Huawei and Temenos Announce Technology Partnership Agreement

  • Temenos Becomes First Core Banking Software Provider Certified with Huawei infrastructure and Huawei Public Cloud
  • Temenos and Huawei will jointly go-to-market with leading-edge financial services offerings in the cloud to drive scalability, operational efficiency, time-to-market, and innovation
  • Temenos cements its leadership in the cloud delivering its software across all major public cloud providers

GENEVA, Switzerland and SHANGHAI, China, June 3, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — During Huawei Intelligent Finance Summit 2021, Huawei and Temenos, the banking software company, announced a partnership to offer Temenos’ cloud-native core banking solution on the Huawei Public Cloud. Temenos is the first core banking software certified with Huawei infrastructure and Huawei Public Cloud.

Geographically, the partnership covers Asia with a specific focus on China and it also includes Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.

The partnership brings together the extensive cloud hosting, implementation, and integration strengths of Huawei and the power of Temenos’ industry leading banking software. The scope of the partnership covers sales and marketing, implementation and training.

Huawei and Temenos Announce Technology Partnership Agreement

Financial institutions will be able to modernize their core banking systems on Huawei Cloud and benefit from elastic scalability, cost and operational efficiencies. Together, Temenos and Huawei will help banks of all sizes to go to market faster, open up new business models, and achieve industry-leading cost/income ratios.

The two companies have demonstrated success and have a number of existing customers and successful projects in APAC. The two companies already see significant market traction and have a number of new prospects in the works. Temenos and Huawei will jointly go to market focusing on China and moving to the more regions with aligned marketing and sales processes.

Temenos and Huawei have extensive reach into the global financial services market. More than 3,000 banking and financial institutions worldwide, serving the banking needs of 1.2 billion people, rely on Temenos cloud-native, API-first technology. Huawei also works with more than 2,000 financial institutions worldwide, including 47 of the world’s top 100 banks.

The growing demand for cloud-based models has accelerated during the coronavirus pandemic, as banks require more resilient and agile technology propositions. Cloud has become the established software deployment method for digital-first banks that need to launch fast with minimum IT infrastructure cost. Larger banks increasingly shift to the cloud to incrementally modernize their systems, reduce IT complexity and cost gain greater speed to market.

Philip Barnett, President of Strategic Growth, and Member of Executive Committee of Temenos, said: “We are delighted to extend our leadership in the cloud and be the first to certify with Huawei. This joint go-to-market strategy with Huawei will massively accelerate our market penetration in China which represents approximately a USD 6 bn addressable market and we are extending to the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Latin America. Together, we can help digital-first banks as well as large banks in need of core modernization accelerate their move in the cloud. Our API-first, cloud-native core banking solution based on Huawei Cloud will provide flexibility, agility, elasticity, and accelerate time to market for banks. Our certification on Huawei Cloud demonstrates that our cloud-agnostic banking platform enables banks to pursue a multi-cloud strategy and have the highest levels of active-active resilience with the cloud provider of their choice.”

“Huawei is willing to continue to strengthen cooperation with industry-leading technology solution competent partners such as Temenos. The digital ecosystem is a place where all participants create and share value together. By strengthening partnerships, we can solve problems and create value for customers together, expand the cake, and open up new growth space for the finance industry,” said Mr. Ma Yue, Executive Vice President, Huawei Enterprise Business Group (EBG); President, Huawei EBG Global Partner Development and Sales.

Huawei Intelligent Finance Summit 2021 was held in Shanghai from Jun 03 to 04. Huawei Intelligent Finance Summit is a global ICT event hosted by Huawei and focused on the financial industry. It was founded in 2013, all participants were the industry elite in the financial industry. For more information about Huawei Global FSI Summit, please visit: https://e.huawei.com/topic/2021-event-fsi-summit/en /index.html

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SNEC 2021: Huawei Digital Power Pushes for Carbon Neutrality through the Convergence of Energy and Information Flow

SHANGHAI, June 3, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — With the theme of “Leading power digitalization for a zero-carbon and smart society”, Huawei Digital Power presents its Zero-carbon All-scenario solution at SNEC 2021, the world’s largest solar trade exhibition being held June 3-5 in Shanghai, China. As a trailblazer in the global solar PV industry, Huawei is doing its part to fuel PV to become the main energy source and to create a greener world.

One of the most eye-catching parts of this exhibition is Huawei FusionSolar All-scenario PV & Storage Solution, which was unveiled on June 3. It covers “4+1” scenarios: Smart  PV Generator FusionSolar 8.0, Green Residential Power 2.0, Green C&I Power 1.0, and Off-grid (fuel removal) Power Supply Solutions + Energy Cloud, aiming to accelerate the shift to zero-carbon generation and bridge the energy divide. More details can be found at our website.

On top of the exhibition display, Huawei also hosts a two-day Huawei SNEC 2021 Global Virtual Summit, starting June 3, for customers and partners who cannot attend the exhibition in person. The online summit gives the audience a valuable chance to witness the new products launch, insightful expert interviews and highlights from the booth.

1.    FusionSolar 8.0: Create A Future-proof Smart PV Generator

Disrupting the traditional structure, Huawei launched the future-proof smart PV generator, called FusionSolar 8.0. It offers customers two benefits: First, the smart PV generator promises improved grid stability; second, the world’s first “Gemini” ±1500V design can help to support larger sub-arrays, higher voltages, thus could reduce LCOE by 7%.

2.    Green Residential Power 2.0: Start New Life in a Zero-carbon Home

The upgraded Green Residential Power 2.0 solution highlights the innovative “1+3+X”structure. With the Smart Energy Controller at the core, it is equipped with three key components— the optimizer, the smart string ESS and the Green Power Cloud to build the intelligent power ecosystem. The Green Residential Power 2.0 solution, focusing on smart power generation, storage and smart power consumption with multiple active safety features, can lower your energy bill and allow you to start a new zero-carbon life.

3.    Green C&I Power 1.0: Let Green Power Empower All Industries

Huawei launched its new C&I solution this year, which fits for different application scenarios: solar only, storage only, solar + storage + charging and off-grid. With the application of optimizers and the smart string energy storage system, the solution can improve the energy yield by 30% and energy storage power by up to 15%. Huawei inverters support intelligent AFCI arc protection and automatically shut down within 0.5s, ensuring the active safety of systems.

4.    Huawei’s Digital Power Zero-carbon All-scenario Solution: Lead the Power Digitalization for a Zero-carbon and Smart society

In addition to zero-carbon power generation, Huawei also displays the digital power zero-carbon all-scenario solution for the first time at SNEC. In the era of carbon neutrality, Huawei Digital Power business unit gives full play to its strengths in digital technology and power electronics and integrates the watt, thermal, energy storage, cloud, and AI technology, to accelerate the digitization of the energy industry and contribute to a zero-carbon smart society.

During the unfolding energy transition, renewables represented by solar PV will inevitably become the primary source of energy, and building a new power system with renewable energy as the main source is the key to achieve carbon neutrality. With profound expertise in the integration of digital technology and power electronics, Huawei works with customers and partners to promote the energy transition and build a zero-carbon and smart society.

About Huawei

Founded in 1987, Huawei is a leading global provider of information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure and smart devices. We have more than 197,000 employees, and we operate in more than 170 countries and regions, serving more than three billion people around the world.

Our vision and mission is to bring digital to every person, home and organization for a fully connected, intelligent world. To this end, we will drive ubiquitous connectivity and promote equal access to networks; bring cloud and artificial intelligence to all four corners of the earth to provide superior computing power where you need it, when you need it; build digital platforms to help all industries and organizations become more agile, efficient, and dynamic; redefine user experience with AI, making it more personalized for people in all aspects of their life, whether they’re at home, in the office, or on the go. For more information, please visit Huawei online at www.huawei.com or follow us on:

http://www.linkedin.com/company/Huawei 
http://www.twitter.com/Huawei
http://www.facebook.com/Huawei
http://www.youtube.com/Huawei

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Creating New Value Together: Huawei Launches Financial Partner Going-Global Program

SHANGHAI, June 3, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Today, Huawei announced its Financial Partner Go Global Program (FPGGP) at the Huawei Intelligent Finance Summit 2021. FPGGP will collaborate with exciting new partners who wish to work with Huawei in the financial services industry. This global ecosystem will draw on their combined experience and expertise in technical innovation to drive digital transformation of finance. Together, they will develop industry-leading solutions, expand the global market, build the FinTech business ecosystem, create new value, and achieve shared business success.

Developing industry insights, improving services, and enabling collaboration

At the summit, Mr. Ma Yue, Executive Vice President of Enterprise BG and President of the Global Partner Development and Sales Dept, Huawei, said, “Consumer finance is developing towards full-scenario finance, which requires a cross-industry, full-scenario, and three-dimensional ecosystem After launching FPGGP, Huawei will work with global competent partners who are capable and willing to target international market expansion and establishing close partnerships to develop a strategy moving forward. Through our new partnerships, we will address digital transformation challenges, serve global financial customers, and create new value in the industry.”

Mr. Ma Yue

FPGGP enables new efficiencies and shared benefits

The initial FPGGP has 25 members, including seven on the board of directors from Huawei, Sunline, Tongdun Technology, Netis, Wallyt, Sinosoft, and Chinasoft International. The program will focus on policies and regulations, application scenarios, technical architecture, operational support, as well as collaboration and promotion.

In addition, FPGGP members enjoy Huawei’s six core partner benefits, which include: sharing business opportunities, capacity improvement, marketing, brand growth, support in investment and financing, and operational guidance, promoting joint efforts and shared success among Huawei and partners. Member enterprises will be able to leverage each other’s insights, share resources, and collaborate closely to succeed together. Huawei will also host several activities related to financial digital transformation across China to discuss relevant trends and strategies to ‘go-global’ with the industry. Ambitious enterprises with an eye for international growth are welcome to join FPGGP.

Huawei alone cannot build the foundation of the digital world — and so, collaboration is critical. For digital transformation, companies need to work together to survive and grow. Huawei will create and share value with partners and customers. At the end of 2020, Huawei had worked with more than 30,000 partners in the enterprise market, but the company doesn’t want to stop there. Huawei continues to grow by nurturing, motivating and supporting new partners in what is a shared goal: creating new value together.

At the end of 2020, Huawei worked with over 2,000 financial institutions from more than 60 countries and regions, including 47 of the world’s top 100 banks.

About the Intelligent Finance Summit

For more information about Huawei Intelligent Finance Summit 2021, please visit: https://e.huawei.com/topic/2021-event-fsi-summit/en/index.html

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Huawei: Accelerate Financial Digitalization, Create New Value Together

SHANGHAI, June 3, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Today, was the first day of the Huawei Intelligent Finance Summit 2021 held at Shanghai, with the theme “Accelerate Financial Digitization, New Value Together.” The two-day event attracted more than 3,000 global financial industry customers, partners, industry experts, and media. Huawei detailed how financial institutions can utilize technology to upgrade the industry and range of services on offer by constructing an ecosystem that is agile and intelligent, and ultimately transform themselves into digital-capable eco-enterprises. Huawei presented three strategic initiatives for their work in the financial sector: fully embracing cloud-native technology, diversifying and improving use cases within the industry and aggregating different SaaS products to help financial institutions become better digital enterprises.

The Financial Industry Needs to Adapt and Accelerate the Pace of Transformation

Peng Zhongyang, Member of the Board, President of the Enterprise Business Group, Huawei, in his opening speech made the point that as industries upgrade and converge, the financial services sector will transform to have their operations based on cloud through a more connected device ecosystem built for all scenarios. He added that Huawei is currently collaborating with its customers and partners to enable them to become more sustainable, resilient digital ecosystem-based enterprises, through the co-creation of technology, scenarios, and sustainability.

Mr. Peng Zhongyang

In the keynote speech on “Global Economic Recovery: Certainty and Uncertainty”, Dr. Fan Gang, Professor of Economics, Peking University; Vice President, China Society of Economic Reform, said, “The global pandemic is far from over. As the new engine of economic recovery, the most important component of the digital economy is not the production of digital equipment and digital technology itself, but the application of new information technology to transform various industries. Digital finance is the driving force of the development of the digital economy. It is therefore necessary to accelerate financial technology innovation, as FinTech will play a leading role in upgrading the digital transformation of thousands of industries.”

Cao Tong, President of HDFH and First President of WeBank; Hou Weirong, General Manager, Transaction Banking Department, China Merchants Bank; Chen Kunte Chief Digital Transformation Officer of Global Financial Services Business Unit, Enterprise BG, Huawei and Ye Tan, Well-Known Financial Critic joined the Panel: Intelligent Finance Transformation.

“The world is going through a digital revolution, which is closely related to finance and affects us all. Traditional banks are expanding their boundaries. I’m looking forward to the day when bankers and experts in technology can customize asset packages for users based on their age, wealth, and family structure.” Said by Ye Tan.

Huawei Announces Three Strategic Initiatives to Turn Financial Institutions into Better Digital Ecosystem-based Enterprises

Huawei announced three strategic initiatives it would develop in the financial sector to help financial institutions become better digital ecosystem-based enterprises. These included:

(1)  Encouraging institutions to fully embrace cloud native, innovative technologies that provide optimal infrastructure to accelerate digital and intelligent convergence and create an agile platform.

(2)  Deepening digitalization across all industry scenarios to enhance safe and secure data transfer, unlock the potential value of big data, and build out financial inclusion.

(3)  Aggregating different SaaS products to build an open ecosystem for all scenarios, and enable scenario-based financial services.

Jason Cao, President of the Global Financial Services Business Enterprise BG, Huawei, said in his speech, “Huawei has been working with the global financial industry for 10 years and has become an important partner in digital transformation for the industry. Huawei will continue to work with this industry to drive cloud-native computing to ensure financial institutions benefit from a modern and dynamic digital ecosystem that can be continually updated and developed, making use of the latest innovations. Huawei’s ethos is to help financial institutions grow into better digital ecosystem-based enterprises and develop fully connected, intelligent, and ecosystem-based finance together”.

Shi Jilin, Vice President of HUAWEI CLOUD BU and President of Global Marketing and Sales Service, said in her keynote speech that the financial industry has always been at the forefront of digital transformation, and is at the stage of developing to digital finance, from a single scene to a multi-scenario.

She said, “Huawei and the financial industry grow together to build multi-purpose and intelligent FinTech solutions. We put forward four proposals: first, fully embrace cloudification, solve the core problems of enterprise cloud access, and guide digital transformation on the right path; second, full-scenario intelligent connection, create “finance+X ” to serve all kinds of industries; third, to carry out intelligence to the end, AI will enter the finance core production system and main business processes; fourth, build a financial ecosystem around scenarios and create an ecological financial industry. ”

Realizing New Value in the Financial Industry with Global Banking Customers to Build a New Financial Future Together

Various banking executives shared their stories and achievements of digital transformation of Chinese financial enterprises at the meeting today.

Huawei has been working closely with DBS Bank to enable their digital transformation to meet their evolving needs. In 2020, Huawei was awarded by DBS the 2020 Most Valuable Technology Partner Award from a selection of 64 other global technology vendors.

Tan Choon Boon, Head of Cloud Engineering and Services at DBS Singapore, said: “DBS has developed a strategy focusing on five key elements for digital transformation: driving comprehensive organizational change, including business success-oriented organizations; moving from ‘projects to platforms; taking onboard modern system design; building excellent agile teams; and moving towards complete automation. In the future, the two sides will continue to strengthen cooperation in cloud, artificial intelligence, and IoT. We have been working closely with Huawei to meet the bank’s evolving requirements and drive digital transformation.”

The financial industry varies greatly across regions around the world, there are still many people as well as small and medium-sized enterprises that cannot access basic financial services. Financial institutions in many countries have taken rapid steps to build digital platforms such as mobile wallets and mobile payments with partners such as Huawei. These platforms are used to build a super app ecosystem, such as Kenya NCBA, to help these financial institutions achieve significant progress in enhancing their service offerings. Added keynote1 to the customer’s speech.

During the summit, Sitoyo Lopokoiyit, CEO, M-PESA Africa said, “We’ve seen the power of M-PESA and mobile money in Africa in transforming how we can make an impact in terms into society .Today we have over 350,000 businesses and over 5 million micro SMEs that use our services. On the other side, we have 58 million customers who use our various products and services. At the core of this is our technology and partners such as Huawei play a key role in ensuring that our technology architecture addresses the needs of our business and customers.”

Huawei Launches the Financial Partner Go Global Program (FPGGP)

During the summit, Huawei announced the official launch of the Financial Partner Go Global Program (FPGGP). The company will work with partners in the financial services industry to leverage Huawei’s deep experience and technological innovation capabilities in financial digital transformation.

The initial FPGGP has 25 members, including seven on the board of directors from Huawei, Sunline, Tongdun Technology, Netis, Wallyt, Sinosoft, and Chinasoft International.

Huawei Launches the Financial Partner Go Global Program (FPGGP)

Huawei’s vision is to build a multi-purpose open ecosystem and enable global financial institutions to serve users in various industries. During the summit, Huawei explores additional cooperation agreements with financial institutions such as Temenos, and plans 15 joint solutions to be released covering a diverse set of use cases.

For more information, please visit:https://e.huawei.com/topic/2021-event-fsi-summit/en/index.html

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Is Gen Katumba a succession war victim?

Two plausible theories have so far emerged to define sponsors and aims for the assassination script against Gen Edward Katumba Wamala: (i) military theory (ii) political theory. Interestingly both point at a common goal: diversion of president Museveni from his original new deployment plans.

The Military Theory: Is ISIS-ADF playing Museveni mind games?

For the record, Gen Edward Katumba Wamala stands out from the crowd in how he pursues professional soldiering. It could be from how he was brought up or how he joined the armed forces. Very few joined the current national army the way he did. Most senior ones are remnants of the Front for National Salvation Army—fronasa and others are recruits from the 1981 bush days to date. He is among the few officers that NRA found already made by the vanquished national army—UNLA in 1986. He was integrated owing to his exemplary behavior. Since then he never looked back in the military rank ladder up to the current status of four-star general. But more impressively is how he has executed duties handed to him from division commander to contingent commander in the Democratic Republic of Congo and ultimately the chief of defense forces, the highest army office in Uganda.

Noteworthy, despite leading a contingent in DRC in the 2000s, Gen Katumba Wamala’s name does not feature among those for which Uganda was caught on the wrong side of plundering Congolese resources and Kampala is to pay heavy reparations.

It is therefore upon this rare impressive track record that Gen Katummba was anticipated to be trusted with yet a new military role in DRC. He is expected to handle the overall coordination of resources for the multiple forces deployed there—for the roads infrastructure team, the Special Forces Command and the Rwenzori mountain—based Alpine Brigade.

Therefore, the military theory postulates that in attempting to eliminate Gen Katumba, the ISIS affiliates of ADF aimed at: i) diverting and disorganizing Museveni’s original war plans by enforcing a last minute less thought review of the entire approach. (ii) Send a threatening message to whoever else would be appointed for that role.

The flip side of this theory, though, is that the Congo deployment is every commander’s dream regardless of the risks involved. The inability of one commander to execute it presents an opportunity for many others to take over.

The Political Theory: Is Gen Katumba steering the Muhoozi-for-president project?

At 81 in 2026, many perceive this to be president Museveni’s last term in office. Several within the ruling National Resistance Movement are positioning themselves to take over after him. But again they think Museveni is strategically positioning his son Muhoozi Kainerugaba in the queue. Among these are the president’s allies who have amassed unprecedented economic wealth and are already panicking that Muhoozi, himself not corrupt, will not protect their wealth. They have to do it themselves. Muhoozi’s key ally and mentor in both the political and military strata is Gen Edward Katumba Wamala. Apparently Gen Katumba has all Museveni’s ears and trust. Owing to his enormous influence both in political and security circles, Gen Katumba is, therefore, perceived to be the force behind the Muhoozi-for-president project.

In targeting to eliminate Gen Katumba before Museveni would hand him new roles, in the lucrative works and transport sector as well as overseeing the huge DRC deployment budget, the political forces intended to divert Museveni so that he could review his list of new ministers and specifically identify their favorite for the ministry of works. In this, they are seeking to deprive Muhoozi, the commander of SFC, of the benefits he would access from Katumba as the overseer of the DRC mission. They know that if they incapacitate Muhoozi from accessing enormous financial resources they would weaken his ambitions of becoming a president for this country. They also wish to deny him resources he would use to influence the youth constituency which requires a lot of money. To them, Muhoozi is as equally a threat as the official opposition.

Even though the mission to eliminate Gen Katumba didn’t succeed 100%, it achieved 50% of its objectives. The appointing authority definitely has to rethink how to make things move as fast as Katumba would push them without bullet wounds. By all means, a stopgap is currently necessary. But whoever this stopgap is, cannot match similar qualities as Gen Edward Wamala Katumba.

 

Source: Modern Ghana

Digital skills for the modern century workplace

The rapid growth of Internet access and connectivity has paved way for the development of a digital economy across the world. The World Economic Forum estimated in 2019 that 133 million new roles will be created by 2022 as a result of the new division of labour between humans, machines, and algorithms. However, there are major inequalities due to the lack of digital skills.

Digital skills are broadly defined as those needed to “use digital devices, communication applications, and networks to access and manage information,”–UNESCO. This covers a vast range and variety of skills, from basic through intermediate to advanced levels. They enable people to create and share digital content, communicate, and collaborate, and solve problems for effective and creative self-fulfillment in life, learning, work, and social activities at large. Upskilling and reskilling yourself in key in-demand digital skills can level up your resume and reboot your prospects in a competitive job market. Areas such as web design, analytics, social media, and artificial intelligence, are designed to equip learners with essential digital skills for the modern century workplace and daily life.

As below, these are defined as the basic functional digital skills needed in a day-to-day professional and personal context, to make basic use of digital devices and online applications. They will be enough for many working in traditional workplaces which have adopted digital systems to improve efficiency, security, and connectivity.

  • Digital foundation skills–the fundamentals of being able to use digital technologies such as using a browser, connecting to the internet, and keeping passwords secure.
  • Communicating–sending emails securely, using attachments, and taking part on social media.
  • Handling information and content–using search engines, being aware that not all online content is reliable, accessing content across devices.
  • Transacting–setting up accounts to use or purchase goods/services online, using different secure payment methods and the Automated Teller Machine (ATM), filling in online forms.
  • Problem-solving–finding solutions to problems using frequently asked questions (FAQs)/tutorials/chat, presenting solutions through software, and improving productivity.
  • Being safe and legal online–understanding best practices in data storage/sharing, updating and keeping passwords secure, and taking precautions against viruses.

Such basic digital skills can be developed from your desk by reading books and blogs, watch YouTube (learn how to do what), take a course and teach others what you have learned, and get analytical.

Whatever you would like to learn more about and whatever level you are already at, there will be a blog out there for you. Blogs normally take between one and fifteen minutes to read so they will give you a bite-sized knowledge that is perfect while you are taking a coffee break. By reading recently published blogs, you will get the most up-to-date information that is not always possible from a book. There are also YouTube videos for everything, and it is not just a website–it is the world’s second-largest search engine. If you find it hard to dedicate time to self-learning, then committing to a course–either online or classroom-based–might be what you need. Understanding the analytics behind digital marketing platforms (for example, websites, social media, and email) is the most important part but also the bit that many people do not master. Once you have understood the numbers, it will be easier to work out what affects them and how.

Digital skills are critical to earning income in the future economy as the formal and informal economies are digitizing. According to Digital Skills Observatory, digital skills (e-skills) are among the most sought after by businesses. Also, in the growing digital sector, one will need to possess more advanced skills pertaining to specific areas of digital business. These include, but not limited to, areas such as data analytics, artificial intelligence, digital marketing, Internet of Things, cybersecurity.

If we are to meet the needs of tomorrow, where shall we look to find “who” is to be called upon to invest in this skills development, and “what” must be aided/facilitated? Whether acting as policy-making bodies or as institutions that provide educational/training services, the system of education, training, and employment must move towards developing learning “programs” and “educational projects” that include modern tools and methodologies. These tools and methodologies must be capable not only of transferring the technical knowledge beneficial to acquiring digital skills but also developing the soft skills in tangent with the digital world. Fostering public awareness of the active role that the citizenry can play in the knowledge society, alongside a workforce able to use digital skills in their respective sectors.

Hence, revamping training programs at all levels with digital in mind − whether secondary school or university or at a professional retraining or management training level − is a step that we cannot afford to put off any longer. We must raise the level of competence – upskilling and reskilling, starting out from adaptation of people’s skills vis-à-vis the skills required by the marketplace. Digital skills are therefore important because they underpin so much of how modern work is conducted. For many modern professions, digital skills are simply essential skills, and in this fourth industrial revolution the need will only continue to increase, and a greater demand for those with advanced digital skills, as we see more drive towards automation and cross-system data exchange.

 

Source: Modern Ghana

Scientist urges African governments to allow farmers decide whether they want to adopt GMOs

A South African scientist says it’s about time African governments prioritized the interests of farmers and allowed them to use genetically modified (GM) crops for the benefit of the continent.

“Let the farmers decide,” said Jennifer Thomson, emeritus professor in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Cape Town. “It shouldn’t be up to the politicians to say yes or no. Give it to the farmers.”

Thomson, who made her comments during an AfS live webinar session that reviewed her latest book, “GM Crops and the Global Divide,” urged governments to reconsider their stance on GM technology and stop blocking farmers from accessing it.

“Farmers are savvy,” she said. “If it doesn’t work, they won’t plant it. Let the farmers choose. It’s such a powerful technology and it can save people and save livelihoods.”

Currently, only farmers in South Sudan, Kenya, Nigeria, Eswatini and South Africa are growing GM crops out of the 54 countries on the continent. Thomson blames anti–GMO activists for the slow pick up, even though those growing the crops have realized higher yields and reduced pesticide use and input costs.

“It’s the fault of the activists,” she observed. “They have made the regulations so unwieldy and so expensive that it’s only the multinationals who can afford [to take these crops from concept to commercialization]. It’s just too expensive to put it through the glass house trials and green house trials and field trials…. it’s not the fault of the multinationals but the anti-GM activists who have made the regulations so unwieldy.”

Thomson is urging African governments to take an interest in agricultural biotechnology and make more investments in developing crops for smallholder use on the continent. She encouraged them not to follow in the footsteps of European governments, which can afford to limit options because their citizens already enjoy food security.

“It started off as a trade war… they didn’t want American GM crops to flood the market in Europe because they could produce enough,” she explained. “Then they said, you can buy it [GM crops], but you can’t grow it. There is absolutely no logic [in that]. I can understand why the European communities are so anti-GM. Their farms are massively productive fields with all sorts of fertilizers and growth activators… But in Africa, the soil is so old that we’ve got no nutrients in the soil.”

Thomson criticized groups that encourage farmers to continue applying archaic methods to farming, insisting all farmers want to expand and become larger scale producers — not remain small-scale subsistence farmers. “So, to think that small is cute, it may be cute in France, but it’s not cool in Africa… cute isn’t what we need in Africa,” she said.

New form of colonialism
Thomson’s new book, “GM Crops and the Global Divide,” discusses the history of GM technology in both the medical and agricultural space. It also explores why GM technology is not as popular in Europe as it is in America, details some of the economic and environmental benefits of GM crops and examines the role that the developed world is playing in thwarting efforts to introduce GM crops in Africa.

The bottom line of her book is this: If many organizations in “developed countries” express anti-GM sentiment, many countries in the “developing world” will take note, Thomson wrote. “Perhaps one way to sum up the effects that the West is having on the Rest is that the wealthier ‘haves’ who do not need to ‘have it’ [GM crops] because they have enough food already, are preventing the ‘have nots’ who need it, from having it and improving their food security. For the West to prevent such farmers from even testing whether the improved seed will bring improvements into their lives, and the lives of consumers, is morally concerning,” she wrote.

Thomson elaborated on that point during the webinar. “What’s happening is that the West is imposing their beliefs and the way they are managing their foods on developing countries… The West is imposing on Africa the way they think and the way they operate. All sorts of aid comes from Europe… So, people in Africa listen to what Europeans have to say. And this is a new form of colonialism,” she told AfS Director Sarah Evanega during the webinar.

She criticized claims by some activists that GM crops should not be allowed in Africa because they are “unnatural.”

“If your argument is that GM crops are not good because they’re not ‘natural’, then you’ve got to look at everything you get from the supermarket… You’ve got to realize how ‘unnatural’ everything you eat is,” she noted.

The microbiologist also criticized the organic food movement for blacklisting GM crops, asking, “What’s more organic than a piece of DNA? I still can’t understand why the organic farming movement is not leaping onto this… It will solve a lot of their problems…” she added.

Way forward
Thomson said that Africa needs “leaders who will innovate and encourage their people to innovate” if the continent is to take advantage of GM technology to further its development. She wants governments to ensure over-regulation does not hamper innovation.

“It (GMO technology) does need a regulatory system,” she said. “I’m not against regulations, but I’m against excessive regulation… The regulations must be sensible… They must be operated on a case-by-case basis… the decision has to be science based… Regulation shouldn’t constitute barriers. They should ensure safety.”

 

Source: Modern Ghana

Free SHS This, Free SHS That: Ignoring the Noise; Acknowledging the Challenges

Perhaps, it was a tad optimistic in hindsight, for supporters of the Free Senior High School policy to expect that the critics of the policy would be silenced by its successful implementation. When the policy took off in September, 2017, many of us thought the whole nation would unite to support the policy, on account of its manifest advantages to the nation’s developmental trajectory. That has not, alas, proven to be the case.

As a proposal from the then presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party, now President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the policy was roundly pilloried by political opponents. It will be recalled that in the 2012 campaign in particular, communication from the then incumbent National Democratic Congress revolved mainly around the Free SHS policy and the fact that, in the eyes of the then president and his party, it was a pipe dream merely canvassed in the search for gullible votes.

The story was no different in 2016.
After the NPP’s victory in 2016, the government kept faith with the people and a mere nine months into its tenure, made the dream a reality. From September 2017, the policy has allowed over a million students to attend senior high school absolutely free of charge. An analysis of the data shows that without the policy, some four hundred thousand less students would not have had the opportunity. To be certain, a policy that affects that many people every year is nothing to be sniffed at. In the history of this country, there has been no social intervention so significant and so widely impactful.

Critics of the policy, however, have refused to relent. From day one, many of our citizens have sadly sought to find and promote adverse news about Free SHS and where none were available, some have been happy to create some. We were warned by the doomsayers that Free SHS would compromise the quality of secondary education. Long standing difficulties in our educational sector are suddenly attributable to nothing else but the fact that many more of our young ones are– deservingly – securing secondary education. If you, like me, have been waiting for these critics to confidently say what they expect to happen to the hundreds of thousands of young people who would be left behind had it not been for the policy, then you have my sympathy.

Of course, this is not to say that all criticisms of the policy are in bad faith. Parents, teachers, school administrators, policy analysts and relevant stakeholders have the right and indeed the responsibility to vent their concerns, especially if they have alternative proposals and do so in a manner that is constructive and helpful to the policy discourse. And in fact, many of these have been espoused, especially in the last week. We have sadly, however, also had political and politically motivated actors jump on the bandwagon, eager to land some shots in the cause of ailing political ambitions. That is why, for example, we can have a former minister of education accuse young people of cheating in an international examination merely because their performance laid waste to the doom song she and others had been waiting to sing.

It is important, I believe, for us to examine and isolate the main, legitimate criticisms of the policy within the context of problem-solving and solution-driven discourse.

First, there are many who believe that the policy should have been targeted at only those who are unable to pay, understood in the social protection literature as means testing. In the last few weeks, we have been treated to the protestations of parents and some young people who believe that they should be allowed to pay in order to get better quality of facilities in school.

Never mind, of course, the complaints from the same people, sometimes in the same breath, that they have been forced to pay for extra classes, placing a toll on their finances. When the framers of our constitution made secondary education a right that should be progressively free to access, they did not accord special status to any class of students. This is because they recognized that social rights are diluted in impact and acceptance if only some classes of people are accorded it. For Free SHS to be sustained in the long term, it has to be open to all. That is before we get to the likely abuse that means (or perhaps proxy means) testing would be open to. Do not be surprised if the same people asking to be allowed to pay are the very people who would pull at every string to be placed in the “privileged” non-paying group were we to adopt this two-tier system.

Second, there have been some concerns regarding the double track calendar configuration, a system that has enabled government to enroll so many more students through optimum utilization of existing facilities. Available data suggest that this innovation alone doubled enrolment at double track schools, allowing nearly two hundred thousand students into the secondary school system in the first year of implementation alone. It can be argued that while both the traditional agrarian calendar and double track have been proven empirically to be beneficial to students, double track appears to be more favourable to students from disadvantaged backgrounds, the very group who stand to gain the most from the Free SHS policy.

Third, opponents claim that the system has reduced the contact hours that students had previously, pointing at the number of days that some students spend in the school and comparing with other tracks and previous systems. In fact, a review of the dataset would show that the opposite to be the case. Under the previous trimester system, students spent eight months and two weeks in school each year, with a total of one hundred and eighty teaching days and one thousand and eighty contact hours. Under the current semester system, they spend two weeks less in school and have one hundred and sixty-two teaching days but manage to clock one thousand, one hundred and thirty-four contact hours each year. This has been possible due to the innovative use of time and facilities inherent in the double track system. If we are looking for reasons for the success of the “Akufo-Addo graduates,” perhaps we should look at these innovations, rather than seek perverse comfort in misplaced accusations of misconduct.

It should also be noted that the Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the school system. For close to a year, schools were shut and in-person learning suspended. Circumstances such as this would have interfered with the school system pre-double track, so we must understand if getting back on track requires some adjustments.

Perhaps, the favourite attack from skeptics is the supposed lack of funds to run schools now that students are not paying fees. In fact, it could be argued that the reverse is true. This year alone, government will spend GHc 1.97 billion on the policy, a significant increase from the GHc 400 million it spent in the very first year of implementation. A computation of the figures shows that GHc2,312 is spent per student per year. Despite the difficulties of Covid-19, government is still making good on its commitments and for this academic year, has released funds for years 2 and 3 students to all assisted secondary schools. It is hard to imagine that with all these funds available, charges of underfunding can be sustained. Admittedly, there are some management and accountability issues at the school and local levels that are being addressed, but on the whole, government cannot be said to be unable to pay for the policy.

Change, no matter how desirable, can be a long and difficult slog. No one imagined, least of all President Akufo-Addo, that opening the doors to our secondary schools for everyone desirous of entry, including many that would not have qualified under the old system, would be easy or universally popular from day one. That is why he deserves even greater plaudits for the bold and innovative steps he has taken to follow through on what many dismissed as entirely impossible. When a generation from now, the benefits of a more literate, numerate and better skilled workforce manifest in sustained economic development, we must all remember where we stood in these moments. And if you were among those tearing it down rather than building it up, I hope that you have the courage and candor to admit to the role you played.

Prince Hamid Armah, PhD.
The writer is the Member of Parliament for Kwesimintsim and Vice Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Education. He was previously Director-General of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NaCCA).

 

Source: Modern Ghana