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How carefully managed urbanization can help African nations prosper

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Dr. Cheick Modibo Diarra, former Prime Minister of Mali and Chairman of ALN. The ALN Africa Investment Conference takes place in Dubai on 7-8 November 2018. More details can be found here.

Sub-Saharan Africa is in the midst of a huge wave of urban growth. The African Development Bank suggests that 760 million people will be living in African cities by 2030, a figure that will rise to 1.2 billion by 2050. In the face of such dramatic pressures on our continent’s cities, the requirement for fast, comprehensive management of growing urban centers is needed now more than ever before.

For many, urbanization presents challenges. As the number of people living in urban centers increases, so too does the demand for adequate housing, access to utilities (electricity, water and sewerage), education and jobs. If this demand cannot be met, or managed effectively, the result can be catastrophic. Nowhere is the rise of inequality clearer than in urban areas, where more affluent communities coexist alongside, yet separate from, informal settlements.

Africa is no stranger to unplanned development in urban areas. In Mali, for example, our capital Bamako has one of the fastest growing urban populations on the continent, and accounts for 34 per cent of Mali’s overall GDP. Yet, such rapid growth has led to the development of pockets of crowded informal settlements in the city. And whilst these settlements are positioned in our bustling capital, a lack of connectivity isolates these areas. In reality, this means that for the many Malians residing there, they are unable to access quality education, health services, and ultimately, realize  their true potential. Yet, despite these challenges, settlements like these should not be perceived with pity or frustration, but as untapped potential.

If managed correctly, urbanization can provide citizens with access to these basic opportunities.  According to the World Bank, 80 per cent of global GDP is derived from urban centers. And it’s easy to see how cities play a key role in fostering economic growth and self-development. Commuting to work becomes cheaper and faster. There are greater job opportunities and easier access to schools. Cities are home to a high concentration of consumers whose demand for goods and services promotes business growth. Over the next 15 years, consumer spending in African cities is estimated to reach a staggering US$2.2tn.

Sustainable cities – that is those designed with consideration for social, economic and environmental impacts for current and future populations – are the cornerstone of prosperous and strong nations. For example, African cities are, on the whole, inadequately equipped for the needs of the older population and governments must make provisions in areas including geriatric healthcare and access to services such as public transport and libraries.  As such, it is imperative that governments create long-term plans for the development of urban and industrial areas. The key is that these plans are unique to their respective cities, and urban planners are fully integrated in the planning process.  Effective spatial planning facilitates sectoral coordination, as businesses in close proximity to each other are able to develop practical synergies, allowing for specialization, growth and increased profits.

Informal economies that exist in locations such as Nairobi’s Kibera settlement have the capacity to breed entrepreneurship and innovation. Businesses, in turn, gravitate towards a growing pool of highly-motivated and skilled labor. Local governments officials must therefore work hand-in-hand with central governments to harness the potential that lies in these areas. They must channel human capital away from informal trade, towards official platforms by providing connectivity, resources and opportunities. Such localized economic prosperity is contagious: higher incomes lead to higher spending, kickstarting a process of growth that ripples throughout the city, the nation and the wider region.

That said, effective spatial planning is difficult to implement retrospectively. Yet, many African countries are positioned relatively early in the urbanization process. Approximately 70 per cent of Mali’s population, for example, is rural. Another significant advantage held by ‘less-urbanized’ countries is their ability to bypass the many inefficient systems that more mature cities have evolved through, leapfrogging to implementing environmentally, economically and socially sustainable solutions. From developing infrastructure grids conducive to renewable energy sources, to using mobile phone networks to measure migration patterns, young cities have the potential to learn from the mistakes of others and leverage the benefits of modern technology to guide their expansion.

It is vital that those driving and managing urban growth today, recognize that they are not pushing a city towards a defined end point but engaging in an ongoing process. And this is the very theme which will be discussed at the ALN Africa Investment Conference in Dubai later this year. Short sighted projects that stretch resources to their limit must be rejected. Stakeholders must remain aware that one day they will have to pass on the baton of development to future generations. When considering the future of Mali, it hinges on equal opportunity for all and preserving an environment for the happiness of generations to come. And with this in mind, cities must plan for tomorrow as they build for today, only then will sustainable development be achieved and maintained, rewarding Africa, and its citizens, with the prosperity it deserves.

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Transformation Through People

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Financial services company RCS, a Top Employer for 2019, is driving new ways of working and empowering employees to take ownership of their career development.

 

I am inspired in my ambition to run a successful business because it not only creates job opportunities that put individuals in positions where they are able to support themselves and achieve their dreams, but also their families’, says Regan Adams, CEO of RCS. RCS, a financial services company that was bought by BNP Paribas in 2014 is in the midst of an exciting business transformation. Adams believes that this transformation will be achieved by driving a new culture and new ways of working. It is exactly this belief that informs the HR strategy, which places employees at the heart of the business’ transformation, ensuring that they are equipped and empowered for this change. This strategy was created through a strong collaboration between the local HR team, the business, and support from the BNP Paribas Corporate HR team in Paris. With the solid blueprint in place and the wheels set in motion, the HR team embarked on the journey for RCS to become accredited as a Top Employer. Sandi Richardson, Deputy Head of HR explains that this accreditation is not only a prestigious accolade for RCS but will continue to elevate the HR team’s delivery through the benchmark reports and feedback provided by Top Employer. Richardson says that participation in the Top Employer certification process will deliver a sustained and strengthened performance, supporting the team’s mission to make RCS a great place to work.

Richardson says that this is an exciting time for the RCS team. The HR function have accelerated their own transformation with the introduction of a BNP Paribas sponsored, digital employee tool, called ‘About Me’. This tool is intended to empower employees to take ownership for their career development. ‘About Me’ puts the employee in the driving seat of their career by integrating the individual’s data around their career preferences and professional profiles. The use of algorithms then suggests learning and mobility offerings from both the Learning Management System and Recruitment tools. This tool also hosts the employee’s appraisal (including the functionality for continuous feedback) and personal development plan. The digital nature of the tools means that it promotes transparency, flexibility and accessibility in these fundamental topics.

RCS equips its leaders to lead differently by providing Leadership Development programmes that are not only focused on the technical aspects of transformation but the behaviours required of those entrusted to guide its teams. RCS employs many new entrants to the labour market, particular into its call centre. A host of development programmes are put in place to support the growth of these employees. Some of these initiatives include secondments across the business, an internal graduate programme and financial assistance to fund their tertiary education.

RCS further invests in the wellbeing of its employees by providing holistic, world class wellness facilities both onsite and offsite. These include clinics providing primary healthcare, gyms, fitness classes of varying natures to suit the diverse preferences of its employees and a host of initiatives throughout the year. RCS also invests in the education of the children of their qualifying staff, through its annual bursary programme.

This drive to empower extends beyond the borders of RCS as Adams explains that RCS strives to be an organisation that contributes to the building of South Africa’s nation. This is done through various contributions and the efforts of its employees in a number of organisations and projects that are focused on the upliftment of the communities within which RCS operates.

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Continental Tyre’s Values Create Value

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For Continental Tyre, it is critical for its employees to know and understand how wealth is created and distributed.

 

By Genevieve Jozaffe-Naidoo, Training Management and Organisational Development (TMOD) Manager

 

Care is a verb at Continental Tyre South Africa, which is why the company has consistently been named a Top Employer in South Africa.

It is critical for all employees to know and understand how wealth is created and distributed within the organisation.

Equally, every employee needs to appreciate their individual contribution towards common goals. To this end, our leadership team has established line-of-sight for each employee.
Growth and profitability can only be achieved through shared purpose and values (Trust, Passion to Win, For One Another and Freedom to Act), coupled with employees’ talents, motivation and willingness to learn.

Our values unify how we engage and challenge our actions, results, successes and opportunities. Trust and transparency talk to just some of the lived values of our leadership team – sacrificing short-term gains for long-term growth. The leadership team have committed their time, efforts and minds being of service down the line to create “one Continental”.

Over the past few years, there has been significant investment in building our people capability. Hosting development programmes aimed at enhancing critical skills was just one of the interventions we undertook.

2018 has certainly challenged our business. This year – in the spirit of building capability – business sustainability and humanising the scoreboard has been our priority. Political and economic uncertainty, both locally and globally, has created added pressure to deliver affordable, quality products consistently. These challenges have brought us full circle to our values.

Our people have responded well to these challenging times. Dialogues and joint action planning define our culture, with various platforms accommodating multi-faceted conversations. We are motivated to change our lived experiences by creating alliance and value, striving always to be an attractive and progressive employer.

Participating in the Top Employer awards has been of tremendous use in raising our awareness on policy, process and practice. Additionally, it has added value to our brand. Continental Tyre South Africa’s 70-year presence in South Africa is evidence of our leadership and learning agility. Our organisation is fully geared toward shaping our future in motion.

OUR PEOPLE, OUR CULTURE, OUR FUTURE.

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Brand Voice

Making Work Rewarding For Generations To Come

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Sanlam’s approach to its employees is the same as its approach to its clients, to enable them to live their best possible life.

 – Content supplied by Sanlam 

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