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Living the FATCA life in Africa: New U.S. tax regulations add to burden of compliance on financial institutions across Africa

Posted on 21 May 2013 by Eugene Skrynnyk

Eugene Skrynnyk

Eugene Skrynnyk (CIPM, MILE, BComm) is a senior manager and specialist for the asset management industry in the Africa Sub-Area at Ernst & Young in Cape Town, South Africa.

Eugene Skrynnyk is the Ernst & Young Senior Manager and specialist for the asset management industry in the Africa Sub-Area.

Eugene holds a Certificate in Investment Performance Measurement (CIPM), Master of International Law and Economics (MILE) and Bachelor of Commerce and Finance (B.Comm.).

 

When the U.S. Department of the Treasury (“Treasury”) and Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) issued final Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“FATCA”) regulations in January of this year, there was a sigh of relief that the financial services industry in Africa could begin to digest FATCA’s obligations. However, achieving FATCA compliance remains a challenge for banks operating across Africa.

FATCA is already law in the U.S. but negotiations are under way to enshrine it in national law of countries around the world via intergovernmental agreements (“IGAs”) with the U.S. While a variety of African jurisdictions will each face unique obstacles with FATCA compliance, many in the industry share a general unease with FATCA’s scope, as well as scepticism that FATCA’s rewards (an estimated US$1 billion in additional tax revenue annually) justify its expenses. Generally, FATCA attempts to combat U.S. tax evasion by requiring that non-U.S. financial institutions report the identities of U.S. shareholders or customers, or otherwise face a 30% withholding tax on their U.S. source income. Overwhelmingly, FATCA compliance obligations apply even where there is very little risk of U.S. tax evasion and it impacts all payers, including foreign payers of “withholdable payments” made to any foreign entities affecting deposit accounts, custody and investments.

General issues in Africa

Concerns about privacy abound. FATCA requires financial institutions to report to the IRS certain information about U.S. persons. For this reason, IGAs are being put in place so that institutions could instead report information to their local tax authority rather than the IRS. In some jurisdictions, investment funds and insurance companies are permitted to disclose information with client consent. In other jurisdictions, such disclosure is prohibited without further changes to domestic law. The process to make necessary changes locally involves time and effort.

Cultural differences in Africa need to be considered. In certain situations FATCA requires that financial institutions ask a customer who was born in the United States to submit documents explaining why the customer abandoned U.S. citizenship or did not obtain it at birth. African financial institutions never pose such a delicate and private question to their customers. Even apparently straight-forward requirements may pose challenges; for example, FATCA requires that customers make representations about their identities “under penalty of perjury” in certain situations. Few countries have a custom of making legal oaths, so it would not be surprising if African customers will be reluctant to give them.

FATCA contains partial exemptions (i.e., “deemed compliance”) and also exceptions for certain financial institutions and products that are less likely to be used by U.S. tax evaders. It still has to be seen to what extent these exemptions have utility for financial institutions in Africa. For example, the regulations include an exemption for retirement funds and also partially exempt “restricted funds” — funds that prohibit investment by U.S. persons. Although many non-U.S. funds have long restricted investment by U.S. persons because of the U.S. federal securities laws, this exemption could be less useful than it first appears. It should be pointed out that the exemption also requires that funds be sold exclusively to limited categories of FATCA-compliant or exempt institutions and distributors. These categories are themselves difficult for African institutions to qualify for. For example, a restricted fund may sell to certain distributors who agree not to sell to U.S. persons (“restricted distributors”). But restricted distributors must operate solely in the country of their incorporation, a true obstacle in smaller markets where many distributors must operate regionally to attain scale.

Other permitted distribution channels for restricted funds are “local banks,” which are not allowed to have any operations outside of their jurisdiction of incorporation and may not advertise the availability of U.S. dollar denominated investments.

Challenges and lessons learned – the African perspective

Financial institutions will have to consider what steps to take to prepare for FATCA compliance and take into account other FATCA obligations, such as account due diligence and withholding against non-compliant U.S. accountholders and/or financial institutions.

The core of FATCA is the process of reviewing customer records to search for “U.S. indicia” — that is, evidence that a customer might be a U.S. taxpayer. Under certain circumstances, FATCA requires financial institutions to look through their customers and counterparties’ ownership to find “substantial U.S. owners” (generally, certain U.S. persons holding more than 10% of an entity). In many countries the existing anti-money laundering legislation generally requires that financial institutions look through entities only when there is a 20% or 25% owner, leaving a gap between information that may be needed for FATCA compliance and existing procedures. Even how to deal with non-FATCA compliant financial institutions and whether to completely disengage business ties with them, remains open.

The following is an outline of some of the lessons learned in approaching FATCA compliance and the considerations financial institutions should make:

Focus on reducing the problem

Reducing the problem through the analysis and filtering of legal entities, products, customer types, distribution channels and account values, which may be prudently de-scoped, can enable financial institutions to address their distinct challenges and to identify areas of significant impact across their businesses. This quickly scopes the problem areas and focuses the resource and budget effort to where it is most necessary.

Select the most optimal design solution

FATCA legislation is complex and comprehensive as it attempts to counter various potential approaches to evade taxes. Therefore, understanding the complexities of FATCA and distilling its key implications is crucial in formulating a well rounded, easily executable FATCA compliance programme in the limited time left.

Selecting an option for compliance is dependent on the nature of the business and the impact of FATCA on the financial institution. However, due to compliance time constraints and the number of changes required by financial institutions, the solution design may well require tactical solutions with minimal business impact and investment. This will allow financial institutions to achieve compliance by applying low cost ‘work arounds’ and process changes. Strategic and long-term solutions can be better planned and phased-in with less disruption to the financial institution thereafter.

Concentrate on critical activities for 2014

FATCA has phased timelines, which run from 2014 to 2017 and beyond. By focusing on the “must-do” activities, which require compliance as of 1 January 2014 – such as appointing a Responsible Officer, registering with the IRS, and addressing new client on-boarding processes and systems – financial institutions can dedicate the necessary resources more efficiently and effectively to meet immediate deadlines.

Clear ownership – both centrally and within local subsidiaries

FATCA is a strategic issue for the business, requiring significant and widespread change. Typically it starts as a ‘tax issue’ but execution has impacts across IT, AML/KYC, operations, sales, distribution and client relationship management. It is imperative to get the right stakeholders and support onboard to ensure that the operational changes are being coordinated, managed and implemented by the necessary multidisciplinary teams across the organization. These include business operations, IT, marketing, and legal and compliance, to name but a few. Early involvement and clear ownership is key from the start.

Understand your footprint in Africa

Many African financial institutions have operations in various African countries and even overseas, and have strategically chosen to make further investments throughout Africa. The degree to which these African countries have exposure to the FATCA regulations needs to be understood. It is best to quickly engage with appropriate stakeholders, understand how FATCA impacts these African countries and the financial institutions’ foreign subsidiaries, and find solutions that enable pragmatic compliance.

What next for financial institutions in Africa?

Negotiations with the U.S. are under way with over 60 countries to enshrine FATCA in national law of countries around the world via IGAs. Implementation of FATCA is approaching on 1 January 2014 and many local financial institutions have either not started or are just at the early stages of addressing the potential impact of FATCA. In South Africa, only few of the leading banks are completing impact assessments and already optimizing solutions. Other financial services groups and asset management institutions are in the process of tackling the impact assessment. Industry representative in Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria and Zimbabwe have started engaging relevant government and industry stakeholders, but the awareness is seemingly oblivious to date. In the rest of Africa, FATCA is mainly unheard of.

Financial institutions choosing to comply with FATCA will first need to appoint a responsible officer for FATCA and register with the IRS, ensure proper new client on-boarding procedures are in place, then identify and categorize all customers, and eventually report U.S. persons to the IRS (or local tax authorities in IGA jurisdictions). Institutions will also need to consider implementing a host of other time-consuming operational tasks, including revamping certain electronic systems to capture applicable accountholder information and/or to accommodate the new reporting and withholding requirements, enhancing customer on-boarding processes, and educating both customers and staff on the new regulations. Where possible, institutions should seek to achieve these tasks through enhancing existing initiations so as to minimise the cost and disruption to the business.

Conclusion

Financial institutions in Africa face tight FATCA compliance timelines with limited budgets, resources, time, and expertise available. This is coupled with having to fulfil multiple other regulatory requirements. To add to the burden, FATCA has given stimulus to several countries in the European Union to start discussing a multilateral effort against tax evasion. The support of other countries in the IGA process indicates that some of these countries will follow with their own FATCA-equivalent legislation in an attempt to increase local tax revenues at a time when economies around the world are under unprecedented pressure. The best approach for African financial services industry groups is to engage their local governments in dialogue with the IRS and Treasury, while for African financial institutions to pro-actively assess their FATCA strategic and operational burdens as they inevitably prepare for compliance.

 

About Ernst & Young

Ernst & Young is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. Worldwide, our 167,000 people are united by our shared values and an unwavering commitment to quality. We make a difference by helping our people, our clients and our wider communities achieve their potential.

The Ernst & Young Africa Sub-Area consists of practices in 28 countries across the African continent. We pride ourselves in our integrated operating model which enables us to serve our clients on a seamless basis across the continent, as well as across the world.

Ernst & Young South Africa has a Level two, AAA B-BBEE rating. As a recognised value adding enterprise, our clients are able to claim B-BBEE recognition of 156.25%.

Ernst & Young refers to the global organisation of member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. All Ernst & Young practices in the Africa Sub Area are members of Ernst & Young Africa Limited (NPC). Ernst & Young Africa Limited (NPC) in turn is a member firm of Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee. Neither Ernst & Young Global Limited nor Ernst & Young Limited (NPC) provides services to clients.

For more information about our organisation, please visit www.ey.com/za

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Fi Istanbul’s Success Demonstrates Unlimited Market Opportunities in Turkey, the Middle East & North Africa

Posted on 18 May 2013 by Africa Business

Staggering 3,000 Visitors + 150 Exhibiting Brands and Record Re-Booking Volumes for the 2014 Event

Yes, we’ve got a lot to shout about and so we would like to start with a huge thank you to all of our exhibitors who helped to make Food ingredients Istanbul such a great success. As the only dedicated food ingredients event in the region, last week’s highly successful show demonstrates that this region is thriving and thirsty for the very latest ingredients, solutions, innovations and networking opportunities.

We are delighted to announce that Food ingredients Istanbul exceeded all forecasts and expectations with the impressive amount of 3,000 visitors and a 94% rebooking rate. As a launch event, Fi Istanbul welcomed attendees from over 80 different countries, filling all aisles and bustling exhibitor stands.

It is clear that the industry responded well to this launch event. Building on the high growth rates that the food industry is experiencing in this region, Fi Istanbul provided a strong platform for all food and beverage manufacturers to source from over 150 local, regional and international food ingredients suppliers.

The response from the exhibitors was overwhelming! Many claimed to have had one of the best shows ever, with a high quality of visitors, a steady flow of traffic during the 3 days and a good mix of visiting companies, including food manufacturers from dairy, ice cream, confectionary, meat, poultry and many more.

Turkey, for a global company, is a very important market for us to be close to our customers. Food ingredients Istanbul has been a great experience to meet new customers in 3 days and share projects, prototypes, concepts and innovations” Luis Fernandez , Vice-President Global Applications, Tate & Lyle

Natasha Berrow , UBM’s Brand Director, also commented, “Last week’s event really did surpass even our expectations! The positive response to this launch event, the new Fi branding and signage provided the innovative environment that such a growing region deserves.”

She continued “the record re-bookings are further indication that exhibitors see Fi Istanbul as the place to continue to meet their customers and to expand into this booming region. I’d like to express our appreciation for the tremendous and ongoing support of all our customers.”

“We are very impressed by the quality of visitors; quality is more important than quantity. We found a lot of good customers that we’ll probably start new business with” Stella Wu , International Sales Manager, JK Sucralose

Visitor feedback also surpassed all expectations. The great mix of local, regional and international food ingredients suppliers was complimented by many attendees looking to source new ingredients from companies they never heard of.

“I want to know new suppliers and I want to see some different varieties of products that I can use for my customers. This is the first year for this exhibition and it feels like it has being a successful opening and I’m sure it will get greater and bigger in the coming years.” Meleknur Tuzun, Sales Manager, Agrana

Fi Istanbul is a key part of the Food ingredients Global Portfolio strategy to extend the its brand into new regions, offering exhibiting clients a platform to engage with new customers and present their new business growth opportunities. With the key focus on business development, innovation and trade, in a region with one of the fastest economic growth rates in the world, Fi Istanbul proved to be one of the most cost-effective platforms to source new ingredients, grow market share and act as a stepping stone to this vastly and yet close to untouched food industry.

 

About Fi ingredients Global – the trusted route to market since 1986

Food ingredients first launched in Utrecht, The Netherlands in 1986 and its portfolio of live events, publications, extensive database, digital solutions and high-level conferences are now established across the globe to provide regional and a global meeting place for all stakeholders in the food ingredients industry. Over 500,000 people have attended our shows over the years, and billions of Euros of business have been created as a result. With over 25 years of excellence, our events, digital solutions and supporting products deliver a proven route to market with a truly global audience.

About UBM Istanbul

UBM Istanbul was established in April 2012 to connect people and create opportunities for companies wishing to build business between Europe and Asia, meet customers, launch new products, promote their brands and expand their markets. Premier brands such as Fi Europe, CPhI, IFSEC, Black Hat, Mother & Baby Show , Jewellery and many others and will become an integral part of the marketing plans of companies across more than 10 industry sectors.

About UBM

UBM plc is a global events-led marketing services and communications company. We help businesses do business, bringing the world’s buyers and sellers together at events and online, as well as producing and distributing specialist content and news. Our 5,500 staff in more than 30 countries are organised into specialist teams which serve commercial and professional communities, helping them to do business and their markets to work effectively and efficiently.

For more information, go to http://www.ubm.com

SOURCE UBM Live

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Ozwald Boateng Steps in as Guest Editor for a Leading Issue of New African

Posted on 18 May 2013 by Africa Business

Made In Africa Foundation

The Made In Africa Foundation is a charitable organisation, established to support strategic infrastructure projects and create sustainable solutions to some of Africa’s most pressing problems. It works to support technical feasibility studies, to kick start key infrastructure developments and to engage the African diaspora in innovative fund-raising activities. The Foundation was founded in 2011 by international designer Ozwald Boateng OBE, and Nigerian businessman Kola Aluko, and is supported by Atlantic Energy.

 

The leading pan-African current affairs magazine, New African, has just published its May edition, guest edited by the internationally renowned Ghanaian designer Ozwald Boateng , a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and founder of the Made in Africa Foundation.

This new issue looks at a Future Made in Africa and, in a 60 page supplement, celebrates the Organisation of African Unity’s (now the AU’s) golden jubilee. It has a strong focus on infrastructure, which reflects the work of the Made in Africa foundation – a $400m fund to finance feasibility studies to fast-track infrastructure investment throughout Africa.

Editorial contributors include Tony Blair , President Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson , Tony Elumelu, Mo Ibrahim , David Adjaye , Jay Naidoo , Omar Bongo Ondimba, Minna Salami, Swaady Martin-Leke, and Kandeh Yumkella and Babatunde Fashola .

In its “Trailblazers under 50″ feature, New African presents its selection of 50 Africans under the age of 50, who are breaking ground and raising hopes for Africa’s future.  The list includes Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Alex Wek , Didier Drogba, Hadeel Ibrahim , David Rudisha, Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, Juliana Totich, P-Square, Dambisa Moyo and its very own readers.

In his introductory article “Why our future should be made in Africa“. Boateng insists “If the world is to get beyond boom and bust, it requires African creators, farmers, workers, industrialists and leaders to be given the tools and opportunities to play their part for the good of all”.

Omar Ben Yedder , publisher of New African magazine, commented: “ Ozwald Boateng has done a fantastic job and this really is a collector’s item – one which we hope will be read and studied in schools and universities across Africa. It was a true learning experience working on this issue”.

The May 2013 issue is available on newsstands and local vendors now.

SOURCE Made in Africa Foundation

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A.M. Best Revises Outlook of the Issuer Credit Rating to Positive for Dubai Insurance Company PSC

Posted on 18 May 2013 by Africa Business

A.M. Best Europe – Rating Services Limited is a subsidiary of A.M. Best Company. A.M. Best Company is the world’s oldest and most authoritative insurance rating and information source.

 

LONDON —A.M. Best Europe – Rating Services Limited has revised the outlook to positive from stable and affirmed the issuer credit rating (ICR) of “bbb” and the financial strength rating (FSR) of B++ (Good) of Dubai Insurance Company PSC (DIC) (United Arab Emirates). The outlook for the FSR is stable.

The ICR positive outlook reflects DIC’s strong record of operating results, improved franchise and developing enterprise risk management (ERM). The ratings of DIC also reflect its very strong risk-adjusted capitalisation and a reinsurance programme of good quality. Offsetting these positive ratings factors are DIC’s investment concentrations.

DIC is likely to maintain a very strong risk-adjusted capitalisation over the medium term. The company’s capital base is supported by a low level of premium retention and a strong reinsurance panel. A high concentration of equity securities, particularly within the local banking sector, is of some concern and gives rise to volatility in DIC’s capital position. However, DIC’s capital position is sufficiently strong to absorb this volatility.

Despite competitive pressures in the UAE market, DIC has continued its strong growth levels with 21% achieved in 2012—well ahead of the market. DIC’s growth in recent years has improved its franchise and propelled the company to a top 10 position. However, its portfolio is indicative of the market biased towards medical and motor business on a net basis. Furthermore, underwriting performance remains strong with a good record of underwriting profitability. DIC’s combined ratio improved to 78% in 2012.

DIC’s level of ERM is considered to be improving. DIC has developed a better understanding of its risks and is integrating a capital model into its strategic planning process. There remains a disconnect between underwriting and investment risk as DIC’s investments remain concentrated in UAE banking equities. DIC has taken steps in diversifying its profile through surplus funds being conservatively invested.

Positive rating pressures can arise through embedding and integration of ERM and the maintenance of underwriting and operational performance. Considerable deterioration in its operating performance or a failure to embed improvements in ERM could add negative pressure to the current ratings.

The methodology used in determining these ratings is Best’s Credit Rating Methodology, which provides a comprehensive explanation of A.M. Best’s rating process and contains the different rating criteria employed in the rating process. Best’s Credit Rating Methodology can be found at www.ambest.com/ratings/methodology.

In accordance with Regulation (EC) No. 1060/2009, the following is a link to required disclosures: A.M. Best Europe – Rating Services Limited Supplementary Disclosure.

For more information, visit www.ambest.com.

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2013 Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival Programme full of New Highlights

Posted on 18 May 2013 by Africa Business

The programme for the 2013 Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival is growing, with new and exciting events joining the stable of old favourites. “Last year’s programme sported more than 100 events,” said Festival Manager Nicci Rousseau-Schmidt. “And it is already clear that we’ll top that number this year.”

The Pick n Pay Women’s Walk will take place on Sunday 7 July. The Women’s Walk is a popular event that takes place across South Africa. Bronwen Rohland Marketing Director Pick n Pay said, “This 5km event raises funds for PinkDrive, an organisation that provides free breast cancer screening and health education for women who cannot afford it.”

The Young Oyster Festival is gaining in popularity each year, providing an environment for kids to have a blast. Aside from the regular events such as cooking lessons, arts and crafts, movie screenings, sport clinics, and exciting competitions, this year will see a dedicated Kids Zone complete with popcorn, candy floss and all things necessary for exciting and entertaining kids.

“Older kids will enjoy an all-new fun fair as well as obstacle courses and exciting events and competitions at The Yard, our local skate park,” Rousseau-Schmidt said. “This age group and their parents will also enjoy an all new 10-day local food and craft market at the main venue on Waterfront Drive and details of how to enter the Miss Knysna Oyster Festival will be available soon.”

“Of course we wouldn’t have a festival if it weren’t for our oysters. This year’s Pick n Pay Flavours of Knysna will truly showcase Knysna’s restaurants as they once again prepare oysters according to their own, unique recipes, with other delectable treats prepared by Pick n Pay also available on the evening.

“The oyster shucking and oyster eating competitions are always very entertaining and well attended, and this year we will combine these two fun events to both take place at the main venue on Waterfront Drive,” Rousseau-Schmidt said.

The festival has a longstanding relationship with the South African Navy, especially the local Sea Cadet unit from the Training Ship Knysna. “The Admiral’s Ball is a firm favourite on the festival’s calendar with music provided by the incredibly talented SA Navy Dance Band. Presented in co-operation with the Knysna Featherbed Company, the 2013 ball promises to be an event not to be missed,” said Rousseau-Schmidt “We are hoping to welcome two naval ships through the Knysna Heads this year – weather permitting,” she said. “The Navy also presents other fantastic events on the festival calendar, including the Right of Entry Parade which incorporates precision drilling and music from the marching band, displays by the Knysna Sea Cadets and the ever popular concert by the SA Navy Band which unofficially closes the festival.”

“This year the Knysna Forest Marathon and Half Marathon have already sold out, and we anticipate that Knysna will be buzzing with excitement,” said Rohland, “the festival is a great opportunity for us to meet our customers and be part of an event that showcases the best the region has to offer.”

“We are looking forward to old favourites such the Pick n Pay Weekend Argus Rotary Knysna Cycle Tour and the Pick n Pay Cape Times Knysna Forest Marathon and Half Marathon, but we have many exciting developments on the programme to look forward to,” Rousseau-Schmidt concluded. “And what you’ve read about here is only a taste of what the 2013 Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival has on offer. Knysna is truly the place to be during the school holidays. So come along – I can guarantee that you’ll have the best ten days of your winter.”

Keep an eye on www.pnpoysterfestival.co.za for regular updates to the programme, or contact Knysna Tourism on 044 382 5510 for more information.

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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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Binghamton researcher studies oldest fossil hominin ear bones ever recovered

Posted on 15 May 2013 by Africa Business

Recently published paper indicates discovery could yield important clues on origins of humankind

 

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ – A new study, led by a Binghamton University anthropologist and published this week by the National Academy of Sciences, could shed new light on the earliest existence of humans. The study analyzed the tiny ear bones, the malleus, incus and stapes, from two species of early human ancestor in South Africa. The ear ossicles are the smallest bones in the human body and are among the rarest of human fossils recovered. Unlike other bones of the skeleton, the ossicles are already fully formed and adult-sized at birth. This indicates that their size and shape is under very strong genetic control and, despite their small size, they hold a wealth of evolutionary information.

The skull of Paranthropus robustus (SKW 18 SK 52) from the site of Swartkrans (South Africa). The specimen dates to approximately two million years ago and has yielded the oldest complete ossicular chain (malleus, incus and stapes) of a fossil hominin discovered to date. (PRNewsFoto/Binghamton University)

The study, led by Binghamton University anthropologist Rolf Quam , was carried out by an international team of researchers from institutions in the US, Italy and Spain. They analyzed several auditory ossicles representing the early hominin species Paranthropus robustus and Australopithecus africanus. The new study includes the oldest complete ossicular chain (i.e. all three ear bones) of a fossil hominin ever recovered. The bones date to around two million years ago and come from the well-known South African cave sites of Swartkrans and Sterkfontein, which have yielded abundant fossils of these early human ancestors.

The researchers report several significant findings from the study. The malleus is clearly human-like, and its size and shape can be easily distinguished from our closest living relatives, chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans. Many aspects of the skull, teeth and skeleton in these early human ancestors remain quite primitive and ape-like, but the malleus is one of the very few features of these early hominins that is similar to our own species, Homo sapiens. Since both the early hominin species share this human-like malleus, the anatomical changes in this bone must have occurred very early in our evolutionary history. Says Quam, “Bipedalism (walking on two feet) and a reduction in the size of the canine teeth have long been held up as the ‘hallmark of humanity’ since they seem to be present in the earliest human fossils recovered to date. Our study suggests that the list may need to be updated to include changes in the malleus as well.” More fossils from even earlier time periods are needed to corroborate this assertion, says Quam. In contrast to the malleus, the two other ear ossicles, the incus and stapes, appear more similar to chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans. The ossicles, then, show an interesting mixture of ape-like and human-like features.

The anatomical differences from humans found in the ossicles, along with other differences in the outer, middle and inner ear, are consistent with different hearing capacities in these early hominin taxa compared to modern humans. Although the current study does not demonstrate this conclusively, the team plans on studying the functional aspects of the ear in these early hominins relying on 3D virtual reconstructions based on high resolution CT scans. The team has already applied this approach previously to the 500,000 year-old human fossils from the Sierra de Atapuerca in northern Spain. The fossils from this site represent the ancestors of the Neandertals, but the results suggested their hearing pattern already resembled Homo sapiens. Extending this type of analysis to Australopithecus and Paranthropus should provide new insight into when our modern human pattern of hearing may have evolved. The study has just been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

SOURCE Binghamton University

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Canadian Solar’s Partner Romano Wins Eskom Rooftop Project in Johannesburg

Posted on 15 May 2013 by Africa Business

About Eskom

Eskom generates approximately 95% of the electricity used in South Africa and approximately 45% of the electricity used in Africa. Eskom generates, transmits and distributes electricity to industrial, mining, commercial, agricultural and residential customers and redistributors. Additional power stations and major power lines are being built to meet rising electricity demand in South Africa. Eskom will continue to focus on improving and strengthening its core business of electricity generation, transmission, trading and distribution.  For more information, please visit www.eskom.co.za.

About Romano Group

The Romano Group is a multi-skilled provider of a broad range of sustainable solutions, to clients who are typically large commercial, industrial or retail property owners and tenants spread throughout Africa. Romano’s value-added offer includes the design, manufacture and installation of high-quality Solar PV, ECO-Lighting, Modular Construction and Signage & Print solutions, all of which are delivered on-time at a competitive price. The company celebrated its 60th birthday in 2012 and employs 150 people. For more information, please visit www.romano.co.za.

About Canadian Solar Inc.

Founded in 2001 in Canada, Canadian Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: CSIQ) is one of the world’s largest and foremost solar power companies. As a leading vertically integrated provider of solar modules, specialized solar products and solar power plants with operations in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Australia and Asia, Canadian Solar has delivered more than 4GW of premium quality solar modules to customers in over 50 countries. Canadian Solar is committed to improve the environment and dedicated to provide advanced solar energy products, solutions and services to enable sustainable development around the world. For more information, please visit www.canadiansolar.com

 

JOHANNESBURG, May 15, 2013 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Canadian Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: CSIQ) (the “Company” or “Canadian Solar”), one of the world’s largest solar companies, today announced the successful expansion of its partner Romano Sustainable Solutions in Africa. Romano, a pioneer company in the South African photovoltaic (PV) industry, was recently awarded the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for a 360 kW PV solar system installation. The roof top installation will be on the Johannesburg headquarters of Eskom, the largest producer of electricity in Africa.

As one of the most experienced solar PV systems integrators in Africa, Romano designs, manufactures and installs solar PV systems to commercial clients spread throughout Africa. Most of Romano’s solar PV systems are grid-tied systems. When connected to the client side of the on-site electrical sub-station, the electricity generated is used on the site by the client. When connected to the utility side the electricity generated is exported to the national or municipal electricity grid.

“We are very proud to be involved with this prestigious project for Eskom, which we understand was awarded on the basis of our technical capability and track record, as well as the cost effectiveness of our offer,” said Alexi Romano , CEO of Romano.

“The solar energy market in Africa continues to develop and has considerable potential for growth. We are positioned to benefit through our relationships with experienced partners like Romano. We look forward to supporting their growth in this important market, including the high profile Eskom project,” said Dr. Shawn Qu , Chairman and CEO of Canadian Solar.”

 

SOURCE Canadian Solar

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African Development Fund: Governors support a successful ADF replenishment

Posted on 15 May 2013 by Africa Business

ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire, May 15, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ We, the African Development Fund’s Governors, Planning and Finance Ministers from Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Senegal and Sierra Leone attended the ADF-13 Presentation Workshop on the Fund’s Priorities and Operational Strategies, in Abidjan, May 14, 2013.

During this important meeting, many issues were raised concerning the impact the ADF is having in our countries and its role in the transformation of our economies. The Bank (http://www.afdb.org) for instance, has delivered rapid budget supports to maintain and restore core basic services to the people in the region, at a time when some countries needed it most.

We noted that the ADF is indeed a relevant channel of development financing. The Bank Group also plays an important role as the convener and voice of Africa. The ADF strategic orientation and operational priorities are aligned with the Continent’s development agenda and countries’ needs. Successive institutional reforms have strengthened the Bank Group’s Delivery capacity, Responsiveness and Results-focus.

The Bank’s work in the field of infrastructure is very important, given Africa’s huge infrastructure potential. We appreciate the establishment and augmenting of the ADF Regional Operations envelope, which is critical in supporting the Bank’s ambitious regional integration agenda. For many African countries, regional solutions to the provision of public services, such as regional power grids and transportation networks, are more cost effective and provide better services and complement national programs.

We support the building of capacity in the fields of public procurement, internal and external audits, managing revenues from natural resources, and enhancing domestic resource mobilization as they are important for resource rich countries in the region. We, therefore, are appreciative of the Bank’s work and interventions in these areas.

However, we do believe that the Bank Group could do more to support economic diversification and job creation, for the Youth especially, by helping to improve the productivity of private enterprises and micro, small and medium-sized agribusinesses as well as supporting economic and structural reforms with the highest impact on improving the business environment.

Finally, we recognize that there are major challenges for the Bank and the Fund to mobilize resources at a time when many donor countries are facing some economic constraints. Nevertheless, we think that we need to keep the momentum and focus on the big picture, which is to help the Bank’s Regional Member Countries transform their economies, create jobs, and reduce poverty. We hope the ADF-13′s replenishment will meet our needs.

Signed in Abidjan: 14 may, 2013

Monsieur Albert TOIKEUSSE MABRI

Gouverneur du Groupe de la BAD et Ministre du Plan et du Développement de la République de Côte d’Ivoire.

Mr. Mohammed M. SHEIRF

Chief economist, Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Liberia


HON. Seth TERKPER

Governor for the AfDB Group and Minister of Finance and Economic Planning of the Republic of Ghana

Mr. Ngouda Fall Kane

Secrétaire général du Ministère de l’Économie et des Finances, Représentant le Gouverneur Amadou Kane, Ministre de l’Economie et des Finances du Sénégal


Monsieur Kerfalla YANSANE

Gouverneur du Groupe de la BAD et Ministre d’Etat chargé de l’Economie et des Finances de la République de Guinée

Mr. Foday MANSARAY

Temporary Governor for the AfDB Group and Minister of State, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Republic of Sierra Leone


Distributed by the African Press Organization on behalf of the African Development Bank (AfDB).

SOURCE

African Development Bank (AfDB)

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PANGOLIN DIAMONDS DISCOVERS ITS FIRST KIMBERLITE IN BOTSWANA

Posted on 15 May 2013 by Africa Business

About the Tsabong North Project

The Tsabong North Project, located approximately 100 km north of the town of Tsabong in south-western Botswana, is 1,545 km2 in size. It is comprised of anomalous concentrations of kimberlite indicators and has large geo-botanical features. Pangolin has already identified more than 50 drill-ready aeromagnetic targets in the Project area, several of which have surface areas exceeding 20 hectares. Exploration activities in the area are guided in part by the recommendations of a National Instrument 43-101 Technical Report prepared for the Project.

The Tsabong North Project is situated on the Archaean Kaapvaal Craton, immediately north of the diamondiferous Tsabong kimberlite field that hosts the M1 Kimberlite, the largest known diamondiferous kimberlite pipe in the world (www.firestonediamonds.com). Pangolin’s Chairman, Dr. Leon Daniels, was part of the Falconbridge Team that developed the geological model of the 180 hectare M1 Kimberlite that was discovered in 1978. He was also directly involved in the discovery of several new kimberlites in the Tsabong kimberlite field.

Pangolin’s soil sampling has produced highly anomalous concentrations of kimberlite indicators within the Tsabong North Project area. Microprobe analyses of indicator minerals have confirmed the presence of G10 garnets, indicating the presence of a mantle conducive to the crystallization of diamonds. A number of indicators occur, including remnants of kelyphite that indicate close proximity to kimberlite. Enzyme-leach trace element results are consistent with orientation trace element results over known kimberlites near the Project.

About Pangolin Diamonds Corp

Pangolin Diamonds Corp. is building a leading diamond exploration and development company in the heart of Botswana, the world’s leading diamond producing country by value. The Company is the 100% owner of 11 Prospecting Licenses covering 5,307 km2, including the Tsabong North, Jwaneng South, Malatswae and Mmadinare Projects. Pangolin’s management and team leaders have over 90 years of combined diamond exploration experience in southern Africa. This makes the Company the most experienced diamond explorer in Botswana other than De Beers Exploration and Debswana. The Company is equipped for exploration, with two diamond drill rigs and a fully portable one-tonne per hour Dense Media Separation Plant used to prepare samples and make diamond concentrates. Pangolin is well-funded to continue its exploration programs for the next year.

 

·         Kimberlite discovered at Tsabong North Project has a +20 hectare aeromagnetic anomaly associated with it

·         Two additional diamond drill core holes will be completed to intersect a minimum of 100 meters of kimberlite

·         Additional undrilled kimberlite targets in the project area have the same magnetic signature

TORONTO, ONTARIO (May 15, 2013) – Pangolin Diamonds Corp. (TSX-V: PAN) (the “Company” or “Pangolin”) is pleased to announce it has discovered its first kimberlite at its 100% owned Tsabong North Project in Botswana. Core logging identified crater facies sediments and underlying reworked volcaniclastic kimberlite (“RVK”) breccias in drill hole “Magi-01/1”.

Representative rock samples were submitted for independent whole rock analysis to Activation Laboratories Ltd., in Ancaster (Ontario). The results assisted in discriminating between the kimberlite crater facies sediments and the overlying Kalahari Formation. Crater facies sediments are present from a depth of 33.5 meters to 58.8 meters below which RVK breccia occurs to 76.3 meters. The crater facies sediments and RVK breccias intersected are consistent with the equivalent lithological units observed in the core of drill hole M1/50 from the M1 Kimberlite in the Tsabong Kimberlite Field which was drilled in 1981.

Dr Leon Daniels, B.Sc., Ph.D., Chairman of the Board of Pangolin, stated: “We are very pleased with Pangolin’s success to date, as we have now graduated from an explorer to a discoverer and are determined to continue on this course.”

The 45 mantle-derived indicator garnets, inclusive of some high pressure garnets previously announced on March 26, 2013, were liberated from a core sample in Magi-01/1 taken at a depth of 22 meters below the surface. A split of the available core will now be processed through a mini-Dense Media Separation Plant to recover any additional kimberlite indicator minerals, such as garnets, and/or macro diamonds from the kimberlite intersected section.

Based on these positive results, two additional diamond drill holes intersecting at least 100 meters of kimberlite will be drilled on the Magi-01 kimberlite for kimberlite indicator mineral and microdiamond recovery. The Company has also elevated additional previously identified kimberlite targets in the project area to targets of high immediate interest with similar magnetic signatures to Magi-01/1.

The photos below compare the various kimberlite crater facies sediments (A1, A2) and RVK breccias (B1, B2) from Pangolin’s core drill hole Magi-01/1 (to the left) versus those from drill hole M1/50 from the M1 Kimberlite Pipe (to the right).

The technical disclosure in this news release has been reviewed and approved by Dr. Leon Daniels, Ph.D., Member of AIG, Chairman of the Board of Pangolin, and a Qualified Person under National Instrument 43-101 rules.

Source: www.pangolindiamondscorp.com

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