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

The wonderful world of electronics

Electronics can be mystifying subject. For those of us, who weren’t blessed with a mechanical mind, or who don’t have a physics background, all the talk of circuits, resistors and diodes could be confusing and even downright scary. However, having just basic knowledge of electronics can make all the difference when it comes to having to change the plug.

Wikipedia defines electronics as “dealing with electrical circuits that involve active electrical components, such as vacuum tubes, transistors, diodes and integrated circuits.” It is widely used in information processing, telecommunication and signal processing because it is able to amplify weak signals.

Electrical signals can be classified as either being an alternating current (AC) or a direct current (DC). As the name suggests, and alternating current is electricity that constantly reverses as it flows through the circuit. Most basic electronic circuits, however, use DC electricity, in other words electricity that flows in one direction between the power source (or positive voltage) and the ground.

Electricity needs to flow through a circuit to be utilised. A circuit is a complete and closed path through which electric current can flow. Once that path is opened, electricity will cease to flow.

Electricity in a circuit, without some sort of resistance, is useless. There needs to be something between the positive voltage and the ground that adds resistance to the flow of electricity and converts it to something usable. Removing the resistance will result in a short circuit. A short circuit can lead to your power source (often a battery) and/or circuit overheating, breaking, catching on fire or exploding.

Circuits can be wired in series, or in parallel. In series, things are wired one after another, forcing the electric current to pass from one thing to the next. In parallel, things are wired side by side, allowing electricity to pass through all of them at the same time.

There are many different elements in a circuit and each one has a different purpose.

  • Resistors are poor conductors and are therefore used to control the flow of current from a voltage source;
  • Capacitors also control the flow of charge in a circuit, but they also have the capacity to store charge, like a small battery, releasing electricity when there is a drop in flow;
  • Diodes are polarised components that only allow electrical current to pass through them in one direction;
  • Transistors takes a small electrical current and amplifies it so that a much larger current can pass between its collector and emitter pins;

Finally, what do we use electronics for? The short, uncomplicated answer is a myriad things, including radio transmitters and receivers, television, radar and microwave technology, specialist audio equipment and much, much more. In fact, it is hardly possible to envision a world in which electronics doesn’t play a major role, and nor would we want to.

Taxpayers to fund Eskom shortfall

Cabinet has approved a package to close the funding gap at Eskom, the national treasury said on Sunday. The package, approved at a special cabinet meeting in Cape Town on Thursday, would guarantee energy security and support gross domestic product growth, spokesman Phumza Macanda said in a statement.

“This package was based on recommendations from an Inter-Ministerial Committee which reviewed an extensive set of options available to ensure energy security.”

Eskom faced significant challenges which threatened its sustainability that included a funding gap. Eskom would not generate enough revenue to cover electricity supply costs, which was the cause of the funding gap.

Luxury watchmakers say Apple’s no competition

Jean-Claude Biver, notorius luxury watch industry guru, thinks Apple’s new smart watch looks like it could have been designed by a first year and says it lacks a certain je ne sais quoi.


“It looks a little cold, and lacks, for my taste, a bit of personality. It looks perfect, but perfection sometimes has a lack of sexiness . . . This won’t create another crisis for the Swiss watch industry,” Biver, the president of French luxury group Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy’s (LVMH) watch business was quoted as saying in the Wall Street Journal.

Ouch, you might think, considering the phone maker has ambitions to compete at the premier level in the watch industry, but insiders say the watch pales dismally in comparison to the likes of the high end creations of watchmakers Tag Heuer, Breguet, Tissot, Omega and Harry Winston.


“From the design point of view you cannot say it’s a watch, more an iPhone for the wrist. People may travel with it, but it won’t replace the watch you wear to a party,” Alain Spinedi, chief executive of Montres Louis Erard.


The Apple Watch will be available early next year in two sizes, 38mm and 42mm, and comes in three versions – ranging from colourful to sporty, and a high-end version featuring 18-karat rose and yellow gold, retailing from $349 (R3 844).


Industry players who should be most intimidated by Apple’s newest offering is the Swatch Group, which generates around 15% of its annual sales from watches costing under 500 Swiss francs – the price range the Apple watch will compete in.


Forecasts put Apple Watch sales at around 30 million units in the first year and Exane BNP Paribas analyst Luca Solca, reckons the Swatch Group’s domination of the market could drop to as low as 5% in 2015.


But, Swatch Group CEO Nick Hayek has told the media that he isn’t “nervous” about the competition Apple poses to his company’s sales figures, saying many of the features offered on the Apple Watch like the ‘digital crown’ button already exist on a number of Swiss watches.



Source: Destiny Man

Logo Design and Branding

A good logo design is highly instrumental in establishing a business brand and creating a long lasting impression among its customers. It should be able to create a powerful impact on the viewers and successfully exude the nature and attitude of a business. Ideally, a company logo design should be able to communicate your company ethos, principles, mission and the nature of product/service offered, to the viewers.

A professional logo design would establish a professional image of your company and strengthen your brand. Actually, in most cases the consumer gets the first impression about the company through your logo. Your business logo should build a brand that is strong enough to give your consumer a visual imagery of your company. People should be able to identify your company on sight of your logo.

Trend shows, most of the eye catching logos are simple and often text based. Think of the Vodacom, SONY or Microsoft logo, even if you view a part of it you will be able to recognize the company. It is extremely essential for a logo to be easy for people to remember.

This principle of simplicity applies in most cases, however, we often see exceptions in government organizations, hotels and luxury resorts etc., because they want to put up a classical exclusive image. This again brings us to a very important point that should be considered for a good logo design – the nature of business.

While simplicity can be the basic principle for any logo design, the designs might vary widely depending on the nature of the business. For example, a financial institution might like to use a bold face font to express solidarity and stableness, where as a courier service or transport company might prefer italicized fonts to express the speed and movement involved in their business.

Do some research on designing companies by looking at their portfolio and completed projects. Make an appointment with the designing company to discuss your needs and available budget. While any professional logo designer should be able to create a custom logo design once you have provided them with your specifications, you should be careful to select an experienced designing company and not land up with some single designer start-up venture.

Keep in mind that your logo can vary in sizes to be suitable for your branding products like:

  • Letter heads and footers
  • Business cards
  • Email signature
  • Vehicle branding
  • Business signs
  • Your online products (websites and social media pages)
  • Printed and online advertisements

In addition, while specifying the design requirements for your logo, you should consider the fact that you will probably have to use your logo on fax covers, classified ads and other places, where it will display in black and white. You should ensure that your logo looks equally good and attractive in black and white.

Avoid a very trendy look for your logo if you are planning for a long-term business, because what we concern “modern” today, might be backdated tomorrow. It is very important that your logo designer knows how to maintain this balance.

Last but not the least important factor is price. You are paying for your logo – something that is going to be used to establish your brand and represent your business for years, so you should be ready to pay a decent amount while it is also not necessary to over spend.

With the online logo design firms coming into business, you have a wide choice of price for your logos and it should not be difficult to find a logo designer that fits your budget. Some logo design sites would even allow you to quote your own price for your logo.

Facebook Rooms: what it could mean for your company

Facebook, Inc. have just launched their new app, “Rooms” across iOS devices in the US, with an eventual rollout to more devices and areas, what could this mean for your company?

The basis behind the Rooms harkens back to the old chatrooms of the IRC days, where users could interact, communicate and share on a particular topic. And what Rooms does, is take that a step further in an Instagram style layout allowing large images and video, captions, posts and link sharing.

That, coupled with privacy settings that allow users complete anonymity and group moderation options gives Rooms a potential to be a useful tool for conversation and sharing online.

At this stage, the app is only receiving a small rollout in the US App Store, and having spoken with Facebook’s Josh Miller, the man behind the app’s development, the plan is for a larger scale rollout worldwide within the next few weeks. Plans are also underway to iron out small details and work on releasing a few more core facilities (like search possibilities as an example).

But what could this mean for your brand?

There are a lot of opportunities that Facebook Rooms could bring for a company or brand – but let me preface everything by saying that by no means am I advocating you creating a Room about your brand and flooding the market with your invite. This is the internet – you will be eaten alive.

What rooms does allow for a brand, is an opportunity to connect and communicate in an existing community about your brand – as a person. Seek out conversations around the space in which you play, and monitor the conversations. It will give you key insights into your consumer, and every so often you have the ability to comment, or help someone. There cannot, and should not, be an advertising motive in any interaction you have.

And while there is the option to create specific, anonymous usernames across various rooms, don’t be tempted to create a fake persona that advocates your product – be who you are – be your brand.

Just be it, the right way. And if you’re not sure what that “right way” is – ask.

What could this mean for your company?

I think one of the lost arts within companies in 2014, surrounded by the miasma of social media is the ability to not feel fear. Companies fear what their employees will say about them online, and pose harsh restrictions on communication.

Although I’m of the opinion that if you’re worried your employees will complain about you – it’s probably you doing something wrong, but that’s another story.

Fostering meaningful, constructive communication and criticism is a vital aspect of corporate communication and something that has fallen by the way side in so many companies over the years. I’ve often likened this to the “Suggestion Box” concept, which is generally followed by rolled eyes and groans.

This is the space within which Facebook Rooms could occupy for your company – a place to allow your employees to anonymously communicate within your organisation. Whether this becomes a hub of bile and vitriol or a place to share and inspire should be left entirely up to your employees, and this is an ideal litmus test for your corporate culture.

Adoption rates for these kinds of things are, regrettably low, I’ll admit. However, companies have found success in similar ventures when their employees are empowered and feel safe that their communications are in fact private and that recourse is not an option.

And it is up to you, the organisation, to honour that agreement. To monitor the conversation. And above all else – to listen.

Then do something about it

This is the sensibility that applies internally and externally. Listen to the employees, and listen to your consumers. Then act on what they want. Not what you want.

By shifting your own paradigm, you will find a tremendous opportunity ahead of you. Whether you adopt Facebook Rooms or not.

Source: Digital Platforms

Audi's four-door TT concept leaks ahead of Paris debut

If the images are legitimate, and German publication Auto Zeitung claims they are, the car will be nearly 30cm longer than the standard TT to make room for rear-seat passengers and two rear doors.

This would position it as a direct competitor to other ‘fastback’ vehicles such as the Mercedes CLA, the Volkswagen Passat CC and potentially Audi’s own five-door A3 model.

However, it will have four-wheel drive and a tuned 2-liter turbocharged engine that will be capable of putting out 400hp so clearly it has Mercedes and BMW, rather than parent company VW in its sights.

There is a growing trend for manufacturers to take a star model and extend it into its own breakout range.
When BMW revived the Mini back in 2001 it did so with a single car with three levels of performance, but now it is a full-blown range offering coupés, estates and even a soft-roader.

Fiat is currently doing the same with the 500. It’s already available as a mini-MPV and an SUV version will be making its debut at the Paris Motor Show next week.

And there’s little doubt that the TT has the appeal and the cachet to go beyond being simply a hardtop coupé and soft-top roadster and Audi has already tested the water on numerous occasions over the past 12 months, revealing a two-door shooting break and a crossover SUV take on the car at autoshows.

The fastback would be the third design study of 2014, and while it’s merely a concept, Audi more than any other manufacturer has a habit of taking concepts and making them production realities.

Therefore expect to see something very like the TT fastback on a road near you by 2017.

Source: The Times