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Feb 26, 2015

Following the Budget speech it is clear that public and private partnership is necessary to fast track our efforts to create jobs and drive economic growth. One of the ways we can fast track this process is by creating circular economies.

Through REDISA’s (Recycling and Economic Initiative of South Africa) collaboration with government on the one hand, and tyre manufacturers and importers on the other, REDISA has in 18 months  helped create over 1 600 new jobs and is working with 162 small businesses.” - REDISA Director, Stacey Davidson

A few days ago, StatsSA released the employment figures for the last quarter of 2014.The report shows that there are now 15,3 million people who are employed in South Africa.This indicates that jobs grew by two hundred and three thousand. It is clear that our government, through the National Development Plan (NDP) is working to boost economic growth and create much needed jobs.

One of the ways we can fast track this process is by creating circular economies. A circular economy is an alternative to a traditional linear economy in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible.

For example in the tyre industry, it means re-using, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products. In other words, what used to be regarded as ‘waste’ can be turned into a resource and reintroduced into the economy.

By involving all stakeholders, government and private sector, the REDISA tyre industry circular economy model is working: tyre manufacturers and importers are taking responsibility for their waste without losing sight of focusing on their core business; unemployed people are finding gainful employment, SMMEs are being developed and supported by the REDISA Plan, and the environmental disaster that waste tyres represent is being economically and effectively addressed.

Without legislation by the Department of Environmental Affairs implementing the REDISA Plan would never have been possible, and the success would never have happened. While the circular economy is growing, it is happening at a slow pace. If the circular economy is to become more widespread, we must look at all industries to see how through innovation and cooperation we can double our efforts. 


Credit: REDISA Director, Stacey Davidson


Feb 25, 2015
Johannesburg's old mine dumps are being retreated

According to the latest annual global survey released Tuesday by Canadian think tank the Fraser Institute, South Africa has fallen out of the top ten mining investment destinations on the continent and dropped 11 places to 67th globally.

The institute's Annual Survey of Mining Companies 2014, rates 122 jurisdictions around the world based on their geologic appeal and the extent to which government policies encourage exploration and investment.

"While it is useful to measure the attractiveness of a jurisdiction based on policy factors such as onerous regulations, taxation levels, the quality of infrastructure and so forth, investment decisions are often based on the pure mineral potential of a jurisdiction. Indeed respondents consistently indicate that roughly only 40% of their investment decision is determined by policy factors," according to the report.

An unprecedented five-month wage strike by platinum mine workers dragged growth down to 1.5% for the year

The survey covers Central African Republic, Egypt, Lesotho, Mauritania, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda for the first time, but it's at the top of the rankings that trends are most visible. And it's not encouraging for the continent's long-time stalwart. South Africa is ranked the 11th most attractive African destination for investment in the resources sector behind the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Troubles in the mining sector is also reflected in the country's broader economic performance. 

GDP growth in 2014 was the lowest for South Africa in five years. An unprecedented five-month wage strike by platinum mine workers, followed by another prolonged strike by more than 220,000 metalworkers and engineers, dragged growth down to 1.5% for the year.

Rolling electricity blackouts (or load shedding at it is referred to in the country) as the power utility struggles to keep its creaking coal-fired plants running have also badly shaken business confidence.

Comments on the state of mining in South Africa from the Frasier Institute survey also point to labour and power as central concerns: "Highly political unionized workforce that perpetually demands more and more in return for less and less productivity.

"Inadequate power generation and inadequate labour laws regarding mineral sector strikes."

Namibia is the top ranked destination in Africa and 25th overall edging out jurisdictions like Queensland in Australia, British Columbia in Canada and Colorado in the US. The country showed improvement on its policy factors and moved up to a ranking of 20th in 2014 from 34th in 2013 based on its legal and tax environment and other factors such as infrastructure and costs.

Botswana is ranked just below Namibia overall and is again the highest ranked jurisdiction in Africa on policy factors, ranking 13th in 2014 and up from 25th in 2013. Botswana’s showed an improvement on the ratings for nearly all policy factors, most notably for the availability of labour and skills (+15 points), (less) uncertainty concerning the administration, interpretation, or enforcement of existing regulations (+14 points), and security (+11 points).


Source: Mining.Com


Feb 25, 2015

Mr Gerhard Brugger, Ambassador of Switzerland in Ghana, has ranked Ghana third in the Sub-Saharan Africa trade with Switzerland, after South Africa and Nigeria.

He said Ghana was the most important source of Swiss imports of cocoa, representing more than 64 per cent of total Swiss cocoa imports, ahead of Ecuador and Cote d'Ivoire.

He attributed this to the bilateral economic relations between Ghana and Switzerland which dates back to when the Basel Mission Trading Company was established in 1859 and was later transformed into the Union Trading Company (UTC). 'The impact of UTC's trade activities was felt in almost all of West Africa,' Mr Brugger stated in Accra when he addressed the media to officially exhibit some photographs of the Basel Mission Society (BMS) between 1835 and 1940 in Ghana.

The Presbyterian Church of Ghana also presented activities to mark the year long BMS celebration after 200 years in Ghana. Speaking on the 'Ghana -Swiss Basel @ 200', Mr Brugger said the Swiss Embassy would commemorate the Ghana -Swiss Basel @ 200 by launching projects throughout the year to progress the domains in which the missionaries worked.

'The results of which will continue to contribute to individuals, communities and the long lasting Swiss-Ghana cooperation,' he said. 

Among the major areas the Ambassador of Switzerland to Ghana emphasised on in terms of Swiss's contribution towards the countries development were education, health, economy transformation, agriculture, environment and Arts and culture.

He lauded the BMS for their major establishments such as education, health and trading institutions which were created to harness missionary activities.

On the activities slated for the celebration, Reverend Dr Samuel Ayete-Nyampong, Clerk of General Assembly, Presbyterian Church of Ghana, said special memorial services would be held on September 25 2015 simultaneously across the 10 regions of the country for all their missionaries who fought a good fight for the Presbyterian Church to be where it is today.

There is going to be an essay competition on a selected topic for all young people in the church and Ghana at large whose ages range from 18 to 30 years with winners going to be flown to Basel for the grand celebration in June 14 in Switzerland.

'This is collaboration between the church and Swiss Embassy,' he said.

Rev Dr Ayete-Nyampong said although a conference and lecture had already taken place in Kumasi early this year, other forms of such programmes are scheduled with December 18 to be the grand celebration in Ghana.

He appealed to the government to give back schools to missions and   appealed to Ghanaians to emulate the good examples of the missionaries. Dr Zagba Narh Oyortey, Executive Director, Ghana Museums and Monuments Board, expressed happiness about the collaborative efforts between the Swiss Embassy and the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board for a historic exhibition.

'Museums document history and we being historians are happy about this event because it will go a long way to collect art works where archives will be kept for new generations to come,' he said.


Source: GNA

Feb 25, 2015

Contract Awarded for 157 wind turbines to be installed at three wind projects in South Africa

The three wind projects, Khobab, Loeriesfontein 2 and Noupoort, having a combined generation capacity of 360MW are located in the Northern Cape province in the country.

Under the deal, Siemens is to deliver its SWT-2.3-108 turbine models for the projects, with each turbine having a generation capacity of 2.3MW. The firm has also signed a 10 year service and maintenance agreement for the renewable projects.

Turbine installations at the facilities are likely to start from August 2015 . Commissioning for projects has been scheduled to start from early 2016 to 2017.

While the 140MW Khobab and the 140MW Loeriesfontein 2 wind farms are located in the Namakwa District Municipality, the Noupoort wind farm which is located in Umsobomvu Local Municipality has a generation capacity of 80MW. 

The turbines to be installed at the facilities will have rotor diameter of 108 meters and towers with hub height of 99.5 meters, which will be primarily sourced from South Africa . 


Source: TendersInfo (India)

Feb 25, 2015

Endangered Species Chocolate (ESC) announced today that its chocolate bar line has received certification by Fairtrade America and is now offering the first ever chocolate bars made in America from Fairtrade certified West African cocoa beans that can be fully traced from farm to chocolate bar. ESC has committed only fully traceable cocoa beans sustainably grown and harvested under Fairtrade standards will be used to make their chocolate.

“Though we’ve always been proud of our fully traceable product and ethical practices, it’s especially exciting to partner with a globally recognized organization like Fairtrade,” says Curt Vander Meer, CEO, Endangered Species Chocolate. “Combining our traceability requirements and the Fairtrade standards, and to be the first American chocolate maker to do that, is especially sweet. This assures our customers that every bite of our chocolate bars are making a positive impact in the lives of small-scale farmers in West Africa.”

The cocoa used by ESC is grown by West African farmers who follow rigorous standards for protection of workers’ rights and the environment. When a customer purchases ESC’s Fairtrade certified bars, West African farmers earn a fair price and an additional Fairtrade social premium to invest in business and community projects such as improving education and healthcare, protecting their environment and improving their economic well-being.

“The FAIRTRADE Mark on every Endangered Species Chocolate wrapper demonstrates the company’s commitment to ethical trade and social impact,” said Hans Theyer, Executive Director of Fairtrade America. “It’s encouraging to see how ESC is making social impact part of their business model. Consumers like to know where their food is coming from and now have the unique opportunity to enjoy delicious Endangered Species Chocolate bars made in America with Fairtrade cocoa that can be traced back to Fairtrade farms in West Africa.”

ESC products will soon display the international FAIRTRADE Mark, which designates that the product meets the social, economic and environmental standards set by Fairtrade International. The Mark symbolizes the optimism of producers, linking the everyday determination of people in developing countries with the aspiration of consumers everywhere.

This significant certification, along with ESC’s 10% GiveBack program underscores the company’s mission to be a leader and trendsetter in the natural food market.


Source: Business Wire

Feb 25, 2015

South Africa's growth rate fell to 1.5 percent last year, official data showed Tuesday, as strikes and power cuts hobbled Africa's second-largest economy.

The preliminary 2014 figure announced by Statistics South Africa is below the 2.2 percent growth recorded a year earlier, largely the result of persistent strike action in the mining sector. "Due to a lot of industrial strikes, I think it had a quite negative impact on the economy," the statistics agency's manager of national accounts Gerhardt Bouwer told reporters in Pretoria.

The growth rate is far below the 6 to 7 percent most economists believe South Africa needs to provide jobs for millions in a country where one in four people is officially unemployed.

It also leaves the country a laggard in the sub-Saharan Africa region, which according to the International Monetary Fund likely turned in 4.8 percent growth last year. However, South Africa's gross domestic output (GDP) expanded by a much stronger 4.1 percent in the fourth quarter of last year -- a change Bouwer attributed to industries going "back to normal" at the end of the year.

This was evident in the manufacturing and mining sectors, which rose 1.2 and 1.1 percentage points respectively in the fourth quarter, though the year-on-year growth was negative. "Hopefully we can keep the strength and avoid any strike action or stoppages," he said.

It was a hope economists greeted skeptically. "Until we deal with the issues in the labour market, the risk of these sorts of disruptive strikes remain," said Nedbank senior economist Nicky Weimar.

The continent's most developed economy has been wrestling with a host of troubles, including rolling electricity blackouts that have hobbled manufacturing.

In 2014, the main contributors to the economy were general government services, finances and real estate, while mining recorded a "negative contribution," said Statistics South Africa. The government had set an official expansion target of 2.7 percent in last year's February budget, but that was later slashed to 1.4 percent.

Speaking before parliament last week, President Jacob Zuma sought to downplay the domestic issues that have hit the economy, noting instead that South Africa couldn't be expected to grow at the same rate as its less developed neighbours -- but said his country could be doing better.

"While it is unrealistic to expect South Africa to grow at levels seen in some of the countries in the region with lower levels of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita or low levels of development, we definitely have the potential to grow at much higher levels than the current level," he said.

South Africa's finance minister has warned the country's economy is at a "turning point", arguing the government must cap spending and raise taxes to tackle its soaring deficit in the face of stalling growth and high unemployment.

Nhlanhla Nene will present the national budget to parliament Wednesday, with investors hoping he will introduce reforms to boost revenue.


Source: Business Recorder

Feb 24, 2015

The Ghanaian economy has been rated as the 11th most competitive market in Africa to attract investors’ funds.

This puts the country behind the league of top-ten economies in Africa in terms of competitiveness, even though the economy has moved four places up from the 2013 rankings.

According to the latest edition of the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2014, Ghana falls behind the economies of Mauritius, South Africa, Rwanda, Botswana, Namibia, Kenya, Seychelles, Zambia, Gabon, and Lesotho.

The report, which assesses 144 economies across the world found sub-Saharan economies to register impressive growth rates of close to 5% in 2013 -- with rising projections for the next two years.

The World Economic Forum report ranked the economies on 12 key pillars that influence competitiveness -- including the quality of institutions to generate wealth, infrastructure development, quality of higher education and training, innovation, macroeconomic environment, health service provision, goods and labour market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness, market size, and business sophistication.

The report cited the poor nature of the institutions, infrastructure, higher education and training, and macroeconomic environment as the principal factors affecting the country’s competitiveness.

“The quality of institutions has a strong bearing on competitiveness and growth. It influences investments decisions and the organisation of production, and plays a key role in the ways in which societies distribute the benefits and bear the costs of developments strategies and policies. “Ghana over the years has been deficient in establishing institutions for growth, and ensuring that the existing institutions are strong and efficient enough to compete at the global level.

“A second factor important for economic growth is infrastructure. Extensive and efficient infrastructure is critical for ensuring effective functioning of the economy. Well-developed infrastructure reduces the effect of distance between regions, integrating the national market and connecting it at low cost to markets in other countries and regions,” it said.

Conservative estimates by government indicate that the country’s huge infrastructure deficit requires sustained spending of at least US$1.5billion per annum over the next 10 years to address the shortfall. The report further added: “Quality higher education and training is crucial for economies that want to move up the value chain beyond simple production processes and products.

“The extent of staff training is also taken into consideration because the importance of vocational and continues on-the-job training -- which is neglected in many economies -- for ensuring a constant upgrading of workers’ skills.

“Nonetheless, statistics about Ghana’s education system shows that the eight public universities are not enough to meet the growing demand of students applying to be in public universities each year.” On the macroeconomic environment, the report expressed concern about erratic growth in some key indicators, saying: “Inflation rate keeps fluctuating, and interest rate keeps rising, the cedi persists in depreciating against major currencies, debt to GDP keeps skyrocketing, and GDP growth has not been so expansive.

“Although it is certainly true that macroeconomic stability alone cannot increase the productivity of a nation, it is also recognized that macroeconomic disarray harms the economy.

“Firms cannot operate efficiently when inflation rates are out of control.”


Source: B&FT

Feb 24, 2015
In this Sept. 30, 2014, file photo, nine-year-old Nowa Paye is taken to an ambulance after showing signs of the Ebola infection in the village of Freeman Reserve, about 30 miles north of Monrovia, Liberia. An experimental antiviral drug shows some early, encouraging signs of effectiveness in its first human tests against Ebola in West Africa, but only if patients get it when their symptoms first appear (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)

An experimental antiviral drug shows some early, encouraging signs of effectiveness in its first human test against Ebola in West Africa, but only if patients get it when their symptoms first appear.

A study of the drug, favipiravir (fav-ih-PEER'-ah-veer), is still in early stages in West Africa, and too few people have been treated to really know whether the drug helps. Other factors, like better health care, may be making a difference, and there was no comparison group of patients who got no treatment or a different drug.

Results for the first 69 adults and teens in Guinea were released Monday. Among those who got the drug when virus levels were still low, survival was 85 per cent. That seems better than the roughly 70 per cent survival for patients treated in the same clinics two months before the study began, researchers said at the Retrovirus Conference in Seattle.

The drug made no difference for those who got it later. Unfortunately, the median time of symptoms when patients sought care was five days, and the infection often is well established by then.

"We have preliminary evidence" that favipiravir may be effective, says a statement by Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, which helped fund the work. "If these results are confirmed by the ongoing clinical trial, it will be the first-ever treatment to be deployed against this deadly disease during the current outbreak."

The current Ebola outbreak is the largest in history. There have been nearly 23,000 cases and nearly 9,000 deaths, mostly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, the World Health Organization estimates.

There are no specific medicines or vaccines to fight the virus, though some experimental ones are being tested. Favirapir, also known by its brand name, Avigan, is made by a Japanese company, Toyama Chemical. It was approved in Japan last year for treating flu and tests suggest it also may work against other viruses.

A French nurse who got Ebola while volunteering in Africa for Doctors Without Borders was treated with favipiravir and recovered.

The new study was launched in December in two Ebola treatment units in Guinea run by that aid group. Others involved in the study include the aid group Alliance for International Medical Action and INSERM, the French public health agency.

Even doctors involved in the study acknowledge that more research is needed to determine the drug's safety and effectiveness.

In some previous Ebola outbreaks and even in this one, survival has improved as time goes on and cases are detected and treated sooner, and more care becomes available. In December, doctors reported that survival among nearly 600 recent Ebola patients in Sierra Leone was about 70 per cent, compared to only about 26 per cent earlier in the outbreak. Among those treated more recently, survival was over 76 per cent.


Source: The Associated Press

Feb 23, 2015

Samsung Electronics is introducing a range of products to the African market at the sixth annual Africa Forum in Antalya, Turkey.

Showcasing its commitment to the African market, Samsung will be presenting its latest flagship products to delegates over the course of the three-day forum. The theme for Africa Forum 2015 is "One Beat - Beyond the Limit" and builds on Samsung's intent to create change in Africa by bringing consumers' desires to life through innovative products.

S.Y.Hong, president and CEO of Samsung Electronics Africa, highlights premium, innovation, convenience, insights and citizenship as the key words related to product innovation in Africa. "Last year we introduced our intent into Africa: One Beat. It embodies the spirit of overcoming challenges and moving towards a vision of togetherness across the continent," said Hong. "Part of this is remaining focused on providing our African consumers with innovative products that are driven by consumer needs and passions."

Samsung is showcasing an extensive range of SUHD TVs for the African market. The launch of the 88-inch JS9500 TV, powered by a proprietary, eco-friendly nano-crystal display technology and intelligent SUHD re-mastering engine, is innovative, delivering good picture quality with proper contrast, striking brightness, good colour and superb UHD detail.

From 2015, all new Samsung Smart TVs, including the SUHD line-up, will be powered by Tizen, an open source platform that supports web standards for App TV development. Samsung is bringing innovative audio products to Africa, giving consumers a more dynamic, surround sound audio experience.

The HW-J8500/J8501 Soundbar offers an enhanced sound experience thanks to 9.1 channel audio, centre and side speakers, and Samsung's Multi-Air Gap speaker unit in the subwoofer.

The WAM7500 and WAM6500 speakers, developed in Samsung's audio lab in California, deliver a 360-degree sound experience thanks to Samsung's proprietary ring radiator technology. Samsung will showcase a full line-up of innovative monitors at the Africa Forum in Antalya. The cutting edge solutions include curved and UHD monitors, in the SE790C, SD590C, UD970 and SD850 range.

Samsung's digital appliances line-up, tailored for the African market, now features:

  • The Chef Collection refrigerator RF9900, which is designed to ensure that food is kept fresh and stored to ensure maximum taste;
  • The activ dualwash, a washing machine which includes a built in sink with water jets and a scrubbing surface;
  • The new Samsung AR9500 air conditioner
  • The new AX7000 Air Purifier.
  • The new NX500 camera is the perfect camera for everyday use, with its best-in-class DRIMeV Image processor, a NX AF system III and Samsung's highest-resolution 28 MP BSI APS-C sensors.

Samsung has expanded its line-up of Galaxy A mobile devices in the African region.

Optimised for capturing and sharing your digital life, the Galaxy A7, A5 and A3 come with a 5MP front facing camera to ensure the perfect selfie, and offer original features like an animated GIF setting.

The device also supports LTE category 4 for photo and video uploads on any social network.


Source: CIO East Africa

Feb 23, 2015

Gemological Science International (GSI), one of the largest independently owned gemological laboratories in the world, has announce that its Botswana laboratory is the first in Africa to use DiaMension™ Axiom by Sarine Technologies.

According to a GSI, the DiaMension™ Axiom is a next generation high-end technology diamond scanner for measuring and modeling polished diamonds.

According to Uzi Levami,CEO of Sarine, the scanner is able to detect “the tiniest imperfections of the diamond, such as facet junctions”.


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