Top Stories

February 05, 2013

Inclusive Business

Microsoft’s ‘4Afrika Initiative’ to boost continent’s global competitiveness

Microsoft is launching its ‘4Afrika Initiative’ to help accelerate adoption of smart devices in Africa. The company has teamed up with Huawei to put more Windows smart phones in the hands of teachers, students, small businesses, and entrepreneurs. With the 4Afrika Initiative, Microsoft hopes to engage in Africa’s economic development in order to improve its global competitiveness. It estimates that by 2016, the initiative will help bring a million African small and medium-sized businesses online, up skill 100,000 members of the continent’s existing workforce, and help an additional 100,000 graduates develop employable skills. It also says it hopes to help 75 percent be placed in jobs. (Microsoft; The New Web)

Climate Change

World seed banks get funds to tackle growing threats

Scientists have agreed on a $109m plan to strengthen the world's biggest seed banks, of crops such as rice and wheat. The initiative will help protect and develop new varieties resistant to climate change and other threats. The Global Crop Diversity Trust and the CGIAR Consortium of agricultural researchers said their five-year plan would help secure storage of more than 700,000 samples of crops at 11 existing gene banks worldwide.  The funds will allow the collections to expand, to include varieties with natural traits to resist drought, floods, disease or extreme heat – all likely to become more common because of global warming. (AlertNet)


David Cameron: UK must prioritise green energy

The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has warned that only the world's greenest economies will be able to compete in the global economic race over the coming years, arguing that the UK has no choice but to prioritise investment in green energy and energy efficiency.  In a speech broadly welcomed by green businesses and NGOs, Mr Cameron said there was a strong economic argument for accelerating investment in clean technologies. The Prime Minister was speaking at the launch of the Department of Energy and Climate Change's (DECC) new ‘Energy Efficiency Mission’ – a programme designed to better promote the Government's energy efficiency policies. (Business Green)

Corporate Reputation

Visa sued by Australian competition watchdog

Australia's competition watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, has sued credit card company Visa for alleged "misuse of market power". It has accused Visa of preventing customers from using a currency of their choice in transactions. The regulator also alleged that Visa "engaged in exclusive dealing" and barred retailers from using rival currency conversion services. (BBC, Bloomberg)

Barclays to set aside more for PPI repayments

Barclays has set aside another £1bn to compensate customers for mis-selling payment protection insurance (PPI). PPI mis-selling alone has now cost UK banks over £12bn and could end up more than double that, industry sources estimate. The announcement by Barclays marks its fourth provision for PPI, dating back to May 2011 when the industry lost a court case on the selling of products to customers who did not need, or could not use them. Barclays has now set aside a total of £2.6bn to settle claims for mis-selling of PPI. (Reuters)

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