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Thursday, 14 June 2018
There's no way the transformational agenda and Industrialization history of Akwa Ibom State will be written without the name Udom Gabriel Emmanuel not boldly inscribed in gold. In just three years at the helm of affairs of the State, Governor Udom Emmanuel has come to symbolize industry, enterprise, resourcefulness, and ingenuity.
The remarkable transformation of the state from a hitherto civil service state to an emerging industrial hub is a testament to this administration's resolve and determination to leave a positive footprint in the sands of time.
On assuming office in May 29, 2015, the Governor made a promise to make his administration a gift to the citizens of the state by opening up the state to industrial growth and development, expand the economic activities within the state and create an enabling environment for investors to troop in and discover the hidden potentials the state has to offer to the outside world. 
Three years down the line, we've all witnessed the manifestation of this promises in different forms. It's only safe to say that from all indications, the Udom Emmanuel led administration has lived up to and even surpassed all expectations.
Agriculture is a leading sector of the economy of Nigeria and of the different states in the country. Agriculture supports over 75% of the population of Akwa Ibom. In the rural areas, the economy is agro-based. Akwa Ibom state is a hub for various agricultural products such as palm oil, cassava, yam, cocoyam, plantain, maize, rice, rubber, and many varieties of fish and other seafood.
The current administration came into power in a year where a majority of Nigerians experienced food shortages due to a multiplicity of factors ranging from a bad harvest year, and a dwindling purchasing power occasioned by the depreciating value of the Naira. Being a proactive government, the Udom administration quickly swung into action and declared a state of emergency in the agricultural sector. It saw the need to boost agricultural output to provide enough food for the teeming population of its citizenry and even for export. This led to an agricultural revolution across the state, a revolution that today has led to a significant improvement in food supply across the state.
Today, the state now boasts of the production of tomatoes, cucumber, and other cash crops for export. Also, with the Akwa Prime Hatchery and Poultry, located at Mbiaya, Uruan, the state is now poised to revolutionise the production and export of eggs and other dairy products. The Akwa Prime Hatchery produces 10,000-day old chickens per week.
To also diversify the economy of the state to wean Nigeria from reliance on oil, the Akwa Ibom State Government has also registered 4,920 rice farmers in the state who are producing rice for local consumption and sales to other parts of Nigeria and the West African Coast. The state is also boosting its comparative advantage in growing Cassava with the cultivation of at least 1,450 hectares of Cassava Plantation in 5 local governments. This is a seed multiplication scheme to provide free cassava stems to farmers in the three senatorial districts of the state. 
Animal production and husbandry is also part of the overall agricultural policy of the Udom Emmanuel led-administration. The government is working with the Carlos Farms, a Mexican group that is investing in massive commercial farms – both crops and animal production in Nigeria to develop ranches for Cow Production and processing of Cow Milk for dairy companies.
Cocoa is a commercial crop that the state has comparative production advantage. Governor Udom's administration has trained 450 youths in new methods of planting cocoa and other extension services to cocoa farmers in the state. There has been the establishment of Special Cocoa Maintenance Scheme (SCMS) for the training of farmers and youths on pruning/shade management, under brushing, and tree care by fumigation, to ensure the improvement of yields from 300 kilograms/hectare to 2000kg/ha over three years period. The government has undertaken the Zoning and mapping of the cocoa-producing communities in the State, and sensitization of cocoa farmers in the 24 cocoa producing local government areas in the State.
Furthermore, there has been the importation of 1000 bags of special cocoa fertilizer from Ghana for optimal yield. These 1000 bags were delivered to cocoa farmers in September 2016.
The foresight of Governor Udom has resulted in the procurement and establishment of 11,000 Hectare Coconut Plantation and Refinery Project in the state. This project is in partnership with VKS construction Nigeria Ltd. With 2 million stands of coconut planted, the plantation is the largest in the world and will feed raw materials to the coconut refinery. At full capacity, the refinery would process 300,000 coconuts per day. Virgin coconut oil is now a hot cake in the international market and would bring in much needed foreign exchange to Akwa Ibom and improve the economy of the state.
Other achievements in the Agric sector include:
•The Re-introduction of second planting season for enhanced food production and sufficiency 
•Refurbishment and upgrading of three 10mt/day cassava processing factories in the three Senatorial Districts of the state. 
• Extension of technical advisory services to about 350 sh farms in the State, as well as the cultivation of 300 hectares of cassava under the FADAMA III+ Financing Programme.
Currently, the state can boast of an enhanced food production capacity to feed its people and also for export. With all the investments in Agriculture, Akwa Ibom is poised to become the food basket of the South-south region and a major food hub in Nigeria, all thanks to the wonderful initiatives and Industrialization drive of the Udom-led administration.
Published in Agriculture
Ultra marathon runner Dean Wight is no stranger to crossing the finish line at the Comrades Marathon, in fact he’s done it 27 times. 
But this year was extra special. 
Wight was able to raise more than R280 000 for a charitable cause. According to the Comrades Marathon charity leader board, Wight has raised the most money for charity.  
"Some people run for personal endeavours… but to also run for a cause or a charity makes it worthwhile," Wight told News24.
His love for running started in 1979, as an 11-year-old boy.
He was inspired to take up running after finding out that his grandfather also enjoyed the sport and signed up for his first Comrades in 1988 when he was only 19.
The rest is history. 
Wight partnered with the Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust (HACT) as one of their ambassadors. HACT is one of six official Comrades Marathon charities. 
"[I chose HACT] because they are the only local charity. And I would never be able to give back to a charity that isn't local, because I need to be here to meet with the people and understand who I am raising money for."
HACT was started in 1990 in response to the emerging HIV/Aids pandemic.
The organisation offers prevention and treatment programmes, as well as a 24-bed respite unit. HACT's geographical focus is the Valley of a Thousand Hills in KwaZulu-Natal and surrounding areas.
"Hillcrest Aids Centre is a registered NPO. While we do what we can to maintain some form of economic sustainability, we rely very heavily on donations and grants from those who support us," CEO Candace Davidson told News24.
Davidson said Wight was "phenomenal" and that his contributions would go a long way. Wight initially committed to raising R100 000, but he quickly surpassed his target and upped the ante to R200 000.
Wight is part of a group of 73 runners who ran the race on behalf of HACT. Collectively they have raised close to R600 000 for the organisation.
Source: News24
Published in Opinion & Analysis
Thursday, 14 June 2018 10:18

Sipho Pityana to lead Business Unity SA

Sipho Pityana, businessman, Save SA convenor, and outspoken critic of former president Jacob Zuma, is set to take over as president of Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) later in June.
Pityana, the founder and chairman of black economic empowerment group Izingwe Capital, was unanimously nominated for election as president. He will take on his new role with effect from June 26, when the next AGM takes place, BUSA said in a statement on Tuesday. 
He will take over the reins from Eskom chairperson Jabu Mabuza, who served for two terms. Martin Kingston has been nominated to serve a second term as vice president. 
The new BUSA board and elected members will be ratified at the AGM.
"It’s an honour to be asked to serve the unified voice of business at such a critical time in our struggle for transformative inclusive economic growth, as we position our country to be a successful participant in the Fourth Industrial Revolution," Pityana said in a statement.
Pityana currently holds positions on various boards, including AngloGold Ashanti. He has held board positions at companies listed on the New York, London and Johannesburg stock exchanges, as well as unlisted companies.
He was the former chairperson of the National Students’ Financial Aid Scheme, or NFSAS, and is currently chairperson of Council of the University of Cape Town. He was also previously the chair of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution.
Pityana also has experience in government, having served as director-general of the Department of Foreign Affairs from 1999 to 2002. He was also director-general of the department of labour from 1995 to 1999.
He was one of the founders of the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) and the Council for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).
Pityana has served in a number of other business groupings. 
BUSA, in a statement, recognised Pityana's "strong sense of civic duty" which led him to form advocacy group Save SA, after revelations of state capture emerged. 
Other elected BUSA board members include Absa CEO Maria Ramos, Managing Director of the Banking Association of South Africa Cas Coovadia, and CEO of the Minerals Council of SA - previously known as the Chamber of Mines - Roger Baxter.
Speaking on his term of office, Mabuza said he was confident that he was leaving the organisation in a "stronger state", with business having a credible voice anchored by "constructive engagement" with social partners.
"It is critical for business to adopt a proactive and unified stance as it seeks to unlock value in the economy and address poverty, inequality and unemployment. I congratulate the incoming board under the leadership of Sipho," said Mabuza.  
Source: Fin24
Published in Business
Eskom’s ability to keep the lights on could be compromised with intimidation and road blockages "rife" at most of Eskom's power stations and regional offices on Thursday morning, according to a tweet by the power utility's spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe.
Phasiwe also tweeted that the power supply to Eskom's head office in Suninghill had "mysteriously" been cut off. Six power stations rely on local coal supply, and these will be the most affected by the delivery stoppages.
Disgruntled workers belonging to the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) are expected to hand over a memorandum to the parastatal’s management at the Sunninghill head office at lunchtime on Thursday, demanding 15% wage increases. The cash-strapped power utility has offered 0% wage hikes for the financial year. The parastatal's management team is holding an emergency meeting on Thursday morning to address the possibility of load shedding.
Phasiwe promised to provide regular updates on various media platforms. A placard circulating on social media warned workers against reporting for duty at Eskom during the one-day strike saying that people would be "subjecting" themselves to risk. However, Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi distanced the labour organisation from the threatening poster.
NUM spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu, meanwhile, said police on Wednesday nighht fired rubber bullets to disperse workers who were gathered outside the power stations in Kendal, Thuthuka, Hendrina and Arnot.
"The police are intimidating the workers, in what is an attempt to prevent the picket, one employee was shot in the eye by a rubber bullet outside Arnot power station." 
"The workers will be joining the picket despite the threats, they are determined to make our voices heard"  he said.
At a press briefing on Wednesday, Eskom CEO Phakamani Hadebe said that contingency plans were in place to keep the lights on during the one-day strike but cautioned there were no guarantees the power utility would be able to do this.
Labour federation the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) leaders met Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan on Wednesday afternoon, and they said he promised to call Eskom’s negotiators back to the table and up their offer, in order to avert a full-blown strike.
Source: Fin24
Published in Engineering

As a civil engineer I’m fascinated by predictions of who will win the FIFA World Cup finals in Russia, seeing that we use predictions on a regular basis in engineering. For the finals, there’s a wide variety of forecasts. In addition to armchair fans’ predictions, there are those by the seasoned football experts. Then there are the predictions based on betting tips.

In a completely different class are the quirky animal “predictions” that belong between inverted commas. The most famous was celebrated Paul the Octopus who correctly predicted the outcome of eight matches in the 2010 World Cup finals. This year, the oracle’s job has gone to Achilles, a deaf white cat from St Petersburg’s Hermitage museum in Russia. With 50 other cats, Achilles’s day job is to keep the museum free of rodents.

A vet who oversees Achilles explained why he was picked for the new soothsayer job:

We went for Achilles because he is beautiful, first of all, but also because — like all white cats with blue eyes — he is deaf, so he has a great deal of intuition, he sees with his heart.

Stable relationships

But it won’t only be Achilles who’ll be using intuition. When humans predict which team will lift the FIFA World Cup Trophy on 15 July at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, intuition will guide most of them. Will it be Germany or Brazil, perhaps Tunisia or Egypt? Intuitively Brazil or Germany seem better bets than Tunisia or Egypt.

Often our intuitions can be wrong as they are based on heuristics (rules of thumb) or biases (prejudices). Consider Egypt or Tunisia’s upcoming performance. Perhaps Egypt will do better: their superstar striker Mohamed Salah, who plays for Liverpool in the English Premier League, won 34 individual awards this season. They include the Premier League Golden Boot winner after scoring a record 32 goals in 36 league games. With him there, Egypt must therefore be a good team.

Less well known perhaps is that Tunisia are currently ranked 21st and Egypt 46th. Going for Egypt is an example of decisions that are based on what information readily comes to mind.

Professionals in my field of civil engineering make decisions about how structures behave when loaded. For example how an office block’s foundations will behave when loaded by users. This often requires using intuition to interpret data. Intuition is sometimes seen as unscientific but recent research has shown that it is often vital to making decisions.

Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman and psychologist Gary Klein suggest that intuitive expertise can only develop in environments in which there are stable relationships between identifiable cues and events.

Cues in football could be relative team rankings and events could be wins or losses. Cues in civil engineering could be material strengths and outcomes could be structures that do not fail. Individuals still require time to learn patterns in “high validity” environments, such as civil engineering, but judgements in such environments can often be trusted.

Do football outcomes show stable relationships? To find out, I collected official team rankings before the last five FIFA World Cups, along with game outcomes. Outcomes between similar ranked teams (ranking difference less than 11) are compared to outcomes between disparate teams (ranking difference greater than 11) in the figure below.

Outcomes at last 5 FIFA World Cups (Data: fifa.com, Analysis: Charles MacRobert)

The stronger (higher ranked) of similar ranked teams won 50%, drew 28% and lost 22% of games; for disparate teams the stronger team won 58%, drew 21% and lost 21% of games. Outcomes become marginally more predictable as the disparity between teams increases. However, it seems very difficult to accurately predict outcomes based on which teams were playing better before respective FIFA World Cups.

An argument can be made that using rankings does not take into account enough cues. In 2014 Goldman Sachs using a much larger pool of cues only managed to correctly predict 58% of knockout stage teams. Using the FIFA rankings before the 2014 FIFA World Cup would have predicted 64% of outcomes (the most predictable of the last five). Therefore using rankings seems an adequate metric.

How does this compare to predictions in civil engineering? Accepted norms are that building foundations are designed so that the annual probability of failure does not exceed 1%, but for large dams this figure is 0.01%. As the consequence of a large dam failing is much greater, the probability of this occurring must be lower. So engineers need to correctly predict 99% of building foundation outcomes and 99.99% of large dam outcomes.

Getting such low probabilities of failure takes considerable analysis. An important aspect of large dams constructed from earth is the stability of the earth embankment. A recent study showed that very experienced engineers could correctly predict the stability of a soil slope in 80% of cases without any calculations.

Less experienced engineers were only successful in 66% of cases and untrained students were successful in 49%. Students could increase their success rate to 64% after a training exercise.

But although fairly good predictions could be made purely on gut instinct, prudent engineers should not base designs purely on intuition. Even in engineering where there is sufficient regularity in the behaviour of structures, it is difficult to fully internalise the patterns presented between cues and outcomes. The ability to internalise patterns in sports outcomes is likely to be even harder.

Trust expert predictions?

So can we trust expert predictions of football outcomes? Perhaps, but football is very variable and placing too much faith in expert predictions may be unwise. With this disclaimer in place, a civil engineer’s prediction of outcomes will be made for the upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Using 20 000 simulations of the upcoming FIFA World Cup, based on the current FIFA rankings, the top 16 teams that could win are shown below along with the percentage of simulations won by each. Germany seem a better bet than Tunisia but remember the statistics show a large amount of variability.

Potential world cup winners (Data: fifa.com, Analysis: Charles MacRobert)

So pick a team you think will win, hope they sing their national anthem with passion, enjoy following their games and don’t be too disappointed when they lose. An analytical assessment of the results suggests this is the most intuitive approach.


Charles MacRobert, Lecturer in Civil Engineering, University of the Witwatersrand

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Published in Opinion & Analysis
  1. Opinions and Analysis


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