mea business awards

MEA Markets Magazine Announces the Winners of the 2020 MEA Business Awards

United Kingdom, 2021– MEA Markets magazine has announced the winners of the 2020 MEA Business Awards.

2020 marks the fifth year that MEA Markets Magazine has hosted the MEA Business Awards. 2020 has also been one of the most challenging years the region has faced, with little in the way of precedence to guide solutions. In the circumstances businesses of all sizes found themselves in, this vast region’s entrepreneurial spirit took hold, acting as a guiding light when other options were lacking. It is with this in mind that we organised the 2020 awards.

Awards Coordinator Katherine Benton took a moment to comment on the success of those recognised: “Sincere congratulations to all of those recognised in the 2020 edition of this programme. While it has been a difficult 12 months, all of those recognised have managed to succeed in a time where success has an almost unachievable goal. I hope you all have a fantastic 2021 ahead.”

To find out more about these prestigious awards, and the dedicated professionals selected for them, please visit http://www.mea-markets.com/ where you can view our winners supplement and full winners list.

ENDS

Notes to editors.

About MEA Markets

Published quarterly, MEA Markets endeavours to provide readers with the latest business and investment news from across the Middle East and African regions.

Keeping pace with a vast array of ever-changing sectors thanks to regular contributions from some of the region’s top corporate professionals across a variety of industries, MEA Markets is home to the very best news, features and comment from the people and institutions in the know.

uae

UAE business reforms are ‘game-changing’ for its intl competitive advantage

Landmark business reforms in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will prompt an “unprecedented explosion” of foreign direct investment in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and will cement their growing status as major international financial centres.
 
The bold prediction is from Nigel Green, the founder and CEO of deVere Group, one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory and fintech organisations.
 
It follows His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announcing on Monday amendments to the law regarding business ownership.
 
Under the new legislation, the UAE will allow 100% ownership of businesses for foreign nationals from December 1, 2020. Previously, all businesses were required to have a UAE citizen sponsor.
 
Mr Green notes: “Dubai and Abu Dhabi are already recognised as two of the most powerful business and financial hubs in the world by international investors who are lured by the incredible possibilities offered in terms of finance, trade and commerce, plus the famous ‘can do’ attitude and the low tax environment in these destinations.
 
“This appeal has just sky-rocketed further due to the reform of the business ownership law, which now permits businesses to be fully owned by foreign nationals.
 
“We can now expect an unprecedented explosion of foreign direct investment in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and they will further cement their growing status as major international financial centres.”
 
He continues: “This is especially the case after the UAE government in September changed legislation so that expatriates are now legally able to remain in the country long after they retire.”
 
Earlier this year, the deVere CEO said that over the next decade, the UAE will  become one of the world’s top ten international financial hubs to rival and more aggressively compete with stalwarts such as London, New York and Hong Kong.”
 
He noted: “Dubai and Abu Dhabi are helped in this regard by having an independent regulator, an independent judicial system, a global financial exchange, a stable, pro-business government, a high proposition of high net worth individuals, a dynamic business community, world-class infrastructure and telecommunications, English as its defacto business language, and their enviable geographical location and time zone.”
 
During the height of the pandemic deVere announced it is to develop a major digital finance and fintech operation from its Dubai base.
 
Mr Green concludes: “This reform has just significantly boosted the UAE’s already substantial competitive advantage.  This is a game-changer.”

Mauritas PM

Mauritius PM calls for equitable distribution of vaccines internationally at WISH 2020 Summit

Pravind Jugnauth urges global coordinated efforts to contain virus outbreak.

A strong public healthcare infrastructure and the development of a multi-layered response driven by scientific and medical data lie at the core of every successful effort to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, Hon. Pravind Kumar Jugnauth Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius, told participants at the World Innovation Summit for Health.

Speaking at the closing day of the fifth edition of Qatar Foundation’s WISH 2020 summit, Jugnauth shared with attendees how the small but connected island nation of Mauritius succeeded in containing the virus.

Mauritius, which hosts over 1.3 million tourists annually and has a relatively ageing population with a high percentage of diabetes and cardiovascular morbidity, scored a perfect 100 on the Oxford University Stringency Index that tracks government policy and action with regard to COVID-19.

“Considering our circumstances, our response has been heralded as one of the most efficient in the world as we managed to contain, in a matter of six weeks, the virus which reached our shores on the 18th of March,” the prime minister noted.

Mauritius’ success rested on a multi-layered response that featured the implementation of strict protocols with regard to sanitary measures at entry points and a very strict policy of PCR testing, quarantine, isolation, and treatment as part of the government’s containment strategy, the prime minister explained.

Nevertheless, the unprecedented scope and magnitude of pandemic, continued to pose challenges for Mauritius, the prime minister added, referring to the impact of the pandemic on the island’s economy “with the drying up of international visitor numbers, in terms of both business and tourism.”

To mitigate this inevitable slowdown, Mauritius said his government is providing significant economic, income and job support to affected sectors of the economy to ensure that the country weathers these challenging times. 

“As a centrepiece of our own recovery policy, my Government is committed to injecting significant national resources which will total almost 30% of the country’s GDP, to support and build the economic recovery of Mauritius,” he said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also laid bare the inequalities that exist among nations, the prime minister emphasized, urging fair and equal access to safe, effective, and affordable COVID-19 vaccines.

“Such an access is key to change the course of the pandemic and help countries experiencing catastrophic economic and fiscal impacts, move toward a resilient recovery,” he said, calling for global leadership and a coordinated response to ensure that any approved vaccine is distributed equitably. 

“We commend here the World Health Organization for coordinating global efforts, in collaboration with GAVI, to develop a vaccine, through the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility,” he said.

Despite its limited resources, Jugnauth said Mauritius has pre-ordered vaccines, under the COVAX initiative, for 20 percent of the population, focused on vulnerable and front-line staff.

The prime minister ended his remarks on a positive note, highlighting a growing interest from young people to continue their education, training and careers in medicine and public health as well as STEM subjects. 

“If one thing positive can come out from 2020 – it is that adversity builds commitment, and hope brings resilience.  This is a war that we, and specially our youth, will not forget and will grow from,” he said.

WISH is Qatar Foundation’s global health initiative. For more information on WISH, visit: wish.org.qa

istanbul

Formula 1 Grand Prix’s Champion is Both Istanbul and Hamilton

The Istanbul phase of Formula 1, the world’s biggest motorsports event has been completed. Mercedes’ British driver Lewis Hamilton has won the season’s 14th race in Formula 1 DHL Turkish Grand Prix.  The victory marks Hamilton’s fourth consecutive world championship and his 7th in total. With this win, Hamilton has also equaled Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world titles. The awards were presented by Prof. Dr. Mustafa Sentop, the Speaker of Turkish Parliament.

Last year with more than 15 million visitors, Istanbul became the 8th most attractive destination in the world and after 9 years, the city hosted Formula 1 once again. Over 2 billion people from 200 different countries watched Formula 1 Turkish Grand Prix that was co-sponsored by Turkey Tourism Promotion and Development Agency (TGA) and T.R. Ministry of Culture and Tourism. (the two founding partner sponsors)

Noting that he loves and travels to Turkey’s Southern and Aegean coasts frequently in a statement, Lewis Hamilton said that he is impressed by the history of Turkey and the fact that each city in the country has different textures. Hamilton also said that there is no better place than Turkey for championship. On his Twitter account, Hamilton shared his joy with a series of photos taken after he won the title and wrote “A day I’ll never forget”.

 

2 billion people watched the race on TV

The video featuring Red Bull Racing and Alpha Tauri F1 teams were filmed at various places in Istanbul including July 15 Martyr’s Bridge, Topkapi Palace and Sultanahmet Square. The video was first streamed on Formula 1’s social media accounts on Thursday, November the 12th.

Formula 1 Grand Prix promotional videos were streamed first on F1’s official social media and then on numerous TV and YouTube channels. While the video promoting the collaboration between Formula 1  and GoTurkey got more than 2 million views on Turkey’s official tourism website GoTurkey.com’s YouTube account, the F1 promotional video got more than 5 million views on Formula 1’s official social media accounts.

In addition to Formula 1, Turkey has previously hosted many global sports events, including the 2005 Champions League Final, the 2009 UEFA Cup Final, the 2010 FIBA World Basketball Championship, the 2017 Euro League Final Four, the 2019 UEFA Super Cup and most recently the 2020 WRC Rally Championship in September.

Instant Vitals

SA Company Launches A World First: AI-Based Risk Screening Mobile App – Key for Covid-19

The Instant Vitals app converts a mobile phone into a key vital signs medical device that could save lives when screening for Covid-19 symptoms. The AI screening and risk management app safeguards people through detection of health risks by measuring key vital sign indicators.

South African company, UC-Wireless (Pty) Ltd, has launched Instant Vitals, the world’s first smart mobile-based app that provides advanced healthcare risk wellness and Covid-19 screening for business staff, clients and personal users. The app screens the main recognised symptoms and measures vital signs, which are key early indicators for health risk especially Covid-19, including oxygen saturation, heart rate and respiratory rate, using the mobile phone’s camera and Artificial Intelligence (AI) incorporated into the app, turning mobile devices into an easy-to-use clinical tool exhibiting an acceptable standard of medical device accuracy.

The presentation of Covid-19 in respect of the various signs and symptoms from several reviews, studies and reports, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), state that temperature measurement alone is ineffective in detecting a possible Covid-19 infection. Asymptomatic patients don’t reveal symptoms and aren’t aware of an infection. There’s proof that the critical early warning signs of Covid-19, include a reduction in oxygen saturation (below 95%), and/or a high resting heart rate (above 100 beats per minute), or an increase in respiratory rate (above 20 breaths per minute) in a resting person.

It has been indicated that temperature checks alone have had their own limitations in screening. In recent weeks, the WHO and medical experts from across the globe, including Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, Jim Seffrin, an expert on infrared devices at the Infraspection Institute in New Jersey, and Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, confirmed the ineffectiveness of temperature screening. They report that temperature checks are unreliable for detecting Covid-19 symptoms in people as temperature and fever often do not exhibit, or it is detected late in the disease progression as infected individuals may be in the incubation period, or they may not exhibit symptoms in the course of the disease. 

Fauci describes the adoption of infrared thermometers in safety protocols, as theatrical, while Tam said, “The more you actually understand this virus, the more you begin to know the temperature taking is not effective at all.” 

This can only mean that a lot of cases are being missed at the screening points, especially considering the effects of the external environmental elements that can alter the skin temperature in comparison to real body temperature. Measuring temperature is still important; however, its ineffectiveness highlights the need for the advanced screening that Instant Vitals now presents together with its integrated QR Code mechanism to manage access to businesses and venues.

The Instant Vitals app and its embedded AI were designed in collaboration with medical doctors, engineers, professors, and digital and tech experts. Instant Vitals extracts vital signs with good clinical lab-tested accuracy within approximately 20 – 50 seconds by processing video which the AI detects from skin regions of the face. Instant Vitals supports any age, gender and skin colour. It runs like any other app on a mobile phone or tablet. The app calculates a risk status from the vital signs and the answers to the screening questions, which are encrypted and stored in the Instant Vitals secure cloud service for each person.

Once individual and organisation licenses are purchased and registered on the app, Instant Vitals generates a unique encrypted QR code for each person’s device for screening. When the QR code is scanned, and the symptom questionnaire is completed, the vital signs are measured. It’s a simple step-by-step process. The information captured is kept private; it’s POPIA and EU-GDPR compliant. The only data made available publicly is the person’s risk status at the point of entry when their QR code or mobile number (for visitors) is provided for screening. The organisations using Instant Vitals for their business premises can see risk status reporting on their Instant Vitals dashboard.

The risk status of screened individuals is flagged as green (healthy), amber (caution; vital signs and/or symptoms are not normal but not high risk) or red (one or more vital signs and/or symptoms are indicating a risk which should be referred for medical attention or diagnosis). The app also shows a critical status, which is an extreme red status and means urgent medical treatment should be sought by the individual, based on the vital signs measured and symptoms analysed by the app. Those whose risk results are red or critical status should be referred for Covid-19 testing. The app can save lives by alerting individuals at risk when they screen to get to medical attention in time. The app is not intended to replace medical advice, therefore individuals should consult with qualified health care professionals for diagnosis and advice.

Instant Vitals was developed by UC-Wireless as a health and wellness risk management solution, incorporating its licensed AI technology. UC-Wireless has been registered with the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) as a manufacturer incorporating the certified AI and the app Instant VitalsTM. Global adoption for the AI is in place with organisations, including Canada Health and NHS. This licenced technology meets the requirements of global accuracy regulations and applications for approvals from the FDA and CE are in progress. Further global adoption of Instant Vitals in Africa, APAC, Europe and North America is already well underway. 

Quentin Daffarn, managing director of UC-Wireless, says, “There are so many benefits for personal and multi-person entry screening using the Instant Vitals app. Because it detects key vital signs, which indicate risks as early as possible, it can minimise the risk of cross-infection, and consequences such as business downtime, loss of skills and sales. The benefits of business continuity through the general health and wellness monitoring tool for early detection minimizes compromised individuals from putting others at risk of infection when accessing public places. Peace of mind is a significant benefit with the easing of the lockdown restrictions across the world as more people to return back to work.

The app caters for mass QR code scanning by individuals who screened at home. It also enables screening for visitors and staff without phones at corporate offices, restaurants, retail stores, hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, public transport facilities, schools, universities, airports, industrial sites and mines, amongst others.”

Dr T L Legodi, professional consultant, clinical advisor and partner involved in the clinical aspects of the development of the app with UC-Wireless, did an extensive literature survey of over 63 recent medical papers and publications, where she states in her conclusion that, “The complications of Covid-19 include acute respiratory distress syndrome which in itself has hypoxia1 as its main feature with most of the deaths resulting due to this complication.” She added, “Instant Vitals can save lives through widespread screening and detect risks before it’s too late.”

Two licence options (a personal app and business screening verifier app, including the dashboard) are available. The app will be accessed from the Apple iStore and Google Play store. The licenses will initially be available via resellers and partners of UC-Wireless across Africa and globally.

For more information, visit https://instant-vitals.com/

African excellence pr

MEA Markets Magazine Announces the Winners of the 2020 African Excellence Awards

United Kingdom, 2020– MEA Markets magazine announces the winners of the 2020 African Excellence Business Awards.

This year, more than any other, it has been easy to ignore the everyday successes in favour of the overwhelming uncertainty. Yet, there are stories deserving of celebrating all over the world. Countries, continents and regions who are quietly persevering, and even thriving where others are seeing difficulty. The continent of Africa is one of those places that has – seemingly without fanfare and against expectation- seen extraordinary success. While we have, for the last four years at least, endeavoured to recognise businesses across Africa for their entrepreneurial spirit, this year’s programme hits a little differently. African businesses, so long defined by innovation and adaptation, are using the skills at their disposal to generate growth.

As such, the 2020 programme remains a steadfast reminder of the brilliance of African business.  Here, Awards Coordinator Laura Hunter took a moment to comment on the success of the winners: “This has been a year to remember for a variety of reasons. Yet, all of those recognised in this programme have thrived where so many would have failed. I am very proud of all of you and I wish you the very best of luck for the year ahead.”

To find out more about these prestigious awards, and the dedicated professionals selected for them, please visit http://www.mea-markets.com/ where you can view our winners supplement and full winners list.

ENDS

Notes to editors.

About MEA Markets

Published quarterly, MEA Markets endeavours to provide readers with the latest business and investment news across the Middle East and Africa regions.

Keeping pace with a vast array of ever-changing sectors thanks to regular contributions from some of the region’s top corporate professionals across a variety of industries, MEA Markets is home to the very best news, features and comment from the people and institutions in the know.

employee safeguarding

75% of HR Executives in Saudi Focus on Wellbeing, Safeguarding Employees

The other top-ranked initiatives are adopting digital technologies to support remote working and collaboration (50%).

Almost 40% of organizations in Saudi Arabia are adapting to the new reality phase to deal with the impacts of COVID-19, as the workforce will change “shape” dramatically over the next two years, according to the response of Saudi-based Human Resources (HR) executives who took part in the KPMG 2020 HR Pulse Survey in July/August.

Almost 75% of HR executives in the Kingdom, compared to 47.1% globally, believed in taking steps to safeguard the experience and wellbeing of employees to deal with the implications of COVID-19 and moving to a new reality in the next two years.

The other top-ranked initiatives are adopting digital technologies to support remote working and collaboration (50%), reducing costs to accommodate organizational financial realities (50%) and helping leaders develop new management and leadership skills to support remote working (25%).

“HR must swiftly transition from putting out the fires of COVID-19 impact and its aftermath and switch to playing the long game of shaping the workforce of the future for their enterprises. This journey will require new mindsets, priorities, methodologies, and skills,” said Nazeeh Abdullah, Head of People & Change Advisory at KPMG in Saudi Arabia.

“As we navigate the current situation and adapt to the new remote virtual way of working, we want to help all employees to be safe and healthy, digitally ready and actively engaged. Sustaining a sense of team and managing this unique experience is critical in today’s changing environment,” he noted.

The top skills required by the HR function are managing performance and productivity in a predominantly remote environment (75%), deploying digital HR service management (75%) and delivering transformational change management (50%).

Almost 50% of the respondents agreed that the HR in the organization is largely considered to be an “administrator” rather than a value drive, compared to 34% globally, while 50% of Saudi respondents (35% globally) strongly agreed that HR in the organization played a vital role in establishing the right culture.

Nearly 63% of local respondents admitted that the HR function needs to completely reinvent and transform itself, to respond more effectively to future disruption such as another pandemic. Meanwhile, 75% of the Saudi HR executives considered the HR function needs to rethink productivity and performance measures in light of the shift to increased remote working.

Almost 63% of respondents from the Kingdom were confident that their organizations can attract, retain and develop the talent it needs to meet growth objectives, as 75% local HR executives agreed that their organization is confident about growth prospects, despite the COVID-19 challenges.

Nearly 25% of HR executives from Saudi Arabia expected 51 to 60% of the total workforce will need to be reskilled or upskilled, covering all areas of reskilling, including new digital capabilities.

“The pandemic has presented the HR function with an opportunity to be a preeminent value driver. It is time to rise to the challenge and shape the workforce of the future to help build successful and innovative companies,” Nazeeh Abdullah concluded.

The HR Pulse 2020 survey covers 1,288 HR executives in 59 countries and territories (with majority representing from the largest economies in the world) and 31 key industry sectors (such as asset management, automotive, banking, consumer and retail, energy, infrastructure, insurance, life sciences, manufacturing, technology, and telecommunications).

A third of the companies (33%) surveyed are C-suite, and 29% are HR executives such as senior vice presidents. Approximately 32% of companies surveyed report annual revenue of more than US$1 billion. The survey was conducted from July 21 to August 7.

the cloud

The Future of Storage Lies in the Hybrid Cloud

By: Claude Schuck, Regional Manager – Middle East, Veeam

Digital transformation, IT modernization and data growth are challenges that IT managers face every day. A sophisticated IT strategy based on modern storage technology can help to solve many problems, but what can be expected from storage solutions in the future?

Before dealing with the trends in the area of storage, it is important to clearly understand the current IT requirements in companies and how data is used. Business data and applications are becoming increasingly important, as their constant availability and uninterrupted use are fundamental to business continuity and success. However, the reality is that organizations still have work to do in this area. According to the Veeam 2020 Data Protection Trends Report, the vast majority (95%) of global organizations suffer unexpected outages each year – problems that last for hours and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars: an hour of downtime from a High Priority application is estimated to cost $67,651, while this number is $61,642 for a Normal application. These costs also clearly prove that “all data matters” and that downtime is intolerable and has a huge impact on today’s digitally-driven business world.

For storage and data management, this means that the exponentially growing data volumes not only have to be constantly maintained, stored and restored as quickly as possible in the event of downtime, but that data losses should be kept to a pre-calculated minimum. Veeam’s research goes on to show that over half (51%) of organizations in the Middle East and Africa region have a “protection gap” between how frequently data is backed-up versus how much data they can afford to lose after an outage. On average, 19% of these regional organizations’ data is not backed up at all, which is higher than the global average of 14% and brings these organization into a vulnerable position not to be able to recover data after any outage which ultimately puts their business operations at risk.

 

The Drivers

Particularly in the business environment, criteria have developed which have high priority. It is about flexibility, the potential to free up additional capacities in order to focus on the core business and the possibilities to complement existing IT architectures.

These influences have had a decisive impact on the development of hybrid and multi-cloud infrastructures, leading storage providers to make corresponding adjustments. Both approaches meet the needs and demands of end-customers for maximum flexibility. From today’s perspective, this trend will continue – this is clearly demonstrated by Hyperscalers, the largest buyers of hard disk drives.

The topic of security also has a significant influence on storage technology. The question is no longer whether one is affected by ransomware, but rather when it happens. This requires an approach that allows an immediate response. This is the origin of the Immutable Object Storage, which prevents data from being accessed or modified. Such solutions will certainly establish themselves as standard.

The rapid data growth must be addressed with an adequate strategy and comprehensive data management. The trend towards ever faster and larger systems will be unstoppable, as they create the prerequisites for keeping data available at all times.

And finally, external conditions such as data protection and compliance requirements also play a major role as companies rethink their IT strategies and consider the implementation of new technologies.

 

The Potentials

Simplicity, ease of use and cost transparency are currently the most important forces for change in the IT landscape. This is confirmed in the storage area, where the well-known storage silos are slowly disappearing, and synergies are creating new capacities. According to a recent report from Coherent Market Insights, the GCC and Levant’s data storage market is set to reach a record-high of $8.5 billion by 2027, nearly tripling from $2.9 billion in 2019.

Here, software-defined and agnostic solutions are promising and positively anticipated, as the dependencies between end customers and a hardware provider are receding into the background. The already established Software, Platform and Infrastructure-as-a-Service models will continue to be used more and more effectively.

In the end, innovations relating to the cloud will provide further impetus that will define and change the use of classic storage systems in the future.

LNG

LNG Project Could Be Transformational for Mozambique If Environmentalists Don’t Interfere

By NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman, African Energy Chamber.

When Anadarko Petroleum Corp. confirmed last year it would be constructing a $20 billion liquified natural gas (LNG) plant in Mozambique, this was major news. Mozambique’s first onshore LNG plant would be creating tens of thousands of jobs – and contributing to sustainable, long-term economic growth that would impact millions of people.

Two additional LNG projects have been announced since then: the $4.7 billion Coral FLNG Project by ENI and ExxonMobil, and the $30 billion Rovuma LNG Project by ExxonMobil, ENI, and the China National Petroleum Corporation. While these two have been postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the original LNG Mozambique project has been moving forward.

French oil major Total acquired the project and finalized project funding in July, even in the face of recent terror attacks in northern Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province, where Total’s LNG plant will be constructed.

That’s why it’s so disheartening to learn that a UK-based environmental group is pursuing actions that could jeopardize the project’s timely progression, all in the name of preventing climate change. Friends of the Earth has said it will initiate a legal challenge against the UK’s decision to provide $1 billion in funding for the Mozambique LNG project.

Never mind the project’s importance to everyday Africans. Never mind its potential to grow and diversify the economy. Never mind that projects like this are just what Mozambique needs to address its energy poverty, or that the Mozambique government has invested considerable time and resources into making this LNG project possible.

This is not the first time that not so well informed radical activist have attempted to interfere with Africa’s energy industry in ways that do not help poor Africans but serve their own interest. International organizations, including the World Bank, and private investors, under pressure by environmental groups, have been dropping support for African fossil fuel production. A lot of poor people are suffering from this and hundreds of millions more will if we to change direction.

I find it stunning that, during a time when much of the world is talking about the need to respect black perspectives, environmental groups seem to have no qualms about dismissing African voices.

As I’ve said in the past, I agree that climate change should be taken seriously. And I understand the risks it poses to Africa. The thing is, why are non-African organizations trying to dictate how African countries address those risks? The message in this case seems to be that “they know best.” That idea is insulting, and interfering with an African country’s efforts to build up its economy – simply because fossil fuels are involved – is completely unacceptable.

 

A ‘Missed Opportunity?’ Really?

UK Export Finance (UKEF) is one of eight export credit agencies to provide funding for Total’s Mozambique LNG project, which includes the construction of a two-train liquefaction plant with a capacity of 12.9 million tonnes per year.

UKEF’s $1 billion commitment includes awarding $300 million in loans to British companies working on the gas project and guaranteeing loans from commercial banks worth up to $850 million. The UK’s parliamentary under-secretary for the Department for International Trade, Graham Stuart, has pointed out that Total’s LNG project could be transformational for Mozambique and create 2,000 jobs in the UK as well.

But Friends of the Earth has said they will seek a judicial review into the UK government’s decision to help finance a project that, as they put it, will “worsen the climate emergency.” The group’s director, Jamie Peters, also expressed his disappointment in a letter to the UK government. The UKEF’s funding decision, Peters said, represents a “lost opportunity” for the UK to be a world climate leader.

My question to Mr. Peters is, what about Mozambique’s opportunities? To help everyday people improve their lives? To earn a decent living? To have a reliable source of energy? I’m talking about an opportunity to nudge the average life expectancy in Mozambique above 59 years, where it stands now.

The Mozambique LNG project is poised to make those things possible. As far as I’m concerned, losing that opportunity would devastating.

 

What Mozambique Stands to Gain

I can’t overstate the far-reaching implications and potential that Total’s Mozambique LNG project represents for local businesses, communities, and individuals.

Total estimates that its plant will generate about $50 billion in revenue for Mozambique’s government during its first 25 years in operation. That revenue can be directed toward much-needed infrastructure, educational programs, and economic diversification programs.

Consider direct foreign investment in Mozambique: Total’s US$25 billion investment in the LNG plant is more than twice Mozambique’s current GDP.

How about the plant construction project? Not only will it generate tens of thousands of local jobs, but it also will provide training opportunities for local people. Indigenous companies will be contracted to provide goods and services.

This pattern will continue once the plant is operational. Locals can train for and take a wide range of positions, including professional and leadership roles. Over time, subject matter experts who can share their knowledge in Mozambique, and with other African companies, will be cultivated. And, once again, the plant will be looking to local companies to provide products and services.

 

LNG Can ‘Em-power’ Mozambique

In addition to these far-reaching economic opportunities, the LNG produced at the plant will provide affordable energy for Mozambique.

The need is urgent. Only about 29% of the population has access to electricity today. Medical care is hindered. Education is impacted. And sustainable economic growth is an uphill climb.

Earlier this year, I praised the government of Mozambique for negotiating for part of the LNG production to be diverted to the domestic market, meaning it can be used for power generation. Since then, the government secured financing for a 400MW gas-fired power plant and transmission line to Maputo, the country’s capital, which will dramatically improve power reliability there.

By the way, when the Mozambique government ensured that some of the plant’s LNG production would be available for domestic use, it also laid the foundation for monetization and economic diversification. In Mozambique, LNG will be available to serve as feedstock for fertilizer and petrochemical plants. It can be exported by pipeline to neighboring companies. And that, in turn, can help Mozambique build even more infrastructure and contribute to even greater widespread prosperity.

 

Mozambique Has Been Working for This

I’d also like to point out the thought and preparation that the Mozambique government has put into making its natural gas operations beneficial for the country as a whole since approximately 180 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves were discovered there in 2010.

Mozambique’s national oil company, ENH, hired global energy research and consulting firm Wood Mackenzie to help it prepare for the responsibility of managing and selling its corresponding portion of the resources. Since then, ENH formed a consortium with international oil and gas trader, Vitol.

The government also has sought the support of more experienced energy producers and international partners. Earlier this year, President Filipe Nyusi met with Norway’s Crown Prince Haakon and signed an agreement for support on natural gas resource management.

But even before that, Mozambique laid the foundation for a successful oil and gas industry with the new Petroleum Law of 2014. And with that legislation in place, the country completed a successful bidding round for exploration blocks. These efforts, along with careful negotiations with international oil companies, is what brought Mozambique to where it is today: on the cusp of becoming a major LNG producer. And these efforts are what will make Mozambique’s LNG industry a success, not just in terms of government revenue, but also in improving the lives of everyday people.

 

We Must Put People First

Mozambique is not asking for aid to lift its people out of poverty. It’s attempting to capitalize on its own natural resources. The government isn’t trying to make a quick buck. It’s working to lay a foundation for long-term growth. And efforts like the Exxon and Total Mozambique Projects are more than an opportunity for international oil companies, or even Mozambique’s government. They have the potential to improve the lives of millions of everyday people.

I recognize the need to protect our planet and prevent climate change. But interfering with financing for Africa’s fossil fuel projects is not the right path. We must not dismiss the value of projects like these or their ability to make meaningful changes for the better in Mozambique. And we must not put environmental ideals ahead of the pressing needs that are facing people right now.

fintech

Technology is a Game Changer for Financial Institutions in the ‘New Normal’

By Jacob Chacko, Regional Business Head – Middle East, Saudi & South Africa at Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company.

If you spent any time in your childhood swimming in the sea, there’s a fair chance you remember the feeling of being dumped by a wave. For those brief moments in time, your feet lose the ground and mild panic sets in as you battle to discern up from down. It’s fair to say for many businesses in the financial services industry, that’s exactly how the better part of 2020 has felt.

Most of the major banks in the Middle East – traditionally brick-and-mortar institutions – had their hands full trying to re-imagine their security measures overnight and ensure their thousands of employees could continue working seamlessly from home.

But now that the first wave of disruption has passed and we’re finding our way back to the surface again, it’s time for financial institutions to look beyond the initial panic and start focusing on what’s next. According to McKinsey, companies that want to excel in the ‘next norm’ should be paying attention to evolving customer behaviours and how they are likely to impact customer experience in the near term.

With this in mind, Aruba Networks has developed a ‘Banking for the New Normal’ series underpinned by its LAN, WLAN and SD-WAN networking solutions and enhanced with security, automation and analytics, to help banks reinvent their connectivity and the way in which they work.

 

Upping the ante on innovative service delivery

When it comes to more innovative service, people are increasingly looking for that always-on experience. COVID-19 has rendered time an even more precious commodity and service providers that don’t value their customers’ time do so at their own peril. If a client has travelled to an ATM, for example, they want to know that service will definitely be available to them. By harnessing the power of integrated analytics, banks can make sure that customers don’t end up travelling kilometers to an ATM, only to find it’s out of service. Instead they can proactively let customers know that ATM is not currently functioning and suggest an alternative. In fact, as part of Aruba’s offering, banks can access AI-powered analytics, allowing them to automatically detect and solve any number of different issues before they can impact the business.

 

Solutions that speak to social distancing

Research shows COVID-19 has normalised physical distancing and people’s need for constant sanitation. In the financial services space, this has translated into customers avoiding bank branches and ATMs where they have to queue with dozens of other people.

But here again real-time analytics can enable banks to provide their customers with insights as to how many other people are on site. Backed by Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Aruba provides edge-line platforms that provide real-time analytics, meaning the bank can notify the customer that there are four ATMs within their vicinity and let them know exactly how many people are currently at each ATM.

And there are numerous other ways in which forward-thinking banking institutions can draw on the latest technology to make it safer for consumers to engage their services.

IoT-based technology, for example, will be an important focus for banks moving forward because of the growing demand for thermal cameras. While IoT often comes with security concerns – and even more so for those in the banking space – solution providers like Aruba can assist with the secure onboarding of IoT devices – which is necessary when it comes to the deployment of thermal cameras, security cameras and the like.

 

Greater convenience key to success

Convenience has always been king where customers are concerned, but in a world where people are juggling more stresses and concerns than ever before, convenience is even more critical to success. Luckily, there are many ways in which a financial service provider can use technology to make their customers’ lives easier. Think of something as simple as alerting a client to the fact that their credit card will soon expire as they walk past an ATM. Again with the right edge-line platforms in place, the bank can access this real-time information and make it easy for the customer to pop into the branch and get a new card.

An added advantage of banks having this technology at their fingertips is that they can provide the same connectivity and infrastructure services to their business banking customers as well. In fact as trusted entities with access to the latest and most secure technology, banks can create entirely new revenue streams for themselves by evolving from financial service providers into tech service providers. 

With some banks expecting profit declines as dramatic as 85%, the ability to draw on technology to source revenue from alternative business models is of paramount importance. And with companies like Aruba packaging these solutions with flexible financing options, the technology is significantly more accessible in the current economic climate.

Now that the initial panic and uncertainty around COVID-19 has dissipated, it’s time for companies in the financial services industry to refocus their attention on what’s next. The pandemic has accelerated the demand for technological innovation from consumers and businesses alike, and service providers must ensure they can keep pace with the evolving needs of their customers.

Pegasus airlines

Pegasus Launches Flights to Karachi, Pakistan

Pegasus Airlines has launched a new route to Karachi, the capital city of the Sindh Province in Pakistan.

Turkey’s digital airline, Pegasus, continues to expand its international network with the launch of its new Karachi route.  Flights to Karachi, the capital city of the Sindh Province in Pakistan commenced from 25 September 2020.

Pegasus Airlines will connect guests from its destinations in Manchester, London, Zurich, Paris, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Stockholm, Frankfurt, Berlin, Vienna, Rome, Cologne, Brussels, Kyiv, Bucharest, Kharkiv, Moscow, Stuttgart, Geneva, Barcelona, ​​Marseille, Zaporizhia and Prague, to Karachi via Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen.

Flights will connect guests from both Manchester Airport and London Stansted Airport to Quaid-e-Azam International Airport in Karachi via Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen Airport, with UK departures every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.  Flights to Karachi via Istanbul will depart from London Stansted at 10:45 and 13:25, and from Manchester at 13:20. 

Flights from Quaid-e-Azam International Airport will depart every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 04:55 (local times apply).  London Stansted – Karachi flights are now on sale from £229.99 one-way, and Manchester – Karachi flights from £224.99; with all routes available to book now on www.flypgs.com and the Pegasus mobile app.

languages

African and Eastern European Translations Increase as UK Businesses Expand Outside EU

New data suggests a surge in UK business growth in territories such as Africa and Eastern Europe, with business materials being translated into languages such as Zulu, Afrikaans, Serbian and Macedonian at least 2,000 per cent more than three years ago.

In comparison, translations to French (+17%), Italian (+1.9%) and German (+1.8%) have experienced minimal growth, while other languages – such as European Spanish (-5%) – have seen decreases in translation in the same period.

Data from translation and language specialist The Translation People reveals that translations into Macedonian (+3,500%), Afrikaans (+2,400%), Zulu (+2,300%) and Serbian (+2,000%), have the highest reported increases in the last three years.

Figures from The Translation People, which has over 40 years’ experience of delivering high quality translation services in 300 different language combinations, that the 10 fastest growing business languages between 2016 and 2019 were:

  1. Macedonian – +3,500%
  2. Afrikaans – +2,400%
  3. Zulu – +2,300%
  4. Serbian – +2,000%
  5. Burmese – +1,800%
  6. Turkish – +1,200%
  7. Catalan – +870%
  8. Indonesian – +428%
  9. Kazakh – +352%
  10. Tagalog – +329%

In comparison, the fastest decreases in translation have occurred in the following languages:

  1. Punjabi – -75.5%
  2. Galician – -75.2%
  3. Gaelic – -67.5%
  4. Urdu – -48.7%
  5. Swahili – -47.2%
  6. Latin American Spanish – -41.6%
  7. Brazilian Portuguese – -27.3%
  8. Welsh – -20.3%
  9. Malay – -15%
  10. Swedish – -14.4%

Commenting on the insights from The Translation People, Andy Cristin, finance director at Pareto Financial Directive Ltd who specialises in helping UK business expand overseas, said:

“It’s interesting to note these emerging trends in language translation, particularly that there is an increase in translation of UK business material into African languages.

“African and South-Eastern European countries are logical bases for physical supply chain partnerships. They have cheaper labour costs compared to the EU and for the South-Eastern European countries, shorter transport routes than India or China. shorter transport routes than India or China. The workforces are educated, skilled and multi-lingual and the time differences allow for better communications than with the Far East, putting them on a more level playing field with UK employees.

“Overseas expansion to these areas is particularly suited to medium-sized businesses from more traditional industries – manufacturing, automotive and professional services, for example – rather than those with specialist or highly technical operations. For these types of businesses, the sourcing of relevant expertise can work out much more expensive and instead become a drain on a business, rather than an opportunity.

“We expect to see more UK businesses expanding to these areas, too, as the years go by. Brexit is driving businesses to insure themselves with a second source of supply outside of EU territory; those who do so successfully won’t see any need to migrate back to Europe even when trade deals are established, and it will encourage more businesses to consider alternative options to those offered by our closest neighbours.”

Alan White, business development manager at The Translation People, said:

“Language trends such as those identified in our data are indicative of the ways in which UK businesses are changing. Brexit has caused a major shake-up for those that had originally planned to expand into Europe; the uncertain nature of what the future holds in countries such as France, Germany and Spain has seen fewer companies seek a new footprint here and instead they are looking further afield.

“When targeting a new territory, it’s essential to be properly equipped from a linguistic and cultural perspective. Whether a business plans to have a workforce overseas, or to sell to customers there, individuals will more readily buy from and work with brands which are fully localised and are supported by translated websites, videos and user instructions.

“Because we can translate B2B materials into over 300 languages, we are well positioned to help businesses launch their brands or operations into any country of the world, and have supported businesses in sectors as diverse as logistics, car rental services, manufacturing and online learning to do just that. Even in countries where employees and workers are more confident in English, for efficiency, accuracy and inclusivity, it’s always beneficial to have materials translated into the native languages the teams speak.

“This data shows that British companies are feeling more empowered to consider territories they may never have done before, which will continue to put the UK at the centre of global business.”