Top tech skills challenges for African firms revealed

GERMANY software company, Systems Applications Products (SAP) Africa, has highlighted an urgent need to invest in skills development and training to ensure Africa can capitalise on its youth dividend.Cathy Smith, Managing Director at SAP Africa, noted more than half of the world’s population growth between now and 2050 will take place in Africa, where 1,3-billion people are expected to be born by mid-century.

She said with the correct investment in skills development, Africa’s economy could transition away from its reliance on natural resources to build the world’s future tech workforce, bringing untold economic and social benefit to the continent and its citizens.”However, as our research reveals, African organisations still face some difficulties with attracting, retaining and upskilling suitably skilled tech workers,” Smith said.

The research was conducted among organisations in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa in the fourth quarter of 2022.The “Africa’s Tech Skills Scarcity Revealed” report found that a lack of skills is having a negative effect on the continent’s digital transformation efforts.Four in five organisations surveyed reported some negative effect from a lack of tech skills, with 41 percent reporting that employees are leaving due to the pressures they experience as a result of understaffing.

Other consequences include not being able to meet client needs (reported by 46 percent), reduced capacity for innovation (53 percent), and losing customers to competitors (60 percent).Nearly all organisations expected to experience a tech skills related challenge in 2023.More than two-thirds (69 percent) also said they expect to experience a skills gap in the year ahead.

ccording to the data, the top skills challenge for African organisations is attracting skilled new recruits, although in South Africa the retention of skilled employees narrowly edged out attracting skills as the top challenge.In response to the ongoing tech skills challenges, organisations are taking bold steps to ensure they have access to the correct tech skills.

The “Africa’s Tech Skills Scarcity Revealed” report further found that the most in-demand skills include cyber security and data analytics (63 percent), developer and industry skills (49 percent) and digital transformation skills (48 percent). CAJ News

Source: CAJ News Agency

Eight years on, no sign of kidnapped Zimbabwean activist

ZIMBABWEAN authorities have failed to account for journalist and pro-democracy activist, Itai Dzamara, who went missing exactly eight years ago after his abduction by suspected state agents.Five men forced him into a vehicle, at a barber shop, accusing him of stealing cattle.

He has never been seen since that day, March 9, 2015.That was at the height of crackdowns by the then president, Robert Mugabe (now late).Prior to his abduction, Dzamara had called for former Mugabe to step down and criticized his handling of Zimbabwe’s economy.

Two days before the kidnapping, he had addressed a rally in the capital Harare where he called for mass action to address the deteriorating conditions in Zimbabwe.He had previously been targeted by state security agents, the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) beaten, abducted and unlawfully detained.

mnesty International believes the continued failure of Zimbabwe’s authorities to launch an effective investigation into Dzamara’s disappearance is a travesty of justice that sends a chilling message about the security of others who demand accountability from the government.”The failure of Zimbabwean authorities to account for the enforced disappearance of Itai Dzamara, eight years after he was last seen, speaks volumes about the lack of political will to account for him,” said Lucia Masuka, Executive Director of Amnesty International Zimbabwe.

“The world and Itai Dzamara’s family want truth and justice for his disappearance. His family also wants to be freed from the agonizing uncertainty they have been subjected to since his disappearance,” Masuka said.

Masuka, said since Dzamara’s disappearance, no meaningful investigation had taken place and his whereabouts remain unknown.”We need to see an inquiry with findings that are made public, and suspected perpetrators brought to justice,” Masuka said.

In 2016, then Vice President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, told the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva that the government was actively pursuing the search for Dzamara.Mnangagwa has been president since 2017 after the military helped oust his former boss, president Mugabe.

Source: CAJ News Agency

Freddy’s return strikes fear into Mozambique

WITH the powerful Cyclone Freddy set to hit Mozambique a second time this year, there are fears of a repeat of Cyclone Idai, which killed more than 1 500 people in Southern Africa in 2019.A majority of these, 905, died in Mozambique.Freddy is forecast to make another landfall in Mozambique on Friday night as a Category 3 cyclone, with winds of around 160 kilometres per hour and gusts of up to 190 km/h, according to the National Institute of Meteorology.

More than 900 000 people, half of them children are are at risk.”The return of Cyclone Freddy triggers fears that this will be a repeat of Cyclone Idai, which killed more than 1 000 people in southern Africa in 2019,” Brechtje van Lith, Save the Children’s Country Director in Mozambique, said.

In fact, 1 593 people were confirmed dead in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. This makes it the deadliest tropical cyclone in the South-West Indian Ocean and second-deadliest tropical cyclone recorded in the Southern Hemisphere.

Infrastructure estimated at US$3,3 billion makes Idai the costliest tropical cyclone in the South-West Indian Ocean.Freddy is the first tropical cyclone in the Southern Hemisphere to intensify four times.

It is on track to becoming the longest-lived tropical cyclone in history after traversing the entire Indian Ocean for a month.Van Lith is worried about the impact of Freddy and accompanying rains, in particular on the communities that have not yet recovered from when Freddy first made landfall last month.

Schools were destroyed in Inhambane province and farming communities lost their crops as a result of flooding in Gaza province.Some places across Sofala and Zambezia provinces have already had a month’s worth of rain in a few days, raising fears of flooding.

Save the Children fears that further floods and storms will worsen the ongoing cholera outbreak in Mozambique. The water borne disease has killed 43 people in recent months.

Floods and storms in the conflict-affected areas in the northern provinces could add further torment to the displaced people who are living in tents and makeshift accommodation that does not resist extreme weather conditions.Cabo Delgado is the epicentre of the Islamist insurgency ongoing since 2017.

Source: CAJ News Agency

Extremely difficult times for children in Malawi

THE future of children is increasingly bleak as the death toll in Malawi’s deadliest cholera outbreak surpasses 1 500.This is also at a time the impoverished nation struggles to respond to a polio outbreak and ongoing COVID-19 cases.The Southern African country is searing under the pressure of limited resources and an overburdened health system.

Health workers are stretched to their limits.”These are incredibly difficult times for the children of Malawi,” lamented Rudolf Schwenk, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) representative in Malawi.

Since the outbreak of cholera was officially announced just over one year ago, cholera has spread to all 29 districts.It has affected more than 50 000 people.

Of these more than 12 000 children have contracted cholera and 197 have died.The conditions for this lethal cholera outbreak have been attributed to Tropical storms Ana and Gombe which hit Malawi just over a year ago.

This is combined with chronic underfunding on water and sanitation infrastructure, and a disruption of cholera prevention campaigns due to COVID-19.UNICEF is concerned that, without immediate and adequate action, this outbreak will worsen as this year’s rainy season reaches its peak.In addition, with the ongoing annual lean season, millions of Malawians are expected to be food insecure.

Currently, an estimated 4,8 million children, half the entire population of children, are in humanitarian need.UNICEF projects that by the end of March, more than 213 000 children under five years will be acutely malnourished, with over 62 000 severely so.

Experts state that a severely malnourished child is 11 times more likely to die from cholera than a well-nourished child.”A bout of cholera may amount to a death sentence for thousands of children in Malawi,” Schwenk warned.

UNICEF is appealing for US$52,4 million to intervene in Malawi’s health crises.At the United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5) in Doha, Malawi President Lazarous Chakwera on Wednesday met Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the Secretary General United Nations on Disaster Risk Reduction.

The pair discussed the plight of Malawi amid natural disasters.Chakwera highlighted that since 2019, Malawi had been heavily affected by cyclones Gombe, Idai and Kenneth as well as tropical storm Ana.

“The extensive damage these have caused is common knowledge both locally and globally,” the president said. CAJ News

Source: CAJ News Agency

Crises leave kids homeless, out of school in Mozambique

THE series of cyclones that continue making landfall in Mozambique is the latest trigger forcing thousands of children out of school.This, and the Islamist insurgency that has been going on for years, is pushing children and their families even further from home.

Humanitarians are concerned at the impact these crises are having on the mental well-being of the minors.Out of school, which offers safety and stability, children are now vulnerable to a myriad of dangers.

“For children and youth who are vulnerable during crisis, education offers a safe environment that allows them to learn and play while protecting them from risks including gender-based violence, trafficking, recruitment into armed groups, child labour, prostitution and early marriage,” lamented Roger Yates, Plan International’s Regional Director for Middle East, Eastern and Southern Africa.He said it was important that countries, humanitarian and development partners ensured urgently that forcibly displaced children were included in national education plans.

“For most of these vulnerable children, life is very unstable,” Yates said.”School offers stability, structure, routine, a sense of normalcy and psychosocial support that helps them cope with loss, fear, stress and violence over and above life-saving information, such as sexual reproductive health and rights, and menstrual hygiene management,” Yates said.

Storm-induced rainfall, the latest being from Cyclone Freddy that made landfall on February 24, has resulted in at least seven deaths.More than 150 000 people have been displaced and public infrastructure damaged as services came to a halt.

Families barely have the chance to recover between crises. Those in the north are worst affected because of the Islamist insurgency that has raged from 2017.Plan International is implementing the project, “Together for Inclusive Quality Education in Response to IDP (internally displaced person) Crisis in Cabo Delgado, in Montepuez.

“Started in May 2022, completion is scheduled for April 2023.”We hope to improve access to inclusive quality formal education at primary school level for IDP and host community children by ensuring teachers are able to provide gender-responsive quality education services and parents support a safe and conducive learning environment for the children,” said Gerald Magashi, Country Director, Plan International Mozambique. CAJ News

Source: CAJ News Agency

SA women conquering the impediments

SOUTH African women are scoring higher than their global counterparts on defying impediments that hinder them from reaching their full potential financially and at work.New research from beauty brand, Avon, reveals that in a research report released on the eve of the global commemoration of International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8.

The global research indicated that lack of flexible working opportunities (48 percent), earned income (46 percent) and the ability to start their own business (29 percent) are among the biggest inequalities that women believe they face.The global consumer research has been conducted in Avon’s key markets to understand women’s lived experiences when it comes to choice and freedom, highlighting where there are still disparities and where we need to make progress.

The research has been conducted across 7 000 women in seven markets United Kingdom, Poland, Romania, Italy, South Africa, Turkey, and the Philippines. The sample size for each market is 1 000 women.

The research was also supported by The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) report on Gender Equality, which provides data and league tables on how different countries are addressing progress for women, including economic participation, education, health, and political achievement.According to the WEF, female entrepreneurship is growing around the world, with between eight and 10 million small and medium-sized enterprises across the developing world having at least one female owner.

Despite this, men still outnumber women three to one when it comes to business ownership.Some 82 percent of South African women sampled believe that the escalating cost of living has negatively impacted their finances compared to 76 percent of other participants in the research.

South African women scored higher on other metrics. About 91 percent of South African women that participated in the survey believed that stereotypes biased in favour of men are a barrier to equal opportunities compared to 86 percent, while 39 percent of South African women believed that access to setting up a business favours men, compared to 35 percent of their global counterparts.

The survey found that 88 percent of South African women also indicated that they would like to earn more money compared to 77 percent average of other women sampled in the survey.”The findings of this research vindicate some of the interventions that Avon has put in place to advance women empowerment,” said Mafahle Mareletse, Managing Director: Avon Justine Turkey, Middle East and Africa.

“As an organisation for women, we have unashamedly advocated for the removal of barriers that hamper women from reaching their full potential.”Angela Cretu, Chief Executive Officer of Avon, concurred.

“Study after study has shown us that when women are empowered and engaged, all of society benefits a better world for women is a better world for all,” she said.Cretu said while some countries are taking positive steps forward, many women are still experiencing barriers when it comes to freedom of choice, work, and the opportunity to earn.

“We want to change that,” she said.

Source: CAJ News Agency

Tourism on course for complete recovery

TOURISM is on track to achieve full recovery this year and ready to deliver on its potential as a pillar of peace and sustainability.This is the message delivered by World Tourism Organisation (WTO) Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili, to sector leaders at the Internationale Tourismus-Balrse in Berlin.

s the leading tourism trade fair celebrates its first in-person event since 2019, WTO data shows that more than twice as many people travelled internationally in January as they did at the start of last year.The return of ITB, alongside the recent re-opening of China, is clear proof of renewed confidence in international travel, WTO stated.

“We must speed up and scale up to a more sustainable and resilient tourism,” Pololiksahvili said.Pololikashvili urged both governments and businesses to recognise the importance of education and training, as well as the crucial role of investment, said to be the missing ingredient” for turning plans for greater sustainability and resilience into reality.

Investment will be the theme for World Tourism Day 2023, to be celebrated on September 27.At ITB 2023, which runs until Thursday, WTO will be part of a special industry roundtable, focusing on transitions in travel’, while also sharing key knowledge and insights into tourism’s climate action efforts, and expectations for tourist behaviour as the sector’s recovery continues.WTO will also provide an update of its leading work in tourism for rural development, including through the Best Tourism Villages initiative.

Source: CAJ News Agency