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ICC gives South Africa more time to explain failure to arrest Bashir
October 17, 2015 | 0 Comments

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir greets his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma (L) at the Palace in Khartoum February 1, 2015. REUTERS/ Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir greets his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma (L) at the Palace in Khartoum February 1, 2015. REUTERS/ Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah[/caption]

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – The International Criminal Court has given South Africa more time to explain why it failed to arrest Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, accused by the ICC of war crimes, when he visited the country in June.

As an ICC signatory, South Africa is obliged to implement warrants from the court. But when Bashir visited for an African Union summit, the government refused to arrest him, and allowed him to leave the country in violation of a domestic court order.

The ICC had initially given South Africa until Oct. 5 to defend its decision. But the government, currently reviewing a high court ruling that authorities erred in letting Bashir leave, said it needed more time to respond.

South Africa should report back to the ICC on the progress of legal proceedings no later than Dec. 31, the court, based in the Dutch city of The Hague, said in a statement.

The failure to detain Bashir was a blow to the ICC, which has come under criticism from African states for what they see as its disproportionate focus on their continent.

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress said this month it wants to withdraw from the ICC because powerful nations use it to “trample” human rights and pursue “selfish interests”.

The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Bashir in 2009, accusing him of masterminding genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Sudan’s Darfur region, where an estimated 300,000 people were killed and more than 2 million displaced.

*Source Reuters/Yahoo]]>

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DR Congo, S. Africa vow to step up work on giant hydro dam
October 17, 2015 | 0 Comments

A view of the Inga dam, located some 350 kilometers southwest of Kinshasa, taken on August 30, 1998 (AFP Photo/Issouf Sanogo) A view of the Inga dam, located some 350 kilometers southwest of Kinshasa, taken on August 30, 1998 (AFP Photo/Issouf Sanogo)[/caption]

Kinshasa (AFP) – The Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa vowed Friday to step up work on a massive new hydroelectric dam on the Congo River that could provide power to the entire continent.

DR Congo President Joseph Kabila and his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma welcomed progress so far on the multi-billion dollar Inga 3 dam project, a statement said, after their talks in Kinshasa.

But the leaders also urged authorities in their two countries to “speed up the process with a view to resolving all the outstanding issues… in order to clear the way for carrying out this pan-African project”, Congolese Foreign Minister Raymond Tshibanda said reading from the statement.

The Congo is Africa’s most powerful river and already a major producer of hydroelectric power, but the Inga 3 would be unprecedented.

The Inga 3 Basse Chute project near Matadi would divert Congo River waters into a 12-kilometre (7.5-mile) channel and then pass them through a 100-metre-high (330-foot) hydropower dam in the Bundi Valley before releasing the water back into the river. The intake would be above the existing Inga 1 and Inga 2 dams, and the outflow downstream from both. The dam is expected to generate 4,800 megawatts of power, equivalent to the output of three third-generation nuclear reactors, and boost power supplies to a region starved of electricity. The estimated 12-billion-dollar Inga 3 project first got off the ground more than a decade ago. After languishing for years it was revitalised by a 2013 promise by South Africa — which has endured years of rolling blackouts caused by power shortages — to buy more than a half of the power produced there, effectively ensuring its financial viability.

Despite being financially supported by the World Bank and African Development Bank, the dam has faced delays.

In April, the World Bank said building would not begin until 2017 at the earliest.

In west Africa, Guinea last month inaugurated a $500-million hydropower plant in a bid to boost its power-starved national grid.

*AFP/YAHOO]]>

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“They value their body parts more than their life” – Urgent appeal to stop attacks against persons with albinism
October 15, 2015 | 0 Comments

_79608074_img_6091United Nations human rights expert Ikponwosa Ero today issued an urgent appeal for coordinated action in southern and eastern Africa  to tackle the upsurge in attacks against persons with albinism. Ms. Ero’s warned that “an apparent increase in demand for body parts of persons with albinism has been has been reported in the run up to elections in several African countries.” “Persons with albinism are amongst the most vulnerable persons in the region,” noted the first UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism. “After centuries of chronic neglect of their plight, they have been relegated to the fringes of society where stigma and discrimination in every aspect of their lives have been normalized.” “Today, their woe has been compounded by a constant fear of attacks by people –including family members – who value their body parts more than their life,” the human rights expert stressed. “I am deeply concern at the highly disturbing pattern of increase in attacks when elections occur in the region.” Ms. Ero called on affected governments “to carry out as a matter of urgency specific measures particularly through regional and international collaboration to bring an end to these abhorrent crimes.” She also urged “all political parties to ensure that their candidates and supporters are not associated directly or indirectly with such grave human rights violations.” Since the Independent Expert took office on August 1, attacks have been reported in 6 countries in the region. These include the case of a 56 years old man with albinism from Kenya who was attacked with some of his body parts hacked off. He later succumbed to his injuries. A month earlier, the remains of the dismembered body of a 20 year old woman with albinism were found in a shallow grave in her village of Phelandaba in South Africa. Most of her body parts as well as her skin were missing. The expert welcomed the prompt reaction of the South African authorities that led to a 20 year conviction for two of the perpetrators involved. Note to editors: Albinism is a congenital condition which affects about one in 17,000 to 20,000 in Europe and North America. According to the World Health Organization, it is more common in sub-Saharan Africa, with an estimate of one in every 5,000 to 15,000. In several ethnic groups in the region, estimates are as high as one in 1,000 to 1,500 persons. Learn more, check the special website: “People with albinism: not ghosts, but human beings – albinism.ohchr.org *APO/OHCHR]]>

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Ruling party wants S.Africa to pull out of ICC
October 12, 2015 | 0 Comments

Johannesburg (AFP) – South Africa’s ruling party said on Sunday it wanted the country to withdraw from the International Criminal Court, saying the court has lost direction and no longer fulfilled its mandate.

[caption id="attachment_21383" align="alignleft" width="300"]A picture taken on June 14, 2015 shows Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir attending the opening session at the 25th African Union Summit in Sandton, Johannesburg (AFP Photo/Gianluigi Guercia) A picture taken on June 14, 2015 shows Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir attending the opening session at the 25th African Union Summit in Sandton, Johannesburg (AFP Photo/Gianluigi Guercia)[/caption]

The decision comes after a spat with The Hague-based court over South Africa’s failure to arrest Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir when he arrived in the country in June to attend an African Union summit.

“The National General Council has just resolved that South Africa should withdraw from the international court. However, only after we have followed certain processes,” said Obed Bapela, who heads the ANC party’s international relations commission.

The resolution came out of an ANC policy meeting where leaders are reviewing the party’s policies ahead of the country’s municipal elections in 2016.

The ANC said it still believed in the founding principles of the ICC, such as prevention of genocide and stopping the violations of human rights, and that such principles led the country to become a signatory to the Rome Statute that governs the court.

But Bapela said that the ICC “has lost its direction”. South Africa was the first African country to sign up to the ICC and adopted the court’s founding Rome Statute into domestic law in 2002. The ANC also raised concern that there were powerful nations which were refusing to be members of the court, yet have “unfettered powers to refer matters to the ICC”. The United States is one of the countries that is not a member of the ICC. Bapela also said the reasons for the South Africa move would have to be shared with the rest of the continent.

The government earlier this year issued a threat to sever ties with the ICC following the Bashir saga.

South Africa’s failure to arrest Bashir sparked international condemnation, prompting the international court to order Pretoria to explain its decision.

This month, government asked for an extension of the October 5 deadline to give its reason.

Bashir is wanted by the ICC for alleged war crimes related to the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan.

The government has argued that he had immunity from arrest because he was visiting the country as the head of a member state of the African Union.

*Source AFP/Yahoo]]>

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Zuma succession debate overshadows ANC conference
October 10, 2015 | 0 Comments

The ruling African National Congress is still held in high regard by those loyal to Nelson Mandela's legacy The ruling African National Congress is still held in high regard by those loyal to Nelson Mandela’s legacy[/caption]

South Africa’s governing party is at a crossroads as it begins its policy review conference in Johannesburg – whether the African National Congress should follow its business-friendly National Development Plan, or to implement a more radical economic strategy.

But most of the 3,000 delegates from across the country will have their minds on something else. Top of the official agenda for the ANC is to find new ways to jump-start a sluggish economy and deal with the shambolic energy supply which is holding the country back. But it also hopes to dig deep into the party’s soul – looking for that great infectious optimism which swept the nation and the rest of the world when Nelson Mandela became the country’s first black president, following the end of white-minority rule 21 years ago. ANC leaders have admitted and spoken openly about the cancer of corruption and the demonic in-fighting that are plaguing the 103-year-old liberation movement. The nation’s hopes are pinned on a thorough introspection at the National General Council – the party’s mid-term policy review conference. But another issue is likely to dominate the sidelines of the conference. It has very little to do with the troubled party’s will to deliver real material change for the masses of the people. The elephant in the room is: The party’s leadership succession battle, which to all intents and purposes is already underway. President Zuma is in his second and last term as president of the country. He is not, by law, allowed to stand for a third term in 2019. _85973862_ancsupportersHe is expected to step down as leader of the party when his current term expires in 2017 to prepare for a new national leader, as the ANC says it does not want two centres of power. Judging by the ANC’s overwhelming victory in last year’s general election, the party’s leader would be favourite to move on to become national president. Current party deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa is in pole position to assume the highest office in the land – that’s if all goes according to plan. However, the ANC would not be the organisation I know if everything went according to plan. Already there is a strong voice coming from lobbyists who want President Zuma’s former wife and chair of the African Union, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, to be the ANC’s next president. Structures of the ANC on the ground are divided. The Women’s League says it is time for a female president. Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, who is also the treasurer in the women’s wing, told me they are ready for a woman president. But she denies it will sidetrack her from the issues at hand. “Here at the NGC, we will spend 90% of our time discussing policy reviews,” she said. “That’s what we are here for. We will not pre-occupy ourselves with the party leadership matters until 2017.”

Zuma ‘endorses ex-wife’

Susan Booysen, a professor at Wits University’s school of governance and the author of The African National Congress and the Regeneration of Political Power, told me that Mr Ramaphosa is not guaranteed to be the next president. She told me: “He is the fire fighter for many of the issues for the Zuma government but he is not safe because he was a default [compromise] candidate.” She also said that President Zuma “by all indications… has endorsed Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma”. Some say that President Zuma may be endorsing his former wife in order to look after his interests in retirement. The pair remain on cordial terms. The president of the trade union federation Cosatu, which is allied to the ANC, Sdumo Dlamini, recently told a workers’ march that it was too early to talk about the ANC’s succession race, and those who did so were putting the party at risk. He said: “We say to the ANC: 2017 is two years from now, the rush to debate about the leadership in 2017 is a recipe for disaster for all of us.” [caption id="attachment_21359" align="alignleft" width="624"]Cyril Ramaphosa (L) is believed to be the front runner to succeed Jacob Zuma as African National Congress leader Cyril Ramaphosa (L) is believed to be the front runner to succeed Jacob Zuma as African National Congress leader[/caption] Another influential supporter of President Zuma, Blade Nzimande who is also minister of Higher Education and leader of the South African Communist Party (SACP) warned a crowd of protesters, who were standing in the heatwave currently sweeping Johannesburg, against ambitious politicians who use money to secure delegates’ support. He said: “If you buy delegates for the conference it means nawe [you too] can be bought. They will be bought by the single highest imperialist bidder.” While delegates insist that they are just going to deliberate about policy matters such as education, health, and the economy, behind the scenes, the different factions will be hard at work lobbying for their preferred candidate. The fight for the soul of the ruling party is in full swing, whether on the record or off it. *Source BBC]]>

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VISA Goes For The African Market
October 5, 2015 | 0 Comments

Morocco and Francophone Africa Mohamed Touhami El Ouazzani talks about the growth of electronic payments and the expansion of Visa services in Africa. Can you tell us about the operations of Visa in Africa, in how many countries do you operate? [caption id="attachment_21219" align="alignleft" width="586"]Touhami El Ouazzani Touhami El Ouazzani[/caption] Africa is the continent that is currently witnessing a considerable growth in the adoption of electronic payments due to mobile penetration and the inclination of a number of African countries to use mobile as an effective tool of financial inclusion.  According to the Financial Inclusion Index, the global Findex database, globally, nearly all adults who reported owning an account said that they have an account at a financial institution: 60 percent reported having a financial institution account only, 1 percent having both a financial institution account and a mobile money account, and 1 percent a mobile money account only. Sub-Saharan Africa is an exception to this global picture. There, almost a third of account holders—or 12 percent of all adults—reported having a mobile money account. Within this group, about half reported having both a mobile money account and an account at a financial institution, and half having a mobile money account only. The figures released by the Findex suggest that Kenya has the highest share of adults with a mobile money account, at 58 percent, followed by Somalia, Tanzania, and Uganda with about 35 percent. In southern Africa, penetration of mobile money accounts is also relatively high, at 14 percent, but just 2 percent of adults reported having a mobile money account only. This clearly indicates how technology is being used to make strides in financial inclusion efforts. Visa is quite aware of this fact and our products and services do aim at reaching unbanked segments, through our financial partners, while utilizing innovation and technology. Earlier this year, United Bank of Africa Cameroon, a Visa client, won the innovation award for a cobranded Student ID Visa Prepaid concept that aims to provide students with a multi-function Visa card. The card, which serves as an ID for student, contains vital information such as the department, university year and can be used internationally. During the past three months, we ran a promotional campaign in Senegal, DRC, Ivory Coast, and Cameroon to increase awareness of electronic payments. Towards the goal of achieving universal financial access, Visa will work toward providing electronic payment accounts to another 500 million underserved people by end of 2020. We operate in more than 200 countries and territories and we do have a strong presence in Africa. What does Africa gain from using your product and why should it be preferred over other competitors like Master card? Africa represents great potential. When you look at Senegal, DRC, Ivory Coast, and Cameroon, you find countries that are picking up in terms of adoption and awareness in addition to efforts to create communities that are aware of the benefits of electronic payment. As a global payments technology company, we see one of the most valuable contributions we can make is helping to bring more people into the formal financial system. We do so by creating pathways to financial inclusion for the financially underserved through our products, services, technology, payments expertise; financial literacy tools and resources; and our strategic partnerships. Through our continuous cooperation with banks in Africa, we aim to help our clients avail innovative products and services to cardholders. Visa applies 50 years of experience and investments to ensure consumers, businesses and governments in more than 200 countries can engage in commerce with absolute peace-of-mind. They expect Visa to work securely, everywhere – every time. Today, more than 22 percent of global consumer spend is enabled by Visa products. As payments migrate to smartphones, tablets and other connected devices, VisaNet – our global network – is the ideal foundation for innovation and growth. Our technology investments are aimed at making commerce safer, easier and smarter, enabling new ways to pay, while providing merchants and financial institutions with deeper and more accurate insights. VisaNet provides secure, reliable payments for more than 2.3 billion Visa account holders, 40 million merchants and 15,000 financial institutions around the globe while the intelligence and speed of our network allows Visa to authenticate sellers and buyers with 97 percent accuracy – in less than 300 milliseconds. Africa can sometimes be very challenging, what has the experience been like doing business in Africa? Brands-VisaVisa is working closely with financial institutions in Africa to ensure that we target the segment of the unbanked aiming at achieving our goal to reach 500 million unbanked people by 2020. We anticipate that Africa will be one of the focus areas in the coming months and years especially with more people depending on mobile technologies and adapting to it. Numerous studies, including our own expectations, suggest that Africa will be hot spot for electronic payments in the near future and we are making sure that we will avail the technologies, products, and services that would facilitate this transition. As we anticipate this, we engage in financial literacy efforts like the financial literacy road shows we implemented in South Africa to deliver educational lessons in an entertaining forum. In Rwanda, we launched a localized financial literacy program in partnership with the Government of Rwanda. If you had recommendations that could help good business thrive, what will there be? We believe that the widespread use of electronic payments resulted in the expansion of sales volume of goods and services. Electronic payments play an important role in easing geographic barriers to trade. Small and medium business account for a large portion of any economy and the resorting to electronic payments can make a difference and have a positive impact on small and medium businesses. It can help them grow their sales, expand to different geographies, and better manage their financials. According to a research by payment service provider Sage Pay, the average cost of handling cash for UK SMBs has reached more than £17.8bn a year, or £3,638.57 per retailer. The study said, “Businesses are not investing enough in new payment technologies, despite consumer demand. Thirty six per cent of consumers say they are more likely to shop at places that offer a range of payment methods or innovative payment types.  And more than half of businesses agree that offering a range of payment options drives loyalty.” Besides business what is it that global businesses like Visa do to give back to the community? Our sense of global mission and purpose is driven by our concern for the economic and social well-being of people around the globe. We group our initiatives into three areas:

  • Financial Inclusion Using our products, services, payments expertise, financial literacy resources, and philanthropic investments to bring more people into the formal financial system as a key step in lifting themselves out of poverty.
  • Humanitarian Aid and Community Support Giving back to the communities in which we live and work by supporting global humanitarian aid as well as local community organizations through both corporate donations and employee involvement.
  • Responsible Business Practices upholding the highest ethical business practices and operations through governance, fair employee and supplier policies and practices, and an understanding of our environmental impact.
In 2003 the Dominican Republic experienced an economic crisis that left 1 million people in poverty. Aid distribution to the population was not transparent, disorganized, and inefficient. In the years to follow, Visa was asked to support the Government in developing a program, using its expertise in the payments industry, to develop the Solidaridad Visa prepaid, reloadable cards. Over US$1.3 billion has been distributed to over 990,000 beneficiaries on Visa Solidaridad cards. In Nigeria, as in most countries, women require financial tools that are convenient, safe, and reliable. With support from Visa and Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access (EFInA), Women’s World Banking (WWB) worked with Diamond Bank in Nigeria in 2012 to develop a commercially-viable savings product tailored to the needs of low-income women. The savings account can be accessed via a bank branch, ATM, bank agents or mobile money agents.  Over 100,000 accounts have been opened since the program began. In Morocco, Visa worked with a local theatre group, Daba Teatre, to develop and produce the play “Lalla Kheira.” Visa Morocco, commissioned the play in 2013 to illustrate the trials and tribulations of not having financial education and how being financially literate can improve one’s life, targeting youth primarily from the ages of 12 – 25. The play went on a road show in three key cities in Morocco (Tanger, Rabat, and Casablanca) in 2013 reaching 1000 students directly and 3 million through the media. Bank Banque Populaire, which has joined the goal of raising financial literacy awareness in Morocco, equally endorsed the play. timthumbIn Rwanda, the World Food Programme (WFP) collaborated with Visa, MIDIMAR, and UNHCR to deploy an electronic cash transfer pilot program using a mobile Visa solution. Each month, refugees receive a text message when their disbursement is available and recipients can immediately purchase items at merchants and withdraw cash at any registered agent. Mobile e-transfer solution has reduced aid disbursement time and costs for WFP as well as provided new market opportunities, including increased merchant sales within the local community. The Visa solution has now expanded to a second camp and is supporting over 28,000 refugees. Over 80% of the money transferred to beneficiaries was used to make purchases electronically at mVISA merchants (as of January 2015). Africa is one of the biggest markets, what strategy does Visa have in place to exploit the opportunities that the African market offers? Visa realizes the potential in Africa and works closely with clients in African markets to raise awareness of electronic payments and avail products and solutions that would help in the financial inclusion of Africans. It is very important for us to partner with governments, clients, and mobile operators in order to capitalize on the widespread use of mobile technology in order to reach unbanked segments. Our innovations will empower clients to reach such segments and play a role in providing them with secure, convenient, reliable, and relevant products and solutions.        ]]>

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Dedisa Peaking Power in Port Elizabeth starts commercial operation
October 4, 2015 | 0 Comments

The plant adds 335 MW power to the national transmission system, in the Eastern Cape Province  

  • The plant adds 335 MW power to the national transmission system, in the Eastern Cape Province
  • Dedisa Peaking Power is South Africa’s first large independent power project originated by the Department of Energy, together with Avon Peaking Power (Durban) that is still under construction.
  • The plant is of major importance for the economic development of the Coega Industrial Development Zone, where it is located.
  1fcc476f4682f14Dedisa Peaking Power, a venture of ENGIE (formerly GDF SUEZ, France), black majority owned Legend Power Solutions (RSA), Mitsui & Co., Ltd. (Japan), and The Peaker Trust (RSA) representing the community in the area, today announced that it has started commercial operation of the 335 MW Dedisa Peaking Power Project in Port Elizabeth (Eastern Cape). Together with the 670 MW Avon Peaking Power Project near Durban (KwaZulu-Natal), Dedisa is South Africa’s first large scale independent power project originated by the Department of Energy. The power generated by these two open cycle gas turbine power plants will be sold to Eskom Holdings, South Africa’s state-owned utility, under a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) over a 15-year term. The construction of Dedisa Peaking Power, by the consortium of Ansaldo Energia and Fata of Italy, started in September 2013. It has been a major source of local employment, with a peak of ca. 1,400 workers on site reached in November 2014. Recruitment as well as local subcontracting were made largely in coordination with the COEGA Development Corporation, the industrial development zone authority. The achievements of the project during construction, in terms of job creation, skills transfer and BEE, exceeded the objectives agreed with the South African Government: 70% of total workforce employed to construct the facility was from the local black communities, with 57% black management, and in excess of 2.3% of payroll was spent on skills development initiatives. The operation of the plant will create permanent direct and indirect jobs for the local community over the 15 years of the PPA. The start of operations will also benefit The Peaker Trust, an independent trust that has been established to ensure that local broad-based black organizations and communities can benefit from the project. The trust owns 10% of Dedisa and the dividends it gets out of the plant operations will go to local socio-economic development initiatives for at least 15 years (i.e. the duration of the PPA). Arnaud de Limburg, CEO of Dedisa Peaking Power, commented: “Dedisa has started commercial operation on schedule and I want to sincerely thank everyone who has contributed to this achievement for their efforts and support. We owe our success to a solid partnership, strong support from both local and national Authorities, and highly motivated teams. I’m also proud that we have attained our goal with the utmost attention to our economic development objectives. Looking ahead, I am confident that in the frame of South Africa’s Gas Master Plan we will be able to convert the Dedisa facility to baseload and combined cycle as envisaged by the Department of Energy.ENGIE  develops its key businesses – power, natural gas and energy services – around a model of responsible growth to take on the major challenges of the transition to a low-carbon economy. The Group provides communities, governments, cities and businesses with highly efficient and innovative solutions based on its expertise in four key sectors: independent power production, natural gas, renewable energy and energy efficiency services. ENGIE employs 153,000 people worldwide and achieved revenues of €75 billion in 2014. The Group is listed on the Paris and Brussels stock exchanges and is represented in the major international indices. In South Africa, ENGIE (in joint venture with local partners) is also operating the 94 MW West Coast 1 wind farm. The Group has been nominated as preferred bidder for Kathu Solar Park, a 100 MW Concentrated Solar Power project, and is actively pursuing other renewable power projects in the Republic. engie.com Legend Power Solutions (Pty) Ltd, a South African black owned company was founded in 2005 to focus on opportunities in the Energy sector. Among the key individuals involved are business people with experience and expertise in the Energy and ICT sectors. The group has technical, regulatory and commercial expertise in developing strategic infrastructure projects in the energy and gas fields. The Directors of the Company include Mpho Scott (Chairman), Yusuf Mahomed, Mashudu Ramano, Shaheen Bawa, Cliff Lewis, Mashudu Tshivhase and Koos Smit. Mitsui & Co., Ltd. (“Mitsui”) is one of the most diversified and comprehensive trading, investment and service enterprises in the world, with 140 offices in 66 countries as of May 2015. Utilizing its global operating locations, network and information resources, it is multilaterally pursuing business that ranges from product sales, worldwide logistics and financing, through to the development of major international infrastructure and other projects in the following fields: Iron & Steel Products, Mineral & Metal Resources, Infrastructure Projects, Integrated Transportation Systems, Chemicals, Energy, Food Resources, Food Products & Services, Consumer Services, IT & Communication, Corporate Development Business. Mitsui is actively taking on challenges for global business innovation around the world.  mitsui.com In order to promote broad-based black economic empowerment (“BBBEE”) in South Africa, the developers of the Project have founded The Peaker Trust so that South African black communities can participate through the Trust as a co-sponsor of the Project along with the other sponsors. Accordingly, following its formation, the Peaker Trust holds ten percent (10%) of the shareholding of the Avon Project Company and the Dedisa Project Company. The Peaker Trust is administered by a Board of Trustees, and its objective is to promote and advance Broad Based Black Enterprises with a preference for the empowerment of women, workers, youth, the disabled or people living in proximity to the Avon Facility or the Dedisa Facility. *APO  ]]>

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Rael renews support for President Jacob Zuma of South Africa
October 4, 2015 | 0 Comments

Rael, spiritual leader of the International Raelian Movement Rael, spiritual leader of the International Raelian Movement[/caption] In a statement released today, Rael, spiritual leader of the International Raelian Movement (rael.org), expressed congratulations and full support for President Jacob Zuma of South Africa. He applauded Zuma’s recent statements about Christianity’s key role in causing the problems now facing Kama (the pre-colonial, indigenous term
 for Africa.) Rael reminded Africans that the enslavement of millions of black Africans sent to the Americas and Europe, plus the suffering that wrought, were due to a pope’s pronouncement that “the black has no soul” and could therefore be captured and sold as an animal. Rael also reiterated his request that African blacks massively apostatize from a Christian church “that imposed itself by force and violence.” “The black peoples should always remember that their ancestors had no choice, but were forced to become Christians to escape torture and death,” he said. “Today, apostasy is the only remaining way for black Christians to obtain the forgiveness of their ancestors.” He added that those ancestors “are in heaven with the Elohim” (the extraterrestrial scientists who according to Raelian philosophy created all life on Earth). In 2011, Rael awarded Zuma the title “Honorary Guide for Humanity,” citing statements Zuma had made about the role of the Catholic Church in destroying the ancestral family structure, in which there were no orphans. “All Raelians in Kama are applauding and supporting President Zuma’s statements,” said Raelian Guide Dr. Tai Ehouan, head of Kama’s Raelian Movement. “His insight shows that at least some leaders of Kama/Africa are conscious of the damage done by Christianity, and that they are concerned about the continent’s future.” “After the worst possible treatments of our ancestors by the Catholic Church, how can a black be a Christian today?” asked Raelian Guide Uriel Nawej Kayemb, author of “White Poison,” a book whose subtitle, “A Black Christian is a Traitor to His Ancestors,” was inspired by Rael. “Let us not forget that the truth about our origins can be found within the beautiful Zulu traditions,” Kayemb said. “Traces of our creators from space, the Elohim of the original ancient Hebrew Bible, can be found in them. The Zulu people worshiped these space people, who were known as the ‘Amazulu’ before the British and Christianity arrived. In the Zulu language, ‘Amazulu’ is a plural word. Like ‘Elohim,’ also a plural, it means ‘those who came from the sky.’ The name ‘Zulu’ is derived from the Amazulu, the Elohim, and Zulu traditions are closely linked to their ancient teachings.” “During coming months in Kama, we will intensify the ongoing campaign of apostasy launched by Rael a decade ago,” Ehouan said. “Kama must free itself!” *APO]]>

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South Africa Rises 7 Places in Annual WEF Global Competitiveness Index
October 2, 2015 | 0 Comments

200 (2)Brand South Africa  today welcomed the 2015/16 results of the World Economic Forum’s annual Global Competitiveness Index which sees South Africa rise seven places from 56 to 49 of 140 countries. Speaking about South Africa’s significantly improved performance in the Global Competitiveness Index, Brand South Africa’s CEO Kingsley Makhubela said, “Building a country’s competitiveness is a collective endevour involving the collaboration of government, business and civil society.  Ultimately it involves all South Africans to coalesce around this national objective.” “The results of the 2015/16 Global Competitiveness Index shows that South Africa has made significant improvements towards ensuring we are a globally competitive destination.  The report resonates with our own assessment that we must work towards strengthening, amongst others, the education and health sectors to ensure our sustained competitiveness.  The National Development Plan outlines the steps we need to take to achieve this.” “We thank all South Africans for your contribution to building South Africa’s competitiveness and look forward to further improvements in the next year,” concluded Mr Makhubela. South Africa’s biggest improvements come in the areas of: infrastructure (up 8 places), health and primary education (up 6 places), labour market efficiency (up 6 places), technological readiness (up 16 places), and innovation (up 5 places). South Africa has also improved in the areas of: macro-economic environment (up 4 places), higher education and training (up 3 places), and business sophistication (up 2 places). South Africa has dropped in the area of institutions (down 2 places), goods market efficiency (down 6 places), financial market development (down 5 places) and market size (down 4 places). Brand South Africa  is the official marketing agency of South Africa, with a mandate to build the country’s brand reputation, in order to improve its global competitiveness. Its aim is also to build pride and patriotism among South Africans, in order to contribute to social cohesion and nation brand ambassadorship. *APO]]>

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S. Africa's Anti-Corruption Marches Challenge Zuma
October 1, 2015 | 0 Comments

PRETORIA— [caption id="attachment_21097" align="alignleft" width="300"]Demonstrators carry placards as they march to protest against corruption in Cape Town, South Africa, Sept. 30, 2015. Demonstrators carry placards as they march to protest against corruption in Cape Town, South Africa, Sept. 30, 2015.[/caption] Thousands of South Africans from trade unions, opposition parties and civil society groups marched against corruption on Wednesday, calling on President Jacob Zuma to clean up government before local elections next year. Civil society groups organized protests in the capital Pretoria and in Cape Town. More marches are due next month. Opposition political parties latched onto the opportunity to mobilize crowds to criticize Zuma’s African National Congress (ANC) with some local votes expected to be tight next year, including in Gauteng, home to the economic hub of Johannesburg. “Corruption is killing our country,” said Levy Mabokachaba, 41, a member of the left-wing Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), as rowdy crowds waved placards and sang anti-government songs. “This president just does what he wants and we won’t stand for it any longer,” Mabokachaba said. “The people are demanding change. It all starts from the president.” The ANC released a statement that said it welcomed the marches and hoped the organizations involved would support its efforts to “subdue the scourge of corruption.” The Democratic Alliance, the main opposition party, said on Tuesday it wants police to investigate the ANC after Tokyo-based Hitachi paid to settle a U.S. investigation into improper payments made to the South African government. The Hitachi case is the latest corruption scandal to taint the ANC, which is still reeling from accusations it paid a $10 million bribe to win the right to host the 2010 World Cup. The ANC denies those charges. Zuma was asked to step down by his opponents after the public prosecutor said last March the president had benefited unduly from an “excessive” $23 million state-funded security upgrade to his country home. Zuma denies wrongdoing. The leaders at the march in Pretoria included EFF head Julius Malema and former trade union boss Zwelinzima Vavi, both fervent Zuma critics. That prompted some to question whether the campaign had been politically hijacked. “There are a lot of political parties involved and they have their agenda, but we also have a lot of other organizations and individuals here,” said Babalwa Freemantle, 26, one of the organizers at Unite Against Corruption, an NGO. “Corruption impacts everybody.” Fewer people attended the march than promised after workers were warned not to take the day off. Nationwide anti-corruption marches are due on Oct. 14, when workers will be protected if they decide to march. If the campaign picks up momentum, Zuma risks losing more support from the tens of millions of working-class black South Africans who have supported the ANC since the end of apartheid 21 years ago. “People don’t have houses or water. They are homeless and hungry because there is a lot of corruption,” said Brick Mololo, 57, gripping a “No to Exploitation” placard. “Zuma must step down,” he said. *Source VOA/Reuters]]>

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S.Africa's ANC rejects US charges of 'improper payments'
September 30, 2015 | 0 Comments

South Africa's ruling ANC denies US charges it took improper payments from Hitachi linked to power station construction projects (AFP Photo/Marco Longari) South Africa’s ruling ANC denies US charges it took improper payments from Hitachi linked to power station construction projects (AFP Photo/Marco Longari)[/caption]

Johannesburg (AFP) – South Africa’s ruling ANC party on Tuesday denied US charges that it took improper payments from Hitachi in connection with the construction of multi-billion-dollar power plants.

The charges stem from a deal in the late 2000’s in which Tokyo-based construction company Hitachi sold a 25 percent stake in a South African subsidiary to an alleged front company of the African National Congress (ANC).

The ANC, which led South Africa’s fight against the apartheid regime, has ruled the country since Nelson Mandela won presidential elections in 1994 but the party has become increasingly enmeshed in corruption scandals.

Hitachi has agreed to pay $19 million to settle the case, but the ANC dismissed all allegations of improper payment involving Chancellor House, an ANC investment company.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said Monday that the deal “gave the front company and the ANC the ability to share in the profits from any power station contracts that Hitachi secured.” “The ANC categorically states that the organisation was not involved, implicated nor approached to answer on anything relating to the charges brought against Hitachi,” Zweli Mkhize, treasurer general of the ANC, said in a statement. “The ANC was further not involved in the transaction between Hitachi and Chancellor House.”

Mamatho Netsianda, Chancellor House managing director, told AFP he was “surprised” by the charge levelled by the SEC.

“(Hitachi) are the ones who have been indicted, not us,” he added.

Facing mounting public pressure, in 2014 Hitachi bought back the 25 percent stake in its subsidiary from the ANC.

Delays and errors by contractors including Hitachi have held up the launch of power plants in South Africa, exacerbating dire electricity cuts that have smothered growth in Africa’s most developed economy.

Mass protests against government graft are planned in Pretoria and Cape Town on Wednesday.

Public anger over alleged corruption has focused on $24 million state-funded upgrades to President Jacob Zuma’s private residence.

*Source AFP/Yahoo]]>

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Nigerian Canmaker Takes on Nampak With South African Factory
September 29, 2015 | 0 Comments

By  * 1.8billion150620151GZ Industries Ltd. of Nigeria plans to expand into South Africa with the construction of a 1 billion rand ($71 million) factory, becoming the second beverage-can maker afterNampak Ltd. to have operations in the country. Nampak shares fell the most in four months. GZI agreed to a partnership with local packaging maker Golden Era Group and will build a plant in Johannesburg with annual capacity of 1.2 billion cans, the Agbara, Nigeria-based company said in an e-mailed statement on Tuesday. The factory will start operations in the second quarter of next year and supply other southern African countries, it said. “This partnership with Golden Era accelerates our access to new markets across southern Africa, and consolidates our ongoing expansion efforts,” GZI Chief Executive Officer Motti Goldmintz said in the statement. “Upon completion of the plant, GZI will have the capacity to manufacture in excess of 3.5 billion aluminum beverage cans every year.”   https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=0H3eqn4dEtE

Canmakers are investing to take advantage of rising demand for canned and bottled drinks in Africa, where many consumers are switching from subsistence existences and buying packaged goods for the first time. Johannesburg-based Nampak, the continent’s largest maker of beverage cans, is also expanding with new plants in Nigeria and Ethiopia. Nampak shares declined 6.1 percent, the most since May 26, to 25.83 rand at the close in Johannesburg, valuing the company at 19 billion rand. The stock is down 41 percent this year, compared with a 0.8 percent fall on the FTSE/JSE Africa All-Share Index. GZI is owned by a group of four individual investors, Standard Chartered Private Equity, Verod Capital Management and Ashmore Private Equity. *Bloomberg]]>

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