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ACT hosted visionary leadership

Posted on 18 May 2013 by Thandisizwe Mgudlwa

Thandisizwe Mgudlwa

“It is only through collaboration between education, innovation and business that we will be able to take our country forward and make Cape Town a global African city of inspiration and innovation.”

So said Chris Whelan, CEO of business think-tank Accelerate Cape Town, at Friday’s Accelerate Cape Town Member’s Meeting sponsored by Deloitte. Whelan, who heads up the business organisation that counts more than 45 of South Africa’s largest corporates among its members, added that it is critical that innovation is approached as a collaborative effort. “Whether we’re developing a new product or building a future society, the key to unlocking our success as a city and country is innovation and partnership.”

According to the AC, TWhelan was joined by Dr Vincent Maphai, a business leader  and former Chairman of BHP Billiton Southern Africa. Maphai who also acts as the Education Commissioner on the National Planning Commission, detailed the key requirements for growing talent in the country in terms of what inspired the thinking of the NPC.

Maphai said that in democracies, the government is a reflection of its society. “If we are unhappy about our government’s actions, we must remember that we as civil society elected them to their positions of power. For us to succeed as a nation and be able to become the shapers of our future, we need to step up and start taking our role in the country very seriously.”

He added that active citizenry should be combined with strong leadership in order to create a government that is able to take decisions that they can also implement. “Madiba is a perfect example. His views were not based on scoring political points or promoting his own interests, but rather on what is best for the country as a whole.” Challenge of job creation and lack of education.

Maphai said that the NPC is faced with a massive dual challenge of creating jobs while also overcoming the struggling education system. He stated that while he’s in favour of the current Outcome Based Education system, the country is in dire need of well-trained, committed teachers.

“We don’t have enough skilled workers in the country, and the skills that are available come with a hefty price tag. Until we attend to the mess in education, we can forget about dealing with the issues of inequality that the unions keep talking about.”

According to Maphai, there are ways in which to bring positive change to the country. “If you’re a major company like SAB, you are fortunate enough to have a strong supply chain that enables you to train people and empower them to come and work for you. This is one contribution to addressing the disaster we are facing of a shrinking tax base and growing social grants handouts. But we should also look at requiring the individuals who receive social grants to run the gardens and bake bread in schools and then utilise the money allocated to school feeding on more important items.

“In this country, we don’t need more money or resources, of which we have more than enough. Instead, we need greater resourcefulness, especially in the form of political and social innovation.”

Maphai was joined by Dr Julius Akinyemi, head of the MIT Media Laboratory and chief adjudicator of the Innovation Prize for Africa. Akinyemi said that the mission for schools is to educate students and create new capabilities, but added that most schools fail woefully on the latter aspect. “Innovation is the enabler for creating new capabilities, allowing you to make a social impact by improving efficiencies in the environment or the lives of individuals. This focus on innovation creates an entrepreneurial environment that is very nurturing and empowering to people, leading the creation of businesses, jobs and an environment that enables us to move forward.”

He said that, in terms of the state of innovation in Africa, the problem lies not with a lack of innovation but rather in creating a nurturing environment that allows innovators to be productive. “Businesses have an important role to play. Joint innovative development, for example, creates an opportunity for the research and development team to collaborate and work side by side with businesses, incubators and venture funds in a highly productive environment. A perfect example of this model in action is Workshop 17, the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business innovation hub based at the V&A Waterfront.”

Akinyemi added that innovation should not stop after the first positive result has been achieved. “Through constant innovation you are able to find out more about your company – what works and what doesn’t. This re-innovation process creates jobs as well as a nurturing environment and better profitability.”

In conclusionACT and Whelan said that determining the strategy, plan and call to action around fostering a culture of innovation in Cape Town will be a key point on his organisation’s agenda going forward. “We need an active citizenry and a strong government and business sector driven by innovation and partnership to further progress this city and truly achieve our objective of making Cape Town a world class destination for talented people to work and live in.”

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Canada and Tanzania Sign Investment Treaty

Posted on 16 May 2013 by Africa Business

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, May 16, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Bernard Membe, Tanzania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, today issued the following statement upon signing the Canada-Tanzania Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA):

“The agreement signed today will strengthen economic ties between our two countries and help our companies invest with greater confidence in our respective markets. Facilitating two-way investment helps generate jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for Canadians and Tanzanians.

“A FIPA is a treaty designed to protect and promote investment abroad through legally binding provisions, as well as to promote inward foreign investment. By ensuring greater protection against discriminatory and arbitrary practices, and by enhancing the market predictability, a FIPA provides businesses with greater investment confidence.

“We are committed to creating the right conditions for businesses to compete and succeed internationally, which in turn will contribute to jobs and economic growth in both Canada and Tanzania.

“Now that the agreement has been signed, both countries will proceed with their ratification processes. The agreement will come into force once each country’s domestic approval process is complete.”

 

SOURCE

Canada – Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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GSMA Establishes Office In Nairobi To Support Burgeoning African Telecoms Market

Posted on 15 May 2013 by Africa Business

Mobile Connections in Sub-Saharan Africa Increase 20 Per Cent to 500 Million in 2013 and Are Expected to Increase by an Additional 50 Per Cent by 2018

iHub is Nairobi‘s Innovation Hub for the technology community, which is an open space for the technologists, investors, tech companies and hackers in the area. This space is a tech community facility with a focus on young entrepreneurs, web and mobile phone programmers, designers and researchers. It is part open community workspace (co-working), part vector for investors and VCs and part incubator. More information can be found here: http://www.ihub.co.ke/about

About the GSMA
The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide. Spanning more than 220 countries, the GSMA unites nearly 800 of the world’s mobile operators with more than 230 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset makers, software companies, equipment providers and Internet companies, as well as organisations in industry sectors such as financial services, healthcare, media, transport and utilities. The GSMA also produces industry-leading events such as the Mobile World Congress and Mobile Asia Expo.


NAIROBI, Kenya, May 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — The GSMA today announced that it has opened a permanent office in Nairobi, Kenya. The office will be based in the heart of Nairobi‘s Innovation Hub (iHub) for the technology community and will enable the GSMA to work even more closely with its members and other industry stakeholders to extend the reach and socio-economic benefits of mobile throughout Africa.

“It is an exciting time to launch our new office in Africa, as the region is an increasingly vibrant and critical market for the mobile industry, representing over 10 per cent of the global market,” said Anne Bouverot , Director General, GSMA. “The rapid pace of mobile adoption has delivered an explosion of innovation and huge economic benefits in the region, directly contributing US$ 32 billion to the Sub-Saharan African economy, or 4.4 per cent of GDP. With necessary spectrum allocations and transparent regulation, the mobile industry could also fuel the creation of 14.9 million new jobs in the region between 2015 and 2020.”

According to the latest GSMA’s Wireless Intelligence data, total mobile connections in Sub-Saharan Africa passed the 500 million mark in Q1 2013, increasing by about 20 per cent year-on-year. Connections are expected to grow by a further 50 per cent, or 250 million connections, over the next five years which requires greater regulatory certainty to foster investment and release of additional harmonised spectrum for mobile.

The region currently accounts for about two-thirds of connections in Africa but the amount of spectrum allocated to mobile services in Africa is among the lowest worldwide. Governments in Sub-Saharan Africa risk undermining their broadband and development goals unless more spectrum is made available. In particular, the release of the Digital Dividend spectrum – which has the ideal characteristics for delivering mobile broadband, particularly to rural populations – should be a priority.

The region also has some of the highest levels of mobile internet usage globally. In Zimbabwe and Nigeria, mobile accounts for over half of all web traffic at 58.1 per cent and 57.9 per cent respectively, compared to a 10 per cent global average. 3G penetration levels are forecast to reach a quarter of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2017 (from six per cent in 2012) as the use of mobile-specific services develops.

However, despite the high number of connections, rapid growth and mobile internet usage, mobile penetration among individuals remains relatively low. Fewer than 250 million people had subscribed to a mobile service in the region, putting unique subscriber penetration at 30 per cent, meaning that more than two-thirds of the population have yet to acquire their first mobile phone. Clearly, there is an important opportunity for the mobile industry to bring connectivity, access to information and services to the people in this region.

The mobile industry contributes approximately 3.5 million full-time jobs in the region. This has also spurred a wave of technology and content innovation with more than 50 ‘innovation hubs’ created to develop local skills and content in the field of ICT services, including the Limbe Labs in Cameroon, the iHub in Kenya and Hive Colab in Uganda.

Of particular note is the role of Kenya as the global leader in mobile money transfer services via M-PESA, a service launched by the country’s largest mobile operator Safaricom in 2007. What started as a simple way to extend banking services to the unbanked citizens of Kenya has now evolved into a mobile payment system based on accounts held by the operator, with transactions authorised and recorded in real time using secure SMS. Since its launch, M-PESA has grown to reach 15 million registered users and contributes 18 per cent of Safaricom’s total revenue.

To support this huge increase in innovation, the mobile industry has invested around US$ 16.5 billion over the past five years (US$ 2.8 billion in 2011 alone) across the five key countries in the region, mainly directed towards the expansion of network capacity. At the same time, given the exponential growth, Sub-Saharan Africa faces a looming ‘capacity and coverage crunch’ in terms of available mobile spectrum and the GSMA is working with operators and governments to address this critical issue.

GSMA research has found that by releasing the Digital Dividend and 2.6GHz spectrum by 2015, the governments of Sub-Saharan Africa could increase annual GDP by US$82 billion by 2025 and annual government tax revenues by US$18 billion and add up to 27 million jobs by 2025. In many Sub-Saharan African countries, mobile broadband is the only possible route to deliver the Internet to citizens and the current spectrum allocations across the region generally lag behind those of other countries.

“A positive and supportive regulatory environment and sufficient spectrum allocation is critical to the further growth of mobile in Africa,” continued Ms. Bouverot. “I am confident that now that we have a physical presence in Africa, we will be able to work together with our members to put the conditions in place that will facilitate the expansion of mobile, bringing important connectivity and services to all in the region.”

For more information, please visit the GSMA corporate website at www.gsma.com or Mobile World Live, the online portal for the mobile communications industry, at www.mobileworldlive.com.

SOURCE GSMA

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SA tooling and Manufacturing tackle revival challenge

Posted on 14 May 2013 by Africa Business

South Africa’s tooling and manufacturing sectors are aggressively tackling skills challenges, and modernising and growing their operations, with a view to taking on global manufacturing giants.

AfriMold, is the 4th annual manufacturing trade fair and conference for the design, precision engineering & machining, automotive component, tooling, tool making, production and application development sectors, and is taking place 4 – 6 June at the NASREC Expo Centre in Johannesburg.


Speaking ahead of this year’s AfriMold manufacturing trade fair from 4 – 6 June at the NASREC Expo Centre in Johannesburg, key industry players said South Africa’s manufacturing sector is experiencing a new spirit of revival, on the back of an aggressively modernising and growing tooling sector.

Dirk van Dyk, CEO of the National Tooling Initiative Programme, and representative of the Tooling Association of South Africa (TASA), noted that statistics released by ISTMA (International Specialized Tooling and Machining Association at the recent World Tooling Conference in Toronto, Canada, indicate that up to 50% of any manufactured component’s cost competiveness is governed by Tooling. However, the local TDM sector only provides approximately 20% of the local manufacturing sector’s tooling requirements. “The opportunity is there for the local TDM sector to increase this percentage significantly,” he said.

“There are more than 500 local Tool, Die and Mould manufacturing companies involved in local support of the manufacturing value chain ranging from 1st to 4th tier suppliers. The local tooling sector is gearing up for growth, presenting a positive outlook for manufacturing, and with it – job creation.”

Skills development is a key component of the tooling and manufacturing industry’s growth plans, says industry heads.

Van Dyk said the TDM Powered Pilot project, which started in 2010 as part of the turnaround strategy for the distressed tooling industry, has entered its 4th year of piloting with 408 students on Level II and Level III of the Apprenticeship Programme at 12 FET institutions in the country.

The National Skills Fund has allocated funding to Instimbi through the dti to fund another apprenticeship programme with 650 students at 12 FET institutions in the country.  It is envisaged that these students should be placed by May 2013.

In addition, enterprise development is reaching companies country wide through benchmarking exercises (based on international best practice and comparison to peers) to guide local Tool, Die and Mould manufacturing companies towards increased competiveness. Intervention projects are launched to aid companies on this journey.  A new round of benchmarking will start with 30 companies in April 2013.

Coenraad Bezuidenhout, Executive Director of Manufacturing Circle, says the Manufacturing Circle is launching two important initiatives to support government’s local procurement initiative and set an important example to the private sector, and to broaden its membership. The organisation plans to rapidly increase the approximately 200 000 manufacturing jobs that the Circle membership gives direct representation to today, and to include many more smaller and medium-sized manufacturers in the Manufacturing Circle. On 16 May, the Manufacturing Circle will launch its 2013 Q1 Manufacturing Circle Quarterly Survey on manufacturing business conditions, with a new component that will provide an indicator of the measure to which manufacturers procure locally, as well as the degree to which government’s local procurement impacts on manufacturers.

Meanwhile, the automotive sector, seen as a potentially promising growth area for local manufacturing, is seeking greater engagement with local organisations.

Roger Pitot, Executive Director of the National Association of Automotive Components and Allied Manufacturers (NAACAM) says: “We must double vehicle production volumes to over a million, and we must significantly increase local content from the present dismal 35%.”

Pitot says NAACAM members employ almost 50,000 people with a turnover last year of R57 billion. The total automotive sector, including vehicle assemblers, employs over 100,000 in manufacturing and 200,000 in sales and service operations.

“Unfortunately, the automotive trade deficit has been growing and reached an all-time high of R49 billion in 2012, mainly due to a record 72% of all cars sold in South Africa being imported. Exports in 2012 at R87 billion almost recovered to the record achieved in 2008, but the outlook for the future depends largely on the global economic situation, particularly in Europe, our biggest market.  The local auto industry has to compete globally, therefore our focus is on improving our competitiveness through efficiencies and cost reductions.”

Pitot adds: “Areas of uncompetitiveness include certain materials such as steel, wages, logistics and, increasingly, electricity. So opportunities lie in improving our efficiencies and our technological capabilities. These include manufacture of higher-level tooling, more local R&D and developing capabilities to produce the lighter and greener components that will form part of vehicles in future.”

The challenges and potential growth areas for design, precision engineering & machining, automotive component, tooling, tool making, production and application development sectors will come under the spotlight at the 4th annual AfriMold conference and trade fair. The event, a partner of the highly successful EuroMold trade fair, is endorsed by major industry bodies, as well as by the Department of Trade and Industry.

Ron MacLarty, Managing Director of AfriMold, says: “AfriMold 2013 will continue to innovate and push boundaries for the manufacturing industries’ continued growth and improved competitiveness as we strive for collaboration and cohesion on the home front.”

Bob Bond, Chairman of the Plastics Institute of South Africa (PISA) Northern Branch and AfriMold Conference Convenor, says the event’s theme, ‘Enabling For Tomorrow with a focus on precision engineering and tooling as a key enabler for the South African manufacturing sector, was chosen in light of the renewed drive for competitiveness.

Among the issues to be addressed at the conference are:

· What the SA Automotive sector expects from the local tooling industry

· Industrial Design: The Competitive Edge for Tooling and Manufacture

· Solutions for super profitable tool rooms

· How to fund equipment with IDC money

· Initiatives to boost Toolmaking Enterprises Development.

The AfriMold Trade Fair and Conference will also include the PISA/ AfriMold Student Design Presentations and PISA Member Awards.

For more information about AfriMold, visit www.afrimold.co.za or contact Terri Bernstein at Tel: +27 83 635 3539 or terri@afrimold.co.za

 

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SA ECONOMIC GROWTH HIT BY MINING SECTOR

Posted on 14 May 2013 by Africa Business

Will the Chinese purchase divested mining interests?

South Africa’s economic growth is lagging somewhat behind that of its peers in the developing world. IMF forecasts for 2013 indicate that emerging and developing economies will grow by 5,5% while SA’s GDP is expected to grow between 2,5% and 3%.

Global ranking

Country Name

GDP in Millions of US dollars (2011)

27

South Africa

408,237

39

Nigeria

243,986

60

Angola

104,332

88

Kenya

33,621

105

Zambia

19,206

One of the key reasons for slower growth is SA’s foreign trade structure and reliance on Europe. President Zuma used the opportunity at the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this year to ensure foreign investors that South Africa is on the right track.

2012 will be remembered for the negative impact of labour unrest and resultant production stoppages in the mining sector. Mining reduced GDP by 0,5% in the first three quarters of the year. This excludes the biggest slump in the sector during the fourth quarter 2012.

Other significant features of the growth slowdown in 2012 were the slowdown in household consumption spending, poor growth in private fixed investment spending and a slump in real export growth.

South African’s inflation rate slowed to a five-month low in January 2013 after the statistics office adjusted the consumer price basket while food and fuel prices eased. In December, the inflation rate fell to 5,4% from 5,7% Statistics South Africa stated.

Government cut the price of fuel by 1,2% in January 2013, as a stronger rand in the previous month helped to curb import costs. Since then, the currency has plunged 4,8% against the dollar and fuel prices are on the rise, with prices increasing in March by a further 8%, adding to pressure on inflation.

South Africa’s strengths

· South Africa is the economic powerhouse of Africa, leading the continent in industrial output and mineral production, generating a large portion of the continent’s electricity.

· The economy of South Africa is the largest in Africa, accounting for 24% of the continent’s GDP in terms of PPP, and is ranked as an upper-middle income economy by the world bank.

· The country has abundant natural resources, well developed financial, legal and transport sectors, a stock exchange ranked amongst the top 20 in the world, as well as a modern infrastructure supporting efficient distribution of goods throughout the Southern African region.

South Africa’s weaknesses

· South Africa suffers from a relatively heavy regulation burden when compared to most developed countries.

· Increasing costs for corporates with rising wages.

· Poverty, inequalities sources of social risk mixed with high unemployment and shortage of qualified labour.

Mining

Output in the mining sector remained weak in December with total mining production down by 7,5% y-o-y after falling by a revised 3,8% (previously -4,5%) in November. On a monthly basis production rose by a seasonally adjusted 1,2% compared with 12,0% in November. Non-gold output was down by 5,0% y-o-y, while gold production slumped by 21,2% in December. For the fourth quarter, total mining production fell by a seasonally-adjusted and annualised 4,6% q-o-q as output of most minerals dropped.

For 2012 as a whole, mining volumes fell by 3,1% after contracting by 0,9% in 2011. Mineral sales were down by 15,6% y-o-y in November after falling 13,7% in October. On a monthly basis sales rose by a seasonally-adjusted 2,3% in November, but sales were down by a seasonally-adjusted 10,2% in the three months to November after declining by 6,8% in the same period to October. These figures indicate that the mining sector is still reeling from the devastating effects of widespread labour strikes in the third and early fourth quarters.

Prospects for the mining sector remain dim as the industry faces headwinds both on the global and domestic fronts. Globally, commodity prices are not likely to make significant gains as demand conditions remain relatively unfavourable. Locally, tough operating conditions persist. Rapidly rising production costs, mainly energy and labour costs, are likely to compel mining companies to scale back operations or even halt them in some cases.

This will have a negative impact on production, with any improvements coming mainly from a normalisation of output should strike activity ease. These numbers, together with other recent releases, suggest that GDP growth for the fourth quarter was around 2,0%, with overall growth of 2,5% for the year as a whole. Overall economic activity in the sector therefore remains generally sluggish while upside risks to inflation have increased due to the weaker rand.

Retail

Annual growth in retail sales slowed to 2,3% in December from 3,6% in the previous month. Over the month, sales rose by a seasonally-adjusted 1,0%, causing sales for the last quarter of 2012 to decline by 0,2% following 2,1% growth in the third quarter.

As a whole, 2012 retail sales rose by 4,3%, slightly down from 5,9% in 2011. Consumer spending is likely to moderate during 2013 as weak consumer confidence, heightened worries about job security and high debt, make consumers more cautious about spending on non-essential items. The overall economic outlook remains weak and fragile, while inflation may increase due to the weaker rand.

Manufacturing

Annual growth in manufacturing production slowed to 2,0% in December 2012 from 3,7% in the previous month, versus the consensus forecast of 2,9%. The increase in output was recorded in seven of the ten major categories. Significant contributions came from petroleum, chemical products, rubber and plastic products. Over the month, total production fell by 2,2% on a seasonally adjusted basis following a 2,6% rise in November.

On a quarterly basis, however, production improved by 1,6% in the final quarter of 2012 following two quarters of weaker growth. Both local and international economic conditions are expected to improve only moderately during 2013. A weak Eurozone will continue to hurt the large export-orientated industries.

The recent recovery in infrastructure spending by the public sector will probably support the industries producing capital goods and other inputs for local projects. But the growth rate will be contained by slower capital expenditure by the private sector in response to the bleaker economic environment both locally and internationally.

Therefore, while a moderate recovery in manufacturing production will continue in 2013, no impressive upward momentum is expected. Overall economic activity remains generally sluggish while upside risks to inflation have increased due to a weaker rand.

Infrastructure

A new economic plan, the National Development Plan (NDP), is likely to be adopted in 2013 promoting low taxation for businesses and imposing less stringent employment requirements. This a measure that the ANC is pursuing ahead of the 2014 national elections. The NDP will encourage partnerships between government and the private sector, creating opportunities in petrochemical industries, metal-working and refining, as well as development of power stations.

Construction companies are especially likely to benefit from government plans to invest $112-billion from 2013 in the expansion of infrastructure as part of the NDP. Some 18 strategic projects will be launched to expand transport, power and water, medical and educational infrastructure in some of the country’s least developed areas.

Energy companies will also benefit, following the lifting of a moratorium on licences for shale gas development. Meanwhile, there will be significant opportunities, especially for Chinese state-owned enterprises that have recently made high-profile visits to South Africa, to acquire divested assets in the platinum and gold mining sector as large mining houses withdraw from South Africa.

According to government reports, the South African government will have spent R860-billion on new infrastructure projects in South Africa between 2009 and March 2013. In the energy sector, Eskom had put in place 675 kilometers of electricity transmission lines in 2012, to connect fast-growing economic centers and also to bring power to rural areas. More than 200 000 new households were connected to the national electricity grid in 2012. Construction work is also taking place in five cities including Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Rustenburg, Durban and Pretoria to integrate different modes of transport.

Business Climate

Due to South Africa’s well-developed and world-class business infrastructure, the country is ranked 35th out of 183 countries in the World Bank and International Finance Corporation’s Doing Business 2012 report, an annual survey that measures the time, cost and hassle for businesses to comply with legal and administrative requirements. South Africa was ranked above developed countries such as Spain (44) and Luxembourg (50), as well as major developing economies such as Mexico (53), China (91), Russia (120), India (132) and Brazil (126).

The report found South Africa ranked first for ease of obtaining credit. This was based on depth of information and a reliable legal system.

Foreign trade

SA’s trade deficit narrowed to R 2,7-billion in December from R7,9-billion in November on account of seasonal factors. The trade balance usually records a surplus in December due to a large decline in imports. Exports declined 9,8% over the month. The decrease was mainly driven by declines in the exports of base metals. Vehicles, aircraft and vessels (down R1,1-billion), machinery and electrical appliances (down R0,9-billion) and prepared foodstuffs, beverages and tobacco (down 0,8-billion). Imports dropped 15,8% m-o-m.

Declines in the imports of machinery and electrical appliances (down R3,3-billion), original equipment components; (R1,8-billion), products of the chemicals or allied industries (R1,5-billion) and base metals and articles thereof (R1,2-billion) were the main drivers of the drop.

The large trade deficit for 2012 is one of the major reasons for the deterioration in the 2012 current account deficit forecast to 6,2% of GDP from 3,3% in 2011. South Africa’s trade performance will remain weak in the coming months on the back of unfavourable global conditions and domestic supply disruptions. Weak global economic conditions will continue to influence exports and growth domestically.

Skills and education

The need to transform South Africa’s education system has become ever more urgent, especially given the service delivery issues that have plagued the system. While government continues to allocate a significant amount of its budget to education (approximately 20%), it has not been enough to transform the schooling system. Coface expects the government to continue to support this critical sector, but that an opportunistic private sector will take advantage of government inefficiencies.

South Africa’s education levels are quite low compared to other developed and developing nations. South Africa began restructuring its higher education system in 2003 to widen access to tertiary education and reset the priorities of the old apartheid-based system. Smaller universities and technikons (polytechnics) were incorporated into larger institutions to form comprehensive universities.

Debt

The total number of civil judgments recorded for debt in South Africa fell by 9,8% year on year in November 2012 to 35 268, according to data released by Statistics South Africa. The total number of civil judgments recorded for debt decreased by 15,2% in three months ended November 2012 compared with the three months ended November 2011.

The number of civil summonses issued for debt fell 23,9% year-on-year to 70 537. During November, the 35 268 civil judgments for debt amounted to R414,1-million, with the largest contributors being money lent, with R142,5-million. There was a 21,9% decrease in the total number of civil summonses issued for debt in the three months ended November last year compared with the same period in 2011. A 23,9% y-o-y decrease was recorded in November.

South Africa maintains respectable debt-to-GDP ratios, although these grew to 39% of GDP by end-2012, substantially higher than the 34% for emerging and developing economies as a whole. When Fitch downgraded SA earlier this year, it specifically mentioned concerns about SA’s rising debt-to-GDP ratio, given that the ratio is higher than the country’s peers.

South Africa is uniquely exposed to foreign investor sentiment through the deficit on the current account combined with liquid and deep fixed interest markets. SA’s widening deficit on the current account is a specific factor that concerns the rating agencies and is one of the metrics the agencies will use to assess SA’s sovereign risk in the near future. Further downgrades are the risk – potentially driven by foreign investor sentiment about political risks.

Political landscape

Persistent unemployment, inequality and the mixed results of BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) intended to favour access to economic power by the historically disadvantaged populations have led to disappointment and resentment.

Social unrest is increasing. Recent events weakened the ruling coalition which came under fire for its management of these events. Tensions could intensify in the run up to the 2014 presidential elections. South Africa has a well-developed legal system, but government inefficiency, a shortage of skilled labour, criminality and corruption are crippling the business environment. South Africa also has a high and growing youth unemployment, high levels of visible inequality and government corruption so we would keep an eye on the escalating service delivery protest trends.

Labour force

The unemployment rate fell to 24,9% in the fourth quarter of 2012 from 25,5% in the third quarter, mainly reflecting an increase in the number of discouraged work seekers. Over the quarter, a total of 68 000 jobs were lost while the number discouraged work seekers rose by 87 000. The formal non-agricultural sector lost 52 000 jobs over the quarter, while the informal sector, in contrast, employed 8 000 more people. The breakdown shows that the highest number of jobs were lost in the private households category (48 000), followed by the trade and transport sectors, which shed 41 000 and 18 000 jobs respectively.

The agricultural sector led employment creation over the quarter, adding 24 000 jobs. Both local and international economic conditions are expected to improve only moderately during 2013.

Weak confidence and high wage settlement will make firms more cautious to expand capacity and employ more people this year. Government is likely to be the main driver of employment as it rolls out its infrastructure and job creation plans. The unemployment rate will therefore remain high in the short term.

Although the reduction in the unemployment rate is good news, it mainly reflects the large number of discouraged work seekers. Overall economic activity remains generally sluggish while upside risks to inflation have increased due to a weaker rand. Coface believes that this will persuade the Monetary Policy Committee to keep policy neutral over an extended period, with interest rates remaining unchanged for most of 2013. A reversal in policy easing is likely only late in the year or even in 2014.


 


Issued by:                                                                              Sha-Izwe/CharlesSmithAssoc

ON BEHALF OF:                                                   Coface

FURTHER INFORMATION:                                  Charles Smith

Tel:          (011) 781-6190

Email: charles@csa.co.za

Web:       www.csa.co.za

Media Contact:

Michele FERREIRA /
SENIOR MANAGER: MARKETING AND COMMUNICATION
TEL. : +27 (11) 208 2551  F.: +27 (11) 208 2651   M.: +27 (83) 326 2268
michele_ferreira@cofaceza.com

 

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www.cofaceza.com

About Coface

The Coface Group, a worldwide leader in credit insurance, offers companies around the globe solutions to protect them against the risk of financial default of their clients, both on the domestic market and for export. In 2012, the Group posted a consolidated turnover of €1.6 billion. 4,400 staff in 66 countries provide a local service worldwide. Each quarter, Coface publishes its assessments of country risk for 158 countries, based on its unique knowledge of companies’ payment behaviour and on the expertise of its 350 underwriters located close to clients and their debtors. In France, Coface manages export public guarantees on behalf of the French state.

Coface is a subsidiary of Natixis. corporate, investment management and specialized financial services arm of Groupe BPCE.. In South Africa, Coface provides credit protection to clients. Coface South Africa is rated AA+ by Global Ratings.

www.cofaceza.com

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GulfSol 2013 set to address MENA solar power problems

Posted on 10 May 2013 by Africa Business

Solar power in the Middle East seems simultaneously logical with sun-scorched deserts everywhere, and illogical, all that oil, at the same time.

But several of the “Gulf monarchies,” all major contributors to the world’s oil supplies, are starting to set goals to cut back on consuming the hydrocarbons they produce in favor of sustainable, climate-friendly energy sources.

Abu Dhabi has a goal of getting 7 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020 and the state owned renewable energy company, Masdar, is reportedly set to announce that it will invest ‘up to £1 billion’ in alternative energy schemes alongside the UK’s Green Investment Bank (GIB). Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer, is even more ambitious. The Saudi government hopes to just about double its installed electricity capacity by building 54 gigawatts of renewable energy (as well as 17.6 GW of nuclear power) by 2032, of which 41 GW will come from the sun. Qatar is also turning to renewables, with a plan on the table to get 10 percent of the electricity and energy used in water desalination from solar by 2018. Kuwait, too, has ambitions for 10 percent renewables by 2020.

To meet the goals that the UAE have set themselves means expertise will be needed from the international solar power industry to deal with the difficulties involved in desert construction including dust, high winds and transmission requirements.

To address this demand, GulfSol takes place 3-5 September 2013 at the DWTC.

“It is apparent that whilst the solar industry in other areas is struggling, right across MENA, the opportunities for companies to get themselves involved with the wealth of opportunities that are presenting themselves. Right now, nothing is hotter for solar than the Middle East” said Derek Burston, exhibition manager of GulfSol 2013.

“It is this reason that there has been a surge in space reservations at this year’s inaugural GulfSol exhibition. As the only truly dedicated solar and PV show, the exhibition provides the perfect opportunity for companies to present themselves to a high quality visitor base over a three day period”.

For more information on confirming your exhibition presence at GulfSol 2013, contact Derek Burston on dburston@bowheadmedia.com or Ben Richardson on brichardson@bowheadmedia.com

To register to visit the event go to: www.confexsys.com/sol

For more information on the event go to: http://www.gulfsol.com/

Fast facts about the solar power industry

It’s hip, it’s cool, it’s trendy and it’s green. Solar and wind power are increasingly becoming topics of conversation as the world shifts from filthy coal, oil and other fossil fuels, to the clean and renewable energy provided by the wind and the sun.

  • It would take only around 0.3 per cent of the world’s land area to supply all of our electricity needs via solar power.
  • Weight for weight, advanced silicon based solar cells generate the same amount of electricity over their lifetime as nuclear fuel rods, without the hazardous waste. All the components in a solar panel can be recycled, whereas nuclear waste remains a threat for thousands of years.
  • Solar and wind power systems have 100 times better lifetime energy yield than either nuclear or fossil energy system per tonne of mined materials
  • The amount of energy that goes into creating solar panels is paid back through clean electricity production within anywhere from 1.5 – 4 years, depending on where they are used. This compares with a serviceable life of decades.
  • The theoretical limit for silicon based solar cells is 29% conversion efficiency. Currently, polycrystalline and monocrystalline solar panels generally available have efficiencies anywhere from 12% to 18%. With the addition of solar concentrators, the efficiency of photovoltaics is eventually likely to rise above 60 per cent.
  • The Earth receives more energy from the sun in an hour than is used in the entire world in one year
  • Solar radiation and related energy resources including wind and wave power, hydro and biomass make up 99.97% of the available renewable energy on Earth
  • The first solar cell was constructed by Charles Fritts in the 1880s
  • The world’s largest wind turbine is currently the Enercon E-126 with a rotor diameter of 126 meters. The E-126 produces 6 megawatts, enough to power approximately  5,000 European households.
  • Global annual photovoltaic installations increased from just 21 megawatts in 1985, to 2,826 megawatts in 2007
  • Manufacturing solar cells produces 90% less pollutants than conventional fossil fuel technologies
  • The solar industry creates 200 to 400 jobs in research, development, manufacturing and installation for every 10 megawatts of solar power generated annually.

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“African countries are increasingly focused on the potential renewable energy offers to their economies.”

Posted on 09 May 2013 by Africa Business

Exclusive interview with Dr. Nawal Al-Hosany, Director of Zayed Future Energy Prize, gold sponsors at the upcoming Clean Power Africa.



1) Can you give us some background on the Zayed Future Energy Prize?

The annual US$4 Zayed Future Energy Prize embodies the vision of the late founding father of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan who laid the foundation for environmental, economic and social sustainability of the UAE. An annual award, the Prize is managed by Masdar, on behalf of the Abu Dhabi government and seeks to award achievements and innovation in the fields of renewable energy and sustainability, as well as to educate and inspire future generations.

The prize recognises individuals, companies and schools making a significant impact in the fields of renewable energy and sustainability. For more information on the prize, please visit www.ZayedFutureEnergyPrize.com

2) What are you most excited about currently in terms of Zayed Future Energy Prize projects?

The annual US$4 million Zayed Future Energy Prize is fast creating that much needed ripple effect around the world, from China to Mexico and from Germany to Tanzania. Over the past five years, the Prize has continued to award and reward the innovators of our time and we are excited about the impact of the Prize and how it is enabling the world to address our collective future energy challenges.

3) What opportunities do you see in Africa?
African countries are increasingly focused on the potential renewable energy offers to their economies. Egypt, Ghana, Madagascar and South Africa respectively have set ambitious renewable energy targets of 20%, 10%, 75% and 13% of national electricity production by 2020. Africa’s hydropower potential is estimated at around 1,750 TWh and its geothermal energy potential is estimated at 9,000 MW. Over 80% of the continent receives about 2,000 kWH per square metre of solar resources per annum.


Africa represents an important constituency for the Prize. Although some 90% of sub-Saharan Africans living in rural areas lack access to electricity, the continent is blessed with extensive renewable resources. We want to encourage governments, businesses, and civil society to spur economic growth and job creation through renewable energy targets.

4) What do you think are the biggest challenges to the South African / African energy market?

Africa’s population is expected to double by 2050, with a seven-fold increase in GDP if current trends are maintained. In order to provide universal access to electricity and sustain these growth rates, total energy production must double by 2030 from current levels, according to a recent report published by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Electricity still remains the only sure route to economic growth.

While some 99% of North Africans have access to electricity, only 77% of people in South Africa do. This figure drops to 29% for sub-Saharan populations outside South Africa, according to IRENA.

5) What surprises you about this industry?
Zayed Future Energy Prize has been more delighted than surprised at the submissions and nominations increase of approximately 300 percent over the past five years and we see it as recognition of the value of the Prize.

Our previous winners have collectively reduced the plight of 140,000 displaced persons, provided hundreds of thousands of jobs and provided clean water and electricity to over 8 million people in villages and rural parts of Africa and Asia.

We encourage companies, individuals and schools from across the world to join us in solving the energy challenge and participate by submitting their applications before August 5.

6) Why did you decide to sponsor at Clean Power Africa?
Zayed Future Energy Prize is sponsoring African Utility Week and Clean Power Africa in Cape Town because Africa represents an important constituency for the Prize. I am delivering a presentation on the Zayed Future Energy Prize and will be emphasizing the benefits renewable energy can bring to African countries looking to sustain and broaden economic growth.

7) What will be the main message for the event delegate and visitor?

The Zayed Future Energy Prize will be emphasizing the benefits of renewable energy and what it can bring to African countries looking to sustain and broaden economic growth. The Prize administration will also, naturally, encourage companies, schools and individuals from Africa to submit for the Prize.

8 ) Point to ponder

The time is right for massive investment in renewable energy across the African continent. Renewable energy technologies represented the most cost-effective solution for remote, off-grid areas and for extending electrification grids. Costs of solar photovoltaic have fallen by over 80% over the last two years to less than one US dollar per watt, with further price drops expected.

Renewable energy brings multiple benefits, including increased energy security, job creation, rural development and technological development.

We should not forget that access to energy is particularly important for women, who have traditionally borne the burden of fetching water and cooking over open fires, with attendant respiratory health impacts and fire hazards associated with dirty fuels. The daily lives of these women and their families, is made immeasurably better if they can access clean energy for household needs. These are compelling benefits. I call upon leaders in renewable energy and sustainability in Africa to step forward for nomination this year as the benefits of renewable energy cannot be ignored.

About the Zayed Future Energy Prize: The Zayed Future Energy Prize embodies the vision of the late founding father of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan who laid the foundation for renewable energy and sustainability as part of his legacy in sustainable development in the UAE. An annual award, the Prize is managed by Masdar, on behalf of the Abu Dhabi government and seeks to award achievements and innovation in the fields of renewable energy and sustainability, as well as to educate and inspire future generations.

For more information on the prize, please visit www.ZayedFutureEnergyPrize.com or email Serene Serhan at sserhan@masdar.ae

More information can be found on http://www.facebook.com/TZFEP or Twitter: http://twitter.com/zfep

· YouTube video about last year’s winners: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mwf2VxivHY4

· Frequently asked questions (FAQ): https://www.zayedfutureenergyprize.com/en/application-process/faq/

· A brochure with further details is available at: https://www.zayedfutureenergyprize.com/resources/media/9185ZFEPHighSchoolFlyerFINAL.pdf

Submission process video tutorial: https://www.zayedfutureenergyprize.com/en/application-process/submission-process-video-tutorial/

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IFC Support for Country Bird’s Expansion Encourages Agribusiness, Employment in Southern Africa

Posted on 03 May 2013 by Africa Business

About IFC

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector. We help developing countries achieve sustainable growth by financing investment, mobilizing capital in international financial markets, and providing advisory services to businesses and governments. In FY12, our investments reached an all-time high of more than $20 billion, leveraging the power of the private sector to create jobs, spark innovation, and tackle the world’s most pressing development challenges. For more information, visit http://www.ifc.org.

 

WASHINGTON, May 3, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, today announced a convertible loan of $25 million to support poultry producer Country Bird’s expansion in Africa. IFC’s investment will allow Country Bird to increase production and operations; encouraging a thriving agribusiness enterprise and creating employment opportunities in Southern Africa and beyond.

 

With operations including South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zambia, Country Bird’s business comprises poultry breeding, broiler production, stock feed, and processing. IFC funding will support Country Bird increase chick production over the next three years in Zambia and Botswana, expand feed mill capacity in Zambia, and add poultry processing facilities and two soybean plants in South Africa.

 

Country Bird’s expansion will provide more affordable proteins in Southern Africa, create jobs in the rural areas where the company operates, and increase revenues for its 21,500 maize farmers and 112,000 workers employed through the company’s supply chain.

 

Kevin James, Founder of Country Bird, said “In just a decade since we started operations, Country Bird has become the third largest integrated poultry producer in South Africa. We are seeking to expand our production, so we can meet increasing consumer demand in the region. IFC’s investment supports Country Bird’s growth and our goal to provide more affordable proteins in Southern Africa.”

 

With increasing urbanization and disposable incomes, per capita meat consumption is expected to double in Africa by 2030, particularly that of poultry, which is cheaper relative to other meats.

 

Saleem Karimjee, IFC Senior Country Manager for Southern Africa, said, “IFC is committed to investing in companies like Country Bird that catalyze growth in this important sector. Africa needs dynamic regional agribusiness companies that help encourage competitiveness and can expand successful models outside their home markets.”

 

 

Agriculture accounts for one third to one half of GDP in most African countries, and 80 percent of the poor in Africa live in rural areas.

Promoting agribusiness in Africa is a key priority for IFC as is food security, given that the sector employs a large percentage of Africa’s labor force, and has a strong impact on micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.

 

 

SOURCE

International Finance Corporation (IFC) – The World Bank

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African Development Bank Group approves a new Ten-Year Strategy

Posted on 30 April 2013 by Africa Business

“This document reflects Africa’s vision for itself – a vision of transformation that is achievable”, said Donald Kaberuka

TUNIS, Tunisia, April 30, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ The economic transformation of the African continent is the cornerstone of the African Development Bank Group’s new Ten-Year (2013-2022) Strategy (http://www.afdb.org). The Strategy, which has been approved by the Executive Directors of the Bank, emphasizes the quality and sustainability of growth.

 

Mr. Donald Kaberuka

The Directors’ approval followed a wide and deep consultation process, within and outside the Bank.

“This document reflects Africa’s vision for itself – a vision of transformation that is achievable”, said Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank Group since 2005. “It is a ten-year vision, which can make this continent – within another generation – the global growth pole that we know it can be and want it to be: a place fit for our aspirations and those of our children.”

“The Strategy reaffirms the Bank’s strategic choices around infrastructure, economic integration and the private sector. It charts the way towards inclusive growth that spans age, gender and geography, and takes special account of Africa’s fragile states which are home to 200 million people, as well as building climate resilience and the sustainable management of natural resources.”

The Strategy identifies the five main channels through which the Bank will deliver its work and improve the quality of growth in Africa. They are: infrastructure development, regional economic integration, private sector development, governance and accountability, skills and technology. The new strategy will also seek new and creative ways of mobilizing resources to support Africa’s transformation, especially by leveraging its own resources. Wider use of public-private partnerships, co-financing arrangements and risk-mitigation instruments will draw in new investors.

Mr Kaberuka added: “In a decade of seismic shifts in the global economy, Africa has defied the pessimists and experienced significant growth. That economic growth must now translate into real economic transformation, which will bring jobs and opportunities to its citizens. That is what makes the next decade so decisive, and the African Development Bank’s Strategy for 2013 to 2022 so vital”.

 

SOURCE

African Development Bank (AfDB)

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Tariff hike of only 1% increases mining costs to R100 million per year, says industry expert

Posted on 24 April 2013 by Africa Business

African Utility Week to give practical solutions to solve power challenges facing big business

An electricity tariff rise of only 1% has a devastating impact on the mining industry as it amounts to an increased expenditure of R100 million per year according to the South African Chamber of Mines.  It therefore really hurts that since 1 April this year, large power consumers have had to fork out an average monthly 9,6% tariff increase.  Energy challenges facing big business is high on the agenda at this year’s African Utility Week which takes place in Cape Town from 14 to 15 May.

African Utility Week
According to Nicolette Pombo-Van Zyl, programme manager of the Large Power User programme at African Utility Week: “t
he proverbial axe is falling on ‘business as usual` as every industry in South Africa, from mining to manufacturing to retail, is cringing at the thought of rising energy tariffs and commencement of a carbon tax on 1 January 2015.  On the receiving end of tariff hikes, industry is dealing with three significant elements, namely the cost of electricity, uncertainty around sufficient electricity supply and carbon emission management.”

More optimistic about jobs
Although some industry insiders have warned that the tariff increase could lead to 250 000 job losses, Dick Kruger, techno-economic adviser to the South African Chamber of Mines, is more optimistic.

“Eskom previously indicated a 35% increase.  Although 9,6% is high, we are nonetheless thankful that it is less than the 16% that Eskom eventually applied for.  This increase will definitely not go unnoticed in an industry which has seen prices doubling over the last three years.  However, at this stage we do not foresee any job losses or mine closures directly as a result of the increase.  We have known since August 2012 that increases were on the way and mines could figure this into their short and medium plans.”

This means that mining companies had to seriously look at their operations and make adjustments such as the introduction of variable speed drive motors that have been known to cut energy use.  Says Dick Kruger:  “some mines have already looked at replacing electric motors with variable speed drive motors and replacing compressed air drills with extremely expensive electric rock drills.”

According to Kruger, gold mines will be hit hardest:  “about 60% of the total cost of the electricity consumption at gold mines goes towards creating an environment that one can work in.  Large amounts of money are spent on ventilation, pumping and refrigeration. Only 40% of the expense goes towards production purposes.”

Power cuts of 2008
Some pockets of the South African economy are still trying to recover from the devastating effects of the first few months of 2008 when power cuts were a daily occurrence. This coincided with the global economic crash and thousands of jobs were lost across all economic sectors.

At the time Eskom gave an undertaking to large power users that it would do everything possible to avoid power cuts to big business.


“Eskom has made good on this undertaking. But there are other problems.  In March (2013) the mines in Carletonville stood still for three days when transformers burned down and miners could not be sent underground.  It also happens frequently that the power supply is not running on full strength which leads to work grinding to a halt.  Although the mines do not generate income during these situations, the expenses do not decrease.  Workers still need to be paid and the mines have to foot the bill for the ordinary daily running costs,” says Kruger.

“The mining industry has signed the Voluntary Energy Efficiency Accord committing itself to pursue a reduction in power use of 15% by 2015. Mines have already saved a lot of energy, but savings can only be done up to a certain point before production is compromised.”

Anglo American
In a brief response about how Anglo American is dealing with unstable power supply and tariff hikes, the mining giant’s spokesperson Hulisani Rasivhaga said: “Anglo American is monitoring many aspects of Eskom’s performance on a regular basis and is aware of Eskom’s limitations. Anglo American and all its business units, is supporting Eskom by shedding load as and when required and as mutually agreed.”

The South African Chamber of Mines’ Dick Kruger emphasises the need for more power generating plants:  “When the new Medupi power station in Limpopo and the Kusile station in Mpumalanga have been completed, we will be able to breathe again.  At least for a while.”

African Utility Week’s programme for Large Power Users includes:

Free CPD accredited Technical Workshop programme on the exhibition floor:

  • Cogeneration / power plants – new product development in turbine technology

Julio Cesar Bianchini, Commercial Manager – TGM Turbinas, ZEST WEG Group, South Africa

  • Large energy savings through Compressed Air Management / Monitoring / Leak Detection and auditing

Devon Fisher, Audit Manager, Artic Driers International, South Africa

  • Solar Rooftop projects for LPUs

Claire Lockey, Marketing and Communications, SolarWorld Africa, South Africa

  • Sustainable energy solutions for businesses

Wayne Fortuin, IDM Implementation Manager, Eskom, South Africa

  • Renewable energy solutions for IPP’s, Mining, Industrial and Corporate companies

Reutech, South Africa

Conference programme for Large Power Users:

  • Mining perspective on sustainable energy efficiency performance to secure our future
    Coenraad Pretorius, Energy Engineer, Anglo American, South Africa
  • Making Energy Saving a Reality – from the Western Cape’s largest electricity consumer that saved R90 million in one year
    Reinet van Zyl, Business Improvement Manager, ArcelorMittal, South Africa
  • The human element – changing the workforce mind-set
    Pieter Pretorius, Senior Marketing Manager, 49M Initiative, South Africa
  • Energy Management Standards and Systems – ISO 50001
    Alfred Hartzenburg, Senior Project Manager: Industrial Energy Efficiency Project, National Cleaner Production Centre of South Africa (NCPC-SA), South Africa
  • Managing tariffs: a discussion on the Price Impact Assessment project
    Shaun Nel, Project Director & Advisor, Energy Intensive Users Group of Southern Africa, South Africa
  • Carbon and energy reduction initiatives at Woolworths
    Justin Smith, Head of Sustainability, Woolworths, South Africa

The exhibition and the technical workshops are free to attend if visitors pre-register on the event website.

The dates for African Utility Week are:

Exhibition & Conference: 14-15 May 2013 
Pre-conference Workshops: 13 May 2013
Site Visits: 16 May 2013
Location:  CTICC, Cape Town
Website: www.african-utility-week.com

Contact:
Communications manager:  Annemarie Roodbol
Office: +27 21 700 3558
Mobile:
+27 82 562 7844
Email:
annemarie.roodbol@clarionevents.com

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