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Feb 14, 2015

Cocoa purchases declared to Ghana's industry regulator reached 494,960 tonnes by Jan. 29 since the start of the main crop, down 23.9 percent from Jan. 30 last year, industry regulator Cocobod said on Tuesday.

Cocobod is conducting a field trip to assess the crop and will decide in coming weeks whether to lower its annual output target, spokesman Noah Amenyah said.

The purchases, which covered 17 weeks of the main crop season, were lower than the 650,852 tonnes recorded for a period that ended Jan. 30 last year. That period represents the first 15 weeks of last season, Amenyah said.

Total purchases for the 17th week were 7,637.38 tonnes, he said.

Ghana, the world's second-largest cocoa producer after Ivory Coast, aims to buy at least 850,000 tonnes of cocoa in the 2014/15 crop year which is expected to end in September.

"We have had a strange season this year and we are still working to understand the phenomenon," Amenyah said, adding that besides dry Harmattan winds hitting the crop this year, there could be other factors responsible for the low yield.


Source: Reuters

Feb 14, 2015
Pictured on the Sonardyne stand at Subsea Expo 2015 in Aberdeen: Phil Middleton, deputy managing director, Seatronics Equipment Rentals (Right), Barry Cairns, VP Sonardyne Europe and Africa (Left).

Seatronics, UK, is to take delivery of GBP1million worth of its 6G acoustic positioning technology. The contract was placed on the second day of the Subsea Expo 2015 exhibition and conference in Aberdeen, UK. The multi-functional Compatt 6 transponders and Ranger 2 USBL (Ultra-Short BaseLine) positioning systems that make up the order will be utilised for a wide variety of subsea operations including structure installation, pipeline metrology, ROV tracking and touchdown monitoring.

The equipment is headed for West Africa to support the survey and construction phases of a major new field development project. 

The Ranger 2 systems are being supplied with Sonardyne’s high performance Gyro-USBL transceiver. Unlike a conventional USBL transceiver, GyroUSBL can be set to work without the need for a time-consuming calibration procedure to determine the alignment of the ship’s motion sensors to the acoustic transceiver prior to use. Its easy installation and setup features ensure it is always in high demand in the offshore rental market where it is frequently supplied for short term use on vessels of opportunity.

 Commenting at Subsea Expo 2015, Phil Middleton, Seatronic’s Deputy managing director for Subsea Rentals said this equipment adds to the largest rental stock of 6G equipment available globally and is in place to support committed client projects due to mobilise this spring.


Feb 14, 2015

The World Bank Group has announced the launch of Scaling Solar at the Powering Africa Summit in Washington DC, a gathering of African ministries, utility companies and the international power community.

The summit was to discuss progress and initiatives to increase access to energy across Africa. Scaling Solar aims to create a viable market for private solar projects in Africa that will help governments increase the supply of energy for millions of residential and commercial consumers across the continent.

The project, which was launched on Thursday in Dakar, Senegal, and Washington DC, United States, is aimed at reducing the development time and uncertainty for bidders and investors, while lowering tariffs for utilities, which ultimately benefits consumers. “The World Bank Group is committed to promoting sustainable universal access to modern energy in Africa, and Scaling Solar is a key step towards attaining this goal,” said Jean Philippe Prosper, IFC Vice President for Global Client Services.

“By quickly delivering affordable electricity to previously unreached populations, significant progress can be made on other development goals.” According to Jean Philippe Prosper, Africa has some of the world’s most abundant solar resources, yet more than a third of the population lives without electricity.

Investors developing private solar projects in Africa, he said, are often deterred by a variety of obstacles, including the unique features and structures of the different markets, high transaction costs, heavily negotiated agreements and high-perceived risk and cost of capital. As a result, the region continues to struggle with slow, relatively expensive and ineffective solar development, which impedes access to electricity.

Ejura Audu of Africa Communications International Financial Corporation Nigeria said this to Daily Independent on Thursday through email. He said Large-scale photovoltaic solar power can be quickly and economically developed to increase the supply of electricity to national grids and improve the reliability of power services for households and businesses.

Scaling Solar provides a straightforward package to help countries determine the size and location of projects, then auction them competitively to developers.


Source: Daily Independent Nigeria

Feb 14, 2015

The emerald cut white diamond has been described as 'whiter than white' and the 'definition of perfection'  AP

  • Largest perfect diamond with a classic emerald cut ever to be auctioned
  • Type 11a stone is in the same class as the most valuable of all diamonds
  • Predicted selling price of $25 million is close to the current world record $30.6 million, paid for a 118.28 carat diamond at a Hong Kong sale in 2013
  • De Beers stone was cut and polished for a year from its 200 carat raw state
  • Will sell at a Sotheby's Magnificent Jewels auction in New York on April 21


An internally flawless 100 carat diamond described as 'perfect' by experts is expected to sell for a staggering £16 million.

The Type IIa diamond, which is in a classic emerald cut and is 'whiter than white', was mined by De Beers in South Africa.

Its current owner spent more than a year studying, cutting and polishing the rough diamond to deliver the spectacular stone.

It is expected to sell for £16 million ($25 million) at Sotheby's in New York at the Magnificent Jewels auction - Reuters

The result is what experts are calling the largest perfect diamond with a classic emerald cut ever to be offered at auction. It is one of just five diamonds of similar quality over 100 carats that have ever been sold publicly. It will be sold by Sotheby's at its Magnificent Jewels auction in New York on April 21.

Gary Schuler, head of Sotheby's jewelry department in New York, yesterday described the 100.20 carat diamond as 'the definition of perfection'. He said: 'The colour is whiter than white, it is free of any internal imperfections, and so transparent that I can only compare it to a pool of icy water.

'It is the first true emerald cut diamond over 100 carats to be offered at auction - the most classic of cuts, quietly elegant and very contemporary.' Less than one per cent of the world's diamonds are Type IIa, and they are the most valuable of all diamonds.

The diamond will be exhibited in Dubai, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, London and Doha, before returning to New York for exhibition in April. If it sells for £16 million ($25 million), it will be among the most expensive diamonds ever sold publicly.

The current record is $30.6 million, which was paid for a 118.28 carat diamond at a 2013 Sotheby's sale in Hong Kong.

Lisa Hubbard, chairman of North & South America for Sotheby's International Jewelry Division, said: 'The rarest object of natural beauty on the market right now, this 100-carat diamond could be considered the ultimate acquisition.

'It has everything you could ever want from a diamond. The classic shape begs to be worn, while the quality puts it in an asset class of its own. 'The stone gives you so many options - admire it un-mounted, wear it as a simple but stunning pendant, or mount in a designed jewel.' 


Source: Daily Mail UK


Feb 13, 2015

THE Minister for Energy and Minerals, Mr George Simbachawene, has given greenlight for acquisition of TanzaniteOne Mining Limited by Sky Associates Group.

State Mining Corporation (STAMICO) Acting Managing Director, Eng Edwin Ngonyani said on Thursday that the consenting of the Minister was in accordance to the terms and conditions of the Mining Act 2010 and the Mining Licence (ML) regulations 490/2013.

"The implication of this consent now means that Richland Resources has been allowed to sell its company TanzaniteOne (SA) Proprietary Limited to Sky Associates Group Limited, a company registered in British Virgin Island and operating in Hong Kong for 22.5 million US Dollars inclusive of debts and assets," he said.

Eng Ngonyani said that prior to the Minister's consent there were a lot of misconceptions floating on social media that STAMICO was wrong by agreeing to the sale, that the amount was too little and that one of the directors of the new owner was rumoured to be the son of President Jakaya Kikwete, Mr Ridhwani Kikwete.

He said that these rumours even reached the Parliamentary Committee for Energy and Minerals and in their meetings they had agreed that once the Minister has consented, STAMICO should inform the public to quell anxiety amongst the public. "Now that the consent is out, let me clear a number of things. One of the three directors is Rizwan Ullah, an Indian national residing in Hong Kong, and not Mr Ridhwani Kikwete.

It was perceived by some that the sale amounted to 5.1 million US Dollars but is in fact 22.5 million US Dollars," he explained. Eng Ngonyani said that now that the consent is out, they are preparing meetings with the new joint shareholder of the ML 490/2013 Sky Associates Group to improve their joint venture contract in the Mirerani block for the greater welfare of STAMICO and Tanzanians.

Some of the areas targeted in the improvement of the contract include production from the mine to be sold locally so as to ensure enough supply of Tanzanite into the local market for value addition purposes before the surplus is sold into the international market, STAMICO to be given the assurance of receiving timely payments of management fees (2.5 per cent) of Tanzanite sales.

Others are STAMICO to be fully involved in the mining, sorting and trading business chain of Tanzanite as a partner with 50 per cent ownership in the mineral right, the two parties to work aggressively together to promote Tanzanite internationally and locally so as to boost its demand and price for the benefit of the nation and operators.


Source: Tanzania Daily News

Feb 13, 2015

Stabilising Eskom's finances is a priority and the power utility will be given R23 billion to do so, President Jacob Zuma announced on Thursday. "The government will honour its commitment to give it around R23 billion in the next fiscal year," he said in his state-of-the-nation address to Parliament.

He acknowledged South Africa was experiencing serious energy constraints. "[These] are an impediment to economic growth, and are a major inconvenience to everyone in the country."

Overcoming the problem was uppermost in government's priorities. "We are doing everything we can to resolve the energy challenge." Cabinet was working "round the clock" with Eskom to stabilise the electricity supply system and contain load shedding.

"As a priority we are going to stabilise Eskom's finances to enable the utility to manage the current period." Zuma said Eskom had been directed to switch from diesel to gas to run its generators. Government's long-term energy master plan involved gas, petroleum, nuclear, hydropower and other sources as part of the energy mix.

"South Africa is surrounded by gas rich countries, while we have discovered shale gas deposits in our own Karoo region. "The Operation Phakisa ocean economy initiative, launched last year, also promises to unveil more oil and gas resources, which will be a game changer for our country and region."

On the country's future nuclear energy plans, he said this involved a 9600MW nuclear build programme, as approved in the 2010-30 integrated resource plan. "To date government has signed inter-governmental agreements and carried out vendor parade workshops in which five countries came to present their proposals on nuclear."

These included the US, South Korea, Russia, France, and China. "All these countries will be engaged in a fair, transparent, and competitive procurement process to select a strategic partner or partners to undertake the nuclear build programme.

"Our target is to connect the first unit to the grid by 2023, just in time for Eskom to retire part of its ageing power plants." On hydro power, he said the Grand Inga Hydro-electrical Project partnership with the Democratic Republic of Congo would generate over 48,000MW of clean hydro-electricity, of which South Africa would have access to over 15,000MW.


Source: SAPA

Feb 13, 2015

No fewer than 5,400 vessels called at Nigerian ports last year, shippers in the country have said. The shippers, under their umbrella union, Shippers' Association Lagos State (SALS), said the vessels called at the nation's seaports through their efforts and co-operation.

President, SALS, Reverend Jonathan Nicole disclosed this in Lagos. However, Nicole said the shipper needed more support from the federal government in form of duty waivers. According to him, SALS would vigorously pursue exportation of agro-allied products and would encourage local manufacturing industries.

"Imports will continue to come but agriculture and exportation of agro-allied products would be promoted", he said.

He stated that members of SALS support the revamping and construction of cottage refineries and for the by-products to be exported, adding that clearance of cargo will be more scientific and cost effective. Nicole explained that industries should be able to overcome their heavy financial burden in clearing their raw materials.

He suggested that the 33 mineral resources of the nation should be properly used to improve revenue. According to the SALS president, in the early 70s, Nigeria's crude oil was sold at 13 dollars per barrel. Three dollars was saved while 10 dollars was used for budgetary purposes. He therefore suggested that 10 dollars be set aside for our reserves which should not be shared.

He called for the resuscitation of the Price Control Board, pointing out that emphasis must be on aggressive farming in all states, as well as the warehousing and preservation of agricultural products.

"Shippers' Association is available to act as an instrument of hope in all segments of the maritime community; encourage ownership of vessels by Nigerians; and reintroduce barges for evacuation of cargo. We need all to support the objective of the Shippers' Association to lay the foundation for a veritable and trusted rail track toward a total economic freedom.

"In this process, government will be approached to relax levies on exportable items; simplify cargo clearing process and make farming implements duty free. Shippers across the country and outside, especially in Cotonou will be reached and made to relocate to Nigeria", he added.

Giving an insight into the formation of SALS, Nicole said the association was formed over nine years ago to protect the interest of shippers, protect their investments and act as a pressure group.

His words: "The Nigerian Shippers' Council, after noticing the efforts of the shippers, made available a space on the 10th floor of the Shippers' Plaza to work together as one of its primary partners. We therefore solicit for a bigger, more spacious and befitting secretariat. It is our belief that in a few years' time, we will achieve an enviable status as problem of members would have been solved at least 90 per cent when the new port order comes into manifestation. Industries will overcome their heavy financial burden in clearing their raw materials".

He said shippers will hold conferences and workshops at least two times in a year until the Federation of Nigerian Shippers' Association (FONSA) is formed. The Chairman of Ports Consultative Council (PCC), Chief Kunle Folarin, commended the association for moving the nation's commerce and industry sector forward.

He said that the shippers had been the movers of the Nigerian economy, adding that without the ports, there would be no ship and without the shippers, there would be no cargo. He called for investment and co-operation as well as opportunities for the new economic agenda for the maritime sector of the economy.



Feb 13, 2015

The Federal Airports Authority of (FAAN) said it is working hard to reposition the country's airports in terms of service delivery to enable them compete with others in Africa.

The agency said parts of the plans was to improve the standard of service delivery to passengers that use airports in Nigeria, remarking that inadequate passengers service delivery was responsible for the low rating of three of the country's international airports in 2014.

A study conducted by 'The Guide To Sleeping in Airport', named three Nigeria airports as the worst in Africa last year, they include Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos in 10th position, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja ranked 7th while the Port Harcourt International Airport emerged 6th worst airport.

But FAAN's General Manager, Customer Service Mrs. Ebele Okoye said the agency has made a commitment to raise the bar in customer service across the country's airports under FAAN control.

"The low rating of Nigeria airports last year was basically born out of inadequate customer service delivery and not infrastructure. We have the fastest development plan for airports growth among African countries", Mrs. Okoye spoke at a Customer Appreciation Day/Cancer Awareness Initiative to commemorate World Cancer Day where she explained that with the current level of service delivery, Nigeria airports would rank among the best in 2015.

She said: "We have a Minister who is focused and has launched the Aviation Commits as a way of providing better service delivery and the FAAN Managing Director is also leaving no stone unturned to ensure that in the next rating coming up in April, we emerge among the best".

In his address, FAAN Managing Director, Sale Dunoma said the agency is poised to offer its customers world class services and urged staff to carry out the transformation agenda of the authority.

Various speakers at the event on the need for workers to constantly maintain a healthy lifestyle in order to combat the menace of cancer.



Feb 13, 2015
Smallholder farmers in Africa are struggling with the effects of climate change.
Photograph: ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images

What are the most effective ways of encouraging the development of smallholder farming? Diversification, training and working with the private sector are key


More than half a billion Africans are smallholder farmers. In some countries they make up as much as 85% of the population. Even in Africa’s most urbanised countries that figure only drops to 55%.

Smallholders produce 70% of the world’s food, but they are particularly vulnerable to climatic and economic shocks, with many living from one harvest to the next. Poor harvests, or sudden massive price drops, can and do have catastrophic effects. In the wake of ongoing food crises, everyone acknowledges the sector needs developing, the question now is: how?

Marc Pfitzer, a managing director of consulting firm FSG, which works with businesses, nonprofits and governments, says “the consensus is that the more developed a country is, the larger its farms will be”. But he says that it is better “for farmers to gradually consolidate over generations … You can’t shock the system and leapfrog it into plantations because you will end up with massive unemployment.”

The answer, he says, is to intensify and diversify smallholder farms, but for that to happen, investment is needed. “If you want to develop an agricultural country you are going to have to go through a process of investing in smallholder farming. Development will follow over several generations.”

In 2003, African heads of state signed the Maputo Declaration pledging to increase their spending on agriculture development to 10% of their national budgets within five years. Twelve years later, just eight out of over 50 countries have achieved this goal.

So, we know that national governments aren’t stumping up the cash, but what else do smallholder farmers need? And are they getting it? One recent report from Africa Smallholder Farmers Group (ASFG) says that diversification and training are priorities.



Diversification is a high priority because it helps protect smallholders from economic risks, such as market collapses, and helps prevent land degradation. But steps towards achieving diversification are being hampered by governments and businesses that encourage dependency on fertiliser, specify which seeds must be used and encourage farmers to grow a single crop.

ASFG member Find Your Feet (FYF) works in Malawi. Director Dan Taylor says the NGO has a “close working relationship” with the Malawi government which is at once “friendly and quite critical”, because FYF doesn’t agree with the fertiliser subsidy and the Malawian government’s decision to focus on maize.


Taylor says depending on just one crop is a risky strategy in a time of climate change and the fertiliser subsidy is dangerous because it nudges farmers down the route of growing a particular crop, which goes against the need for diversification. Over-reliance on fertiliser is leads to soil degradation, pollution, and lack of adaptability on the part of the farmer. Composting and crop rotation would be better alternatives, Taylor says.


“You could see the Malawian government’s decision to focus solely on maize grown with subsidised fertilisers as modernisation, or you can regard it as a cynical ploy to buy votes, because fertiliser buys votes,” Taylor says.

“Presidents have used the fertiliser subsidy to gain political upmanship. So while there is a commitment to do something about small-scale agriculture, they are short term in their outlook. Rather than giving people subsidies which aren’t continued and are donor-funded, steps should be taken to minimise external inputs.”

Switching from fossil-fuel made, and privately-funded fertiliser inputs, to compost-making is suggested by several NGOs. “We’ve done a lot of work on compost-making as an alternative to fertiliser,” says Taylor. “Compost-making is on the increase, because the government is recognising that it’s not going to be able to afford fertiliser subsidies indefinitely and are quite worried about the potential devastation that climate change is likely to cause in the future.”

But as long they are still handing out free fertiliser, the message is mixed, and that, according to Taylor is “problematic.”


Quality training

Another factor that can help smallholders is knowledge. Good agricultural education would ensure that farmers were savvy enough to avoid risks. Pfitzer says there is “definitely not enough training available for smallholder farmers” and the quality of some of what is provided is questionable.

Chris Henderson, agricultural lead at Practical Action, said training provided by the governments tends to be unpopular because the civil servants who provide it “are not doing a particularly good job”. Pfitzer is also scathing about the performance of the civil servants who deliver national training projects, and thinks training works best when business gets involved. He says the private sector has a real incentive to deliver training and “will invest because it will increase productivity of the farmer, who will extend his/her services back to the business”. He says this creates “a feedback loop that reinforces the desire of the private sector to provide good training”.

The main obstacle to training is literacy, he says, “so a lot of training has to be farmer-trains-farmer, or it has to be visual, or it has to be co-op-based where people meet and discuss things – you can’t just post out a booklet, or post a text on a website.”

This shows that you can’t tackle the development of smallholder farming without addressing primary education. Pfitzer says that for development hasn’t worked in the past because NGOs worked in silos. “We did a project, we built a school, we built a well, we got some nice technologies – but we never did all of these things at the same time in the same place so we failed.”

He adds that he believes the right approach is “place-based”. He says: “We talk about community and productivity pillars but it goes even beyond that: politics, infrastructure, land rights, ultimately you want all of these things to come together.”

As well as an awareness of place, Pfitzer says that to make a real difference in the development of smallholders, projects need time, and lots of it. “At least a decade because you need at least half a generation to achieve anything.” He says that the private sector is more likely to invest for the long-term than politicians who only think about the next election. “Sustained national leadership is key. We don’t get that from government, but we are getting that from business now because they see that see the long-term view.”

• This article was amended on 13 February 2015. An earlier version said that FSG is an NGO when in fact it is a consulting firm that works with businesses, non-profits and governments.


Source: The Guardian UK

Feb 12, 2015

Some of South Africa’s telecommunications networks have explained why porting a number from one operator to another sometimes takes a long time.

Operators were asked about delays in number porting after users and industry insiders complained that the process was slower on some networks than it was on others. Number porting is the process of moving your mobile or fixed-line phone number from one network to another, letting you keep your number even though you might change telecoms providers.


Mobile number porting

Vodacom said any delays would be due to outstanding amounts still owed, lines that are still within its contract term, or incorrect information being submitted to authorise the port.

“Depending on the package type and whether the line is still within term, the port could either be approved or declined,” said Vodacom. The biggest cause of delays was customers supplying incorrect authentication information, said Vodacom.

“To avoid delay, customers wishing to port should bring along a copy of their invoice/statement to ensure that the information is captured as reflected on these documents.” It added that subscribers should also notify their existing service provider they intend to port in an efforts to clear up any account issues which could cause delays.


MTN South Africa’s chief customer experience officer Eddie Moyce said each case was unique, and that there are no general causes for delays which are universally applicable.“It takes approximately 8 to 12 hours to port to the MTN network,” said Moyce. Corporate customers take longer to port as the donor network has 16 hours to respond and authorise the transfer.

It is in this authorisation step that most delays are caused, MTN said, as it has to wait on the donor network. “If the current porting rules are adhered to then the delays should be minimised.”

Once the originating network authorises the transfer, actual activation occurs daily during “network synchronisation time” between 19:30 – 22:00, except on Sundays and public holidays.


Fixed number porting

Porting a number between fixed networks such as Neotel and Telkom is a different animal, with Neotal explaining that porting a single number can take about two days.

To port a whole number range can take up to 10 working days. Ports are managed in two phases, Neotel explained: acceptance, followed by the technical port.

Some networks port immediately after they receive acceptance, while others can take another 5 days to schedule the technical personnel to perform the port, Neotel said. Asked whether anything can be done to reduce delays, Neotel said that the internal processes at other operators between acceptance and technical porting could be streamlined.

Optimising the time for technical porting would also be helpful, Neotel said.


Source: mybroadband.co.za

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