AfricanBrains Africa Education Innovation Technology Investment Networking Events News Social Media Blogs Fri, 27 May 2016 11:35:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 SA: Local Elections 2016 date proclaimed Fri, 27 May 2016 11:35:43 +0000 cogtaBy –

Pretoria – Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) Minister Des van Rooyen has called an election of all municipal councils and set 3 August 2016 as the date of the Local Government Election.

The Minister announced this proclamation of the coming local government election date on Monday, in terms of section 24(2) of the Local Government: Municipal Structures Act, 1998 (Act No. 117 of 1998).

“In effect this means that the voters’ roll closed at 17h00 today [Monday]. We are encouraged that the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) holds an untarnished reputation having hosted a number of successful national, provincial and local government elections, since 1994,” said the Ministry.

“I am therefore delighted to hand over the baton to the IEC as it prepares to deliver yet another successful election,” said the Minister.

He thanked all voters who registered, verified their details and provided addresses or sufficient particularities to ensure that they are eligible to vote on 3 August 2016.

“I encourage all eligible voters to help strengthen our democracy by voting in the coming local government election scheduled for 3 August 2016,” said Minister van Rooyen.

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Eskom, CSIR sign partnership Fri, 27 May 2016 09:35:09 +0000 eskomBy –

Pretoria – Eskom and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) have signed a partnership that is aimed at aligning and enhancing interaction between the two bodies in support of national goals.

The partnership signed on Monday seeks to synergise the research capabilities of the two organisations in support of Eskom’s strategic and operational needs.

The overall accountability to manage the agreement will reside within Eskom’s Research, Testing and Development business unit.

Speaking at the signing of the five year agreement, Eskom Group Chief Executive, Brian Molefe, said the partnership will strengthen the relationship between the CSIR and Eskom.

“The partnership will further strengthen our collaborative relationship and, accordingly, provides a long term platform to perform scientific and operational research and evaluation tasks and provide scientific decision support towards the realisation of Eskom’s strategic and operational needs,” said Molefe.

He further added that Eskom is looking forward to its collaboration with the CSIR as it forges ahead with ensuring reliable power to stimulate economic growth for the country as well as to address the socio-economic challenges faced by South Africans.

“We will prioritise projects that will ensure our operational and financial sustainability as we refurbish our current plant and deliver on new infrastructural projects to provide much-needed electricity,” explained Molefe.

CSIR Chief Executive Officer Sibusiso Sibisi said energy is one of the CSIR’s area of focus.

“Together Eskom and the CSIR can come up with innovative solutions for current and future energy issues, determine what the new electricity system will look like and what the plans and responses should be that need to be put in place to build the future South African energy system,” said Sibisi.

Short term challenges

To address its short term requirements, Eskom has identified three imperatives that have been expanded to identify new and existing technologies and capabilities that can address specific challenges.

The first imperative relates to the availability and reliability of the existing asset base. The organisations will work together on extending the transmission component’s lifespan through predictive maintenance; real-time grid monitoring using the Advanced Fire Information System and laser-based refurbishment of high-value components, among others.

The second imperative is aimed at safely delivering on the new build programme and capacity management. Research and development will focus on the reduction of water consumption; development of advanced emission control technologies and the development of components for use in advanced high-temperature gas reactors and modelling of associated technologies, among others.

The third imperative focuses on financial sustainability. Aspects to be jointly investigated include security risk management solutions to prevent theft and safeguard high-value assets and cable and infrastructure theft detection and prevention.

Long term challenges

In the long term, Eskom is also facing significant challenges from fundamental shifts in the electricity and energy system that is becoming more distributed and flexible due to the increasing contribution of renewable technologies as well as the future focus on new build.

The two entities have jointly approved the elevation of the current partnership to a strategic partnership that can support both strategic decision-making and assist with operational issues so as to address both the short and long term challenges of Eskom and the country’s electricity system.

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Ministers adopt Africa’s key health policies Fri, 27 May 2016 07:09:20 +0000 aucAhead of the Wold Health Assembly African Ministers of Health met on Saturday and adopted key health policy instruments that will provide the strategic direction for the continent for the next fifteen years. These health policy instruments were finalised by Member State Health experts meeting in Addis Ababa in April this year for consideration by health ministers.

“I am confident that the Africa Health Strategy will provide the strategic direction that is needed to create better performing health sectors and address the major challenges impeding our efforts to reduce the continent’s disease burden” said Dr. Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko, the Commissioner for Social Affairs at the African Union Commission.

The revised African Health Strategy provides the overarching superstructure to address Africa’s broad health and development agenda in the next 15 years. To strengthen health systems the strategy addresses issues related to health financing, governance and improved multi-sectoral partnerships. The framework also refocuses service delivery, community empowerment and seeks to expand social protection to address equity. The blueprint also prioritises human resources for health, commodity security, regulatory and support environment for provision of quality medicines and technologies, disease surveillance and disaster management.

“I commend the increasing role played by the African Union Commission in positioning health at a very high level on the continental agenda. These health policy instruments are important reference frameworks for addressing the unfinished agenda of the MDGs and for meeting the new SDG agenda” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the Regional Director for Africa, World Health Organisation.

During the meeting the Ministers of Health also adopted the Maputo Plan of Action (2016-2030) and the Catalytic Framework to end AIDS, TB and Eliminate Malaria in Africa by 2030. The revised Maputo Plan of Action provides a framework for the full implementation of the continental policy framework on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. The action plan seeks to catalyse the expansion of contraceptive use, reduce levels of unsafe abortion, end child marriage, eradicate harmful traditional practices, eliminate all forms of violence and discrimination against women and girls and ensure access to services by young people.

The Catalytic Framework provides a business model for investing for impact to end AIDS, TB and Eliminate Malaria in Africa by 2030. The framework focusses on three strategic investment areas, each with clear catalytic actions. These areas are health systems strengthening, generation and use of evidence for policy and programme interventions and advocacy and capacity building.

During the meeting the Ministers of Health adopted the concept document on the establishment of the African Health Volunteers Corps which will operate within the umbrella of the recently established Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Through this dedicated Corps the Africa CDC’s capability to assemble, equip, and mobilise a deployable roster of volunteer medical and public health professionals will be assured. This will ensure rapid and effective responses to public health emergencies to Member States and address matters of global concern including health impacts of natural disasters and humanitarian crises.

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Toyota investment a sign of confidence in SA Thu, 26 May 2016 15:30:43 +0000 toyotaBy –

Pretoria – Toyota’s continued investment in South Africa demonstrates confidence in the country’s economy, says President Jacob Zuma.

He was speaking at the official launch of the new generation locally produced Toyota Hilux and Fortuner models at the car maker’s Prospecton plant in Durban.

“This is a very positive event for our country, as it demonstrates confidence in the economy during a difficult period,” said the President, noting that South Africa is still experiencing the effects of the 2008 global economic crisis.

The crisis resulted in a global slump in demand and lower production volumes, which was so severe that it threatened the existence of some of the major international automotive producers.

The Japanese car maker’s R6.1 billion investment in the country resulted in the launch of the Toyota Hilux and Fortuner production lines. The investment in the production of the two new models supports over 4 000, jobs while total employment at the plant exceeds 8 000 jobs.

“This is a significant contribution towards dealing with the serious challenge of unemployment in our country,” President Zuma said.

Toyota South Africa President and CEO Andrew Kirby said the R6.1 billion investment, which represents the biggest single investment the car manufacturer has made to date, is evidence of a company that is committed to South Africa.

“This latest announcement gives evidence of a company that is defiantly committed to South Africa by strategically investing in the people, tools and equipment to produce cars and commercial vehicles of world-class standard that are not only destined for the domestic market but will also fly our flag high on the international stage – thanks to a robust export plan,” said Kirby.

At Tuesday’s launch, President Zuma thanked and congratulated Toyota for its decision to continue investing in the local production of vehicles. Toyota South Africa is the second biggest global manufacturer of the Hilux and Fortuner.

In the past five years, support provided by government through the Department of Trade and Industry has attracted investments of over R25 billion in the automotive industry.

Increasing SA’s exports

With the current global economic slowdown, government launched the Nine-Point Plan to reignite growth. One of the pillars of the plan is a higher-impact Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP).

The eighth iteration of IPAP — launched in Benoni, Gauteng, earlier this month by Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies — places focus on increasing manufacturing, employment creation and export-intensity.

Work towards the development of a new Automotive Plan to cover the period 2020 to 2035 has also commenced, with a target completion date of March 2017.

“We thus see a brighter future for our automotive industry in our country and look forward to growth and continued success for this sector.

“We support the automotive sector also because it is part of the important efforts of growing our manufacturing sector,” said President Zuma.

He said the manufacturing sector is far more important than the 15% it contributes to the economy, as it forms the basis of a modern economy.

Transforming the economy

The automotive sector, the President said, must be part of the country’s economic transformation efforts.

“I know that Toyota is very aware of this imperative. The current situation where black participation in the automotive value chain is mainly at employee [level], rather than in business ownership and control, can and should drastically improve.”

Going forward, the next phase of government policy will aim to integrate local companies, especially small black-owned companies, into the supply chain.

“Toyota South Africa is a leading supporter of local suppliers and we commend you for this role,” said President Zuma, who emphasised that South Africa remains open for business.

South Africa is working to remove obstacles to investment and unlock economic growth. “This has never happened before on this scale. Labour has joined the efforts of working together for the common good of our country.

“South Africa is therefore in a good space right now. We all agree that we want to see growth and jobs and that we shall work together towards that destination,” said the President.

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MoneyGram Money Transfers now Available at Banco Nacional de Guinea Ecuatorial (BANGE) Thu, 26 May 2016 13:30:38 +0000 moneygram 2MoneyGram continues to expand in Equatorial Guinea.

MoneyGram (NASDAQ: MGI) ( continues to expand in Equatorial Guinea with the launch of money transfer services at Banco Nacional de Guinea Ecuatorial (BANGE) locations.

MoneyGram customers in Equatorial Guinea now have fifteen new convenient locations where they can send and receive money between family and friends. BANGE is one of the leading commercial banks in the country. The bank provides financial services to thousands of customers in seven major cities.

Equatorial Guinea is one of the smallest African countries inhabited by 800,000 people. A member of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), it’s one of the African’s largest oil producers. Equatorial Guinea is also among the largest recipients of foreign investments in Africa. The key sending countries to Equatorial Guinea are Spain, U.S., and Cameroon; most of the outbound transfers are sent to Spain.

Africa is a critical market for MoneyGram. The company has more than 30,000 locations in 50 countries on the continent.

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SA: Good pickings for local tomato farmers Thu, 26 May 2016 11:35:30 +0000 tomatoesBy –

Pretoria – The launch of the Dursots & All Joy Tomato Processing Plant in Modjadjiskloof, Limpopo, will help farmers to grow their business.

The R100-million investment plant was launched by Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies on Monday.

Tomato farmer Rachel Maphoto said the plant will help her to grow her business. Maphoto, who previously planted two hectares of tomatoes, now plants six hectares, which has translated into more jobs for the community.

Job creation

Speaking at the launch, Minister Davies said agro-processing is an important sector in the South African economy, particularly in job creation, as it pushes South Africa closer to its goal of having more value-added products.

The Dursots & All Joy plant currently employs 70 people, with 200 more jobs for locals to be created in the next two months.

With the launch of the processing plant, the company will create over 300 jobs by the end of the year, said Founder of All Joy Foods Marci Pather.

He said the company will source 15 000 tons of tomatoes from 14 emerging farmers, creating much needed jobs.

The importance of agro-processing

The launch of the plant follows the recent launch of the 8th iteration of the Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP), which acknowledges the importance of the agro-processing sector in realising value-added growth and efforts to support labour-intensive sectors of the economy.

A report quoted by the Minister stated that in 2014, South Africa’s agro-processing industry contributed R78 billion to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employed 362 000 people.

From 2004 to 2014, agro-processing grew at 1.9% per year and from 2008 to 2014, employment grew by 57 000, despite a contraction in employment in the manufacturing sector as a whole.

Dursots Food Corporation is one of the leading organically-grown food manufacturing businesses in South Africa, producing a wide range of canned vegetables and legumes, peanut butter, sauces and condiments, mayonnaise, bottled water and tomato paste.

The investment is further favoured by Limpopo’s warm climate that provides a suitable environment for tomato production. The group is committed to using more than 90% of all its raw materials and packaging from South African producers, ensuring consistent quality, natural taste and reliable supply.

Minister Davies described the plant as a good example of the industrialisation objectives of building manufacturing capacity, job creation, local procurement and support to small, micro and medium enterprises.

The Minister praised the work done by companies such as Dursots and All Joy, saying their work contributes positively to the country’s strong agro-processing industry.

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Current approaches to offgrid electricity need to be changed to achieve universal access to electricity Thu, 26 May 2016 09:04:00 +0000 .

The PwC report – Electricity beyond the grid: accelerating access to sustainable power for all – says a new approach is needed.

PwC report says new renewable off-grid technologies, in combination with innovative business models and mobile payment systems hold the key to rural electrification.
New approaches to beyond the grid electrification need to be adapted to achieve the UN 2030 target of electricity for all.

Policymakers need to get out of a top-down mindset and support the role that a range of renewable energy off-grid technologies and new business models can play.

Advanced renewable technologies and storage solutions could also threaten the existing business models of power utilities across the African continent in the future.

Energy transformation means the time is right for policymakers to reappraise their approach to energy access, according to a new report from PwC ( On current trends(1), two-thirds of the world’s population will remain without electricity by 2030, which is the target year to achieve the newly agreed post-2015 UN Sustainable Development Goal of universal access to energy. The PwC report – Electricity beyond the grid: accelerating access to sustainable power for all – says a new approach is needed that better recognises the part that off-grid technology can play.

John Gibbs, Africa Deals Power & Utility Lead, PwC, said: “For the millions of people who don’t currently have access to electricity, the old assumption that they will have to wait for grid extensions is being turned on its head by new technological possibilities. 634 million people without electricity are in Africa. Faster progress is needed, and we believe it can be achieved if national energy policies adopt a more comprehensive approach to energy access, embracing the new starting points for energy provided by standalone renewable technology and mini-grids.”

634 million people without electricity are in Africa

Current electrification strategies tend to focus on national grid extension plans. Instead, Georg Baecker, senior manager and energy policy and regulation expert, PwC said: “Policymakers need to embrace the new renewable off-grid technologies and innovative business models. The combination of centralised top-down grid extension with decentralised demand-driven bottom-up strategies, in the form of mini grids and especially standalone solutions, will speed up the increase in electrification levels.”

The report foresees a major transformation of the electricity sector in the period ahead. Angeli Hoekstra, Power & Utility Specialist for PwC Africa, pointed out: “‘All or nothing’ approaches that focus primarily on the national grid are increasingly out of step to what is now possible in power technology. Advances in technology are rapidly changing the options available beyond the grid. Falling solar technology costs have spurred the growth of standalone home systems and are changing the economics of mini-grid systems. Battery storage technology is fast evolving to the point where it is going to play a significant role in utility-scale solar power storage and is beginning to feature in smaller-scale off-grid solutions. Together with access to mobile technology and mobile payment systems for microloans, a new era has arrived for beyond the grid electrification.”

The PwC report sets out five recommendations for accelerating the increase of electrification:

Develop an integrated energy access plan and map – so that everyone can plan with more certainty for either off-grid or grid extension solutions.

Create an enabling environment for off-grid development – including clearer criteria for mini-grid development, support for skills and training and more supportive regulation to allow private players to unlock the off-grid market potential.

Recognise the value of and promote the growth of mobile infrastructure, microloans and payment solutions in supporting energy access – mobile infrastructure is proving crucial in the take-up of standalone home systems, giving providers a low-cost channel for customer relations and an ability to automatically manage non-payment.

Establish an off-grid innovation and development fund – a highly visible development and innovation fund can play an important part in spurring off-grid growth in each country.
Have a high-level energy access champion that can drive results – to cut through bottlenecks and monitor results.

Based on the technological advances in off-grid systems and battery storage, a decrease in their prices and an increase in energy efficient appliances, Hoekstra also says that there will be a real future threat for the current established integrated Power Utilities, especially the ones without a reliable supply of electricity. They will need to adapt their business models or due to an increase in embedded generation and subsequent customers going off-grid, they will face a major challenge ahead in their future sustainability.

(1) IEA, World Energy Outlook, 2015.

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African beekeeping stops mites wiping out hives Thu, 26 May 2016 06:16:41 +0000 Copyright: Wellcome Trust, Wellcome Images
Copyright: Wellcome Trust, Wellcome Images

By SciDev.Net – Inga Vesper

Traditional African beekeeping methods offer better protection against hive-destroying varroa mites than pesticides which, according to a study, are losing their potency.

The mites, which attach to bees and suck their body fluids, are increasingly resistant to pyrethroids, according to a study, published yesterday in PLOS One.

The research shows that genetic mutations are enabling the mites to survive persistent spraying efforts.

As a result, the mites are wreaking havoc among bee populations in Europe and the United States, the research says. But bee farmers in most developing countries have little to fear from the mites, says Richard Ridler, the chairman of Bees Abroad, a charity that supports indigenous beekeeping methods.

The main difference is that African bee farmers are relaxed about swarming, which happens when a bee colony splits, or absconding, when bees abandon a hive, Ridler explains. “When bees swarm or abscond, the majority of mites are left behind, because they mostly live in the bee brood,” he says.

“In Africa, hives are not even treated for varroa. And farmers get away with this because their style of beekeeping is different.”

Joel Gonzáles-Cabrera, Rothamsted Ridler says that Western bee farmers spend a lot of time preventing swarming, despite it being a natural process, as it temporarily halts honey production. But housing large bee populations in close proximity and preventing swarms encourages the spread of varroa mites, he explains.

Varroa mites originally affected only the Asian bee, which has developed resistance to the parasite. But in the early twentieth century, the mites jumped species to the European bee, the paper says.

The mites have since spread around the world, killing untreated hives within about three years from the start of infestation.

According to the Rothamsted Research institute in the United Kingdom, the effectiveness of common pesticides has declined since the 1990s, when the mites developed resistance to pyrethroid-based poisons. The new research on varroa mite DNA allows scientists to run a test on mites and find out if they are part of the mutated strain that is resistant to pesticides.

“The diagnostic test should help beekeepers to decide whether to use pyrethroid-based chemicals to control this highly damaging parasite,” says lead author Joel Gonzáles-Cabrera, a scientist at Rothamsted.

But for developing countries, the priority should be to support traditional and indigenous beekeeping styles to ensure local bee farmers do not become reliant on expensive pesticides or lose their swarms to varroa, says Ridler.

“In Africa, hives are not even treated for varroa,” he says. “And farmers get away with this because their style of beekeeping is different.”

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Gauteng Premier welcomes school admissions ruling Wed, 25 May 2016 15:30:54 +0000 sa flagBy –

Pretoria – Gauteng Premier David Makhura has welcomed the landmark Constitutional Court decision in the matter between the Gauteng Department of Education and the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (Fedsas).

In a statement on Sunday, the Premier said the decision on the validity of the department’s Regulations for the Admission of Learners to Public Schools had far reaching and profoundly transformative implications for access to education in South Africa.

There has been a five-year dispute between the department and Fedsas over who had the final decision in the admission of learners to public schools.

The dispute arose as a result of the publication of a general notice in July 2011 by the then Member of the Executive Council (MEC) proposing amendments to the regulations governing the process of admission of learners to public schools.

The new regulations proposed that the department should determine the minimum standards in the formulation of admission policy for public schools.

As matters stood at the time, the school governing bodies had the final say in the admission policy and the capacity of public schools.

The MEC and the Head of Department of Education contended that due to apartheid spatial patterns and the deep inequalities in the distribution of public resources along racial lines, the use of proximity to schools (the feeder zone system) — the main criteria for admission of learners — had the effect of unfairly discriminating against learners on the basis of race and affordability.

In a unanimous judgment on Friday, 20 May, the Constitutional Court found that the regulations were reasonable, rational and justifiable.

“The judgment is welcomed as it also assists the province in its broader imperative of spatial transformation,” Premier Makhura said.

The Premier said that the judgment removes unreasonable barriers to quality education for learners in the province.

“Reindustrialisation and modernisation of the province requires high order skills and this hinges on access to quality education. This judgment means that all our learners will have access to quality education.”

The Premier said the provincial government continues to invest in township schools to improve infrastructure and equipment in the existing schools. The introduction and roll out of ICT as well as the establishment of schools of specialisation is also aimed at changing the landscape of education in the province.

The Premier called on all school governing bodies in the province to work together with government to transform education into an inclusive, modernised, and innovative system for a globally competitive Gauteng City Region.

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Orange Business Services reinforces its commitment to African enterprises, extending sales operations to Nigeria Wed, 25 May 2016 15:30:41 +0000 orangeOrange Business Services (, the B2B division of the Orange Group, is reaffirming its commitment to support enterprises in Africa with the expansion of its Lagos, Nigeria presence. It has established a new sales office in addition to the existing customer support activities in the country. The objective is to support senior IT decision makers with strategies to grasp the market opportunities being brought by digital transformation. The potential for businesses to expand in Nigeria is demonstrated by the size and rate of growth already achieved by existing Orange clients, especially in the financial sector.

“The expanded Orange Business Services presence in Lagos helps support the many Nigeria-based businesses who want to increase their business performance and profitability,” says Giorgio Heiman, vice president, Africa at Orange Business Services. “We act as a trusted advisor to help our customers compete on an equal footing in what is rapidly becoming a global market. This includes competitive, high-quality IT services delivered in all countries in which they operate.”

Orange Business Services in Nigeria supports both Nigeria-based businesses, which are growing and transforming thanks to digital technologies, and multinational companies from elsewhere on the continent and beyond, which are looking to expand within Africa. “We place great emphasis on local presence in our markets. There are many growth opportunities in IT, particularly in high-growth markets like Nigeria and across West Africa, but these can only be harnessed if service providers have a local understanding of strategic, political and cultural sensitivities in a region. Orange delivers consistently reliable telecommunications across Africa, including in hard-to-reach places and in jurisdictions where the regulatory environment is still developing,” added Heiman.

In addition to West Africa, Orange Business Services is present across North and South Africa. Customers are supported by global customer service centers in Cairo and Mauritius – part of a network of five centers worldwide. Further, Orange Business Services is the only global telecommunications service provider that has been rated as “strong” for its coverage in the Middle East and Africa region by IT research company Current Analysis. And in 2015, it was named the winner of the Total Telecom Award for Best Enterprise Service in Africa with Business VPN Hybrid (, and Best VSAT Operator, Africa.

Orange has a strong commitment to the African continent, which has been at the heart of the Orange business strategy for the last few decades. The Group has a long-term approach to its presence in the region and has invested heavily to support infrastructure development and innovations that have changed the social and business landscape.

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