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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Employees' Engagement and Wellbeing Across Various Nations in the Sub-Saharan Region

Gallup's latest State of the Global Workplace report reveals a stagnation in global employee engagement and a decline in employee wellbeing in 2023, reversing multiple years of steady gains. 

These findings indicate that a majority of the world's employees continue to struggle both at work and in life, impacting organizational productivity.

The report highlights a diverse and intricate picture of employee engagement and wellbeing across various nations in the Sub-Saharan region. One in five employees in this region are engaged at work, slightly below the global average of 23%. 

However, there are significant variations within the region: South Africa shows 29% engagement, Tanzania 31%, Kenya 18%, and Senegal a notably high 40%.

The Impact of Work on Mental Health and Wellbeing

Work is a critical factor in overall life experiences and mental health, with engagement at work playing a significant role. Nearly half of all employees in Sub-Saharan Africa (48%) report experiencing stress frequently, a two-percentage-point increase from 2022, and higher than the global rate of 41%. 

Stress levels also vary widely: 32% in South Africa, 34% in Kenya, 46% in Senegal, 40% in Zambia, and a much lower 25% in Zimbabwe.

Sadness is another metric where the region exceeds global rates, with 28% of employees reporting frequent sadness compared to 22% globally. Again, the variation is striking: South Africa and Senegal each report 20%, Kenya 23%, Tanzania 24%, Zambia 28%, Gambia 36%, and Togo 37%. Mauritius and Namibia report significantly lower sadness at 15% and 16%, respectively, while Guinea is much higher at 49%.

Loneliness is a critical issue, with 20% of the world's employees feeling lonely frequently. Sub-Saharan Africa has the second-highest regional percentage, with 28% feeling lonely compared to the global 22%.

When it comes to overall life evaluation, only 17% of employees in Sub-Saharan Africa are thriving, compared to the global rate of 34%. South Africa and Senegal are significantly higher than the regional average, with 32% and 27% respectively, while Kenya and Tanzania are at 16% and 14%. Sierra Leone has the lowest rate at just 8%.

Confidence in the job market is waning, with 49% of employees in the region believing it is a good time to find a job, a slight decrease from last year. However, a striking 75% are actively seeking new job opportunities, far exceeding the global rate of 52%. In South Africa, 56% of employees are looking for new opportunities, compared to 81% in Kenya, 88% in Sierra Leone, 68% in Senegal, 63% in Namibia, and 71% in Ghana.

The Changing Workplace

Since 2020, the global workplace has seen significant shifts, particularly with the rise in hybrid work. This has complicated people management but also highlighted the potential benefits of increasing employee engagement.

 The findings suggest that there is vast potential for workplaces in Africa to improve employee engagement and wellbeing. However, the diversity in the data underscores that underlying factors can vary significantly from one country to another, necessitating tailored approaches for different regions.

Gallup's report underscores the need for focused efforts to improve employee engagement and wellbeing, which are crucial for enhancing productivity and overall life satisfaction. The varying metrics across the Sub-Saharan region highlight the complexities and opportunities in addressing these issues effectively.

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

UCC Calls for Transparency in Data Sold to Ugandan Consumers

During a town hall meeting, the Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) took a stand for transparency in data processes within the telecommunications industry. Highlighting consumer frustrations over data inconsistencies, Nyombi Thembo, the UCC executive director, reiterated the regulator's dedication to safeguarding consumer rights while fostering industry growth.

Thembo emphasized the fundamental rights of consumers, ranging from access to quality services and privacy to clear billing and competitive offers. He stressed the importance of upfront communication of terms and conditions by service providers and prompt resolution of grievances.

To empower consumers further, the commission is developing mechanisms for self-monitoring data consumption trends. "The commission is developing mechanisms to have consumers self-monitor their data consumption trends, which they believe will reduce the number of complaints about data inconsistencies. The commission is assessing a variety of tools where we should select one that will put the monitoring of data usage and its quality in the hands of the consumers,” he stated.

Acknowledging persistent complaints despite operator efforts, David Birungi, Airtel's head of communications, attributed issues to smartphone users' lack of understanding. Airtel plans to intensify subscriber sensitization and community outreaches to bridge this gap.

Regarding data costs, Birungi highlighted Uganda's competitive rates but advocated for reducing smartphone taxes to boost adoption. “Uganda is one of the countries that have competitive rates of data. The average cost of a GB is about 2000 Shillings. The most important conversation we should have is how to reduce that cost; by increasing the number of people who are using smartphones. It’s like having a bus of 25 people and you are only three people on it, you pay the full cost of hiring that bus. Right now, only 33 percent of Ugandans use smartphones on a network that stretches from Nebbi to Kitgum to Bujjiji to Kabaale.”

UCC's advocacy for transparency and consumer empowerment mirrors its commitment to addressing data-related frustrations and elevating telecommunications services across Uganda. With concerted efforts from regulators and industry players, the future promises greater clarity and satisfaction for telecom consumers.

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

ExxonMobil Foundation and JA Africa Launch $300,000 STEM Program Across Africa

The ExxonMobil Foundation, in collaboration with JA Africa, has unveiled the "ExxonMobil STEM Africa" initiative, a groundbreaking $300,000 program aimed at fostering science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills among approximately 3,000 African students spanning Nigeria, Namibia, Angola, and Mozambique.

The primary objective of the initiative is to equip middle and high school students with the necessary skills for future STEM careers through immersive quizzes and hands-on experiences at Innovation Camps. These camps, facilitated by JA Africa, will introduce innovative approaches to tackling STEM-related challenges.

"Enhancing students’ STEM proficiency is pivotal in nurturing the next generation of problem solvers across Africa," remarked Alvin Abraham, President of the ExxonMobil Foundation. "We are eager to witness how these young talents apply their newfound knowledge and skills through our program."

Participating teams with the most outstanding STEM solutions will have the opportunity to represent their respective countries at a prominent regional industry conference in Cape Town, South Africa. This platform will afford students invaluable cross-cultural exposure, insights into global energy dynamics, and the chance to present their ideas while networking with industry experts.

"In a world where technology and innovation drive economic progress, Africa's role in pioneering technological advancements is vital for maintaining competitiveness and fostering sustainable development," noted Simi Nwogugu, President and CEO of JA Africa. 

"We express gratitude to the ExxonMobil Foundation for this collaboration aimed at nurturing STEM competencies to shape the future of Africa."

To delve deeper into the program and its impact, interested parties can visit ExxonMobilSTEMsAfrica.org.

Director of Safari Company Remanded in 326.9 Million Shilling Fraud Case

In a dramatic turn of events, Sheenah Ndamiya, the Director of Kadodi 256 Ndamiya Safaris Limited, found herself at the center of a legal storm as she faced charges of electronic fraud amounting to a staggering 326.9 million shillings.

The Buganda Road Chief Magistrates Court buzzed with anticipation as Ndamiya, also known as Namara, was brought before Grade One Magistrate Winnie Nankya Jatiko on Tuesday.

The courtroom hushed as the prosecution detailed Ndamiya's alleged misdeeds. It was revealed that between January 2018 and February 25th, 2018, in the heart of Kampala City, Ndamiya, using deception, orchestrated a fraudulent online transaction on Pegasus Technology Limited's payment platform, claiming it was payment for services rendered by Kadodo 256 Ndamiya Safari Limited to various Visa Card owners.

Adding to the gravity of the situation, Ndamiya was further charged with receiving stolen property, with prosecutors alleging that the ill-gotten funds were funneled through her account at Stanbic Bank Uganda Limited.

The prosecution, led by the formidable Allan Mucunguzi, wasted no time in asserting that investigations were thorough and complete, urging the court to set a hearing date. As tension mounted, Ndamiya was remanded to Luzira Women's Prison until April 8th, 2024.

The courtroom buzzed with murmurs as the case unfolded, reminiscent of a blockbuster legal drama. But this saga wasn't isolated; it was part of a larger narrative of cybercrime that had gripped the nation.

In 2020, the alarm was raised when Pegasus Technologies reported unauthorized access to its system, sending shockwaves through the telecommunications and banking sectors. MTN, Airtel, and Stanbic Bank were quick to acknowledge the breach in a joint statement, acknowledging the vulnerability of their aggregator's systems.

A Senior police detective at the Criminal Investigations Directorate –CID in Kibuli, speaking to Uganda Radio Network –URN, revealed a startling revelation: hackers had infiltrated Pegasus, an aggregator of major telecom and banking institutions, siphoning off funds totaling over 10 billion shillings to sim cards fraudulently registered in the name of a local company.

As the investigation unfolded, a web of suspects emerged, each playing a role in what became known as the Pegasus Fraud. 

The wheels of justice turned as those involved were brought to account, but the saga served as a stark reminder of the ever-present threat of cybercrime in the digital age.

Saturday, March 30, 2024

From Detention to Innovation: Nabilatuk District Transforms Former Holding Center into Digital Learning Oasis

In a symbolic transformation that echoes the resilience and adaptability of communities, authorities in Nabilatuk district have breathed new life into a former detention facility, repurposing it into a vibrant youth center dedicated to digital literacy and education.

Based within Nabilatuk Town Council, the facility, once synonymous with law enforcement, now stands as a beacon of learning and opportunity.

Collaborating with Tocau Karamoja, a dynamic youth-led organization committed to empowering the region, the district received a generous donation from MTN Uganda under its transformative MTN Changer Makers Initiative.

Valued at 20 million shillings, the fully equipped computer library bestowed upon the district has heralded a new era of technological advancement and knowledge acquisition.

The metamorphosed facility now exudes modernity, boasting state-of-the-art amenities including sleek furniture, a cutting-edge computer lab, and seamless internet connectivity. 

Kyeyune Ssenyonjo, the Nabilatuk Resident District Commissioner, lauded the visionary partnership that birthed this educational haven, recognizing its pivotal role in steering youth towards a brighter future.

Acknowledging the facility's storied past as a bastion against criminal elements, Ssenyonjo emphasized the district's commitment to safeguarding its newfound purpose, ensuring its sustained maintenance and security.

Kizito Tebanyang, the founder of Tocau Karamoja, illuminated the transformative potential of the center. With a steadfast dedication to nurturing computer literacy among youth, Tebanyang envisioned the facility as a sanctuary of learning, offering free guidance and educational services to eager minds yearning to embrace the digital age.

Simon Peter Loteng, the Nabilatuk District Senior Education Officer, echoed Tebanyang's sentiments, heralding the center as a catalyst for bridging the digital divide within the education sector. With optimism coursing through his words, Loteng envisioned a future where the facility inspires a generation of technologically savvy youth, enriching the fabric of their education and igniting pathways to success.

Dr. Charles Nuwagaba, the Chief Community Officer for MTN Uganda in the Karamoja region, and proprietor of Tiffan Enterprises, underscored MTN's unwavering commitment to digital inclusion and youth empowerment through education. 

With a resolute pledge to continue supporting the local community, Nuwagaba heralded the dawn of a digital revolution, fueled by collaboration, innovation, and a shared vision of a brighter tomorrow.

African Geo-Scientists Trained to Harness Continent's Mineral Wealth

 In a bid to bolster Africa's capacity to harness its mineral resources, twenty-five geo-scientists from eleven African nations underwent intensive training in geo-scientific survey techniques and mapping. 

The four-week program, held in Entebbe and Kabale, was spearheaded by the Uganda Geological Survey Department and facilitated by experts from the Czech Republic. This initiative, funded by Europe, aimed to empower African countries to generate their own knowledge and expertise in mineral exploration and exploitation.

Part of a broader four-year program, the training also aimed to facilitate knowledge exchange and networking among experts in the field, thereby enhancing their career prospects. Participants, competitively selected from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Zambia, Angola, Malawi, Botswana, Mozambique, and Egypt, represented a diverse pool of young and mid-career practitioners.

The closing ceremony of the training, held at Lake Victoria Hotel, was graced by outgoing Minister of State for Mineral Development, Peter Lokeris, who emphasized the importance of fostering innovation, collaboration, and research to drive Africa's growth and development.

Lokeris highlighted the role of geo-scientific skills in unlocking Africa's vast mineral potential, urging participants to leverage their newfound expertise for the continent's benefit.

Eng. Irene Batebe, the Permanent Secretary for Energy, underscored the timeliness of the training amid increased mineral and energy exploration activities in Africa. She emphasized the need to develop human capital capable of maximizing Africa's resource wealth, echoing a presidential directive to add value to minerals before export.

Batebe emphasized the importance of translating Africa's mineral potential into tangible projects that attract investment, urging trainees to apply their skills effectively. She also called for sustained networking and knowledge-sharing among practitioners, advocating for the establishment of a centralized African geo-science portal.

Dr. Fred Tugume, Acting Commissioner for Geological Surveys, lauded Uganda's selection as the training host, acknowledging the government's commitment to capacity-building in the region.

Dr. Veronica Sierra from the Czech Republic, a facilitator of the training, stressed the significance of equipping participants with the knowledge to leverage their countries' mineral wealth. She emphasized that unless Africa possesses the requisite expertise, its mineral resources remain untapped potential.

The training program signifies a pivotal step towards empowering African nations to harness their mineral wealth, positioning the continent for sustainable development and prosperity.

UPDF Partners with Makerere University to Introduce Arabic and Chinese Language Courses for Soldiers

The Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) has taken a significant step towards enhancing its global communication capabilities by launching Arabic and Chinese language courses.

These courses, initiated at the Military Intelligence School in Nakasongola district, aim to equip soldiers with the linguistic skills necessary to effectively engage with counterparts from countries where these languages are spoken.

Under the leadership of Maj Gen Charles Birungi, commander of the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI), the courses were inaugurated in collaboration with Makerere University School of Languages, marking a pivotal moment for both the UPDF and the country at large.

Maj Gen Birungi emphasized the importance of effective communication skills in the contemporary global landscape, characterized by globalization and technological advancements. He underscored the significance of avoiding misunderstandings in multicultural partnerships, highlighting the need for proficiency in diverse languages such as Arabic and Chinese.

Addressing the trainees, Maj Gen Birungi urged them to approach the courses with focus and positivity, recognizing the potential for these linguistic skills to enhance their roles within the UPDF. He emphasized the importance of becoming certified linguists, capable of interpretation, translation, and serving as subject matter experts on cultural matters.

Col James Muhumuza, Commandant of the School, outlined the objectives of the courses, emphasizing the development of comprehensive language skills encompassing reading, listening, writing, speaking, and translation.

Drawing on the historical power of language as a unifying force, Col Muhumuza highlighted the broader significance of linguistic proficiency in fostering unity and cooperation.

Gilbert Gumoshabe, Director of the Confucius Institute at Makerere University, expressed gratitude for the opportunity to contribute to the formation of the new language curriculum. He emphasized the importance of diversifying linguistic knowledge beyond English, aligning with the evolving global landscape.

The event, held at Kaweweta, was attended by senior military officers and Chinese officials, including Brig Gen Bonny Wolimbwa, Brig Gen Tom Kabuye, Brig Gen Kenneth Shillingi, Asaba Charles, and Dr. Zhong Jianghua, the Chinese Director of the Confucius Institute at Makerere University.