mini-grid market, including insufficient incentives for private sector participation. Overall, the assessment recommends that addressing the gaps could unlock an estimated demand for mini-grids of approximately $252.5 million in Angola, based on the average annual electricity expenditure per capita, in rural areas.

The webinar held on 23 July 2020, provided a platform for over 100 participants to discuss opportunities and challenges relating to the development of green mini-grids in Angola, as well as enhanced coordination and partnerships towards the advancement of sustainable expansion of clean energy in the Southern African country.

Among participants were representatives of the government, from the Ministry of Energy and Water, the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Environment, and the Ministry of Economy and Planning.  Development partners, private sector actors, and national and regional associations in the sector also took part.

In his opening remarks, the African Development Bank Country Manager for Angola, Joseph Ribeiro, noted that the energy sector plays a vital role in national efforts towards poverty reduction and sustainable socio-economic development, as per the country’s economic diversification agenda.

Angola’s National Director for Rural Electrification in the water and energy ministry, Serafim Silveira, underscored the importance of mini-grids to the government’s rural electrification objectives. The other speakers were Executive Director of the Lusophone Renewable Energy Association, Isabel Abreu, and the representative of the Establishment Committee of the Angolan Renewable Energies Association, Pedro Torres.

The Bank’s Division Manager for Renewable Energy, João Cunha, said the report will inform the design of technical assistance by the Bank to the Angolan government in preparation for the rollout of a mini-grid scale-up program

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Ten Years to Midnight: Four urgent global crises and their strategic solutions

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The world has 10 years to solve its urgent challenges or it will be too late. In his new book, TEN YEARS TO MIDNIGHT: Four Urgent Global Crises and Their Strategic Solutions (August 4, 2020; Berret-Koehler), Blair Sheppard sets out why that timeline is so crucial, what the most urgent challenges are and the key elements of a solution.

He argues that the 70-year period of economic and social progress kicked off by the Marshall Plan has now unraveled. Instead of a steady story of progress, the world faces four crises:

  • A crisis of prosperity, with rising inequality, poor life choices for young people, the squeezed middle class and a mass of people on the brink of retirement but lacking the savings to sustain them;  
  • A crisis of technology, as our economic system drives innovation but fails to manage unintended negative consequences which pollute key elements of life support, from our atmosphere to our news;
  • A crisis of institutional legitimacy, as traditional institutions try to maintain their existing structures in the face of major global forces, and find themselves buckling and warping rather than adapting; and,
  • A crisis of leadership, as those who should help us manage these crises instead focus on narrow priorities rather than leading the world towards holistic solutions.

Drawing on new data and analysis conducted in Sheppard’s role as Global Leader for Strategy and Leadership for the PwC network, the author argues that businesses, governments and civil society should adopt a fundamentally different approach to the one that drove 20th Century economic development. He argues for greater emphasis on local economies (local first) as well as on scaling innovative solutions quickly (massive, fast), a fundamental reshaping of innovation policy to bake societal outcomes into technological development, greater use of public private partnerships with clear goals, and more inclusive measures of success.

Having worked with global leaders across a range of fields, Sheppard argues this change requires a new approach to leadership that embraces apparently contrasting elements – to be humanly and technologically savvy, heroic and humble, rooted in tradition as a ballast but also innovative.

The book began with a question: What are the world’s most pressing global concerns and how can they be solved together? What he and his team discovered is a new path to rebuilding and reinvigorating institutions, redefining what it means to be a nation or economy, forging shared cultural and social bonds, and rekindling innovation for social good instead of harm. To press these solutions forward as the clock ticks toward a global unwinding, Sheppard also calls for a new level of imagination, cooperation and urgency from the world’s leaders in every sector and every country.

For more information, please visit the book’s webpage.

Blair Sheppard is the Global Leader for Strategy and Leadership at PwC, a network of professional services firms committed to building trust in society and solving important problems. He is also the Dean Emeritus and Professor Emeritus of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, where he taught  for thirty-three years. He was the principal force behind opening Duke’s campus in China, and the founder and CEO of Duke Corporate Education. He was born in Hamilton, Ontario (Canada) and lives in Durham, North Carolina (US).

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Global Top 100 companies bounce back from March 2020 lows but volatility remains elevated

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Global equity markets have seen a strong bounce back from the low points seen in March 2020, but volatility remains elevated, according to a new quarterly update to the Global Top 100 companies by market capitalisation rankings, released today by PwC.

The report notes that, most immediately, a disappointing reporting season for H1 2020 earnings could cause a re-evaluation of recession risks and associated stock valuations. 

Having decreased by 15% ($3,905bn) from December 2019 to March 2020, the market capitalisation of the Global Top 100 as at June 2020 was only 1% ($335bn) behind December 2019.

By comparison as at 30 June 2020 the MSCI World Index (representing large and mid-cap equity performance across 23 developed markets) was 7% behind December 2019, having recovered most of the ground lost in the first quarter of 2020. 

Ross Hunter, IPO Centre Leader at PwC, says,

‘With the significant volatility in financial markets, the world’s largest companies provide relative security for investors. The concentration of Technology and Consumer Services companies is a key driver of the Global Top 100 outperforming the wider market index.

‘This is a challenging environment for all companies, but there are clear distinctions in the relative performance of different regions and sectors. I hope this quarterly review will provide  interesting insights into how the markets are viewing the world’s largest businesses as they  adapt to this uncertain landscape.’ 

Regional analysis

  • Global Top 100 companies from the US and China and its regions recovered first quarter losses in March to June 2020 – Europe and the rest of the world did not recover the lost ground. 
  • Technology companies contributed to a 21% market capitalisation increase for US companies from March to June 2020.
  •  The performance in China and its regions since December 2019 benefitted from a combination of being further advanced in recovering from the effects of COVID-19 and a strong Technology and e-commerce (Consumer Services) component. 

Companies highlights

  • Eighty seven of the Global Top 100 companies as at June 2020 saw an increase in market capitalisation from March to June 2020, compared with just ten from January to March 2020
  • 10 companies included in the Global Top 100 as at March 2020 have dropped out and did not qualify for the June 2020 list.

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