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Elevating the SMME sector is key to ensuring long-term economic viability in Africa

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David Mparutsa, Head of Enterprise & Supply Chain Development at Absa Regional Operations
David Mparutsa, Head of Enterprise & Supply Chain Development at Absa Regional Operations

Despite commendable efforts and interventions by various state and private sector entities, there is no silver bullet to how economies across Africa and the small and medium enterprise sector will recover from the global health pandemic.

 

Across the continent, we see a K-shaped recovery as different economies and sectors recover at differing rates from the worst effects of COVID-19 through stimulus packages and global support funds. Countries that acted early and decisively and have the mechanisms to channel support to sectors in critical need of assistance are better placed to lead the recovery. From a business perspective, sectors such as tech and telecoms are running ahead while leisure and tourism and aviation have a long road to regain lost ground.

 

Simply put, one year on from the pandemic, there is no linear or homogenous road to economic recovery.

 

So, where does this leave the critical SME sector in Africa?

According to the African Development Bank’s report African SMEs Through COVID-19, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) account for more than 90% of businesses and almost 80% of employment in African economies. The majority of these enterprises are to be found in the informal sector. Small business owners, particularly in the informal sector, can start afresh and pivot their business offerings according to the market needs.

 

But this adaptability and agility – the very qualities that make SMEs such a feature of the African economic landscape – are also the sector’s biggest Achilles heel. Anyone with an idea, the drive and the perseverance can start a small business in support of their families and even communities, but by its nature, it does not lend itself to long-term sustainability.

 

A 2020 Catalyst for Growth report found that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was felt to a far greater extent in emerging markets due to SMEs in these markets being constrained by institutional inadequacies.

Depending on the scale of the SME, when COVID-19 hit, some were unable to pay their own and employee wages, others were forced to retrench staff, while many were unable to meet financial obligations as they were not prepared and equipped to withstand such a tremendous economic shock.

 

SMEs with very little in the balance sheet in terms of investments or liquid assets and highly geared struggled for survival during the pandemic. It goes back to only borrowing money for necessary projects and where the business owner has a line of sight of cash flow to service that debt.

 

The April 2021 AfDB report African SMEs Through COVID-19 stated that in addition to immediate support and relief measures, governments should also “consider mid-to-long term structural policies for African SMEs that would enhance their resilience after the crisis”.

 

Key recommendations include:

  • strengthening awareness of opportunities for SMEs,
  • investing in skills and capacities,
  • speeding up the adoption of digital technologies, and
  • strengthening credit reporting institutions.

 

The way back from the brink

Education to support the SME sector will be crucial, and this is where corporates such as Absa Bank play such a critical role through enterprise supply chain development programmes and supporting initiatives.

 

Africa is a vibrant and growing economic pot but still subject to regular economic shocks and bouts of turbulence, be that due to political instability or natural disasters.

 

The SME sector, in particular micro-enterprises, will have to learn the importance of contingency reserves and a culture of saving instead of a hand-to-mouth approach, which leaves zero room to manoeuvre and too exposed to external factors.

 

SMEs can adapt to changing circumstances, but the sector needs to incorporate contingency and succession planning as critical parts of its make-up. In addition, adequately documented procedures which allow your business to continue to operate in your absence as well as optimal stocking and resourcing levels to drive efficiency will have to become part of the fabric of the SME sector.

 

During the pandemic, Absa provided financial assistance in payment relief to at least 670,000 customers in Africa, with approximately US$72m dollars in cash flow relief provided to our retail and business banking customers. In Ghana this included repayment moratorium of up to six months to businesses who have been impacted by COVID-19 and a reduction in lending rate by 2% on qualifying SMEs.  We also incentivised the use of digital channels for convenient and safe transaction; in a market like Ghana, this translated into some fee waivers for online transactions.

 

Furthermore, we provided counsel to small business owners and through our business development support programmes such Absa SME Clinics, Absa Business Connect series & Absa StartUp Training sessions, designed to upskill and empower SMEs.

 

Meaningful support of this critical economic sector requires multi-stakeholder involvement from both the public and private sectors.

 

The economic green shoots of recovery can be seen all over the continent in key data points such as the GDP outlook, which the African Development Bank predicts will grow at 3.4% in 2021, as opposed to a contraction of 2.1% in 2020, and there has also been a solid rebound in commodity prices. Allied to that are vaccine roll-out programmes, which will help boost confidence in various economic sectors.

 

As a small business owner can adapt quickly, it is imperative that SMEs keep their ears close to the ground in terms of sector recoveries and quickly try and plug into those sectors that are potentially doing well and leading the economic recovery. Understand what your business can offer and link into the value chains of large firms in those sectors, maybe as a supplier or as a distributor.

 

The opportunities will be there. However, the SME sector will need to be agile and increasingly resilient in ensuring its long-term sustainability and ability to withstand any future shocks.

 

By David Mparutsa, Head of Enterprise & Supply Chain Development at Absa Regional Operations

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Kaicy Amo Darkwah the CEO of Lord Rayden Foundation ties the knot in Georgia

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Kaicy Amo Darkwah, a well renowned personnel, a diplomat and philanthropist, tied the knot with Victoria Olivia Jones.

Kaicy Amo Darkwah, who is the CEO of Lord Rayden Foundation, on Monday, October 18 married Victoria in a simple wedding ceremony held in  Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Victoria Olivia Jones is a native of Augusta, Georgia and a medical student in the University of Augusta. In addition, she’s also the head of security operations.

The marriage ceremony was quite unique due to Covid 19 restrictions; as only the couple were allowed into the ceremony.  Yet they stood out and confessed their love to each other, and promised to be each other’s joy and safe haven.

Kaicy Amo Darkwah is currently pursuing his masters degree in Information Communication Studies.

The Lord Rayden Foundation with the mission of providing needed support to families of bereaved security service personnel who lost their lives in the line of duty.

The foundation which was established in remembrance of late CPL Amo-Darkwah Evans aims to provide the necessary support be it medical, legal or financial to the bereaved family in the event of the passing of a security service personnel.

Through collaboration with non-profit and professional organizations, Lord Rayden Foundation promises to engage the services of legal practitioners, financial experts, tax specialists and health care specialists, to make sure that the bereaved can have easy access to these expertise support that would otherwise be difficult to access in such circumstances. .

These practical advice, support and training will enable beneficiaries of the foundation and their family to be able to deal with the challenges that comes with losing a loved one.

 

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Access to 100% Virgin Human Hair, not Synthetic Wigs for Your Personality Improvement

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Improve your personality and standards to have 100% virgin human hair instead of synthetic wigs. Most people remain in research to find 100% virgin human hair, not the wigs because pure human hairs survive and get growth. Synthetic wigs are not the proper solutions because it’s a type of time pass and not the genuine and authentic source to keep your personality all times same in from of others. There are numerous qualities and preferences levels in human virgin hairs that can be chosen according to the needs and priorities levels of the people. Male and females have the best chance to buy blue bob wigs to improve your personality.

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Emirates launches exciting offer for families visiting Dubai during Expo 2020

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Emirates is pulling out all stops to make a vacation in Dubai during Expo 2020 a family affair. The airline has rolled out a special offer on children’s tickets to Dubai, in addition to a host of other added-value incentives to ensure a memorable experience in one of the world’s most-loved destinations for family escapades.

With this latest limited time offer, there has never been a better time to visit Dubai than now. In the promotion running until 6 November, families booking tickets to Dubai, will  pay only 25% of the adult fare for kids aged 2 to 11 years old, valid for the duration of Expo 2020. The special offer is applicable on all Business and Economy Class tickets to Dubai, for travel dates up until 31 March 2022. Visit offer page for more information.

With Dubai being the host city of the largest World Expo ever to be held, Emirates wants global citizens of all ages to experience the excitement of the largest-of-its-kind event in the region. As the Premier Partner and Official Airline of Expo 2020 Dubai, Emirates looks forward to bringing visitors to the event via its route network which connects over 120 destinations to Dubai.

Emirates reveals the top source markets for families with small children traveling to Dubai this winter, as the UK, France, Germany, Russia, Switzerland and Italy. Emirates has also revealed that more than half of the visitors planning a vacation in the coming months have visited Dubai before and intend to stay more than one week to explore what the city has to offer.

Special offers on children’s flight tickets are not all that its customers can look forward to enjoying, with both big and small guaranteed a complimentary Expo Day Pass for every Emirates ticket to Dubai during the event. If that’s not enough to make a family journey to Dubai one that makes perfect sense, additional perks and attractive offers await travellers to ensure a rewarding experience.

 

Members of the airline’s award-winning loyalty programme, Emirates Skywards, will earn Skywards Miles for flight tickets purchased. Emirates has also launched a special Expo offer where customers will earn 1 Skywards Mile for every 1 minute spent in Dubai until 31 March 2022. Existing and new Emirates Skywards members who sign up for the programme before 31 March 2022, can avail the offer on Emirates.com, and will earn up to 5,000 Miles. With the additional Miles earned during Expo, family members will be able to redeem to enjoy reward flight tickets and other rewarding benefits.

 

My Emirates Pass is back, enabling customers to enjoy exclusive deals at over 500 retail, dining, and recreational attractions across Dubai and the UAE, simply by presenting their board pass. Details of the offers can be found on www.emirates.com/myemiratespass.

 

Dubai remains one of the world’s most popular holiday destinations, especially during the winter season, and visitors can choose from an array of hotels to stay at, to suit all budgets, as well as exciting entertainment, dining and shopping options for all ages. From sun-soaked beaches and heritage activities to world class hospitality and leisure facilities, Dubai offers a variety of world-class experiences.

 

Expo 2020 Dubai’s programme is packed with experiences, exhibits and performances to appeal to the entire family, with a rich line-up of themed weeks, entertainment and edutainment, art, technology and dining options for all palates. Visitors can drop by the 192 national pavilions for a journey through cultures, or the various thematic and special pavilions to get a glimpse of the future and the innovations that are making a difference in tomorrow’s world.

 

Travelling with Emirates

Health and wellbeing: Keeping the health and wellbeing of its passengers as top priority, Emirates has introduced a comprehensive set of safety measures at every step of the customer journey. The airline has also recently introduced contactless technology and scaled up its digital verification capabilities to provide its customers even more opportunities to utilise the IATA Travel Pass this summer.

Travel assurance: Emirates continues to lead the industry with innovative products and services that address traveller needs during a dynamic time. The airline has taken its customer care initiatives further with even more generous and flexible booking policies, an extension of its multi-risk insurance cover, and helping loyal customers retain their miles and tier status.

Customers travelling to Dubai are encouraged to check the latest government travel restrictions in their country of origin and ensure they meet the travel requirements of their final destination. For more information on entry requirements for international visitors to Dubai visit: https://www.emirates.com/english/help/covid-19/dubai-travel-requirements/

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Qatar Airways celebrates a successful year of service to Accra

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Qatar Airways, the award-winning airline, has celebrated its first year of operations to Accra, marked by rapid growth and product enhancement. The first Qatar Airways flight flew into Kotoka International Airport on 29 September 2020, despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The airline started operations in Ghana with three flights a week, increasing to five flights a week from 22 August 2021. Currently, the airline operates five weekly Accra – Doha flights to over 140 destinations on the next generation Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, with new Business Class design.

“Africa is one of Qatar Airways’ key growth regions in its global network, and Ghana is an important market in West Africa. Our frequency increase and operating the latest Boeing 787-9 aircraft on all flights between Accra and Doha, underpin our commitment to the market. It was a bold move to launch when we did, faced with the many challenges of the pandemic, but we were confident that the market would respond positively to our award-winning travel experience, and the first year has proved that,” said Hendrik Du Preez, Vice President, Africa, Qatar Airways.

Next generation Boeing 787-9: Passengers from Accra can enjoy  the state-of-the-art Boeing 787-9 aircraft, with 311 seats – 30 Business Class Suites and 281 seats in Economy Class. Arranged in a herringbone pattern, in a 1-2-1 configuration, each suite in Business Class has direct aisle access with a sliding door to ensure the ultimate in privacy and comfort. Passengers seated in adjoining centre suites can slide the privacy panels away at the touch of a button to create their very own enclosed private space.

The Business Class Suite, transforms into a 79” fully-flat bed, offering elevated levels of comfort on board; seats are  equipped with a dedicated phone holder with a wireless charging technology that is compatible with both iOS and Android devices.

In Economy Class, each seat is equipped with a 13-inch Panasonic IFE touch screen in addition to a personal electronic device holder for both mobile and iPad devices. The seat features a rotatable armrest that can be completely stowed away to the backrest, providing a more comfortable and spacious experience. Passengers will enjoy the full dining experience ‘Quisine’, offering an elevated Economy Class travel experience.

Qatar Airways travellers from Accra can now enjoy new baggage allowances ranging from 46 Kg for Economy Class split over two pieces and 64 Kg split over two pieces in Business Class. This initiative is designed to offer passengers more flexibility and comfort when travelling on board Qatar Airways. For more information please visit https://www.qatarairways.com/en-qa/baggage/allowance.html

A multiple award-winning airline, Qatar Airways was announced as the ‘Airline of the Year’ at the 2021 World Airline Awards, managed by the international air transport rating organisation, Skytrax. It was also named ‘World’s Best Business Class’, ‘World’s Best Business Class Airline Lounge’, ‘World’s Best Business Class Airline Seat’, ‘World’s Best Business Class Onboard Catering’ and ‘Best Airline in the Middle East’. The airline continues to stand alone at the top of the industry having now won the main prize for an unprecedented sixth time (2011, 2012, 2015, 2017, 2019 and now 2021). The airline’s hub, Hamad International Airport (HIA), was recently recognised as the ‘Best Airport in the World 2021’, by the Skytrax World Airport Awards 2021.

In addition to this, Qatar Airways has become the first global airline to achieve the prestigious 5-Star COVID-19 Airline Safety Rating by Skytrax.

This follows the success of Hamad International Airport (HIA) as the first airport in the Middle East and Asia to be awarded a Skytrax 5-Star COVID-19 Airport Safety Rating. These awards provide assurance to passengers across the world that the airline’s health and safety standards are subject to the highest possible standards of professional, independent scrutiny and assessment. For full details of all the measures that have been implemented on board and at HIA, please visit qatarairways.com/safety.

Accra Flight Schedule:

DaysFlight From ToDeparture Arrival
Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat & SunQR1424AccraDoha19:3006:10+1
Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat & SunQR1423DohaAccra02:2007:00
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New Reality TV Show, The Residence Afrika Premieres March 2022, Announces $500,000 Grand Prize

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Nigerian company, Africa Network Entertainment Limited (ANEL) has announced plans for the premiere of its much-awaited reality TV Show; The Residence Afrika. The first season of the Show tagged The Quest Edition will debut in March 2022 with 24 contestants from Anglophone countries in Africa competing for the grand prize of $500,000.

 

Chairman of Africa Network Entertainment Limited (ANEL) and Executive Producer of The Residence Afrika; Mr Kelechi Freeman Ukadike speaking to guests and pressmen at the launch party of the Reality TV Show in Lagos, Nigeria.

 

 

Chairman of ANEL and Executive Producer of The Residence Afrika; Mr Kelechi Freeman Ukadike made this known at the launch party of the reality TV Show held on Saturday in Lagos, Nigeria. He stated that,

 

“There is a possibility for the contestants to win more than $500,000 because they will all have the opportunity to showcase their knowledge, talents and business skills throughout the Show especially during brand tasks”.

 

L-R: Vice-Chairman and Director, The Residence Afrika; Jim Iyke, Chairman of Africa Network Entertainment Limited (ANEL) and Executive Producer of The Residence Afrika; Mr Kelechi Freeman Ukadike, Project Director, ANEL and The Residence Afrika; Melvin Oduah, Project Manager, The Residence Afrika; Mr Chuks Anyaduba and Business Man, Mr Fidelis Ofili on the red carpet at the launch party of the Reality TV Show in Lagos, Nigeria.

 

While presenting the vision of the Show to pressmen and special guests, the Project Manager of the Reality TV Show; Mr Chuks Anyaduba, said that the goal is to curb political upheavals and misunderstandings created by cultural diversity. This will be achieved by showcasing and harmonizing the value systems of different ethnic groups in Africa on the Show.

 

 

Also representing ANEL as a Vice-Chairman and Director of the Show, Popular Movie Producer; Jim Iyke said,

 

“After two years of planning and preparation, the Show’s first season will be aired in Africa and around the world including the United States and the United Kingdom.”

 

 

According to the group, preparations are being made to drive engagement and publicity via digital platforms globally. Organisers are also working on ensuring viewers can vote for their favourite contestants by purchasing credits via digital solutions like Paypal, Flutterwave and Bitcoin.”

 

 

Viewers will be able to watch the Show on The Residence Afrika app which will be available on Google Playstore and the App Store. They can also have direct conversations with the contestants and choose their Star contestant of the week, every week of the Show.

 

Auditions will be open to Africans irrespective of status, gender and background. All contestants will apply online through a transparent audition process. Visit https://theresidenceafrika.com/ for more information on the Show.

 

The Residence Afrika which will have 2 Mansions in an undisclosed location, is a much-anticipated reality TV Show for Africans aimed at empowering talents from the continent with more business opportunities.

 

 

Hosted by Cee Classic, the Launch Party had in attendance notable personalities, celebrities, comedians and tastemakers like Solomon Oyekunle, Uti Nwachukwu, Melvin Oduah, DJinee, Jay One, Wilma, Hero Daniels, Moses Inwang, and a host of others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Guinness Ghana choosing me as a culture maker has been the biggest highlight of my dance career – Incredible Zigi

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Celebrated dance artist and choreographer Incredible Zigi, has expressed his gratitude to Guinness Ghana for the opportunity to champion its new campaign, ‘Black Shines Brightest’. (more…)

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