Will SA pay billions for Inga power?

Questions have cropped up about the ­financing for South Africa’s participation in a multibillion-dollar joint infrastructure project with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Last year, Treasury’s 2013 Budget Review determined the cost of the Grand Inga ­hydropower project – situated on the Congo River’s Inga Falls – at R200 billion. The financing was to be determined once feasibility studies were completed.

Initial studies have now been completed, according to the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), and the Congolese government has opened bidding for construction of the first phase of the project, Inga 3.

South Africa recently locked down 2 500 megawatts from Inga 3 through a treaty of joint cooperation between the two governments as it took steps to address its energy deficit, with nuclear deals also on the table with other ­governments.

SA needs 61 200MW by 2030, according to the department of energy’s revised integrated resource plan.

Former energy minister Dipuo Peters said the R200 billion was “too little” for the project. The IDC has been ­approached for funding, but it is unclear if other development finance agencies have been approached, or if South Africa will fund any of the construction.

Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) boss Patrick Dlamini told City Press last week that the project would need an estimated $100 billion (R1.1 trillion) for all the ­different phases, which will produce 40 000MW of electricity when built.

The DBSA’s annual report, which was released last week, showed it had capital of R4.8 billion on call, which Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene wanted to raise to R20 billion.

“The likes of Eskom will be critical user [for Grand Inga],” said Dlamini. “Brand-new lines will be built, which then becomes very expensive.”

He said if the Southern African Power Pool – a grouping of the Southern African Development Community power utilities – was able to build these lines, it would be much easier to finance the project. The utilities were “very willing” to build them, but financing was a problem, he said.

There was no question of packing up and going home though, as extraction of Africa’s natural resources has ­always been a power-hungry endeavour.

The IDC’s Africa unit, which has an exposure of R7.5 billion out of R11.1 billion committed or approved to projects in the rest of Africa, is not involved in the hydropower project either, although spokesperson Mandla Mpangase said it had been approached to participate.

“The level of our involvement has not yet been ­determined,” he said.

“The project is not yet at a stage for us to make a determination of funding as there are a few gaps that need to be finalised relating to the evacuation of the power from the Democratic Republic of Congo to South Africa.”

Mpangase said it could, together with other development finance institutions, get involved in the project if it needed to.


Source: City Press

Two of Ireland/Davenport's Loerie wins withdrawn

Two Loeries Award entries submitted by Ireland/Davenport that went on to receive awards have been withdrawn by the Loeries.

Ireland Davenport’s Gold for its New Voice Non-English Radio entry, ABSA Funeral Plan, “Abashwe” as well as Bronze for its New Voice Non-English Radio entry, Fox International Channel’s “The Simpsons Crime Report” did not meetentry criteria.

The New Voice category for non-English radio was created by the Loeries to promote the use of South Africa’s non-English languages. Until this year, pro-active work that had not been flighted was eligible. However, from the beginning of 2014, this category was brought in line with all other categories of the Loeries: All work must be commercially published, launched or aired to a substantial audience for the first time between 1 June 2013 and 13 June 2014.

Rules changed, honest mistake

Unfortunately, Ireland/Davenport did not make themselves aware of the change to the rules and submitted work for this category that had not flighted. While the responsibility rests with the entrant to ensure that all entry criteria are met, the Loeries accepts that this was an honest mistake.

“It is important that all entries meet our entry criteria,” says Loeries CEO, Andrew Human. “From this year, all entries require a signature from the company head accepting all the terms and conditions of entry. We have a zero-tolerance policy and will continue to ensure that all the rules of entry are enforced.”

Winners table adjusted

As a result of these changes, a total of 254 awards were handed out in the main categories, with the winners being broken down as follows:

  ALL Student Professional
Entries 2534 342 2192
Prof non-craft entries     1453
Prof craft entries     739
Grand Prix 4    
Gold 30 4 26
Silver 59 11 48
Bronze 100 18 82
Craft Gold 17 3 14
Craft Certificate 44 5 39

Two of Ireland/Davenport’s Loerie wins withdrawn, Source: Bizcommunity

Sugar gets a caning

The amount of hidden sugar in processed food is slowly killing us.This is according to Fed Up, an American documentary film that will premier in South Africa next Friday.

Narrated by award-winning journalist Katie Couric and produced by Stephanie Soechtig, it compares the US food industry to the tobacco industry and suggests that it preys on consumers.

Academics and health experts argue that it is not only consumers’ fault that they are overweight and apportion some blame to food producers and easy access to addictive foods that are available 24/7.

Robert Lustig, a professor of paediatrics in endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco, proposes that sugar is addictive – and processed food is full of it. Americans can’t help but eat more, he says in the film.

One grossly obese child in the documentary explains: “If I see food I get hungry.”

Americans’ actual sugar intake of 41 teaspoons a day far exceeds the recommended five teaspoons, with consumers not always realising that corn syrup, maltrose or dextrose are also names for sugar.

Lustig blames refined and processed foods for “a tsunami of metabolic diseases”, referring to heart attacks, obesity, strokes, cancers and, of course, diabetes.

“If you eat a bowl of cornflakes without sugar, or a bowl of sugar without cornflakes, the effect on your body is the same,” he says.

The film works to discredit the idea that one can just outrun a bad diet. Food with sugar is still bad for you, no matter how much you exercise, it argues.

The food industry has hit back, explaining that it has removed 1.5billion calories from processed food in the US.

“Junk is still junk, even if it is less junky,” responds US journalist and healthy eating activist Michael Pollen.

South Africans are also deluged by processed foods with hidden sugars, but people here are more likely than Americans to prepare food at home, said dietician Tabitha Hume. She said she did not believe food was addictive “but producers know exactly how to create high-flavour food that affects the brain, making people feel awesome”.

At the Discovery Vitality screening of the film, bariatric specialist Tess van der Merwe complained about the ubiquity of junk food.

“There are even vending machines in hospitals, places that are supposed to be havens of safety.”

Hume advised: “We don’t know what is in our packaged food. People need to visit a dietician to be taught to read labels if they are going to eat prepared meals.”

Source: TimesLIve

Shake-up at DOC - cabinet

Former cabinet spokesman Phumla Williams on Sunday declined to comment on a report that she had been demoted and replaced by a junior employee at the communications department.

“All I will say is I am no longer the cabinet spokesperson and the government communications spokesperson,” she said. “I’m not commenting on the report.”

Williams, however, would still be working in the department.

City Press reported that communications minister Faith Muthambi had sent Williams — who had been acting Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) head since Jimmy Manyi left two years ago — an e-mail informing her she was relieving her of those duties.

Unnamed sources in GCIS reportedly told the paper that staff were shocked when Muthambi appointed Donald Liphoko, a chief director in the department, as acting director-general, in effect making him Williams’s boss.

“We couldn’t believe that she chose Donald. The man can hardly cope with his duties as it is and now she is making him acting DG,” a senior manager in the department told the paper.

GCIS ceased to exist at the beginning of this month after its functions were absorbed into the communications department.

Muthambi reportedly defended her decision regarding Williams.

Ayanda Holo, head of stakeholder relations in the department, said Williams would be sent to help minister in the presidency Jeff Radebe with the interministerial committee tasked with repositioning Brand South Africa, which now falls under the department.

Source: TechCentral

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SA to host 2015 AFCON?

Following spread of the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa, 2015 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) host nation, Morocco, is opting to withdraw themselves from hosting the 30th edition of the continental showpiece.

Morocco requested the Confederations of African Football (CAF) to postpone the tournament which was set for January next year, due to the Ebola epidemic, which CAF has turned a blind eye to.

Earlier reports revealed that South African Football Associations (SAFA) president Danny Jordaan is set to meet with the CAF boss Issa Hayatou to discuss a way forward as South Africa is set to replace the North African giants.

SAFA spokesperson Dominic Chimhavi told Sport24 in an exclusive interview on Wednesday that a decision is not final regarding the matter.

Chimhavi also hinted that South Africa is just being considered as a possible replacement, should the royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) confirm their withdrawal.

“I can’t say we are going to host the tournament again next year,” Chimhavi said.

“This is what is happening, as we know that Morocco had requested to withdraw from hosting the tournament due to the widespread of a deadly Ebola virus.

“CAF just voiced South Africa as a possible destination to this challenge.

“But there are still lot of things to be considered before a final decision can be made.

“The president (Jordaan) and the NEC members will have a meeting to discuss a way forward regarding this, but CAF is considering South Africa because we are always ready to host major sporting events.

“We have the best infrastructure in the country but nothing has been confirmed.”

South Africa hosted the previous tournament in 2013 after being involved in a swap deal with Libya due to the political instabilities in their country, which led to the assassination of their President Maummar Gaddafi in 2011.

Initially, South African was supposed to host the competition in 2017.

It remains to be seen where the next AFCON will be played.


Source: Sport24

SA Post Office feels financial squeeze

The SA Post Office remained a place of mayhem this week as the strike continued and it emerged that some of its workers did not get paid this month’s salaries.

Post Office spokesperson Johan Kruger said there was a system error and payments were late by only 12 hours.

But a Post Office employee said this was not true and workers were struggling to get answers out of branch managers.

The current strike started two weeks ago after a dispute about the process of converting workers from casual to permanent employment. But Post Office employees have been participating in various unprotected strikes since January.

The Post Office’s flexible labour strategy to convert 7 945 casual workers into permanent employees was adopted last year.

Chief operating officer Mlu Mathonsi said: “The aim of the flexible labour strategy has always been to advance the part-time employees to more permanent positions with full benefits. However, a staggered approach had to be adopted, given the difficult financial position the company is in.”

The Post Office has adopted a phased system where casual workers were offered permanent part-time positions.

Mathonsi said the disputes with the unions were around agreements that casual workers would be employed in entry-level positions with limited benefits.

“This was the only way the Post Office could permanently employ the large number of casual workers,” he said.

Communications Workers’ Union spokesperson Mantankana Mothapo said the Post Office had pushed workers too far.

“There are employees who have been there for 10 to 15 years who are casual workers,” he said.

According to the Post Office, more than 2 000 casual employees have been given permanent contracts since last year.

It is no secret that the Post Office has been in dire financial straits. Management has described the situation as a crisis.

Internal emails circulated last week, addressed to Mike Faasen, the general manager for retirements, tax and treasury, accused the Post Office of withdrawing R401 million from the pension fund between April and August.

A recent report in The Star newspaper said a draft audit report by Deloitte alleged it had used the employees’ pension fund to pay off an overdraft of R250 million.

According to the emails, employees are concerned that surplus funds from the pension fund are being mismanaged. Surplus funds accumulate when there are unclaimed retirement benefits due to resignation or death.

A legislative change in 2001 required all pension funds to distribute surpluses to members.

Faasen, however, dismissed the allegations, saying the Post Office withdrew the money from its own resources.

The Deloitte report also said the Post Office had incurred a R361 million loss and racked up R1.2 billion in irregular expenditure, including the irregular award of tenders. The report said it spent R184 million on consultants and R114 million on travel.

In the previous financial year, strikes cost the Post Office R100 million, so more losses can be expected when financial results are announced.

Kruger said the Post Office’s audit committee would meet next week, after which the company’s annual report would be available. It has until tomorrow to release its results.

“All we want is competent management because the current management is collapsing the Post Office,” Mothapo said.

Source: City Press

R500m Gauteng IT tender flagged

The standing committee on public accounts on Friday heard that the auditor-general flagged the R518 million project for tender irregularities and had subsequently instructed the provincial department of finance to institute a probe.

The AG found that bid specifications had been altered – an indication perhaps that conditions of the original tender had been changed to favour the two successful bidders – Cloudseed and China’s Huawei Technologies.

“Contracts relating to the e-learning devices and the e-learning connectivity were awarded to bidders based on points given for criteria that differed from those stipulated in the original invitation for bidding, in contravention of Treasury Regulation 16A6.3 (a) and Preferential Procurement Regulations,” he said.

The AG also found that:

Procurement of IT-related goods and services went against regulations because they were not acquired through the State Information Technology Agency; and

Appropriate risk management was not applied to ensure regular assessment of IT risks.

According to the Public Finance Management Act, the accounting officer must ensure that bid documents and the general conditions of a contract are in accordance with the instructions of the National Treasury or the prescripts of the Construction Industry Development Board.

Source: TimesLive


Fall protection for the construction industry

Protect-in are manufactures of fall protection for the construction industry. Our fall protection comes in the form of barricade fencing also known as barrier fencing. The fall protection has excellent properties including the ability to withstand an impact and lateral force resistance of more than 1200kg. This impact force resistance is certainly enough to protect workers on a construction site. The Protect-in fall protection barrier fences are adjustable, flexible and allow different modulations. The flexibility of the fall protection means it is possible to adjust the barriers to fit difficult angles.
Easy assembly of fall protection

The easy assembly of our fall protection means there is a lot of time saved when it comes to protecting the workers on the construction site. As we all know time is money, particularly in construction, where running costs are high. The Protect-in fall protection is constructed of high resistance to impact material and it is constructed of extremely light textile and it is easy to store,and the fences are printable meaning you can showcase your company logo, or and site safety rules at your construction site.

Safety equipment in the construction industry is essential not only for keeping workers safe but also for keeping the public safe if construction is taking place in a busy place such as a city centre. The consequences of not adhering to safety rules and not protecting workers and the general public do not bear thinking about. It should always be “safety first” in the construction industry.

Distributors are wanted across all areas in South Africa

Many South Africans feeling the pinch on World Food Day

As the globe commemorates World Food Day, many in South Africa simply cannot afford basic food stuffs.

A KwaZulu-Natal NGO has been monitoring food prices over the past eight years and says the price of an average basket of food has increased nearly nine percent, year-on-year.

It’s now worried that soaring food prices could lead to even more protests across the country.

Ruth Smith’s main source of income is a pensioners’ grant – just over R1,300.

“It’s quite difficult ‘cos what’s pension money? Pension money is nothing, you must pay your rent, you must pay your money and then my daughter too she helps me out to buy food and everything,” commented Smith.

With just R500 to spare for food every month, Smith struggles to make ends meet.

The 71-year-old supports her daughter and four camera-shy grandchildren.

If food prices continue to climb, she could be forced to cross off everyday items like bread and meat from her grocery list.

“We’ll have to buy less of the tinned stuff. Maybe we’ll have to buy one tin of fish, one tin of baked beans, and all that”. 

Smith’s daily struggle is one that more than half of all South Africans share.

“As food becomes more expensive, people opt for cheaper and cheaper foods. This trend we have seen for a number of years and we have come to the stage where even the cheaper choices of foods have now become unaffordable,” said Mervyn Abrahams of the Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action.

NGO Pacsa says the cost of an average basket of food products went up from just over R1,500 to R1,640 rand in September this year.

The price of starches, such as potatoes, maize meal and bread, increased the most.

“If we locate the problem as a problem of availability, then the solution lies within agriculture. If the problem is a problem of affordability, then solution lies in our economics and political choices,” added Julie Smith of the Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action.

Source: eNCA