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Shortage of Foreign Workers Rattles Russia

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Shortage of Foreign Workers

By Kester Kenn Klomegah

Deputy Mayor of Moscow for Economic Policy and Property and Land Relations Vladimir Efimov, in an interview published this mid-September in the newspaper Izvestia, widely circulated and reputable Russian media, lamented that Moscow is still experiencing a shortage of foreign workers at construction sites, now there is a shortage of about 200,000 people.

“This problem remains today Moscow lacks about 200,000 migrants. And we hope that in the near future, the restrictions on their entry into the country will be softened,” Yefimov said, answering the question of the publication whether the issue of the shortage of migrant workers for construction sites in Moscow.

According to him, “the lack of labour resources leads to the fact that employers, primarily developers, outbid employees from each other, which increases the cost of their services.

“If we talk about the period before the pandemic, for several years, housing prices in Moscow have hardly grown. Against the background of the pandemic, the cost of housing has increased, actually catching up with inflation in previous years,” said the Vice Mayor of Moscow.

The announcement simply highlighted the inconsistency dealing with migrant policy and the complete lack of foresight, especially what to do with migrants from the former Soviet republics. Thanks to these migrants, mostly employed in the construction fields and (cleaning, sewage disposal or removal services) in various neighbourhoods or districts, Moscow has won awards for being a modern and clean smart city in Europe. These migrants continuously play an important role, most often underestimated, in building infrastructure and in the general development of society.

According to a survey of Promsvyazbank (PSB), Opora Rossii and Magram Market Research conducted in June 2021 found out that 45 per cent of small and medium-sized businesses in Russia need new employees.

Entrepreneurs still consider the unfavourable economic conditions caused by the pandemic to be the main obstacle to business expansion, and employing new staff requires extra cost for training in the social services sector.

Opora Rossii, an organization bringing together Russian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and the Institute for Social Analysis and Forecasting of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA), among other business organizations and institutions, have been very instrumental on the significant role by working force, its combined objective and beneficial impact on the economy of Russia.

Several experts, in addition, have explained that migrants from the former Soviet republics could be useful or resourceful for developing the economy, especially on various infrastructure projects planned for the country. This huge human resource could be used in the vast agricultural fields to boost domestic agricultural production. On the contrary, the Federal Migration Service indiscriminately deports them from Russia.

Within the long-term sustainable development program, Russia has multibillion-dollar plans to address its infrastructure deficit especially in the provinces, and undertake mega projects across its vast territory, and migrant labour could be useful here.

The government can ensure that steady improvements are consistently made with the strategy of legalizing (or appropriately regulating their legal status) and redeploying the available foreign labour, the majority from the former Soviet republics, rather than deporting back to their countries of origin.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has been credited for transforming the city into a very neat and smart modern one, thanks partly to foreign labour – invaluable reliable asset – performing excellently in maintaining cleanliness and on the large-scale construction sites, and in various micro-regions on the edge or outskirts of Moscow.

With its accumulated experience, the Moscow City Hall has now started hosting the Smart Cities Moscow, an international forum dedicated to the development of smart cities and for discussing changes in development strategies, infrastructure challenges and adaptation of the urban environment to the realities of the new normal society.

Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov has acknowledged that Russia lacks a sufficient number of migrants to fulfil its ambitious development plans. He further underscored the fact that the number of migrants in Russia has declined significantly, and now their numbers are not sufficient to implement ambitious infrastructure projects in the country.

“I can only speak about the real state of affairs, which suggests that, in fact, we have very few migrants remaining over the past year. Actually, we have a severe dearth of these migrants to implement our ambitious plans,” the Kremlin spokesman pointed out.

In particular, it concerns projects in the agricultural and construction sectors. “We need to build more than we are building now. It should be more tangible, and this requires working hands. There is certainly a shortage of migrants. Now there are few of them due to the pandemic,” Peskov said.

The labour shortage is not only related to Moscow but it applies to many regions including the Far East. During the 6th edition of the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) held in Vladivostok, the demography decline and labour shortage have been identified as factors affecting the development of the vast region. With plans to build residential blocks, establish industrial hubs and fix businesses, these depend largely on the working labour force.

The Russian government continues discussing a wide range of re-population programs, hoping to attract in particular Russians there, even with the promise of incentives such as double income, the mortgage system, early retirement and free plots of land, but few results have been achieved. According to official sources, Russia’s population is noticeably falling and now stands at 146 million.

The Far East is almost the size of Canada with its current population (a mixture of natives plus legalized immigrants) more than 38 million. That compared, the Far East which is estimated at 40% of Russia’s territory and with an estimated 6.3 million is one of the most sparsely populated areas in the world.

Kremlin has made this its absolute long-term priority, and the challenging task is to create an environment for investment and attract people. President Vladimir Putin acknowledged, at a meeting on the socio-economic development of the Far East, that the speedy outflow of the population from the Far East suggests that the region has not yet received enough support measures.

“A lot is being done, but it is still not enough if we observe an outflow of the population,” the Russian leader emphasized at the September forum in Vladivostok.

President Vladimir Putin has already approved a list of instructions aimed at reforming the migration requirements and the institution of citizenship in Russia, based on the proposals drafted by the working group for implementation of the State Migration Policy Concept of the Russian Federation for 2019-2025.

“Within the framework of the working group for implementation of the State Migration Policy Concept of the Russian Federation for 2019-2025, the Presidential Executive Office of the Russian Federation shall organize work aimed at reforming the migration requirements and the institution of citizenship of the Russian Federation,” an official statement posted to Kremlin website.

In addition, the President ordered the Government, the Interior and Foreign Ministries, the Federal Security Service (FSB), and the Justice Ministry alongside the Presidential Executive Office to make amendments to the plan of action for 2019-2021, aimed at implementing the State Migration Policy Concept of the Russian Federation for 2019-2025.

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SA Startup Nile Raises $5.1m for Direct Agric Purchases

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SA startup Nile

By Adedapo Adesanya

South African agriculture technology startup, Nile, which enables buyers to purchase directly from Africa’s leading food producers through its marketplace, has raised a $5.1 million equity funding round led by Naspers Foundry.

The startup’s end-to-end process connects farmers to commercial retailers of fresh produce both in South Africa and across the continent.

The business-to-business (B2B) platform facilitates transactions and safeguards payments on behalf of farmers, resulting in increased transparency and improved cash flow.

Nile’s new equity round was led by Naspers Foundry, which contributed $2.5 million, alongside Platform Investment Partners, Raba Capital and Base Capital.

This transaction makes it Naspers Foundry’s 10th transaction, with its portfolio also including SweepSouth, Aerobotics, Food Supply Network, The Student Hub, WhereIsMyTransport, Ctrl, Naked Insurance and Floatpays.

Speaking on this, Mr Louis de Kock, co-founder and CEO of Nile, “We are delighted to have Naspers Foundry support our mission to make fresh produce more accessible to people across the African continent.

“While we were able to bootstrap Nile through our initial growth phase, we look forward to having the backing of an internationally respected investor and experienced operator like Naspers as we scale our cross-border operations to the rest of Africa.”

Adding his input, Mr Fabian Whate, head of Naspers Foundry said, “Nile provides a fully integrated ecosystem that creates trust between buyers and sellers on the platform and is a great example of tech entrepreneurs building innovative solutions that address people’s everyday needs.

“We are excited about the growth potential of this business and its contribution to transforming the trade of fresh produce.”

Nile was founded in 2020 to provide farmers with digital solutions that can address various pain points inherent to food trading – including price transparency, quality verification, speed of payments, the traceability of the produce and food waste.

Since Nile’s inception, approximately 30 million kilogrammes of fruits and vegetables have been traded on the platform, with buyers originating from five countries and 35 towns and cities across Southern Africa.

Nile’s services are used by farmers of all sizes, from small-scale farmers to large commercial farmers, with buyers ranging from large South Africa-listed companies to small family-owned retailers and wholesalers.

Nile also operates in Botswana, Namibia, Eswatini and Mozambique.

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Migrating to Canada from Nigeria – Provincial Nominee Programs

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Migrating to Canada from Nigeria

There continues to be a high demand for high-skilled immigrants in many developed countries worldwide, and Canada isn’t an exception. The country’s skilled immigration system recognizes that immigrants can be instrumental in addressing labour market needs and economic growth, especially when they have in-demand skills, experience, and education. Hence, the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) is an important component of Canada’s economic immigration system.

This provincial program creates a platform for the federal and provincial governments to work together to create industrial growth in Canada. The initiative makes it easier for qualified, skilled foreigners to become permanent residents. Provinces can nominate skilled immigrants who have been invited to apply for PR through Express Entry or the paper-based process.

Who Can Apply for PNP?

Although the nominee program is exclusive to workers, not all applicants in the job market are eligible. Some workers may be eligible, depending on their occupation. If an applicant holds a high human capital that is in demand in the province, the individual can apply for nomination in any of the available PNP immigration programs best suited.

Applicants must apply in the provinces they intend to live in. For example, a foreign senior developer who receives a “notification of interest” from Alberta is not qualified to apply under British Columbia’s PNP, especially when the individual has no interest in becoming a long-term resident there. Using the same scenario, the software engineer may not be considered for this program if there’s no intention to become a permanent resident in Canada.

Breaking Down the PNP Framework

As previously highlighted, there are two approaches to the PNP application process. The procedure entails undergoing some background checks, like police clearance and medical examinations for the province of application. The applicant must clear them successfully, as they make up part of the overall assessment. For those who consider the standard process, the requirements share some similarities with its counterpart.

To begin with, the applicants must meet the eligibility requirements for the province; likewise the Express Entry stream. Their skills must match one of the listed programs. That way, the province can invite such persons to apply. If nominated, they can submit the application to the IRCC. This approach has a longer wait time, compared to the second option.

Generally, the Express Entry stream is faster and more straightforward than the standard process. The skilled immigrant visits the province’s website to apply for nomination. Whereby the province finds the applicant an ideal fit for its labour market needs, it proceeds to nominate the professional, earning the individual 600 CRS extra. The next step would be to create an Express Entry account and proceed to apply for permanent residence.

Another option would be to flip the process around. This time, the Express Entry account creation comes first, which the professional notifies the province of. This is where the “notification of interest” comes into play. With this approach, there is direct communication between the candidate and the province officials in charge of the application. The former can then apply to the latter’s Express Entry stream and proceed to send the PR application to the IRCC.

Is Permanent Residence Available to Families of PNP-Nominated Immigrants?

The Provincial Nominee Program is one of the selected initiatives that encourage families to be united. Under this program, a spouse or child can accompany the foreign-born applicant when they make Canada their permanent residence. Those who move to Canada are eligible to become permanent residents as well. Plus, it extends to the children of the dependent children.

What Are Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) Points?

When seeking permanent residence, various prerequisites must be met. Still, the Comprehensive Ranking System majorly determines whether a candidate is eligible for PR status. Points are allocated depending on the following:

  • Language proficiency
  • Academic background
  • Work experience
  • Age
  • Province ties

Some are given points for obtaining professional degrees, like the Master of Business Administration (MBA) or other specializations that require significant academic efforts. The same is true for a foreign skilled worker, such as a financial advisor, who is fluent in the required language (often English or French). When a province nominates this skilled professional, additional CRS points are added to the person’s profile.

These points combined with those from other considerable aspects of the program, help the IRCC officials determine if the financial advisor qualifies for permanent residence.

How Can Applicants Improve Their Chances of Being Nominated?

Given a large number of skilled foreigners in the Express Entry pool, the possibility of being nominated quickly may be dicey. As such, applicants are advised to build a strong profile. Those who end up securing a job or enrolling in an academic program in Canada increase their CRS points and thus, their chances of getting a provincial nomination for PR application.

For example, an IT project manager seeking a PNP nomination from New Brunswick can boost his or her profile by acquiring a Master’s degree from a Canadian university. This tech professional can boost the chances of being nominated for PR by securing an IT-related role, such as computer programming at a New Brunswick-based tech firm.

The CRS points for such an expert would be higher than someone in the same field who has no connection to the province. In other words, the province will be more inclined to nominate the former than the latter. In the end, it is not simply about being skilled, as many highly skilled individuals are in Canada seeking permanent residence; it is about being the best fit for a province’s labour needs.

PNP Application Language Requirements

The language requirements for any of the streams in the PNP can vary. In general, the provinces nominate applicants who can integrate successfully into Canada. To this effect, applicants must be fluent in either English or French, depending on the stream. They’ll need to demonstrate their competence by taking any of the exams below:

  • IELTS
  • CELPIP
  • TCF Canada
  • TEF Canada

The first two tests are English-based, whereas the last two are used to measure foreigners’ French language skills. They evaluate an applicant’s capability to converse, write, and listen in the language.

Conclusion

Canada’s Provincial Nominee Program is not difficult to understand. With proper research and planning, foreign-born professionals can apply, get selected, and become part of the country’s permanent population. There’s so much more to Canada than the majestic snow-capped mountains and lakes. Those looking for a career upgrade can consider moving to Canada, particularly if they are competent and willing to settle down.

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World Bank Gives $300m Budget Support to Mozambique

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Mozambique

By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh

By June, the World Bank plans to provide $300 million to support the national budget of the Republic of Mozambique, according to the World Bank country director for Mozambique, Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough.

After a meeting with the Mozambican Minister of Economy and Finance, Max Tonela, the global lender’s country director said that priority sectors would include health, education, energy and agriculture. The budget support proposal will be presented to the World Bank board by June.

“We are talking about the first instalment of 300 million dollars, which we hope to take to our administration for approval by 30 June this year. Then we can consider other windows of financing for 2023 and 2024”, said Pswarayi-Riddihough.

International organizations and financial institutions have returned after the Government of Mozambique started to undertake necessary reforms.

In April, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) also returned with a set of new funded programmes to Mozambique, six years after the lender halted its previous deals in the wake of a financial scandal involving three fraudulent security-linked companies, and two banks – Credit Suisse and VTB of Russia, on the basis of illicit loan guarantees issued by the government under former President Armando Guebuza.

Popularly referred to as the “Hidden Debts” scandal involving $2.7 billion (€2.3 million), the financial scandal happened in 2013, and the case has since left an image of a corrupt country and brought high-level government officials to testify as witnesses in the controversial judicial trial. It prompted 14 foreign donors, including IMF, to cut off aid and simultaneously sparked a currency collapse and debt crisis.

The IMF said in a report that its funds would be used to support sustainable, inclusive economic growth and long-term macroeconomic stability, in the world’s third poorest country measured by gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. The programmes will address transparency in debt management and the natural resource sector.

Unlike many of Mozambique’s other partners, the World Bank did not cut off financial assistance entirely after the scandal of Mozambique’s “Hidden Debts” became public knowledge in April 2016. World Bank aid continued, but in relatively small amounts, project by project.

Now the bank seems prepared to return to the modality of direct budget support. Pswarayi-Riddihough said that the improvement in good governance supposedly recorded in recent years contributed to the resumption of World Bank support. She claimed that this was an important step toward regaining the trust of the country’s partners.

Major work had been undertaken around questions of transparency and good governance, she alleged – but admitted that Mozambican civil society is continuing to demand greater advances in these areas. Mozambique’s new programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), she added, could give a strong signal to the market. Indeed, it will send a strong signal to all of Mozambique’s partners.

The agreement between Mozambique and the IMF, approved by the IMF Executive Board, will make $456 million available to the country. An amount of $91 million will become available immediately. At the time, Tonela said the agreement with the IMF marked the start of a new phase, leading to the resumption of sustainable growth of the Mozambican economy.

With an approximate population of 30 million, Mozambique is endowed with rich and extensive natural resources but remains one of the poorest and most underdeveloped countries in the world. It is a member of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).

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