Low CO2

The Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB) Ltd Aims to Help Africa Transition Towards Low-carbon

Low CO2

Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB) Ltd, the banking arm of MCB Group, ambitions to become a more prominent player in the African energy landscape, by financing and supporting electrification projects that encourage the use of renewable energy. In this respect, MCB has recently participated in three landmark projects in Ghana, Rwanda and Nigeria. These projects are crucial milestones in the electrification goals of these respective countries and in their transition from fossil energy to more renewable, low-carbon energy sources. Prior to joining those three projects, MCB applied the Equator Principles to proactively identify and mitigate environmental and social risks.

Zaahir Sulliman, Head of Specialised Finance, MCB: “We are proud to contribute to these important electrification goals and the transition to more renewable energy sources”

 

Make a difference in Ghana

In July, Genser Energy announced it successfully closed an 8-year USD 425m funding package, which will be used to refinance existing debt and finance crucial electrification projects in Ghana. The funds will allow for a 100km natural gas pipeline to Kumasi, Ghana’s largest city, a 200mmscfd gas conditioning plant at Prestea and a Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) storage terminal at Takoradi port. Genser Energy ambitions to achieve net zero carbon by 2035.

As per Genser Energy, the construction of the natural gas pipeline to Kumasi and the gas processing plant in Prestea will have significant economic and environmental benefits not only for Genser but also for Ghana and the West African sub-region. The transaction will support Genser’s diversification from power to the gas midstream sector and mark a significant milestone in its decarbonization strategy to achieve net zero carbon by 2035 whilst contributing significantly to Ghana’s national climate change targets on emission reduction.

The availability of cheaper and readily accessible piped natural gas in Kumasi and the central belt of Ghana via the new pipeline will encourage industries to switch from imported trucked diesel and heavy fuel oil (HFO) to indigenous natural gas as a low-carbon intensive fuel. The pipeline will also support relocation of power plants from coastal regions to reduce line losses and improve efficiency on the national grid. Moreover, the gas conditioning plant will produce cleaner fuels and establish Ghana as a significant producer and exporter of LNGs. Moreover, the gas conditioning plant will produce cleaner fuels and establish Ghana as a significant producer and exporter of natural gas liquids. This demonstrates the potential of natural gas to act as a transition fuel that can help Africa achieve its development agenda.

 

Supporting Nigeria’s gas-to-power programme

MCB, as co-Mandated Lead Arranger, assisted in structuring and raising USD260MM in debt to fund the completion of the ANOH Gas Processing Plant.

Despite significant untapped reserves, domestic utilisation of gas remains low due to lack of infrastructure. Gas development and infrastructure projects will address this imbalance and result in significantly higher rates of gas utilisation for domestic use.

Assa North-Ohaji South (“ANOH”) is a conventional gas development located onshore Nigeria which will supply AGPC with the feedstock gas and is operated by the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria. The gas infrastructure development project is one of seven critical gas development projects earmarked by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (“NNPC”) and the Ministry of Petroleum to bridge the demand-supply gap in the Nigerian domestic gas market.

The 300MMscfd capacity ANOH plant, located in OML53 in Imo State, is being built by ANOH Gas Processing Company Ltd (“AGPC”) which is equally owned by the Nigerian Gas Company Limited (“NGCL”) and Seplat Energy Plc. Seplat is already a leading provider of natural gas to Nigeria’s power sector, supplying up to 30% of Nigeria’s domestic grid in 2021.

 

A prominent player in Rwanda’s Omnihydro project

Last June, the Omnihydro hydroelectric powerplant was inaugurated in the district of Nyamagabe, Rwanda. This project, implemented by Omnicane, a Mauritian company, and financed by MCB, the leading bank in Mauritius, , came to fruition under a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) incorporated in Rwanda and operating under the name of Omnihydro Ltd. The facility has one common powerhouse with two different intakes, one on Mushishito river and the other one on Rukarara river. This power plant intends to reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 14,500 tons per year. The hydropower plant is expected to power on average an equivalent of 175,000 homes with clean energy. The small dams constructed on the Mushishito and Rukarara rivers protect communities against floods and droughts, whilst providing more than new 600 jobs during the implementation of the project.

 

How MCB can help

To limit global warming and mitigate climate change’s worst impacts, MCB recognises the need for countries around the world to transition to low-carbon economies. This is particularly important for Africa, as existing development challenges such as poverty, food insecurity and instability make it the continent most vulnerable to climate change. However, MCB also recognises Africa’s complicated energy requirements and the challenge in balancing economic and social progress and access to energy with climate goals.

Africa has the lowest rate of energy access globally – it is estimated that 600 million people lack access to electricity and more than 930 million lack access to clean cooking fuels. While there has been increased investment in the continent’s vast renewable energy potential, this is insufficient to meet growing energy demands. To achieve the continent’s growing electricity needs and help reach its renewable energy goals, MCB can be a financial partner and arranger of choice.

Commenting on MCB’s strong involvement in these projects and its ambition to accompany African countries’ transition to more renewable energy sources, Zaahir Sulliman, Head of Specialised Finance, MCB, said: “We are proud to be contributing towards Ghana, Rwanda and Nigeria’s universal electrification and their respective objective to drive sustainable development goals of meeting universal energy demand, whilst optimising production, minimising costs, and reducing emissions”.

Mr. Sulliman added: “MCB is aware of its responsibility in the face of the climatic emergency and has already committed to stop financing new coal power-plants and discontinue the trade financing of both thermal and metallurgical coal. We believe that the financing of LPG and natural gas will form part of MCB’s gradual energy transition strategy, which builds on our previous commitment to stop all new financing of coal infrastructure and trade worldwide. Financing more sustainable energy projects is a first step in the right direction and we look forward to continuing to support client projects that drive energy transition through responsible consumption and production in an endeavour to improve living standards”.

Future environmental conservation and sustainable ESG modernization development by using technology of renewable resources to reduce pollution and carbon emission

Imo State – Nigeria Goes Green; Official Flag-Off Holds In Owerri – November 1, 2022

Future environmental conservation and sustainable ESG modernization development by using technology of renewable resources to reduce pollution and carbon emission

Partners Numerix Development For A Greener, New Imo State

Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State has approved Holistic Green Strategies for a Greener and New Imo State, as the state officially goes green in November 2022.

The Government of Imo State had appointed and signed a Joint Venture Partnership Agreement for Carbon Credits, Carbon Finance, Carbon Revenues and Carbon Emissions Reduction with NUMERIX DEVELOPMENT LIMITED and SUMMIT INNOVATIVE & SYNERGY LIMITED in Nigeria; under a Strategic Green Partnership Initiative.

In a statement from GREENPLINTH AFRICA LIMITED, Strategic Partners to NUMERIX DEVELOPMENT LIMITED, the Managing Partner of the Joint Venture; the Green Initiative covers all MDAs and the Private Sector in Imo State, thus reducing the Carbon Footprint, Ecological Footprint and Technological Footprint of all stakeholders in the south-eastern state of Nigeria.

Under the Strategic Partnership Agreement, Numerix Development Limited is expected to develop the Carbon Finance Component of all existing and future projects in Imo State and also midwife the HOPE GREEN REVOLUTION for a Greener and New Imo State.

According to Engr. Babatunde Aina, Managing Director/CEO of Numerix Development Limited, the Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma will officially flag-off the Hope Green Revolution and also declare Imo State as a Green State in November, 2022.

Speaking further, he revealed that the Imo State Government will also officially announce that 2% of the state’s annual budget will henceforth be committed to Holistic Green Initiatives, Emissions Reduction and Race towards Zero Carbon in Imo State. Aina further disclosed that Nigeria is fully committed to the Global Green Transition Agenda as demonstrated by President Muhammadu Buhari, and that Imo State, being the very first Subnational to wholly go green in Africa, is a pride to the nation.

The official flag-off of the Hope Green Revolution is scheduled to hold in the state capital, Owerri on Tuesday, 1st of November 2022 by 10.00 am (WAT) in the Government House.

The event with the theme “GREEN TRANSITION AND SUSTAINABLE ECONOMIC GROWTH IN AFRICA” will highlight the strategic and key Importance of Accelerated Green Financing to Sustainable Green Growth in the continent.

The flag-off ceremony is expected to bring together, Strategic Stakeholders in Climate Finance, Investment, Environment, Sustainability, Energy, Green Growth and other relevant sectors in Nigeria and Africa.

Some of the immediate take-off projects under the Strategic Green Partnership Initiative are Clean Cooking Technologies Deployment, All-encompassing Retrofitting, Innovative Economic Tree Planting & Nurturing, Training and Capacity Building for Green Jobs Creation and Imo State Carbon Credit Train for improved Economic Prosperity – leaving no one behind.

Group of happy volunteers embracing in park

The Fundraising Market in Africa Is Growing, but It’s Hard Out There for Startups, Says Dai Magister

Group of happy volunteers embracing in park

Analysis of the current African market by boutique investment bank DAI Magister, reveals that investors have so far bucked macrotrends by exhibiting confidence in investing into African businesses, particularly in first and second round raising. However, nascent start-ups are facing difficulty, with just half the number of accelerator deals taking place in Q2 2022 compared with Q2 2021.

DAI Magister has analysed the African market over the past four to six weeks in anticipation of the upcoming fundraising season, to assess the challenges and requirements for key finance functions through the lens of fundraising.

The global investment market overall has declined, with many investors treading cautiously. However Africa’s ecosystem has experienced two very strong quarters in the first half of 2022. June 2022 was the market’s strongest June yet, while Q2 and H1 2022 were also the strongest performing Q2 and H1 on record. The ‘big four’ venture capital markets in particular have seen capital flow into their regions, particularly Kenya, Egypt and Nigeria while South Africa has remained neutral.

According to DAI Magister, in the past few weeks African raises have definitely slowed, with the general pace of activity more moderate than this time last year. However, capital is continuing to flow into deals where companies can demonstrate a clear path to profitability and an open market to continue to scale. Also, Africa continues to have high structural growth rates, which are much higher than the rest of the world, and an ecosystem of startups that are geared towards solving primary ‘must have’ needs.

Risana Zitha, Head of Africa at DAI Magister said: “We’re building an interesting picture of the mindset of an investor looking to pool their resources into African businesses. There is an increased emphasis on compliance and capital efficiency, and many companies are exploring dual track mergers and acquisitions (M&A). In fact, all African M&A deals we’ve been a part of recently have been dual tracks.”

Growing businesses in the African market are in a constant state of raising capital, and it is essential that businesses have repeat, successful rounds to stay competitive. However, it’s no longer the seller’s market that many African investors and startups saw in 2021. Now it’s a more balanced picture, with many investors taking more time and being more choosy than this time last year.

Risana continued: “We’re seeing that the rules have changed since last year. Restructuring to cut costs was not on the agenda in 2021, but now, businesses are being open about layoffs – and it’s being encouraged.

“Investors have formed strong views on what they ‘like’ and ‘don’t like’, which is very different to even just a year ago. In response to this, African businesses need to debate whether they take a radical approach to rethinking their business model and how they make their money, or whether they need to make minor adjustments in order to attract investment during a period of balance. Also, it’s important to remember that successfully raising even a smaller amount than originally anticipated has far more value in the current environment. Basically, a $ raised now is worth far more than a $ raised 12 months ago, because many competitors are seeing fundraisings delayed, and capital is always far more valuable when others do not have it..

“Flexibility is crucial to ensure that businesses are responding to the market so get that all-important ‘yes’ from investors.”

While the fundraising market overall is growing steadily, nascent start-ups are having a harder time raising capital. Just 16% of deals in Q2 2022 were accelerator, compared with 32% in Q2 2021.

Risana added: “There has been a significant decrease in accelerator deals when comparing Q2 2022 and Q2 2021. This is in part due to decrease in first time investors from the US and Europe, increase in financing in later rounds and an increased level of sophisticated questions from investors.

“Startups are likely to have less experience raising investment, so it’s essential that they’re able to take advantage of the growing market. This can only be done with the right guidance and resources to ensure they can make a success of their business and reap the benefits of the increased funding we’re seeing in later rounds.

“The same goes for businesses in Africa of all sizes. It’s a volatile time no matter what round you’re raising, and we’re seeing the need for leaders to begin to think differently about their business and approach to fundraising.”

How Companies Can Best Leverage The Cloud For Business Growth

67% of business infrastructure is hosted in the cloud. Since the pandemic forced businesses to explore remote working options, the cloud became necessary to support communication and collaboration for remote employees.

Since then, businesses have improved efficiency and productivity using cloud-based technologies. If you want to learn how to leverage the cloud for business growth, keep reading. This guide will cover how you can leverage the cloud for security, collaboration, and improving daily operational efficiency.

Invest In Cloud-Based Security Systems

Cloud-based security systems are increasingly popular in the security sphere. They help to create efficiency and flexibility. With an on-premise security system, you must connect your security installations and devices with wiring, which is challenging to scale. Cloud-based solutions offer scalability.

Cloud-based security systems require less management than their on-premise counterparts. On-premise systems have on-site servers that require a lot of storage space. Additionally, on-premise system servers need management and maintenance over time, which can be inconvenient and costly.

Cloud-based systems are the most streamlined option for security – they do not occupy a lot of space, require very little maintenance, and permit remote operation. Since all security data is hosted in the cloud, system administrators can access security information on their mobile devices and operate security tools remotely.

Here are some examples of the top cloud-based security installations for businesses:

Cloud-based surveillance – when surveillance is cloud-based, system administrators and security staff can view the camera feed from anywhere to gain more insight into security operations and quickly investigate potential security threats. Businesses can also integrate cloud-based surveillance and access control for identity verification

.Access control – cloud-based access control for businesses allows you to lock and unlock doors remotely and also permits users to enter without key cards or fobs. Instead, they can enter with a mobile device using Bluetooth communication. They need only wave their hand over the reader to trigger remote communication and gain access.

Software – businesses can take advantage of the open API integrations of cloud-based security. They can integrate software solutions that help to expand the function of their existing security investments, such as visitor management software, time tracking software, and wellness verification software.

Utilize SaaS Services

SaaS services are cloud-based platforms that allow businesses to improve daily operations. Most SaaS services create more user-friendly ways for your employees to perform their daily tasks – which makes the onboarding process far more straightforward.

A great example of SaaS services is a work management platform. Work management platforms allow businesses to create workflows for employees that you can access from anywhere – which is ideal for hybrid companies. Businesses can gain more insight into their project management goals and view reports to see how well their teams perform. Some other examples of SaaS services for businesses include:

Call centre software – call centre software allows businesses to host their call centre information online, making call queuing and customer relationship management more simple and streamlined.

Accounting software – accounting software allows businesses to coordinate their teams and give them access to real-time accounting data at all times. It also helps to digitize receipts and other accounting documents to free up office storage space.

Password management software – if your business wants to create a culture of password health, then password management software would be beneficial. It is a digital vault for passwords while monitoring their strength and alerts for compromised passwords.

Leveraging Collaboration Tools

Businesses with flex spaces and hybrid work models need more access to collaboration. By implementing cloud-based collaboration tools, companies can enable their teams to collaborate on documents from anywhere. Cloud-based office tools are integral to a hybrid or remote work strategy.

Summary

The pandemic stirred a shift in how businesses perform daily operations – forcing them to explore cloud-based options. Cloud-based technology can improve efficiency, collaboration, and accessibility for security and business operations. Consider switching to cloud-based solutions to streamline processes and create a more accessible system.

Equal Gender Balance And Parity

Janngo Capital Startup Fund, Africa’s Largest Gender Equal Tech VC Fund, Reaches the First Close of its €60 Million New Fund

Equal Gender Balance And Parity

At the eve of the 77th Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), Janngo Capital Startup Fund (JCSF) has announced its first close at EUR34 million (approximately US$36 million) in capital commitments. Launched in Davos in 2020, Janngo Capital’s latest fund will invest 50% of its proceeds in companies founded, co-founded, or benefiting women. Backed by global financial institutions as well as leading private corporations, the fund management company plans to invest EUR60 million (approximately US$63 million) in startups leveraging technology to leapfrog development and achieve SDGs in Africa.

 

100% tech, 100% Africa, 100% equal

 

Janngo Capital Startup Fund, second investment vehicle of the management company, will provide up to EUR5 million seed and growth investments to early-stage tech and tech-enabled startups that (1) enable Africans to improve their access to essential goods and services such as healthcare, education or financial services, (2) enable African SMEs to improve their access to market & capital, or (3) create sustainable jobs at scale, with a focus on women & youth.

Women in Africa are the most entrepreneurial in the entire world with a total entrepreneurship activity rate of 26%. Yet, they face a $42 billion funding gap and have very limited access to growth capital. As one of the very few female-founded, female-owned, and female-led fund management companies in Africa, Janngo Capital has made a strong commitment to gender equality as it will invest 50% of its proceeds in companies founded, co-founded, or benefiting women.

“We are proud to lead Africa’s largest gender equal tech VC fund and see major global investors rally around our vision to back entrepreneurs building digital champions across Africa. We have built a strong track record in the region through our first fund with investments in 11 tech & tech-enabled startups, including the soonicorn Sabi, Expensya or Jexport,” said Fatoumata Bâ, Founder & Executive Chair of Janngo Capital.

“Our current portfolio companies are 56% women-led, 54% francophone and provide strong evidence of how these technology champions can positively contribute in solving key market failures and creating jobs in healthcare, logistics, financial services, retail, food & agri, mobility or the creative industry. Janngo Capital Startup Fund will play a critical role in improving access to early-stage capital for tech entrepreneurs in a more equal way, on a continent still attracting less than 2% of the global VC fund’, adds Fatoumata Bâ.

 

Proparco, Burda Principal Investments, Muller Medien & asset management veterans join anchor investors EIB, AfDB & Boost Africa

Janngo Capital Startup Fund is backed by first-class investors with an equal number of development finance institutions & leading commercial private investors, including:

  • The European Investment Bank (EIB), the world’s largest multilateral development bank active in 160 countries and with a total balance sheet of more than EUR565 billion as of 31/12/2021;
  • The African Development Bank (AfDB), Africa’s largest development finance institution with 81 member countries (54 regional and 27 non regional);
  • Boost Africa, a joint initiative supported by the European Union and led by the EIB and the African Development Bank (AfDB) with financial support from the OACPS aiming at unleashing the entrepreneurial potential of African youth through investment by venture capital funds;
  • Proparco, the private sector financing arm of the French Development Agency (AFD Group) with a balance sheet of over EUR7 billion as of 31/12/2021;
  • Burda Principal Investments (BPI), the growth capital arm of media and tech company Hubert Burda Media with successful unicorn investments such as Etsy, Vinted and Carsome;
  • Muller Medien, a German family-owned media conglomerate; with its New Business sector, Mueller Medien holds more than 60 startup investments, e.g. Booksy, UrbanSportsClub & bookingkit;
  • An ex-KKR Partner & Private Equity veteran with a strong experience in emerging markets.

 

“Africa has some of the world’s fastest-growing economies and a young, fast-growing population. We believe we can improve its living standards and social progress by supporting entrepreneurship and innovation. That is why we are pleased to partner again with Janngo Capital Startup Fund through our Boost Africa Initiative,” said Ambroise Fayolle, European Investment Bank Vice President.

Stefan Nalletamby, the African Development Bank’s Director for Financial Sector Development, said “The Janngo Fund can drive the transformation from a more traditional business ecosystem into a dynamic, youth-driven, and technology-focused entrepreneurial community. Africa is experiencing rapid mobile penetration with Android and other platforms. Janngo Start-up Fund provides huge opportunities to develop innovative and high-growth-driven start-ups and SMEs and our investment under the Boost Africa Program will help fill the severe scarcity of risk capital for the new and upcoming first generation of venture capital funds targeting early-stage businesses.” 

“With its investment in Janngo Capital Start-up Fund, PROPARCO, via FISEA +, the AFD Group facility advised by Proparco and part of the Choose Africa initiative, is partnering with a fund manager that can bring both essential financing and strong mentoring to early-stage businesses in Africa with a rare focus on the Francophone West African region. Proparco is strongly committed to supporting the new generation of entrepreneurs in Francophone Africa, where investment for start-ups lags behind their peers in other parts of the continent. Janngo’s innovative approach of operating a start-up studio was also a key convincing factor, presenting a unique way to incubate businesses that can overcome gaps in the current local market. Last but not least, we are proud to partner with a female-led fund manager that seeks to contribute to diminishing the existing gender gap in terms of start-up financing,” said Jérémie Ceyrac, Head of Private Equity at Proparco.

People at a conference

Culture Summit Abu Dhabi 2022 to Bring Global Cultural Leaders to UAE Capital in October to Explore the Future of a Diverse, Resilient, and Sustainable Culture Sector

People at a conference

Culture Summit Abu Dhabi will take place from 23 to 25 October, 2022 at Manarat Al Saadiyat 

Under the theme ‘A Living Culture’, the event will bring together art, culture, policy, media, and technology leaders from over 90 countries 

The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) has announced that its fifth edition of Culture Summit Abu Dhabi, a leading global forum, will return to Manarat Al Saadiyat under the theme ‘A Living Culture’. Designed to explore the future of the culture sector and discuss creative cultural solutions to some of the most urgent issues affecting the world today, the in-person event will run from 23 to 25 October, 2022 in the UAE capital. 

This year’s theme ‘A Living Culture’ will examine contemporary issues driving change in the culture and creative industries (CCI) and the wider culture sector today. The programme will explore what it means to embrace culture as a lived experience in a world that has been transformed by COVID-19, and better understand the pervasive influence culture has had on our individual and collective lives. Culture Summit Abu Dhabi will harness the expertise of attending cultural leaders, artists, practitioners, scholars, educators and creative professionals to discuss these urgent contemporary issues.

The programme is curated so that each day examines a sub-theme in more detail. On the first day, Living Cultural Ecosystems will take a sectoral perspective, looking at the emergence of more dynamic or living cultural and creative ecosystems that are more adaptable, resilient and responsive to change. This theme looks at culture sector issues and challenges in producing and disseminating culture in the wake of the pandemic, particularly when it comes to new, more dynamic or living cultural or creative ecosystems. On that day, the Summit will notably welcome three former Heads of States, Dalia Grybauskaitė, President of Lithuania (2009-2019); Ivo Josipović, President of Croatia (2010-2015) and Joyce Banda, President of Malawi (2012-2014) moderated by HE Zaki Nusseibeh, Cultural Advisor to the President of UAE to explore the role of culture in making resilient and shared societies. All creative fields will be reviewed through this lens with an exceptional keynote conversation between HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, and world-renowned comedian and television host Trevor Noah. Performances by key figures from the performing arts scene, discussions on diversity in Hollywood creative industries ,on the role of the collector and the power of culture districts, creative presentations by artists, film screenings, workshops and policy sessions all occurring in a  multi-track programme.

On the second day, Living in Culture will consider how culture impacts people and communities through the lens of changing patterns of cultural participation. This theme looks at how the pandemic forced the sector to innovate in order to survive. Particularly during times of lockdown, access to these digital cultural products and services became a social and psychological lifeline and part of people’s daily routine and experience. During this second day, that will start with a key note by the UAE Minister of Culture and Youth, HE Noura Al Kaabi, participants to the Summit will be notably invited to explore the role of AI on the future of culture through panel discussions, case studies by cutting-edge tech companies such as TeamLab as well as an exceptional creative conversation between Tim Marlow, Director of the Design Museum and Ai-Da, the world’s first ultra-realistic artist robot. Panos A. Panay, President of the Recording Academy will also explore in conversation with Jimmy Jam the relationship between “Technology, Creativity, and the Changing Face of Pop Culture” followed by a keynote from celebrated architect and Director of Forensic Architecture Eyal Weizman. A deep dive into the vibrant cultural scene in Afghanistan will be explored in a panel followed by a performance from whirling dervish female dancer Fahima Mirzaie. and a panel moderated by the Guggenheim Museum alongside artist, Emeka Ogboh and architect Jing Liu will unpack what makes a public space today and conclude the second day programme.

Finally, Culture, Diversity, Power will focus on the critical challenges related to the protection and promotion of cultural diversity and the diversity of cultural expression and how policies can support in a sustainable way the expression of this diversity. This theme focuses on critical challenges related to the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expression, and the policies and structures of enablement being implemented to sustain diversity. While this theme of diversity and inclusion will permeate through the entire Summit, on this closing day two critical panel discussions will be organised on “Creating a Richer Chorus” and “The New Canon”. The notion of diversity will also be explored in the panel moderated by Berklee Abu Dhabi on “Integrating Cultural Diversity through Music”. Highlight keynotes and creative conversations featured that day include architects Sumayya Vally, Sir David Adjaye OBE and Berklee President Erica Muhl. The day will start by a performance of Al Ahalla, a traditional UAE maritime chant, and end with a performance by the Global Jazz Project, a multicultural music project by Grammy Award-winning artist Danilo Perez, featuring musician Charbel Rouhana.

Other topics that will also be discussed during the Summit include: the impact of digital media and Artificial Intelligence, some geographical focus such East Africa and the arts and culture, culture and climate emergency, among others.

Additionally, this year’s programme hosts high-level speakers including Ernesto Ottone Ramirez, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture, Fiammetta Rocco, Culture Editor at the Economist, Dr Helena Nassif director of Culture Resource (Al-Mawred Al-Thaqafy), Harvey Mason Jr., CEO of the Recording Academy, producer Jennifer Stockman, award-winning architect Frank Gehry and collectors Guy and Myriam Ullens among many others.

The Summit programme features an outstanding series of keynotes, panel discussions, artist talks, workshops, film screenings, creative conversations, and cultural performances. Performances will be interwoven withing the plenaries and will include heritage performances on the onset of every morning, including a dance performance by hip-hop choreographer Kader Attou, and a musical performance by renowned Oud player and composer Naseer Shamma.  

HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi, said: “We are excited once again to organise, alongside some incredible global partners, Culture Summit Abu Dhabi in the UAE’s capital. Abu Dhabi is committed to be a meeting place for cultural experts and professionals from various fields of expertise to come together and discuss the future of our sector and how we can build a diverse and more sustainable cultural ecosystem. As we get ready to welcome these global leaders, we are reminded of the shared responsibility we have to find solutions and shape policies that can address the pressing issues of our time and find ways to drive change in our global industry.”

“The 5th Culture Summit Abu Dhabi presents a timely opportunity for cultural stakeholders worldwide to share a common vision to revise current models and imagine more sustainable and resilient pathways for the future,” says Ernesto Ottone R., Assistant Director-General for Culture of UNESCO.

“It’s a pleasure for the Design Museum to be one of the convening partners in Culture Summit 2022 bringing together creative people from across the design world and joining creative thinkers, cultural leaders, artists and change makers from across the globe as we all meet together in Abu Dhabi,” says Tim Marlow, Director of the Design Museum.

“The Summit provides an opportunity to hold conversations around important cultural questions while incorporating worldwide audiences. It offers an all-too-rare opportunity for artists and thinkers to envision the future,” says Richard Armstrong, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation.

“The most exciting part of the Culture Summit is the many fascinating people I meet. Listening to them speak allows me to step into their shoes and experience the world from a whole new perspective. They offer a whole new perspective on the phrase “eye-opening”,” says Fiammetta Rocco, Senior Editor and Culture Editor of The Economist.

“We are thrilled to partner with Culture Summit Abu Dhabi and are looking forward to discovering ways we can all work together to ignite the power of music. The Middle East is a true ‘Living Culture’ and home to so many different thriving music scenes and this summit is a great opportunity to shine a light on this vibrant music community,” says Harvey Mason Jr., CEO of The Recording Academy.

Culture Summit Abu Dhabi 2022 is organised by DCT Abu Dhabi in collaboration with global partner organisations bringing expertise in diverse fields, from culture and arts to media and technology. Partners include UNESCO, Economist Impact, Google, the Design Museum, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation and the Recording Academy. Other participating partners include Image Nation Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Film Commission, Sandstorm Comics, Cultural Foundation, Louvre Abu Dhabi, Berklee Abu Dhabi, Culture Resource, Arab Fund for Arts & Culture, and the Institut Français.  

Those looking to attend Culture Summit Abu Dhabi 2022 can register their interest on the website: www.culturesummitabudhabi.com. The event is by-invitation only and spaces are limited.  

Cheerful young waitress wearing apron laughing looking at camera

HSG Holding Acquires Leading Middle East and Africa (MEA) Region Technology Integration Company — IT Hospitality Group — as it Rolls Out its Long-Term Investment Plans Focused on the Hospitality Industry

Cheerful young waitress wearing apron laughing looking at camera

Holding has acquired IT Hospitality Group (www.IT-Hospitality.com) in a definitive agreement which launches its rollout of investments in the global hospitality industry Hospitality Industry. This acquisition will enable the IT Hospitality Group’s management to better support its increased market expansion across the region, establish new offices, and bring more services to its clients. 

HSG Holding has announced its acquisition of IT Hospitality Group (ITHG), a market-leader in integrated IT solutions and infrastructure, in Africa and the Middle East. With this acquisition, HSG Holding enters the hospitality arena as an investment vehicle to strengthen the developments of companies within the industry in the post Covid 19 period.

HSG Holding was established to focus on investment opportunities within the hospitality sector at the intersection where the strength of traditional hospitality operations meets with new technologies that can assist in the digital transformation of the industry. Technology is playing a far greater role in the industry and is fast becoming a critical aspect of running hotel operations. The company believes in investing over the long-term as it sees great opportunities for growth in the MEA region and beyond.

 

Helping the hospitality industry with its digital transform journey

For more than a decade, ITHG has designed and implemented integrated networks, guest entertainment platforms, connectivity solutions, telephony, digital signage, and CCTV, into more than 200 hotels, and 75 000 hotel rooms across the MEA region. Long-term partnerships with the likes of Accor, Marriott, Radisson, and Hilton, among others, are a strong reflection of the ITH team’s depth of experience and understanding of the local environment, as well as the technical challenges their clients face — particularly in a post-pandemic period.

Today’s guest is looking for seamless connectivity, whether they are traveling for business or pleasure. They have become accustomed to living in a highly connected world, and accessing everything they need through their mobile phones, and expect the same stress-free, connected experiences wherever they stay. By working closely with their clients, ITH is able to provide customised solutions designed specifically with their individual client’s requirements in mind which allows each hotel to offer the highest quality guest experiences in the region.

“Strong networks and the ability to implement the latest wired and wireless technologies is what gives our customers the edge over their competitors. It means that guests staying in their hotels are able to connect to the internet effortlessly, access streaming services such as Netflix, and even call the concierge from their own mobile device, rather than relying on in-house telephone services. The hotel’s Guest Relations team is able to welcome guests and keep them informed about available services and activities as well as updated airport arrivals and departure times via in-house advertising and promotions across a variety of dynamic information points,” says Olivier Hennion, Managing Director of IT Hospitality Group.

“As we continue to strengthen and grow our relationships with our partners, we are expanding our support and service offerings to these chains over a larger geographic area. This acquisition by HSG Holdings means that we are able to accelerate our own development to be able to provide even greater services to our clients, through expansion of our current 12 locations in the region into additional territories, bringing us closer to our customers to provide more direct assistance as it is needed,” continues Hennion.

person hugging a tree

Cocoa & Forests Initiative Reports Progress on Traceability, Agroforestry and Forest Protection in Ghana and Côte D’Ivoire

person hugging a tree
  • Côte d’Ivoire planted more than 28 million trees for the purpose of forest regeneration. Ghana restored 9,488 ha of degraded forest and helped 4,302 farmers to register 50,344 forest trees;
  • Cocoa and chocolate companies distributed 11.3 million non-cocoa trees for the development of agroforestry in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana and have reached a stable 72% traceability in their direct supply chains;
  • Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire have reached new milestones in traceability: The government of Côte d’Ivoire has mapped 1 million farmers with 3.2 million ha of cocoa farms. In Ghana a total of 515,762 farmers owning 845,635 farms have been registered in the national Cocoa Management System, accounting for 72 percent of the total cocoa area.

The governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana and 35 companies in the Cocoa & Forests Initiative (CFI), including IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative and the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), reported progress made towards ending deforestation in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana in two joint public/private sector reports.

Actions in 2021 included more development of agroforestry with the distribution of 11.3 million non-cocoa trees by cocoa and chocolate companies in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. This brings the total number of multi-purpose trees supplied by the private sector since the launch of CFI to 21.7 million. In both countries, companies reached on average 72% traceability in their direct supply chains. Companies are also investing in large scale farmer training for better livelihoods and less incentive to encroach into forests.

Governments’ efforts have focused on the further development of national cocoa traceability systems and forest monitoring. In Ghana, a total of 515,762 farmers have been enumerated into the Cocoa Management System, owning 845,635 farms in the Western South, Ashanti, and Central regions of Ghana. Côte d’Ivoire has mapped more than 1 million farmers 3.2 million ha of cocoa farms. The satellite forest monitoring tool IMAGES was adopted by the Ivorian CFI signatories. Based on IMAGES it was observed that in the cocoa belt forest cover disturbance almost halved compared to the previous year.

All signatories invest in reforestation. The government of Côte d’Ivoire, with the Ministry of Water and Forests (MINEF) in the lead, has planted over 28 million trees in the past year, which accounts for almost one tree per capita. This includes the 3.5 million trees planted by Le Conseil Café Cacao as part of its new program to achieve the planting of 60 million trees on cocoa farms by 2024. In Ghana, under the leadership of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources (MNLR), authorities were directly involved in the restoration of 9,488 ha of degraded forest and the distribution of 5.297.739 multi-purpose tree seedlings by both the public and private sector.

Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire are looking to accelerate public private collaboration to preserve primary forests and to foster reforestation in protected areas. This includes a further scaling of the public private partnerships for the preservation of selected primary and secondary forests in Côte d’Ivoire. This comes in addition to the Memoranda of Understanding which were signed between MINEF and cocoa companies, now bringing the area under public-private protocols for the conservation and restoration of category III classified forests to 666,081 ha. In Ghana, seven additional companies signed onto agreements in the collaboratively identified priority Hotspot Intervention Areas (HIA) landscapes of Asunafo, Bia-Juabeso, and Atwima.

Quote Ghana: “The story of CFI is an interesting one and a lot has been invested over the past years for its implementation. The Green Ghana Project I launched in 2021 will augment the effort of CFI to restore our degraded forest reserves and off-reserve landscapes.” 

Quote Côte d’Ivoire: “The observed decrease in deforestation in Côte d’Ivoire is a positive signal. The government does everything possible to completely end deforestation in the coming years. The slowing down of deforestation can be attributed to the many ongoing actions and programs, including the Cocoa & Forests Initiative.”

Quote WCF: “We must continue to strive for complete provenance of all cocoa no matter where it is grown or by whom. It cannot be acceptable that any cocoa that is linked to deforestation finds its way to consumer countries. Additionally, farmers must be rewarded and benefit from the traceability protocols that make this possible. We look forward to the next phase of Cocoa & Forests Initiative that will bring us closer to this goal.”

Quote IDH: “As we learn more about deforestation trends, we see that it is crucial that signatories maintain the current level of ambition and build on CFI’s significant track record of public-private collaboration. Through our convening role, we look forward to contributing to key milestones such as the joint investments in forest preservation, the roll-out of the national traceability systems and assuring community engagement”

 

About the Cocoa & Forests Initiative (CFI)

CFI is a joint partnership of the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana and 35 cocoa and chocolate companies facilitated by IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative and the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), with support from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (BUZA), the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), Partnership for Forests (P4F) through the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and the World Bank. Cocoa and chocolate companies and governments collaborate within the framework of CFI with other stakeholders such as NGOs, farmer organizations and civil society organizations on the development and implementation of business-driven solutions.

KOFISI

Best Shared Workspace Provider – East Africa 

KOFISI

What does it mean to be in the office in the 21st Century? To ten different organisations, you’ll find ten different answers. The team at KOFISI, however, have made it their mission to deliver truly incredible results to their clients. In MEA Markets’ African Excellence Awards 2022, the firm was recognised for their incredible achievements. We take a closer look at how they’ve risen through the ranks to such heights of success.

The office is a concept which has stood still for decades, but KOFISI stands apart as an organisation dedicated to bringing the idea of the office firmly into the 21st Century. As work evolves, peoples’ needs change, so too will their space requirements at the office. Empowering businesses of every size to make this change has been the mission of the KOFISI team, and it’s a mission that they’re succeeding at.

With eight centres strategically positioned across the continent, in Nairobi, Lagos and Dar Es Salaam, the team at KOFISI have been able to support businesses from every corner of industry. Whether developing a bespoke solution for large teams to congregate within or a fully furnished private office for teams of three or more staff members, they excel at delivering something special.

The need for the office has never gone away. Moving on from the COVID-19 pandemic people realised they still need to congregate to collaborate and communicate.  As businesses have returned to the office, enterprise has been trying to make sure the office remains relevant in different ways. For KOFISI, the aim has always been to raise the bar when it comes to the quality of the office space provided for employees, workers and businesses operating in Africa. These are designed to be spaces that not only inspire and engage but enable productive business and working practises. It’s a clear investment from clients into their staff.

The support of KOFISI has made an enormous difference to lots of enterprises. Within each KOFISI Centre, there is a host of workspaces where teams are able to collaborate and connect. These include flexible desk areas, private booths, phone booths, meeting rooms, a media and podcasting studio as well as communal kitchens, cafes, a restaurant, outdoor terraces and large event and conference facilities. Since opening their doors, the team have put world class interior design at the heart of how they operate, but that’s not the only important factor.

Key to the way in which the team has expanded is the concept of hospitality-led work environments, delivering the sort of service that would only otherwise be found within a hotel. The KOFISI team provide front desk and reception services, bring free tea, coffee and refreshments to your desk, help with day-to-day administration such as printing and binding -services, booking taxis and food deliveries. They even have stunning on-site restaurants and rooftop cafes serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Office space plays such an important role in any business that the KOFISI design and build team are always determined to get in on the ground level of what is required from them within their space. Do they need special facilities? Can their brand be captured in the space? Do they need their own meeting rooms or a private kitchen? Will they need breakout rooms or phone booths? How many people will be working from the office on a regular basis? The list goes on and on, and only once these details have been settled can progress be made.

Since starting in this exciting industry, the team have built large spaces and complex facilities that have satisfied every single requirement that their clients have presented them with, even perfecting a laboratory for one of their clients. The team’s ability to deliver these stunning results, however, is realised once all of the information has been gathered. After this, it’s time to make a comprehensive creative brief and to hand that over to the KOFISI in-house interior designers to create something unique for their client.

The team’s work is extensive, and their experience in this industry allows the client to get more square footage of workspace than the traditional office model. Because space is shared, businesses can use outdoor flexible desk areas, members lounges, cafes and restaurants communally, sharing the costs between them. The floorplans for what the team develops is continually revised until total satisfaction is achieved. The team’s ability to deliver genuinely stunning workspaces, unparalleled in their level of sophistication, is almost entirely unique in Africa. It’ll come as no surprise, therefore, that the KOFISI team is in high demand indeed, with a long pipeline of enquiries and requests.

With more and more people wanting to work with KOFISI, it’s clear that African multinationals have begun to think about space more clearly. The arrival of Fortune 500 companies in the continent’s cities and towns means that more people are demanding services of an ever-higher standard. Working with landlords, the KOFISI team has been able to educate enterprise in how to make the most out of its square footage, evolving businesses ready for the future. The team is particularly proud of its efforts in disrupting the serviced office model. These once drab and very boring offerings have blossomed into a very exciting and colourful growth industry.

There was previous resistance to shared workspaces from landlords, with many not seeing the benefit of “space as a service”. As time has gone on, however, the realisation of what KOFISI offers has been seen as a major benefit to many. 10% of commercial office space in developed cities is shared, roughly one in ten floors of any new building. The potential of this new space is clear, offering strong footfall as a building establishes itself, creating “tenant tow” and offering substantial commercial upsides to landlords who partner with providers like KOFISI in the building. There has been an increase in those who have wanted to work alongside established brands like KOFISI over the years, as it gives them an extra value proposition to take to potential tenants.

Much of these has come through the implementation of “management contract” style arrangements, where both the landlord and the provider collaborate to deliver a space. KOFISI pioneered this way of thinking, delivering the first management contracts in Africa, repurposing older buildings for modern businesses and delivering the largest workspace centres in Africa’s newest additions to the city skylines. That there is a new way of thinking spreading across the continent is entirely down to this intrepid team.

With this changing approach at the heart of the firm, it’s little wonder that over the last year, the KOFISI team have been busier than ever before. Now the worst of the pandemic is over, businesses are returning to Africa and need office solutions. They can see that this is a region where there are enormous opportunities. In many ways, the pandemic has presented the team with a host of exciting new prospects, as more and more companies start to embrace alternative ways of working. Whilst previously, it would have been unthinkable not to have a specific office space, the flexibility of shared workspaces has allowed companies to match the flexibility demanded by their employees.

As companies have returned to the office, they’ve also seen the need to ensure that they are better suited to the needs of their employees in other ways. By consulting space experts such as those who work for the team at KOFISI, office space has become an investment in itself, designed to act as a more stimulating location to work with a higher quality than ever before. By scaling back on space and removing the capital investment of licensing space, corporate organisations have been able to achieve wonderful things.

The idea that keeps KOFISI at the forefront of this exciting new industry is a determination to uncover precisely what inspires people. This is why there has been such strong commitment to hospitality services, for example, which has proven to be wildly successful. The team works tirelessly to ensure that their clients have the best possible experience at all times. When you work with KOFISI, you essentially gain an assistant whose goal is to make sure you can focus on what you do best. When managing your own office, you need to consider maintaining that space. When you use a shared workspace under KOFISI, all of those burdens are lifted.

Working with KOFISI massively increases the flexibility of how a business can operate too. The firm’s events service provides clients with incredible outdoor and indoor event spaces for members to hold bespoke and unforgettable conferences and seminars. The team take the strain of offering the whole range of event services that might be required, from planning the event in detail to executing it with aplomb. Catering, marketing and hospitality are all taken care of, provided to a standard which will delight and astound even the most particular of guests.

With so much potential at the team’s fingertips, it seems like KOFISI is likely to continue its path of growth for a considerable while yet. Their success in the African Excellence Awards, however, is not their own triumph as of late. The team have recently been nominated as a finalist in the international, SBID Office Design Awards. KOFISI is in the mix with some very well-known office designers. Perhaps, the most significant factor in their nomination is that they were the only shared workplace provider on the African continent to reach this stage. Such an achievement shows not only that the team are more than able to hold their own, but that they are able to hold their own against international competition. If African excellence is to be found anywhere, it’s in this incredible company.

Looking forward to the future, the team at KOFISI have big plans for the rest of 2022. These plans will see them expanding their reach in Nairobi, Lagos and Dar Es Salaam, as well as in other gateway cities across Africa. The incredible demand for the team’s unique efforts has seen them being approached by some of the largest multi-national corporations who want to expand across the continent. The team at KOFISI see this as a sign that they’re doing something right!

KOFISI is an example of a business which is inherently disruptive. The work that the team undertakes has been transformative for many in these transformative times. Office space is a concept which cannot stay still, and the companies and landlords that are aware and able to keep up with these changes are the ones which will continue to thrive in the years to come. For many, it’s clear that KOFISI is going to be a core part of this change, providing the knowledge and expertise to design an office unlike any other and then to maintain it to the highest possible standards. We celebrate the team’s tremendous success in the African Excellence Awards, and cannot wait to see what they do next!

For business enquiries, contact Georgia Webber from KOFISI via email –  [email protected] or on their website – https://kofisi.africa/

Common Mistakes in Link-Building to Avoid

One of the fundamental practices in search engine optimisation (SEO) is link-building. Despite how long it’s been around, it remains as effective now as ever when generating inbound web traffic and improving its online presence. Unfortunately, however, while there is a multitude of different techniques to create effective strategies for building links, many commit errors. As a result, it negatively impacts their websites, causing traffic losses and receiving costly penalties in severe cases.

As the saying goes, mistakes don’t just happen on their own; they’re caused. The good news is that you can avoid traps by knowing where they are laid out. In this article, we’ll cover some of the most common mistakes made in link-building that you should avoid at all costs. So, if you want to learn more, keep on reading.

Doing everything yourself

SEO might sound simple in concept. But its execution is more complicated than you might think. If you try to tackle the job yourself, you’ll risk doing more damage to your search rankings and internet visibility than good. So don’t make this mistake and invest in link building specialists like ocere.com. They will save you the trouble, do much better, and help you achieve the intended outcome.

Buying links

Purchasing links was a notorious strategy in the 2000s. Some websites even promoted the service outright, to improve rankings on the search engine results pages by selling the links. It was a time when the Page Rank of Google was the KPI, or metric everyone wanted to concentrate on. This resulted in an overwhelming amount of paid links all over the World Wide Web. However, Google eventually began to lock down on the practice, resulting in penalties for these services.

While this strategy is no longer as prevalent as it once was, many sites still think they can get away with it. Don’t make the same mistake and steer clear of this Blackhat strategy. Build your links organically instead. Doing so will give you peace of mind that you won’t get penalised for your efforts. More importantly, it’ll show your brand or organisation as being transparent and honest. This is especially important if you’re trying to enter a new market, like the Middle Eastern or African markets because it will give you a better chance of winning them over.

Ignoring broken links

Optimising a well-organised website structure for search engine crawlers is one of the most effective ways to ensure that the materials you publish online find their audience. If you leave broken links the way they are, the crawlers won’t be able to fulfil their intended function. Moreover, users will find it frustrating, sending a signal that the online property is of poor quality and leading to lower rankings.

Therefore, you must regularly audit the website, check if there are any dead or broken links, and address them accordingly. It may be a minor detail, but it will impact your link-building efforts and SEO campaign as a whole.

Spamming links

Another common mistake many make is spamming links. The practice frequently happens on guest posts and blog comments where users remark on a piece with little more than a link to a poor-quality online domain or write and upload posts containing the spammy links. Similar to the acquisition of links by paying for them, this is a practice that you mustn’t do because search algorithms have gotten to the point where they can detect these Blackhat methods and penalise the sites accordingly.

Failing to establish relationships

Link-building isn’t only a technique for promoting and connecting content with other sites. It’s also an excellent strategy for establishing networks and creating mutually beneficial partnerships. In other words, the practice is more than merely building links. If you overlook this aspect of link-building, you could miss out on opportunities to strengthen your connection with the webmasters and increase your exposure further. So be sure that you don’t because you may just win over your intended audience, whether they’re from the United States or the Middle Eastern countries.

Conclusion

These days, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any brand or company that doesn’t use link-building strategies in one form or another. After all, this digital marketing method can boost an organisation’s visibility in ways that few others can. However, you mustn’t take it lightly, or it could end up bringing the opposite of the intended results, so avoid the abovementioned mistakes.

IT Software

One in Five MEA Employees Would Prefer Better Software Over More Vacation Time, Freshworks Report

IT Software

Freshworks Inc. ,a software company empowering the people who power business, today released the findings of a report, which found IT professionals in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) spend nearly a full work day each week (an average of 7 hours and 53 minutes) dealing with bloatware – unwanted, overly complicated SaaS add-ons and features that hinders productivity and causes frustration at work. This has consequently had an impact on their productivity (51%), decreased their motivation (31%) and made them want to resign (23%). 

Freshworks’ new, State of Workplace Technology: Bloatware – the difference between love and hate for workplace tech, report explores more than 2,000 global IT professionals’ interactions with workplace technology. In it, 40% of MEA respondents report that most of the software their work provides doesn’t help them do their job better, while over half (54%) say their company pays for software products their IT teams never use – indicating that organizations are currently spending significant amounts on unnecessary overheads.  

 

IT Pros Want More of Less

Despite widespread innovation and a societal movement toward simple, easy-to-use apps, the new research reveals that bloatware is a persistent and pernicious problem for organizations. MEA IT professionals report that they have an average of 7.5 different applications available for use on their work computer, but only actively use half of them meaning that half are simply a distraction that lowers overall system performance. Almost every IT professional (91%) says their company could benefit from reducing overall software contracts, stating benefits that include increased productivity (56%), cost savings (50%) and more enjoyable work (25%).

“It’s clear Middle East users prioritise functionality over features as unnecessarily complex software can be a bane rather than a boon. For businesses, investing in overcomplicated technologies has a threefold negative effect – the costs sunk into implementing the solution, the impact on employee satisfaction, and the subsequent loss of productivity,” Manish Mishra – Head, Middle East & Africa, Freshworks.

“Legacy SaaS providers may have had good intentions by offering more add-ons and features, but the era of complexity has backfired and is bogging down businesses’ ability to deliver,” said Prasad Ramakrishnan, CIO of Freshworks. “As we approach a possible slowdown in the economy, the C-suite is re-examining their tech stack to prioritize solutions that deliver maximum productivity, not complexity and burnout. Bloatware needs to go.”

However, gaining the necessary understanding of user preferences will require a culture shift that encourages employees to share their experiences and frustrations. Currently, despite costly and frustrating issues with software, three quarters (75%) of MEA IT pros have hesitations about sharing feedback on their software. Why? One in four don’t want to be seen as a complainer and say their company has a history of ignoring feedback (24%), while 18% don’t believe they’ll be listened to.

 

Frustrating Software Hurts Motivation and Performance

Almost unanimously, IT pros hate their company software. 84% of MEA IT pros said they have frustrations with their company’s software, with the leading reasons being: it slows down their work (36%), it lacks flexibility (33%) and it requires multiple programs to do their job effectively (28%). But more worrying is that bad software also hurts work performance and morale. Notable findings include:

●    Contributes to the Great Resignation. Nearly a quarter of MEA IT workers (23%) say being forced to use outdated legacy software makes them want to quit their job. 
●    Hurts mental health. The large majority (87%) of MEA IT pros are burnt out and nearly half (49%) say they are the most burnt out they’ve ever been in their career. They see bloated software as part of the problem, with 25% reporting that easier-to-use software would help reduce their burnout.
●    Better software can be part of the solution. MEA IT professionals say that easier-to-use software (45%) and software that reduces workload (36%) would help reduce burnout.

 

IT Pros Will Give Up a Lot for Better Software

In the MEA region, fifty-seven percent of IT pros say they hate using outdated legacy software that isn’t easy to use. Many hate the software so much that they are willing to give up benefits, vacation days (47%), more parental leave (36%), and more sick/wellness days (35%).

“In an increasingly digital world, business and IT heads need to pay careful attention to the usability, performance, and intuitiveness of their digital platforms. Those that get this right will have their pick of their industry’s top talent as workers gravitate towards organizations that place an emphasis on delivering exceptional digital experiences,” Mishra concluded.

Freshworks recently released Part 1 of its State of Workplace Technology series titled, Workplace technology: The new battleground for the war on talent, productivity & reputation. It found that businesses globally face a potential workplace crisis due to inadequate technology – which damages employee productivity, mental health and the ability to retain talent – as an overwhelming 91% of employees report being frustrated due to inadequate workplace technology. Meanwhile, 71% of business leaders acknowledge that employees will consider looking for a new employer if their current job does not provide access to the tools, technology or information they need to do their jobs well. 

Solar Panels

Saudi Arabia Takes Rapid Steps to Export Solar Panels Worldwide

Solar Panels

Desert Technologies’ Chief Commercial Officer Eng. Majid Refae confirmed that Saudi Arabia is offering several programs that support Saudi manufacturers and facilitate the export of solar panels to all countries of the world.

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Refae revealed that the Kingdom has set its priorities for green energy generation and is driving the sector’s companies and institutions towards achieving key goals while expanding and developing their businesses in the next stage.

On exporting solar panels, Refae said it was vital as it helps in increasing and creating more job opportunities in the Kingdom and contributes to growing Saudi Arabia’s GDP.

He reminded that the export of national products is one of the most important axes of Saudi Arabia’s national transformation plan, Kingdom Vision 2030.

In coordination with the Saudi Energy Ministry, Desert Technologies has plans to provide the needs of the Kingdom’s market. This includes building solar power plants with capacities greater than 2 megawatts for citizens and major consumers inside their facilities and homes.

Any surplus would be exported to the public electricity network in 2022.

 

Exporting Solar Panels:

The Kingdom has taken great strides in exporting solar panels through several programs that support Saudi manufacturers, such as the Saudi Export-Import Bank, the Saudi Development Fund, the National Companies Leadership Program.

“We, as a specialized company, have had the privilege of cooperating with the National Companies Leadership Program and the Import-Export Bank in signing agreements to export solar panels to Europe, Africa and the US,” Refae told Asharq Al-Awsat.

 

Positive Returns:

Besides generating more job opportunities for the Kingdom’s youth, exporting solar panels also contributes to growing Saudi Arabia’s GDP by focusing on export activity, which is one of the main objectives of Kingdom Vision 2030.

Moreover, the manufacture and export of solar panels helps advance the Saudi Green Initiative which brings together environmental protection, energy transformation and sustainability programs to work towards a green future.

Desert Technologies, the first Saudi factory and company to export solar panels, has been keen on being one of the main contributors to renewable energy projects, stressed Refae.

The company has developed a production line to manufacture solar panels with an accumulated capacity. This will contribute to making Desert Technologies one of the most important national factories for solar panels in the region.

 

Energy Ministry:

“Our plan is compatible with the Energy Ministry and works to provide the Kingdom’s market needs of solar energy products,” said Refae, noting that the Saudi market is one of the largest Arab markets in need of solar products.

“The residential sector in the Kingdom constitutes more than 50% of the market size,” noted Refae, adding that the demand is increasing with the rise of new cities such as Neom.

“We are working to contribute to the realization of plans aimed at expanding the use of solar energy at the commercial and residential levels,” affirmed Refae.

 

Saudi Made:

Refae pointed out that the “Saudi Made” program is a milestone for all Saudi manufacturers, as it reflects the ability of the Saudi product to compete with high quality.

“Saudi Made” builds a cooperative society linking several companies, whereby adequate support is provided to the public and private sectors. It also contributes to making the Kingdom’s goods and services a preferred and prominent option at the local and global levels.

 

Exporting Outside the Kingdom:

On foreign projects, Refae added that Desert Technologies had expanded its participation in the framework of supporting the “Saudi Made” program and increasing the volume of Saudi non-oil exports.

Its activities reached Greece, where it is currently supplying solar panels for renewable energy projects on one of the Greek islands with a capacity of 11 megawatts.

“The company has signed a commercial agreement with a US company to export solar panels to its projects in the US,” revealed Refae.

The deal puts Desert Technologies in a leading position in the US market and enhances its position in the field of producing and exporting solar panels at the international level.

And in April, Desert Technologies signed an agreement with the Swiss/German Group meeco to export its solar panels to Germany to implement several projects in the city of Lambsheim. Reaching out to new markets that hadn’t been reached before.