Post-COVID-19 Education: Lifetime Skills Guarantee Scheme Is A Step In The Right Direction, Says NCUB

Post-COVID-19 Education: Lifetime Skills Guarantee Scheme Is A Step In The Right Direction, Says NCUB

The Lifetime Skills Guarantee Scheme is a welcomed step in the right direction, but more is needed to help reduce unemployment in the short term, says the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB).

According to the Prime Minister’s announcement, adults without an A-Level or equivalent qualification will be offered a free, fully-funded college course – providing them with skills valued by employers, and the opportunity to study at a time and location that suits them.

This offer will be available from April in England, and will be paid for through the National Skills Fund. A full list of available courses will be set out shortly.

Higher education loans will also be made more flexible, allowing adults and young people to space out their study across their lifetimes, take more high-quality vocational courses in further education colleges and universities, and to support people to retrain for jobs of the future.

These reforms will be backed by continued investment in college buildings and facilities – including over £1.5 billion in capital funding.

Dr Joe Marshall, Chief Executive of NCUB said: “The announcement is a step in the right direction for both employees and employers alike. New measures to transform the training and skills system and to prepare workers for a post-Covid economy are urgently needed, and we are pleased that the Prime Minister has acknowledged this in his speech today.”

Marshall continued: “Equally significant from the Prime Minister was the importance of giving further flexibility to learners. It was announced today that higher education loans will be made more flexible to allow adults to space out study across their lifetimes, allowing them to retrain for new careers as the economy changed. What’s more the courses offered will provide students with skills valued by employers. These are long overdue measures and may well be the lifeline that is needed.”

Marshall concluded: “However the scale of the problem we face means that it will not be fixed with this new measure alone, especially given that most of these new measures will come into play in April. For young people especially, this will be viewed as too little too late. Already the number of employees aged 16-24 in the UK on payrolls in August was down around 156,000 compared to March 2020. Without proper support in place immediately, we expect these figures to significantly worsen in a further six months’ time. Indeed, the Office for Budget Responsibility, have forecasted that in a worst-case scenario the unemployment rate could peak at 13.2%, in 2021 – with four million people out of work. We are calling on the Government to offer further support immediately – we simply cannot wait for unemployment to worsen before acknowledging it. We look forward to seeing the further education white paper later this year which we hope will build on today’s announcement.”

Card Payments Continue To Rise In Malaysia Amid COVID-19

Card Payments Continue To Rise In Malaysia Amid COVID-19

Malaysia has traditionally been a cash-dominant society. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated Malaysia’s push towards electronic payments, with card payments at point of sale (POS) terminals continuing to rise, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

According to GlobalData estimates, card payments in Malaysia will grow by 4.3% to reach MYR214.4bn (US$52.4bn) while ATM cash withdrawals will increase marginally by 1.3% in 2020, another step closer to realizing the Society 5.0 vision.

Ravi Sharma, Banking and Payments Lead Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Malaysians are increasingly using digital channels for making payments with cash taking a back seat. While card payments are on the rise, the growth rate will be impacted due to the decline in consumer spending following COVID-19 pandemic.”

As wary consumers stay at home, they are expected to use online channels to purchase goods. The rise in e-commerce transactions will further support card payments as credit and debit cards account for 36.8% in the total e-commerce value in Malaysia, according to the latest 2020 Banking & Payments Survey*.

Even while shopping in-stores, consumers are gradually shifting away from cash to digital payment tools to avoid exposure to potential disease vectors such as cash and POS terminals.

Malaysia: Card Payments Value (MYRbn)

The central bank of Malaysia – Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) has also been playing a key role in promoting card payments in the country. In 2019, BNM capped interchange fees on card transactions making card acceptance cost-effective for merchants. It even waived interchange fees on debit cards for payments of government services in the country until 31 December 2020.

Banks too are playing a key role in promoting card payments in the country. For instance, in June 2020, Hong Leong Bank launched the Cashless Lagi Senang campaign to provide mobile POS (mPOS) terminals to merchants at a lower cost.

POS installation and rental fee and merchant service charges are waived until 31 December 2020. This will allow merchants to start accepting all forms of payments (including contactless payments) via debit and credit cards, and also mobile wallets.

Mr Sharma concludes: “The COVID-19 crisis has adversely affected the Malaysian economy in the short-run. With the government gradually easing lockdown restrictions, a rise in business activities and consumer spending could be seen, which will further support card payments growth.”

Healthcare Startups Raised $111.4bn in Total Funding, a 34% Jump Year-on-Year

The coronavirus pandemic put enormous pressure on the healthcare industry, forcing pharmaceutical giants and institutions to roll out clinical trials for a COVID-19 vaccine at breakneck speed. But behind the COVID-19 outbreak as the main healthcare issue in 2020, large health systems and venture capital firms continued investing millions in startups whose products could bring critical healthcare delivery innovation.

According to data presented by BuyShares, the total amount of funds healthcare startups raised over time hit $111.4bn in September, a 34% jump year-on-year.

Total Funding Amount Surged by 162% in Three Years

In 2015, healthcare startups worldwide raised $5.4bn in funding rounds, with the cumulative value of investments reaching $24.4bn that year, revealed the CrunchBase data. During the next two years, this figure surged by more than 68%, reaching $45.5bn in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Statistics show that 2018 delivered a $19.2bn of investments into healthcare startups, while the cumulative funding value rose to $64.7bn. In 2019, the total value of raised funds jumped by $24.7bn to $89.4bn, the most significant increase year-on-year.

The Crunchbase data revealed the first quarter of 2020 delivered $7.1bn worth investments into healthcare startups, a 51% increase year-on-year. Between April and June, the cumulative value of funding rose to $103.7bn and continued growing.  Statistics show the total funding amount healthcare startups raised over time surged by 162% in the last three years.

Analyzed by geography, North America represents the leading region with $72.4bn of investments in healthcare startups. The US companies raised more than 97% of that amount, with California and San Francisco as the leading hubs. Asian startups hit $25.5bn in total funding, ranking as the second-leading region globally. European healthcare startups follow with $12.8bn worth funding rounds.

Three Largest Funding Rounds in 2020 Worth Over $2bn

The CrunchBase data also revealed the three largest healthcare startup funding rounds this year hit over $2bn value.

Last month, JD Health, the healthcare unit of Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com, raised more than $830 million from Hillhouse Capital in Series B funding, the largest investment in 2020. The company announced it would use this capital to further strengthen its pharmacy supply chain capabilities and explore additional healthcare services opportunities in the broader healthcare sector.

In July, Seattle-based biotech startup Sana Biotechnology raised $700 million in initial financing that will be used to advance the company’s discovery and development programs that deliver engineered cells as a treatment for different types of diseases.

Statistics show that Lyell Immunopharma`s $493 million worth Series C funding round represents the third-largest healthcare startup investment in 2020. Last year, the San Francisco-based company joined forces with GlaxoSmithKline plc to develop new technologies to improve cell therapies for cancer patients.

Interview Qiaoyin Yang, Senior Industry Solution Manager Huawei Technologies

Dinis Guarda interviews Qiaoyin Yang, Senior Industry Solution Manager at Huawei Technologies, in this new interview for citiesabc. The interview focuses on the role of innovative ICT solutions that are applied to the electric power industry and the challenges that companies face when dealing with massive electric grids and their legacy systems.

Qiaoyin Yang currently leads various standardization groups on the adoption of ICT to the electric power industry. A registered professional engineer, Qiaoyin Yang’s expertise are in the field of electric power system protection and automation, digital substation, IoT, digital transformation strategy consulting for the power industry.

Qiaoyin Yang’s interview has been published during Huawei Connect 2020, which is Huawei’s annual flagship event in Shanghai. At the event, Huawei will showcase its full stack, all-scenario solutions in ICT, and will especially showcase the need of an elaborate ICT infrastructure in the energy sector. As enterprises all over the world continue to be ravaged by the global pandemic, there is a global need for enterprises on all levels to push forward their digital transformations. As Qiaoyin Yang points out in Dinis’ discussion with her, synergizing AI, big data, and other technologies will allow governments and enterprises in the energy sector to prosper towards economic recovery.

Qiaoyin Yang Interview Focus

1. Can you tell us about yourself, background and your present role in Huawei?
2. What are the biggest challenges you find when it comes to electric infrastructure and the adoption of ICT AI, Big data, edge computing?
3. What are the biggest challenges when it comes to the legacy systems and electric power industry special as electric is now growing with electric new development solutions?
4. What is the ideal ecosystem you envision, and how do you see the related digital transformation of the infrastructure of cities and countries?
5. Can you tell us about your work, and Huawei’s strategy, to support the electric power industry for digital transformation?
6. How does this work for cities, local authorities and countries?
7. Regarding AI, Big data, edge computing, and digital platforms, can you talk about some user cases, and how the users are benefiting from these solutions?
8. How can these kinds of deployments be scaled to better support the public sector and transform the industries?
9. From your R&D experience, what insights can you bring from this research to be deployed in practice?
10. What are the major solutions Huawei offers in these areas?

Key Takeaways

Here are some of Qiaoyin Yang’s main takeaways from the interview. Do view the video above to find out everything Huawei and Qiaoyin Yang are working on regarding electric power industry technology solutions.

· About Qiaoyin Yang’s background. I am a Senior Industrial Solution Manager for Huawei. I work with my fellow colleagues to bring new ICT technologies and innovative solutions for the electric power industry. I am very honored to work with great talent to bring these solutions to our consumers worldwide. I hold a master’s degree in engineering from North Carolina State University. After I graduated I started working in the US for a couple of years specializing in automation engineering in the electric power and industry. I then moved back to China where I was approached by Huawei and started working on building ICT solutions.

· About building ICT solutions: challenges and opportunities. Today, there are many challenges for ICT applied to the electricity sector, including the development and adoption of new technologies such as AI, IoT, digital platforms, etc. From my experience, I have worked with different utilities, in the last year, and I can summarize the challenges into two main areas. First, the need to upgrade the electric infrastructure to meet the requirements and expectations from governments and society. Governments are now looking for more sustainable ways of upgrading their infrastructure and are thinking of renewable and green energy moving forward. Governments and utilities work with massive data, different approaches and the scope of a country-wide electric grid is huge so they face challenges regarding the efficient management of their electrical supply. The second main challenge comes from the management side of these new systems. AtHuawei we are building new ICT and we need to make sure that our technologies are safe, efficient, and tested while being compliant with current regulations. And more importantly, our clients need to evidence that. That is our challenge as a company.

· Legacy systems and how to deal with them. Our goal is to make sure that these legacy systems are upgraded and can work as efficiently as possible. From my experience working with other utilities and governments, I have found out that there are many legacy systems in most power grids. These systems are set up using different technologies and standards. They are different in the way we need to upgrade them –some are more interested to focus on a continued operating approach while others want to replace them.  So our work is even more complicated at this point, especially as the pace of technology development has accelerated in the last years. We are now building entire ecosystems where different technologies and platforms work together including 5G, IoT, digital platforms, state-of-the-art software, etc. Fortunately, governments and industries are aware of this situation and they are trying to speed up new ICT adoption while setting up standards for the industry to follow. In this regard, I would say that the worldwide collaboration in the electric power industry has left it in a better place than other industries.

· About digital transformation. Based on my experience, digital transformation needs digital infrastructure. And to put this infrastructure in place takes a lot of effort in terms of resources and cross cooperation between industries, decision-makers, businesses, etc. Governments, industries and users all have to come to a consensus and see the importance of infrastructure in the digital transformation journey. Without that consensus, this most needed investment and innovation would definitely be delayed.

I want to point out the importance of collaboration between all players involved in the ICT adoption process as these technologies work across verticals and across different industries. Everything starts out from the government and decision-makers side and then ideally, all vendors and companies collaborate together to maximize resources and efficiency. One critical point is to standardize processes to make sure that systems are scalable and can be used across different countries and industries.

· About building scalable systems and smart cities. In principle, when we start building a new architecture, the first thing we try to put in place are the sensor points. These need to be installed in hospitals, street lights, transportation, waste management systems, etc. That is the first step in building a smart city as all different aspects of a city need to be interconnected to maximise efficiency. Once you set that up, you then need a managing framework capable of dealing with all that data coming from the sensors. This framework involves different ICTs, like a strong wireless network based on 5G, IoT data points, software, etc. When all that data is flowing, the next step is to gather and analyze the data to make the right decisions. It is in this process where AI and Big Data play a key role to make sure that data is read and translated accordingly. Drawing on Huawei’s experience, working with more than 200 cities around the world, we have been able to connect 60 different departments in a specific city, working together seamlessly and efficiently within this framework.

Regarding these new technologies and new ideas, it takes a lot of research and innovative thinking to make sure that they materialize into specific solutions that society can benefit from. More importantly, to make sure that these solutions can be properly applied and adopted there is the need for collaboration between different players and verticals.

· About Huawei solutions for the electric power industry. The Huawei team and I are working on different innovative solutions to be applied in the electric power industry. One of the solutions that Huawei provides, is AI software integrated into intelligent cameras that are able to spot and measure anomalies throughout the transmission lines without the need for workers going to those areas while providing 24/7 monitoring. We are also working on another solution regarding substations maintenance. We are now working with different governments to integrate legacy systems, substations, auxiliary systems, video security, etc all together to provide a unified platform for better efficiency and security. As an ICT company, we build this solution using the latest developments in AI, big data and other technologies.


More Interviews

Interview with Edwin Diender: CDTO and VP, Huawei Enterprise – Leading the World in Digital Transformation Smart Cities

Interview with Daniel Sloan, co-founder Future Tech, ‘RebuildTheChain’ – Building Blockchain and AI solutions

Video Interview with Dr Jamal Ouenniche, Professor & Chair in Business Analytics, University of Edinburgh – Business Analytics, AI Data Road Maps

Interview with Ben Goertzel Founder SingularityNet, OpenCog – Benevolent And Open AI, What Kind Of Evolutionary Mind Can We Engineer?

Interview With Anish Mohammed, Blockchain Researcher. Head of Research – IIS , SRH Berlin – Building Blockchain and AI Foundations and Ethics


Qiaoyin Yang Biography

Qiaoyin Yang holds a master’s degree in engineering from North Carolina State University. After she graduated, she started working in the US for a couple of years specializing in automation engineering in the electric power industry. Qiaoyin Yang then moved back to China where she was approached by Huawei and started working in building ICT solutions.

Qiaoyin Yang currently works with Huawei Technologies as a senior industry solution manager and leads various standardization groups on the adoption of ICT to the electric power industry. A registered professional engineer, Qiaoyin Yang expertise is in the field of electric power system protection and automation, digital substation, IoT, digital transformation strategy consulting for the power industry, including CIGRE D2/B5.67, IEEE P2815 Technical specification for smart transformer terminal and IEEE P2413.2 Reference Architecture for Power Distribution IoT, among others.

She is a registered professional engineer in the state of Washington, USA, and an IEEE senior member. She holds four patents and has authored many publications.

Links / Sources

https://www.huawei.com/en/events/huaweiconnect2020/#top

https://www.linkedin.com/in/qiaoyin-yang/

https://e.huawei.com/uk/solutions/industries/smart-grid

https://e.huawei.com/uk/solutions/business-needs/enterprise-network/agile-iot/power-iot

Digital Twin Technology Leader To Reverse Carbon Emissions In Our Most Polluted Cities

Cityzenith CEO Michael Jansen has launched a global ‘Clean Cities – Clean Future’ campaign to help our most polluted urban centres become carbon neutral, by donating the company’s Digital Twin platform SmartWorldPro2 to key cities, one at a time.

Cities produce more than 70% of the earth’s greenhouse gases, but Jansen says use of cutting-edge data and AI will change this dramatically:

“Since our inception we have been using these tools to deliver custom climate resilience applications to greenfield cities, real estate developments, and infrastructure projects.

“We know the issues and now have the right data aggregation, analysis, and visualization capabilities to help solve them for cities, and those who design, build, and manage them.

“The world’s top 100 most-polluting cities produce 18% of global urban emissions and we will meet this challenge head-on, by going right to the biggest contributors first. As one megacity reaps the benefits, so others and governments will follow their example. What works for one will work for all. That is the beauty of SmartWorldPro2.

“Launching this ‘Clean Cities – Clean Future’ initiative marks a milestone for us and shareable, networked, city-scale Digital Twin deployments. Digital Twins were first developed to aggregate, analyze, and visualize vastly complex information in manufacturing plants and building construction sites, but have evolved into a powerful aid to urban climate resilience and lowering carbon emissions.

“We’ve spoken publicly since 2013 about Digital Twin technology’s potential to accelerate energy transition and it’s now a reality. Early Cityzenith-led carbon emission reduction projects included efforts in San Francisco, Amsterdam, Barcelona, and Chicago. These culminated in a World Smart City Award recognition, plus a World Cities Summit Young Leader appointment and letter of support from the C40 Cities Climate Action Group to jointly explore collaboration.

“Our focus has expanded to include large-scale commercial projects in cities as in the Orlando Sports + Entertainment District and greenfield ‘smart cities’ like Amaravati in India.

“In Amaravati, by consolidating myriads of climate related data points, the goal was to show how architects could use advanced AI integrations in SmartWorldPro to simulate and design housing schemes to lower carbon emissions and cut average street temperatures dramatically in high summer.

“Today we are helping partners all over the world leverage Digital Twin power across their district, infrastructure, campus and real estate projects to transition from fossil fuel dependency to carbon neutrality.

“But no one seems to be helping cities to implement this technology, and that’s why we decided to step in and make our pledge.

“We’ve asked people all over the world to join our mission. Where the world’s governments have backed off or just don’t know what to do, We the People need to lead the way.

A digital twin is a digital representation of a physical asset that promises a single source of the truth and can be combined to build an in-depth view of entire systems, from traffic to the impact of construction and roadworks. This year will see more companies announce a greater return on investment (ROI) on digital twin projects.

A Word With Max Studennikoff Ahead Of CC Forum Monaco Event

As CC Forum Monaco: Investment in Sustainable Development begins, Dinis Guarda has interviewed the founder of CC Forum, Max Studennikoff, to take a look at the highlights and topics to be discussed at the event. Also, to get an update on the latest news regarding COVID-19 security measures and latest additions to the lineup. Here are the key takeaways from the interview.

How do you manage all the challenges coming from the COVID-19 pandemic? 

Despite the challenges brought by COVID-19, we have confirmed the presence of many speakers coming from different parts of the world. However, we still know that COVID-19 has disrupted partially our event. That is why we are doing a kind of a hybrid event intertwining physical keynotes and online participation from some of the important speakers. Bottom line, I would be dishonest with myself if I’d say we haven’t been affected by COVID-19 though the importance of the event speaks for itself and we need to learn to live with our current constraints. We can’t just stop, we need to think about the future as well and this event is all about that.

Ban-Ki Moon, the Prince of Monaco, representatives of the European Parliament … the lineup is impressive. How did you manage to gather so many personalities at this event?

When it comes to creating a lineup for an event you need to take into consideration all different approaches and POVs and you need to give voice to different perspectives. In our case, CC Forum Monaco is all about sustainability and sustainable development. And we wanted to bring in personalities from different areas, including investors, entrepreneurs, academics, and leaders who can really make a change. And with COVID-19 crisis I truly believe that we are at the perfect time to accelerate those changes towards a more sustainable future and we have built the lineup with that in mind.

Given the current circumstances, the event will be physical and will be distributed online. What would be the highlights for those watching the event from home? 

We have always been as open and as democratic as we possibly can. In fact, I am very excited to announce that we are inviting students from Monaco University to come to the event free of charge. I take this event as an opportunity for humanity to grow and to become more sustainable. As we stand right now, the number of catastrophic events and extreme weather is escalating every year so we have this responsibility to overcome every challenge we face to make this happen, because this conversation needs to happen right now. Humanity can’t wait.

The event is focused on sustainable development, can you give one last note on how sustainability is going to be highlighted at the event?

CC Forum features a very versatile and manifold series of topics, from healthcare to sustainability, social impact, philanthropy, ESG investment, etc and we have built our alignment and event narrative with the focus of providing a holistic approach to all these areas and all the problems facing humanity. And always with an eye on the future, because we want to find solutions.

About COVID-19 safety measures

We have a partner that will maintain all security measures and guidelines from the government to make sure that the safety of our guests is well kept at all times, these include social distancing, clean points, regular disinfection, etc.

CC Forum is taking place between 23 – 25 September in Monaco. It is an event that provides a platform for industry leaders to converge and think about various aspects of sustainable growth. Taking place in Monaco in September, CC Forum will bring together global leaders to rethink investment in sustainable development.

Please visit CC Forum Monaco for more information.

Senegalese President Macky Sall Is Right About African Debt Relief – And the G20 Shouldn’t Stop There

“Flatten the curve.” Do you remember that phrase? It was on everyone’s lips back in the spring, when the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic began rampaging across the world in earnest.

By NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman, African Energy Chamber

At the time, the idea was that the best way to combat the germ known as SARS CoV-2 was to go home and stay there long enough for hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities to build up the capacity needed to handle the expected flood of new patients. Most of us expected that this departure from routine would be a temporary thing. We hoped it wouldn’t last long – that we’d be able to return to our normal routines after a brief disruption, with confidence that all necessary safeguards were in place.

Of course, it didn’t turn out that way. We spent far more time than we expected sheltering in place, unable to visit friends and family, attend school, or go to work in the usual manner. Many of us lost our jobs and saw our businesses fail, and the cumulative result of all these individual disasters was that the global economy took a sharp downward turn.

We Still Need To ‘Flatten the Curve’. But How?

Along the way, of course, we’ve learned quite a bit more about SARS CoV-2 – how it makes people sick, how to treat it more effectively, what kind of resources our medical providers need most, and so on. But we’ve also stopped talking about “flattening the curve.” Even in places where hospitals and clinics have been able to build up their stocks of personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators, and other necessities, we’ve moved on to other topics.

In my view, this is a mistake. I’d like to explain why I think so.

It’s not because our understanding of the virus has changed over time.

It’s not because we’ve seen infection rates rise after the lifting of lockdown orders.

It’s not because we don’t have a vaccine yet.

It’s not because the idea of “flattening the curve” seems callous when more than 900,000 people out the nearly 28 million infected around the world have already died of COVID-19.

It’s because we need to rethink the idea of what “flattening the curve” means.

And I believe President Macky Sall’s call for African debt relief is a good place to start that rethinking.

The President’s Perspective

First, let’s look at what President Sall has to say.

In late August, the Senegalese leader urged members of the G20 group of countries to continue helping African nations balance their obligations to creditors with their obligations to their own citizens in the face of a deadly pandemic. Speaking to a group of business leaders at the French Entrepreneurs’ Conference, he noted that the group had taken up his call for a moratorium on the collection of debt from impoverished countries in Africa and elsewhere in April. He suggested that this moratorium be extended into 2021 rather than allowed to expire at the end of 2020.

“For the most part, and for all African countries, internal efforts will not be enough to lessen the shock of COVID and revive economic growth,” he said. “We need more financial capacity, which is why, with other colleagues, I have made a plea for substantial relief of Africa’s public debt and private debt on terms to be agreed upon.”

What the President’s Words Mean

Sall’s statements reflect the fact that the emergence of SARS CoV-2 was not a one-off event that sparked a short-term crisis, but rather the start of a struggle that will take a long time to resolve. They recognize that the outbreak is likely to be a drag on the world economy for years to come – and that the countries battling COVID-19 outbreaks need time to build up their capacity to fight back.

What’s more, the president’s words advance the idea that African states will be in a better position to meet their financial obligations in the future if they take the time and the trouble to address the public health situation first. Indeed, he made a point of stressing that Africa takes its financial commitments seriously, since he mentioned debt relief and not debt forgiveness. (He also suggested that members of the G20 group offer debtors the same kind of breathing room they have granted themselves, such as temporary exemption from rules limiting debt to 3% of GDP or less.)

In other words, Sall is asking the G20 group to give Africa time and space to flatten the curve. He may not have used those exact words, but that appears to be his goal. He is hoping creditors will agree to suspend business as usual so that African states can build up their capacity for economic growth, just as regular citizens of many countries around the world agreed to disrupt their usual routines of work and school and leisure activities so that hospitals could build up their capacity for patient care.

Sall also understands that this flattening of the economic curve is not a simple process. He knows it will take more than one round of deferred payments to compensate for the economic consequences of the pandemic, and that is why he has now asked the G20 to extend the debt moratorium, which was originally due to expire at the end of 2020, into next year.

Compensating for the Setbacks of the Last Six Months

And make no mistake: Africa needs that extra time. The continent has suffered enormously over the last six months.

On the economic front, the pandemic has triggered a global recession that has caused millions of salaried African workers to lose their jobs. Meanwhile, many more millions have seen their livelihoods dwindle or disappear because restrictions on movement have stifled the informal sector and forced the closure of small businesses. Additionally, the continent has experienced shortages of fuel and other essential goods as a result of disruptions in the supply chain.

Some parts of Africa have also weathered political disruptions. Mali suffered a coup in mid-August, following more than two months of anti-government demonstrations. Libya’s civil war, pitting the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli against Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), has continued to grind on, effectively crippling the country’s lucrative oil industry. Investors in liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects in Mozambique have grown more nervous since a militia with ties to the Islamic State group, also known as Daesh, seized control of a key port in Cabo Delgado state.

Under other circumstances, African fossil fuel producers might have been able to use their reserves to help build up the cash needed to cope with the consequences of COVID-19. After all, as I explained in my latest book, Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals, the oil and gas industry has the potential to serve as a springboard, amplifying and accelerating economic growth. It can create opportunities for economic diversification and – through petroleum companies’ research and investments – help pave the way to the creation of a renewable energy sector.

Unfortunately, though, world oil prices crashed earlier this year, partly because of the competition between Russia and Saudi Arabia for market share and partly because the pandemic undercut energy demand. Prices hit historic lows in late April. And since they have yet to recover completely, African producers will need more than oil and gas to compensate for the setbacks they have experienced this year.

A Necessary Step: Debt Relief

That’s where debt relief comes in.

Debt relief will help African states weather the storms caused by the pandemic.

Debt relief will help African states take the steps needed to help people go back to work or build up their businesses.

Debt relief will help African states re-establish stability following political disruptions.

Debt relief will help African states make up for the sharp decline in oil and gas revenues and begin building renewable energy sectors.

Debt relief is necessary to flatten the curve. It’s what will give Africa time and space to start carving out a path towards recovery – to take the steps necessary to bring new investment to the oil and gas industry, to build Africa’s sustainable energy sector, to expand business and residential consumers’ access to electric power, to revive small businesses, to promote innovation and entrepreneurship, to foster job creation, and to remove red tape and regulatory obstacles.

Asking for More: Debt Forgiveness

Senegal’s president understands this – and I hope the leaders of the G20 group’s members do, too. I hope they can see how reasonable it is for impoverished countries in Africa and other regions to ask for what they need to flatten the curve.

But I’d also like to take it a step further. I’m going to ask for more.

I’m going to ask for debt forgiveness.

I’m going to suggest that members of the G20 group agree to forego payments from African debtors – specifically, from eligible African debtors. And by eligible debtors, I mean countries that commit themselves to a forward-looking agenda that includes wide-ranging and market-oriented reforms, as well as safeguards for economic freedom, good governance, free trade, and investment in education.

All of these points are in line with the ideals that have helped most G20 member states achieve so much with respect to economic growth. What’s more, they are exactly the sort of things that African states ought to do in order to maximize their chances of building up the momentum lost as a result of the pandemic – and to extend their recovery far into the future, beyond the point when vaccines, cures, and more effective treatments remove the threat of COVID-19.

I hope that G20 lenders to Africa will see it my way. I hope they will agree to help Africa do as much as it can to flatten the curve.

Meet The Team Behind the UK’s Forthcoming Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre

Meet The Team Behind the UK’s Forthcoming Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre
  • UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited the construction site of what is rapidly becoming the UK’s Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre.  
  • He met with scientists, engineers, development, and construction teams at the construction site on Harwell Science and Innovation Campus where he talked about their response to COVID-19 and the fast tracking of the high-tech manufacturing facility.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has visited the construction site of the rapidly developing UK’s Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC) at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus. VMIC, a not-for-profit organisation will provide the UK’s first strategic vaccine development and advanced manufacturing capability that will accelerate vaccines development in the UK and also provide national emergency response for future pandemics.

The Prime Minister met with teams working at the forefront of the national response to COVID-19  – ranging from scientists and engineers advising on scaling up manufacturing of viable COVID-19 vaccines and establishing a rapid deployment centre, known as ‘Virtual VMIC’ to increase supply of the Oxford/AZ vaccine, which is currently in clinical trials to ensure its safety and effectiveness. He also met with design and construction teams fast tracking the development of the 7,400 sq m facility and who are working in an unprecedented effort to bring the high-tech centre online a year ahead of schedule.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, said: “Brilliant scientists in Oxfordshire and around the UK are driving global efforts to develop a safe vaccine that works to defeat coronavirus. If one proves successful, we need to be ready to distribute it to the British people as soon as possible.

“That is why construction of the Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Centre at Harwell, backed by £158million from the Government, is fully underway in Oxfordshire. When open, VMIC will be able to manufacture enough vaccine doses for the whole UK population in as little as six months, which would transform how we beat this virus and prepare for future pandemics.”

Dr Matthew Duchars, CEO of The Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre said: “Today’s visit from the Prime Minister is testament to the incredible work being carried out by an exceptional team at VMIC and amongst our partners. Their work forms a vitally important part of the national response to COVID-19 as well as fast tracking the facility to bring it online in 2021. Once complete, the centre will be equipped to provide future pandemic response for the whole of the UK.  

“The Government has demonstrated it is wholeheartedly committed to increasing the country’s vaccines infrastructure in order to strengthen the UK’s ability to not only provide a pandemic response capability, but also to discover and manufacture vaccines for a whole range of conditions. We look forward to being able to deliver on this as part of our day to day work, for the benefit of the UK and overseas.”

Angus Horner, Harwell Science and Innovation Campus Director, said “It is hugely appreciated that the Prime Minister visited VMIC at Harwell today, to see and hear for himself about progress with the facility, as well as VMIC and Harwell’s multiple scientific COVID-19 initiatives.   

“Additional to sovereign resilience against viral and other biological threats, Harwell and VMIC teams are working here every day to reinforce UK Science’s world leading position and to generate major economic and societal benefits for our Nation.”

Ottoline Leyser, Chief Executive at UK Research and Innovation, said: “The Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre is an essential new weapon in the UK’s fight against diseases, ensuring sufficient vaccines get to the public in the fastest possible time. But it’s also part of a unique health research and development capability the UK is developing through a publicly-funded network of centres of excellence, catalysts and infrastructure that will allow us to meet today’s health challenges – and those of the future.”

VMIC was established by the University of Oxford, Imperial College and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine with support from industrial partners, MSD, Johnson and Johnson and Cytiva, formerly known as GE Healthcare. The Centre’s initial funding came from a £65 million grant from UK Research and Innovation, as part of the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, with a further £93 million in 2020 to expand the facility’s capabilities and fast track the build.

Limitless Enters ‘Smart Community’ Project To Support Rural Water Suppliers

· Community programme rewards customers and improves service

· Reduction in cost & carbon footprint by avoiding unnecessary visits by engineers

· Vyn’s short video AI and Analytics platform couples with Limitless’ crowd-based workforce to service more remote areas

 Limitless, the AI-driven gig customer service platform, has entered into a project with ‘smart video’ platform Vyntelligence, and Northumbrian Water Group, to equip members of the public in rural areas to report on faults in their water supply.

Limitless users (known as Community Rangers), who live in largely-rural areas served by Northumbrian Water Group (NWG), will be able to use Vyn’s software to take short structured videos of faults such as burst or leaking pipes in roads and homes that they become aware of, and submit them directly to NWG to flag the issue. These Rangers will then be rewarded for their effort through the Limitless app. NWG will also be able to proactively reach out to citizens near to a reported issue and ask them to attend and capture video, so NWG staff can assess the appropriate next steps.

The idea is being explored and planned in one of NWG’s annual Innovation Festival Sprints (‘A Year of Work in a Week’) between the 14th and 18th September where Limitless, Vyn, and NWG will look to kickstart the project in only a week.

NWG is the holding company for several companies in the water supply, sewerage, and wastewater industries such as Northumbrian Water Limited. The company will be able to save time and money and reduce its carbon footprint in the area by minimising the number of trips required by professional personnel.

Nigel Watson, Group CIO Northumbrian Water, commented: “We’re in our fourth year of the festival and it is always wonderful to see how we (Northumbrian Water) come together with our partners and others to produce new solutions to business problems we’ve been wrestling with for many years in some cases. We look to scale-ups as one source of fresh thinking. Over the course of the last 12 – 18 months we have really enjoyed working with Limitless and Vyntelligence. We’re really excited that they are coming together in the context of the festival to explore how we can work hand in hand with our customers to achieve better outcomes for them and us.”

Megan Neale, co-founder of Limitless, added: “This is an exciting new option for our users, which simultaneously generates extra income for them and allows them to serve and support their local community.”

Arti Khanna, Co-Founder and CTO Vyntelligence (Vyn) added: “In today’s uncertain times, businesses fight the battle to keep their people safe, manage costs and continue to respond to customer needs, we are very excited to have the opportunity to unleash the latent power of local customer communities. We are combining Limitless’s gig technology and Vyn’s unique capability, to guide residents to capture scenes as smart video and connect local people with businesses. The result is a smart community that takes an active part in resolving local issues and driving sustainable initiatives.”

CC Forum ‘Investing in Sustainable Development’ To Take Place On 24-25 September In Monaco

CC Forum Monaco: Investing in Sustainable Development To Showcase A Live Event from September 24 To 25

The 4th global edition of CC Forum «Investment in Sustainable Development» will take place on 24-25th September 2020 at Fairmont Monte-Carlo Hotel under the High Patronage of HSH Prince Albert II Grimaldi of Monaco.

CC Forum’s London edition last October received a royal greeting by HM Queen Elizabeth II.

The highly anticipated Monaco edition tagged by some journalists ‘a global emergency forum’ in the context of the unprecedented economic and health crises in the backdrop of the deepening climate change emergency, is a global platform for movers and shakers united in their zeal to make the world a better place. It will highlight the urgent need for
humanity to come up with consistent solutions if we want to preserve our planet as we know it today.

CC Forum Monaco will see impact investors, policy makers, philanthropists, HNW individuals, members of royal families and international celebrities brainstorming on such topics as Climate Change, Healthcare, Renewable Energies, Government Strategies,
Emerging Technologies, Philanthropy and Charity.

A number of global announcements will be made at CC Forum Monaco. It will also include a Sustainability Tycoon Investors Session (the analogue of Shark Tank).

Max Studennikoff, Founder of CC Forum, said in a recent interview for citiesabc: “We are now in a sensitive phase in human development that calls for action to be taken immediately. We are talking about climate change, waste management, government strategies, healthcare, well-being, education, social inclusion, philanthropy, and charity. All of these will be discussed and talked in-depth at the CC Forum Monaco and the next editions to come. Hopefully, we will be able to unveil something useful beyond philosophy.”

Some of CC Forum’s key speakers

CC Forum Monaco’s program isn’t just defined to keynotes, there will be debates, discussions, dedicated workshops, round tables, lunches with VIPS, etc. The more than 300 people we expect will have the chance to network with top investors, experts, and businesses to exchange ideas and help each other in their ventures.

A crucial part of СС Forum is its traditional black-tie Investors’ Gala Dinner & Awards Giving Ceremony on Friday 25th September with Maestro Placido Domingo scheduled to perform with a BelgianCongolese soprano Isabelle Kabatu. The Maestro is also one of the recipients of CC Forum 2020 prestigious awards alongside with Stanley Johnson, a well-known environmental campaigner.

The Gala will also see the ceremonial unveiling of a 1100 hp hybrid/ green hypercar D-12 on sale for €2,3M by the iconic re-founded French car brand Delage. The unveiling will be executed by Miss Universe 2016 Ms Iris Mittinaraer.

“Perhaps, CC Forum Monaco is the only forum that focuses entirely on sustainable innovation— it’s not a vanity fair, nor a UN styled conference — the practical mission is connecting promising startups with the investors and reach agreements and push forward towards those goals,” Max Studennikoff continued.

About CC Forum

CC Forum aims to get together leading institutional and private investors, policymakers, thought leaders, and innovative startups united in their zeal to change the current economic paradigm and effectively make the world a better place. It is the only global investment forum that is entirely focused on sustainable development.

At CC Forum, they firmly believe that for humanity to prosper a new type of entrepreneurs should be bread who would be more concerned with the environmental and societal impact of their activities than with extracting a profit in the short term. Therefore their motto is “Invest sustainably”.

At a time of unprecedented challenges that mankind is facing, CC Forum’s agendas deal with the most pressing issues including climate change, renewable energies, waste management, healthcare and wellbeing, education, philanthropy, and social inclusion.

CC Forum provides its participants with a unique opportunity to consider how government strategies, emerging technologies, and investment opportunities can be put to good use for the sake of humanity and our planet.