Mar 17, 2015

Namibia is home to more than 40 Chinese companies that are making about 4.6 billion U.S. dollars per year, Chinese Ambassador to Namibia Xin Shunkang has said.

Xin said all the companies employ more than 6,000 Namibians. He said currently, the value of Chinese companies' investments in Namibia is about 3 billion U.S. dollars. China and Namibia signed the Reciprocal Investment and Protection Agreement in August 2005, while a Foreign Investment Act is yet to be brought before the Namibian parliament.

Xin said the embassy encourages Chinese companies to increase their investment, deepen cooperation with local companies, and employ more local people.

So far, he said the Chinese Embassy has been involved in skills development, taking various measures to help with skills development for Namibians, especially the youth. Ambassador Xin mentioned workshops on health, management, agriculture and media as among those China has been involved in and where more than 100 Namibians took part.

He further said they also offer scholarships to Namibians through the Ministry of Education to study in China. As part of skills transfer, China is involved in the construction of the Namibian Youth Training Centre at Grootfontein about 460 kilometres from the capital Windhoek.

In 2011 and 2012, Chinese investments in Namibia grew by 179 million U.S. dollars, while by the end of 2013, China's total investment in Namibia stood at 3.9 billion U.S. dollars. Most of the investments are concentrated in the mining and manufacturing sectors. Late last year, Ambassador Xin in another interview said China was discussing the construction of a railway line between Tsumeb and the port harbour of Walvis Bay that was estimated to cost more than 500 million U.S. dollars.

"A Chinese company is in discussions with the Ministry of Works and Transport to build a railway (line) from Tsumeb to Walvis Bay. It will transport cargo and passengers. "The issue was how to raise the funds. The Ministry had the budget, but it could not release the funds on time. "However, the Chinese company said that was not an issue; they could provide the funds to start the construction, and the Namibian Government could repay at a later time," he was quoted saying then.

China was also considering building a modern highway for Namibia connecting Hosea Kutako International Airport with Katutura, Windhoek's sprawling township, to improve the local traffic infrastructure. Ambassador Xin said this project was expected to cost more than 100 million U.S. dollars. "In China we have a saying: If you want to be rich, it's better to build a road. When people connect with each other, they acquire new ideas," he said.

According to Xin, the Chinese government was working on at least 10 new projects for Namibia, spanning various sectors such as transport, education and health. "In line with the Agreement on Bilateral Economic and Technological Cooperation, China provided Namibia with free aid of 29 million U.S. dollars in 2013 and 16 million dollars to date this year," the ambassador noted.

By far the most prominent milestone in Chinese investment came in the form of the joint venture between Chinese state-owned company China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGNPC) and Namibian state-owned mining company Epangelo Mining, with Epangelo' s acquisition of a stake in the Husab Uranium mine.

With CGNPC's total long-term investment of 5 billion U.S. dollars, Husab Mine will make Namibia the second largest uranium producer in the world, providing 2,000 permanent jobs and 4,000 temporary jobs while contributing at least 5 percent to the Namibian GDPgrowth.

Chinese companies are also planning to invest in maize and tobacco farming in the Zambezi region.

"The environment in Zambezi is very good and the land is fertile. The companies are now doing the preparatory work. Once the project starts, it will create jobs for 5,000 young people," the ambassador stated.

 

Credit: Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (Beijing) 

 

Mar 16, 2015

The Finance Minister, Seth Tekper has announced that government’s spending for this year will be cut by GH¢1.5billion due to the expected decline in oil and tax revenue.

Government had earlier planned to spend GH¢41million but has been forced to cut down the expenditure to GH¢39.7billion following the dramatic drop in crude oil prices and challenges in the domestic business environment.

As a result, spending on capital projects and goods and services will all be reduced in an attempt to bring the budget deficit within a new target of 7.5 percent, up from the initial target of 6.5 percent of GDP. Subsequently, the budget deficit will now drift away from the initial target of GH¢8.8billion to GH¢10billion in the face of an expected shortfall in government’s revenue of GH¢3.1billion.

According to Mr. Tekper, total grants and revenue are now estimated at GH¢29.7billion as the global business environment and domestic conditions are not favourable to government’s expectations.

“The fall in crude oil prices -- as well as the current energy situation and rapid depreciation of the cedi in 2014 -- could also have a negative impact on overall output. As a result, it is considered that taxes on domestic goods and services as well as non-oil taxes on income and property could be lower than what the 2015 Budget estimated by GH¢358.7million.

“Due to these factors, total domestic revenue for 2015 is now expected to be GH¢27.8billion, resulting in a shortfall of GH¢3.1billion. “Based on these expected changes in total revenue and grants as well as total expenditure and arrears, the fiscal deficit for 2015 is estimated to be GH¢10billion (7.5 percent of GDP), up from the 2015 Budget target of GH¢8.8billion (6.5 percent of GDP),” he said.

Mr. Tekper, who sounded worried on the floor of Parliament when presenting a statement on implications of the fall in crude oil prices on the 2015 budget -- amidst heckling and jeering from the opposition NPP due to lapses in procedures for the presentation -- is optimistic the impact of falling crude oil prices will be weakened by expected inflows of grants from development partners following the agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a fund programme.

He said despite the expected drop in oil revenue from GH¢4.2billion to GH¢1.5billion, the effect of IMF oversight on government’s spending will result in an increase in grants, which hitherto was not expected.

“A factor that is expected to minimise the impact of the decline in crude oil prices is enhancement of grant disbursements following the staff-level agreement reached with the IMF. Our development partners have pledged to disburse additional grants totalling GH¢381.1million to fund programmes in the 2015 Budget. Therefore, on a more positive note this could result in an increase in the estimate for grant disbursements from GH¢1.6billion to GH¢1.9billion,” he added.

Mr. Tekper said government has further taken steps to continue strengthening the Public Financial Management system and deepening structural reforms in the public sector as part of the overall objective of ensuring transparent and accountable economic governance.

He told the House that, as noted in the 2015 Budget, the weaning-off of some subvented agencies from government payroll has begun, saying: “Three agencies -- namely the Energy Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Authority (DVLA), which have the capacity to be financially independent based on their Internally Generated Funds (IGFs) -- have been identified for weaning-off this year.

 

Credit: B&FT

 

“Nine other agencies are being reviewed for implementation in subsequent years.”

Mar 16, 2015
  • Jacques Matthysen photographed the heart-warming moment at Kariega Game Reserve in South Africa
  • It occurred as a herd of nearly 30 elephants playfully chased each other and rolled around on the floor
  • Mr Matthysen, the reserve's photographer, said the elephants' affectionate behaviour took him by surprise
Photographer Jacques Matthysen said two young elephants locked trunks, like humans would hold hands, in a touching embrace

This is the heart-warming moment two young African elephants locked trunks in a touching embrace that was caught on camera. The very public display of human-like affection was photographed by Jacques Matthysen at the Kariega Game Reserve, east of Port Elizabeth, South Africa. It occurred while a herd of nearly 30 elephants playfully chased each other and rolled around on the floor at the popular tourist destination.

Jacques, who works as a photographer for the reserve, said he is used to seeing the young elephants act in a playful manner, but their affectionate behaviour took him by surprise. As Jacques and a group of visitors looked on, two of the elephants stopped chasing each other and entwined their trunks in a loving gesture. At one point it appeared as if they were ‘kissing’.

The 37-year-old photographer said: ‘The mood in the herd seemed “excited”. We moved out to a safer distance - about 50 metres (164ft) - away when one of the younger bulls, about eight years of age, started chasing a younger bull.

The heart-warming moment occurred as a herd of nearly 30 elephants playfully chased each other and rolled around on the floor

What we first thought to be aggression, turned out to be all playfulness. ‘Soon a number of younger bulls and cows started to play around. They pushed, head butted and rolled onto each other for quite a few minutes. ‘Soon after, it looked like they were embracing each other, with gentle touches to the faces with their trunks.’Jacques Matthysen, the game reserve's photographer, said the elephants' affectionate behaviour caught him by surprise

He said two of the elephants locked trunks like humans would hold hands. ‘I quickly focused my camera on them, to capture the “loving” moment.

‘I am very happy with the sighting and images. This just shows us how these giants, that can be so dangerous and so aggressive, can in fact be so gentle and loving animals.’ 

 

Source: Daily Mail Online(UK)

Mar 14, 2015

 is set to cease distribution in South Africa. The range on sale domestically comprises the Sirion hatchback, the Terios small sports utility vehicle and the Gran Max bakkie.

Imperial Daihatsu, the importer of the Japanese brand, will cease selling new vehicles in the local market by the end of March, but not of its own volition, says Imperial Daihatsu GM Pedro Pereira.

“The decision to stop selling Daihatsus in South Africa was taken by the original-equipment manufacturer. “We, as the importers, have done really well with the brand and would have loved to continue distributing Daihatsus in South Africa.”

Pereira says the Japanese manufacturer’s decision to halt distribution in South Africa has been influenced by a decision to move away from Western markets in favour of Asian markets.

“Daihatsu pulled out of Europe, Australia and New Zealand a few years ago, and now it is our turn.” According to a statement by Daihatsu, the move to pull out of Europe in 2013 was the result of “increasing development costs to comply with regulations in Europe, such as those related to carbon dioxide emissions, and the appreciation of the yen against the euro, which have had a negative impact on business results and made selling vehicles manufactured in Japan by Daihatsu no longer viable”. Pereira says the decision was taken to streamline operations and focus on specific areas of business.

Pereira says Imperial Daihatsu has signed a service and after-sales contract with Daihatsu in Japan, which will allow it to honour warranty, service and parts supply obligations in South Africa.

“Customers will be able to continue servic-ing at the same dealers where they serviced in the past.” According to the Imperial Daihatsu website, the brand was on sale at around 50 dealers in South Africa. Pereira does not want to divulge the number of Daihatsus on South African roads.

He says the staff at Daihatsu’s head office will move to other brands within Imperial, which is a multibrand importer. “The staff at the dealerships will be absorbed into our multifranchise dealerships.”

 

Source: 

Mar 13, 2015
Last year, Hapro earned a total export turnover of US$281 million to more than 70 countries and territories. — Photo Landtoday

Ha Noi Trade Corporation (hapro) has make every effort to expand its export market to Africa, mostly focusing on Angola and Mozambique.

In addition, Hapro will also expand its exports to other markets like Cuba and Myanmar. It plans to export major products such as pepper, cashews, rice, handicrafts and consumer goods to these countries.

Hapro CEO Nguyen Huu Thang said his corporation would spur investment in infrastructure facilities and export activities with the aim of raising the production capacity at its satellite manufacturing companies.

Last year, Hapro earned a total export turnover of US$281 million to more than 70 countries and territories. 

 

Credit: VNS

Mar 13, 2015

African Nations have agreed to interconnect their national electricity grids by the end of 2020, officials said on Thursday. 

Head of New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) Mosad Elmissiry told Xinhua in Nairobi that the continent's four regional power corridors will be the building blocs of the pan Africa power grid.

"When connected it create a continent-wide power market that will enable countries with surplus energy to sell to those with power deficits," Elmissiry said on the sidelines of the National Workshop for the Validation of the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative. Elmissiry said it will allow for the generation of power from areas where it is economically viable and sell to those areas with power shortages. Africa has the North-South, West, Central and the North power grids.

He said the North-South power corridor which will link South Africa's power grid to Egypt power grid could the first power pool to be linked. "Connections between Kenya and Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, Egypt and Sudan are at advanced stages of being commissioned," he stated.

The NEPAD official said that power interconnection will be done mainly through the bilateral agreements. "We are optimistic that the continent will be linked, even though the region has 54 states," he said.

The continent currently generates approximately 120,000 MW of power with the South Africa and Egypt as the biggest producers. He added that the Democratic Republic of Congo's(DRC) Inga Hydro electric power project which has the potential to produce 40, 000 MW of power, is the cheapest source of energy in the continent.

It is currently producing less than 1,000 MW of power but the DRC government is planning to produce 4,500 MW in the next five years. Elmissiry said that the African Union Heads of states have committed to generate an additional 15,000 MW of power in the next five years.

 

Source: Xinhua

Mar 13, 2015

A low-cost airline has confirmed what has been rumored for some time, that they will lease a Bombardier Q400NextGen aircraft and begin serving additional domestic routes their present fleet of Boeing B737-300s is unable to fly to due to runway and other restrictions.

Jambojet, the low-cost carrier and subsidiary of Kenya Airways, only launched operations on April 1 of last year and has during their first year of operations transported more than half a million passengers, many of them first-time flyers.

The airline’s management has been considering making a move to use a smaller aircraft for some time now to more comprehensively serve Kenya’s domestic destinations.

Sources from the tourism industry were upbeat when it became known that Lamu, Malindi and Ukunda would be served from March 28 onwards, in time for the Easter holiday season. Said a regular Nairobi based source:

“That will help us beat those damned travel advisories, because passengers destined for Diani can now fly to Ukunda directly from Nairobi, after they have cleared customs and immigration. In fact, passengers from even the region can now book their flight to Ukunda without using a taxi from JKIA [Jomo Kenyatta International Airport] to Wilson Airport. I hope that the Jambojet flights will be linked to Kenya Airways flights from say Entebbe or Kigali so that expats can get to their resorts without using the Likoni ferry. Last week it was again utter chaos when some ferries did not report for work. It is a bottleneck for us Kenyans and not a good welcome or goodbye for tourists when they are stuck at the ferry for hours.”

Other coast-based stakeholders were equally swift to welcome the new services, and Lamu and Malindi, which have suffered from lack of enough accessibility by air in the past, will no doubt benefit.

At the same time, a source close to Kenya Airways has also confirmed that the Q400 will also be deployed on the routes from Nairobi to Eldoret and Kisumu, where frequent complaints about flight delays in the past raised the attention of the Kenyan national assembly two weeks ago.

Willem Hondius, Jambojet’s CEO, went on record earlier today when he said: “We have chartered this aircraft to complement our current fleet of three Boeing 737 planes which are serving the existing routes. However, the Q400 will also be utilized on Kisumu and Eldoret in order to improve services on these two routes. Lamu and Malindi are leading tourism destinations, globally acclaimed for their pristine beaches and unique cultural sites. Ukunda, also known as Diani, has an airstrip serving Kenya’s busy south coast tourism circuit. By flying to these destinations, Jambojet will be hoping to tap the anticipated increase in traffic especially to Lamu where the government plans to construct a $5 billion port.”

There is now growing speculation in aviation circles that the use of the Bombardier Q400 on the routes to Eldoret and Kisumu will free at least one B737-300 aircraft which may sooner rather than later be re-deployed on regional routes for which Jambojet was given route rights from the Kenyan Civil Aviation Authority, including such destinations like Entebbe, Kigali, Juba, and Dar es Salaam among others.

 

Source: ETN Global Travel News

Mar 12, 2015
AP Pic

Zimbabwe is planning to merge all diamond mining companies, including the local unit of Rio Tinto, into one big firm in which the state will own half of the shares, the minister of mines said on Thursday.

President Robert Mugabe's government is pursuing a black economic empowerment programme, known locally as indigenisation, that requires foreign-owned companies, including mines, to sell 51 percent of their shares to black Zimbabweans. The government had previously said it wanted to merge some of the diamond companies operating in the Marange area to the east of the southern African country, in which it already owns half the shares, to enhance transparency.

But mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa told a committee of parliament that all the mines would be merged, including Rio Tinto's Murowa diamond mine in south-central Zimbabwe.

"We are very clear, this is a regulatory matter and we have said to them the only way you can participate in diamond mining in Zimbabwe is by being in this company," he said.

Rio Tinto owns 78 percent of Murowa mine, which last year increased diamond output by 7 percent to 344,000 carats. Chidhakwa said the government would use the value of the companies equipment to determine their shareholding. Companies that did not want to merge would be given compensation and allowed to leave, he said.

Zimbabwe last year earned $396 million, down from $456 million the previous year, according to central bank data.

 

Source: Reuters

Mar 12, 2015

Nigeria and South Africa have a vibrant motion picture industry. While Nigeria boasts of an industry that is reputed as the third largest movie producing country in the world, South Africa has a growing film and an established television industry that has produced contents that have been widely applauded. But unlike the Nigerian motion picture industry, which only recently started to enjoy government incentives especially financial incentives, the South African motion picture industry has for long been enjoying tremendous government support in terms of incentives.

In fact South Africa has a long established policy to support motion picture practice. There are various grants, access to locations as well as distribution and marketing opportunities that are open to South African motion picture practitioners.

The provision of such incentives by government makes co-production between countries crucial. But sadly government and practitioners of both countries have not exploited the potential for co-production that exist. Industry analyst say they still cannot explain why Nigeria and South Africa, that are regarded as countries with the largest economies in the continent of Africa and that have shown so much interest in the development of the motion picture industry, have not taken advantage of the existing incentives that are beneficial to each country's industry to enter into a co-production agreement.

But South Africa is even better off than Nigeria in terms of opening up their industry and paving way for their practitioners to share their creative expertise with practitioners of other countries. While South Africa has co-production agreements with countries like Canada, Australia, Britain and France, Nigeria has not entered into any co-production agreement with any country and the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC) the government agency responsible for the growth and development doesn't think it should lead the industry to seek the enhancement of cooperation between Nigeria and other countries in the area of film.

At least they made some effort to enter into some co-production agreement when the filmmaker Afolabi Adesanya was Managing Director, but the NFC under its present leadership has been so docile that analyst wonder whether those at the NFC know exactly what their core mandate is.

It is true that the NFC has been building capacity through the National Film Institute (NFI) which they run and they have also been signing all sorts of Memorandum of understanding, but observers maintain that what the NFC has been spending so much time and resources on, is not all to developing the industry. They seriously think that the NFC must rise above hosting a biennial film festival and hosting periodic film week programmes in Jos to seeking avenues that will facilitate creative and economic exchanges between Nollywood practitioners and practitioners of other countries.

They think that Nigeria is too ripe to have a couple of co-production treaties that will enable practitioners of both countries tap from promotion funds that are available.

But the South African's are desirous of a co-production agreement with Nigeria in the area of film. They want an exchange that will contribute to the enhancement of relations between Nigeria and South Africa in the area of film. And to kick start the process, the Kwazulu Natal Film Commission has invited a high profile Nigerian delegation comprising notable practitioners like Mahmood Ali-Balogun, Kunle Afolayan, Emem Isong, Madu Chikwendu, Kene Mkparu, Chioma Ude to Kwazulu-Natal, in Durban, South Africa on a fact finding mission aimed at exploring how best to take advantage of the opportunities that exist in both industries.

The Kwazulu-Natal Film Commission is a provincial state entity falling under the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs in the province of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa and its Chief Operating Officer Jackie Motsepe disclosed that the four-day visit (March 10 to 14, 2015) would afford delegates the opportunity to see what South Africa has to offer in terms of location, infrastructure incentives and production.

 

Credit: The Guardian Nigeria

Mar 12, 2015

Bigen Africa Services, a leading infrastructure development company with a strong base in southern Africa, has selected Project Portfolio Office (PPO), a locally developed online project portfolio management (PPM) and collaboration software suite, to administer its entire spectrum of projects.

South African project consultancy company, CoLAB Project Implementation, was responsible for automating Bigen Africa Services' project delivery capability using PPO.

Specialising in civil, structural and electrical engineering, management consulting and project finance solutions, Bigen Africa Services required both a platform to automate the navigation of its project capability methodologies, and the ability to allow for project collaboration and integrated project reporting.

According to Guy Jelley, Project Portfolio Office CEO, PPO provides users with a visual, interactive view of the programme, project and governance framework, methodology and life cycle.

"Based on the process being defined in PPO," he explains, "you‘re able to manage, monitor and track the required governance. Its functionalities include the ability to use PMBoK, PRINCE2 or any customised methodology, plus it allows for governance monitoring and compliance checks to be performed during the project life cycle. Importantly, it supports multiple methodologies based on type, size and client."

A broad range of users, including project managers, project office staff, project administrators, project sponsors and owners, project team members, company executives and management, as well as suppliers, third-party contractors and partners, will utilise the project portfolio management capabilities of PPO to automate all facets of Bigen Africa Services' projects, and to ensure these are housed in one easy-to-manage repository.

"The objective is to utilise the collaboration and reporting capability of PPO over time as our project environment matures," says Don Sutton, principal at Bigen Africa Services.

He adds that Bigen Africa Services chose CoLAB Project Implementation based on the project consultancy's proven track record and its practical approach to developing solutions across industries.

"CoLAB has automated Bigen Africa Services' project delivery capability on PPO, allowing all project stakeholders to engage with Bigen Africa Services' methodology and delivery capability in a simplified and easy-to-access way," says Barend Cronjé, CEO at CoLAB Project Implementation.

"The life cycle within PPO has proven to be extremely useful to many of our clients. Project stakeholders can engage their project methodologies, templates and tools effortlessly, resulting in consistent project delivery. Project capability maturity needs a starting platform for improvement, and PPO offers a fantastic mechanism for achieving this."

"We are impressed with the functionality that PPO offers," says Sutton. Significantly, PPO is built on a per-user subscription model based on the number of subscribed users.

"Our subscription fees are based on the simple premise that extra benefits are derived from a more inclusive policy," says Jelley. "PPO is thus priced as a tool not just for project managers, but also for all project resources. The SaaS, or on-demand, model is a much more practical alternative to traditional on-premises solutions. The benefits of the SaaS model include greater responsibility, lower cost, quicker implementation, lower risk, greater customers and lower maintenance."

 

Credit: ITWEB

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