Items filtered by date: Thursday, 26 July 2018

South Africa invests eight times more in China than the other way around.

The $14.7 billion (R193 billion) in Chinese investments – which include loans to Transnet and Eskom – announced during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to South Africa this week, are dwarfed by South Africa’s investment in that country, which stood at just over $80 billion in 2016, according to a recent report compiled by Deloitte for the Department of Trade and Industry.

 
 

At that same time, China’s investment in South Africa was $10 billion.

Trade and industry minister Rob Davies pointed out this discrepancy this week during this Brics summit in Johannesburg, when he was asked whether the new Chinese investments would not “overcrowd” the South African market.

“We are in the situation where we welcome more,” Davies said. “Of course when they do invest we indicate that we are looking for productive activity and that we are looking for them to increase the value addition.” He also called for investment-led trade.

Naspers alone owns a $175 billion stake in Chinese internet start-up Tencent, while China’s major investment in South Africa is the recently-opened $840 million (R11 billion) BAIC vehicle plant in the Coega Industrial Development Zone

China is the most significant investor in South Africa out of the Brics countries, and its investments created on average 301 jobs per project. India was the second largest investor, with $61.2 million and an average of 135 jobs per project.

Between 2003 and 2017, Brics countries officially invested a total of $17.8 billion in 189 projects in South Africa, creating 36 852 jobs. In the last two years, however, the number of projects from these investments dropped to the levels it was at in the early 2000s.

South Africa held $82 billion in foreign investments in Brics in 2016, while Brics countries only held $11 billion in foreign investments in South Africa.

Investments from South Africa into Brics countries surged since South Africa became a Brics member in 2010.

South African investment in Brics countries as a whole grew from a net negative position of $261 million in 2001 to a net positive position of $71 billion fifteen years later.

This could be attributed to, amongst others, “an increased foreign expansion by South African firms and a considerable relaxation of exchange controls by monetary authorities in 2011 that allowed South African companies to invest much larger sums abroad,” according to the Deloitte report.

 

Source: The Business Insider

Published in Business
The United States of America has terminated funding to three Zimbabwean human rights and pro-democracy groups  weeks before an election, a move that analysts say could undermine the credibility of the country’s first post-Mugabe vote.
 
General elections are scheduled to be held in Zimbabwe on July 30 to elect the President and members of both houses of Parliament.
 
A U.S. embassy spokesman said the decision by USAID, Washington’s aid arm, to pull the plug followed a regular internal audit that uncovered “unusual activity” and “non-compliance” in the use of funds, without providing any details.
The affected groups are the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association, Counselling Services Unit (CSU), a health clinic that provides medical treatment to victims of police torture and abuse, and Election Resource Centre (ERC).
 
Alongside its broader voter education work, the ERC has been working on an independent audit of the July 30 election’s register of voters, a list that has been at the centre of vote-rigging allegations in the past.
 
The credibility of the voters roll and the election, eight months after the removal of long-time ruler Robert Mugabe in a de facto military coup, is crucial to establishing a government that is acceptable to the outside world.
 
Without that international seal of approval, Harare will be unable to patch up relations with the likes of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to access the large-scale funding it needs to get its moribund economy back on its feet.
 
“These organisations have played a really important watchdog role,” said Piers Pigou, a Zimbabwe analyst at the International Crisis Group, a think-tank.
 
“This has politicial implications.”
 
All three NGOs denied any wrong-doing and challenged USAID, saying it had acted unilaterally and without completing its investigations while denying the affected parties the right of reply and smearing them in the media.
 
“The blanket embassy statements, innuendo and allegations are deeply distressing to the board, staff and survivors of torture in Zimbabwe,” CSU said in a statement, adding that it would be opening its books to the public to prove its innocence.
 
The ERC said its audit of the voters’ roll had been affected although should still be concluded in time.
 
“We have just revised our timelines,” spokesman Tawanda Chimhini said.
 
“We remain on track to contribute towards a constitutional, credible, free and fair election.”
 
U.S. embassy spokesman David McGuire declined to comment on the specific allegations or the findings of the partial investigations.
 
He also denied that Washington was dabbling in domestic politics or guilty of undermining the vote.
 
“The timing obviously is unfortunate but when you’re looking at protecting your investments and you uncover wrong-doing, our philosophy is that you have to act swiftly,” he said.
 
He said the funding cuts were only a “small percentage” of Washington’s annual $225 million aid package.
 
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who succeeded 94-year-old Mugabe after November’s military intervention, is expected to win a close vote.
 
 
 
Source: PrimeNews
Published in World
Its average price for a megabyte of data declined 17.1% in the months of April, May, and June, Vodacom reported in quarterly results Tuesday morning – and it is very happy with that steep decline.
 
The drop was largely because of its push to sell more personalised data bundles on its "Just 4 You" platform, the company said, and it continues to push such bundles aggressively.
 
"Just 4 You" uses big data and machine learning to offer customers bundles tailored around their behaviour.
 
As its data became cheaper, its customers bought 32.2% more data bundles, Vodacom said, which ultimately saw its data revenues increase by nearly 10%, the big drop in price notwithstanding.
 
Vodacom reported much the same effect in its last full year of earnings: lower bundle prices, more bundles sold, and higher revenue.
 
And it expects that trend to continue, despite the new data roll-over rules from the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) that its peers are still fighting in court.
 
Icasa's End-User and Subscriber Service Charter Regulations on out-of-bundle data usage should have "a modest impact on data revenue growth" Vodacom said.
 
"We expect this to be mitigated in the short term by continued uptake of data bundles and strong elasticity in demand for these services."
 
By Vodacom's latest count it has some 43 million customers in South Africa, but only a little under 20.5 million of those use any data of any kind. Its numbers are roughly the same elsewhere in Africa as a whole: half its active customers do not yet pay for data.
 
The Icasa regulations require cellphone companies to allow customers to roll over unused data before it expires, or to transfer it to someone else. The rules also forbid companies from automatically defaulting customers to out-of-bundle data use (typically hugely more expensive than in-bundle data) once a bundle is depleted.
 
The implementation of the rules were suspended after Cell C, with support from MTN, went to court to challenge them. 
 
 
 
Source: Business Insider
 
 
Published in Business
The Federal Executive Council of Nigeria(FEC) on Wednesday approved an additional N122.2million for the completion of Mangu Dam in Plateau.
 
The Minister of Water Resources, Alhaji Suleiman Adamu disclosed this when he addressed State House correspondents at the end of the Council’s meeting which was presided over President Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
 
Adamu said that the approval followed memo submitted to the council for the augumentation of the revised estimated total cost for the completion of the dam project which was started in 2012.
 
“The council considered a memo for the augumentation of what we call the revised estimated total cost for the completion of Mangu water supply project in Plateau state, this project was started in 2012 and between 2014 and 2018 there was no budgetary allocation.
 
“One of the projects that we considered a medium priority after we conducted a technical audit of all abandoned and ongoing project in water resources in mid-2016.
 
“The project has attained 85 per cent completion. Thanks to the effort of the contractors who have continued to work at some points without payment.
 
“After taking so long and in view of the inflation indices, there was a need to augment the project with N122.2 million to bring the project from initial cost of N855.49 million to N977.7million,’’ he said.
 
The minister expressed optimism that with an additional completion period of six months, the project would be completed soon.
 
Adamu also revealed that he presented a report of the international conference on Lake Chad which took place in February.
 
“You are aware that the conference was attended by President Muhammadu Buhari and presidents of the member states of Lake Chad as well as representatives from Angola and president of Gabon.
 
“We had over 1200 participants,’’ he added.
 
The minister stated that an Action Plan arising from the recommendation of the conference had been developed.
 
“Following the conference, we have developed an action plan arising from the recommendation of the conference which we have started implementing.
 
“Obviously because of the queuing process of many memos and reports, we were able to present the report to the cabinet today.
 
“Many presidents have always been abreased on the issues and updates on what we are doing on the proposed inter basin project which was the highlight of the conference whereby there was consensus to save Lake Chad from extinction.
 
“And there was a consensus that the inter basin water transfer from Congo basin is the most viable option that we have at the moment. We have an estimate of 14.5billion dollars.
 
The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, who also addressed the correspondents on the outcome of the meeting, said he presented two memos to the Council for approval.
 
He said that N103million was approved by the council for the purchase of medical and laboratory equipment for Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
 
“The next one is we awarded a contract to a consultant to help in the implementation of the International Organisations for the ISO 9000, and the council approved it for us at the total sum of N238.5million,’’ he added.
 
 
 
Source: PMNEWSNIGERIA
Published in Engineering

Fake news is on the upsurge as Zimbabwe gears up for its watershed elections on 30 July. Mobile internet and social media have become vehicles for spreading a mix of fake news, rumour, hatred, disinformation and misinformation.

This has happened because there are no explicit official rules on the use of social media in an election.

Coming soon after the 2017 military coup that ended Robert Mugabe’s 37 years in power, these are the first elections since independence without his towering and domineering figure. They are also the first elections in many years without opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who died in February.

The polls therefore potentially mark the beginning of a new order in Zimbabwe. The stakes are extremely high.

For the ruling Zanu-PF, the elections are crucial for legitimising President Emmerson Mnangagwa (75)‘s reign, and restoring constitutionalism. The opposition, particularly the MDC-Alliance led by Tsvangirai’s youthful successor, Nelson Chamisa (40), views the elections as a real chance to capture power after Mugabe’s departure.

The intensity of the fight has seen the two parties use desperate measures in a battle for the hearts and minds of voters. They have teams of spin-doctors and “online warriors” (a combination of bots, paid or volunteering youths) to manufacture and disseminate party propaganda on Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp.

Known as Varakashi, (Shona for “destroyers”) Zanu-PF’s “online warriors” are pitted against the MDC’s “Nerrorists (after Chamisa’s nickname, “Nero”) in the unprecedented online propaganda war to discredit each other.

Besides the fundamental shifts in the Zimbabwean political field, the one thing that distinguishes this election from previous ones is the explosion in mobile internet and social media. Information is generated far more easily. It also spreads much more rapidly and widely than before.

What’s happening in the run-up to the polls should be a warning for those responsible for ensuring the elections are credible.

Seeing is believing

Images shared on social media platforms have become a dominant feature in the spread of fake news ahead of the elections. Both political parties have used doctored images of rallies from the past, or from totally different contexts, to project the false impression of overwhelming support.

Supporters of the MDC-Alliance, which shares the red colour with South Africa’s Economic Freedom Fighters EFF, have been sharing doctored images of EFF rallies – and claiming them as their own – to give the impression of large crowds, according to journalists I interviewed in Harare.

Doctored documents bearing logos of either government, political parties or the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission are being circulated on social media to drive particular agendas. Examples include:

  • A purported official letter announcing the resignation of the president of the newly formed National Patriotic Front.

  • The circulation of a fake sample of a ballot paper aimed at discrediting the electoral commission, and

  • A sensational claim that Chamisa had offered to make controversial former first Lady Grace Mugabe his vice president if he wins.

A number of these fake images and documents have gained credibility, after they were picked up as news by the mainstream media. This speaks to the diminishing capacity of newsrooms to verify information from social media, in the race to be first with the news.

And, contrary to electoral guidelines for public media partisan reporting continues unabated. The state media houses are endorsing Mnangagwa while the private media largely roots for the MDC-Alliance.

Explosion of the internet

These are the first elections in a significantly developed social media environment in Zimbabwe. Mobile internet and social media have been rapidly growing over the years.

Internet penetration has increased by 41.1% (from 11% of the population to 52.1%) between 2010 and 2018, while mobile phone penetration has risen by 43.8% from 58.8% to 102.7% over the same period.

That means half the population now has internet access, compared to 11% in 2010.

Ideally, these technologies should be harnessed for the greater good – such as voter education. Instead, they are being used by different interest groups in a way that poses a great danger to the electoral process. This can potentially cloud the electoral field, and even jeopardise the entire process.

A good example are the attacks on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, which has become a major target of fake news. These attacks threaten to erode its credibility as a neutral arbiter. For example, an app bearing its logo, prompting users to “click to vote”, went viral on WhatsApp. But, responding to the prompt led to a message congratulating the user on voting for Mnangagwa, suggesting that the supposedly independent electoral body had endorsed the Zanu-PF leader.

Numerous other unverified stories have also been doing the rounds on social media, labelling the voters’ roll “shambolic”. This, and claims of bias against it, have forced the commission to persistently issue statements refuting what it dismisses as “fake news”.

Events in Zimbabwe and elsewhere on the continent point to the need for measures to guard against the abuse of social media, and bots to subvert democratic processes. There’s also a need for social media literacy to ensure that citizens appreciate the power the internet gives them - and to use it responsibly.

 

Dumisani Moyo, Associate Professor, Department of Journalism, Film and Television, and Vice Dean Faculty of Humanities, University of Johannesburg

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

Published in Economy

The chairman/chief executive officer of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote has called on federal government of Nigeria to adopt Ethiopia's mass housing model in a bid to address the over 17 million housing deficit in the country.

Dangote also said he supported the proposed restructuring and N500bn recapitalisation of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) for effective service delivery. He stated this when he visited the bank's headquarters in Abuja alongside the chairman/ chief executive officer of BUA Group, Alhaji Abdulsamad Isyaku Rabiu on ways to boost affordable social housing delivery for Nigerians.

The Africa's richest man commended FMBN for the renewed aggressive drive to provide affordable housing for Nigerians. Dangote assured that his company is ready to collaborate with FMBN towards reducing the housing deficit by increasing the tempo and scale of social housing provision across the country.

According to him, "Count me as a friend of FMBN because we are open to collaboration and willing to support the good works that your bank is doing towards ensuring the provision of affordable housing to medium and low income earners in Nigeria".

Also speaking, chairman, BUA Group of companies, Alhaji Abdul Samad Isyaku Rabiu stated that he is committed to a close partnership with FMBN.

Responding, the FMBN board chairman, Dr. Adewale Adeeyo lauded the support and partnership of the companies towards the development of the sector.

Published in Economy
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