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South Africa working to unite Africa’s economy


first_imgThe 861-kilometre Sishen-Saldanha heavy freight railway line, also known as the Ore Export Line, links the Sishen iron ore mine in the Northern Cape to Saldanha Bay. South Africa’s new infrastructure investment drive will improve cross-border trade with its neighbours and help further integrate the regional economy. (Image: Brand South Africa. Click for a larger view.) • Manusha Pillai Communications manager Brand South Africa +27 11 483 0122 manushap@brandsouthafrica.com • Brand South Africa at the World Economic Forum in Davos • Cape to Cairo trade agreement to open African borders • A vision for 2030: South Africa’s National Development Plan • Strong showing in global competitiveness • Slow but steady: South Africa’s economy on the upward pathNdaba DlaminiSouth Africa is actively involved in the economic integration and development of Africa, building much-needed regional infrastructure, promoting the continent’s interests on the global stage, and forming partnerships and free trade agreements with several countries, particularly members of the Southern African Development Community.In 2013, the South African government announced a R827-billion push over three years to build and upgrade infrastructure. This will be spent not only on the schools, hospitals, houses, roads and electricity supply needed for better quality of life and faster economic growth, but also on infrastructure to improve the efficiency of regional trade.Some R400-billion of the funds will go to building power stations and rolling out new electricity transmission lines, as well as new railways, ports and pipelines, as well as water-transfer schemes and airport upgrades. This spend will position the country as a base for continent-wide investment.Infrastructure upgrades also allow South Africa to join other African countries in mutually beneficial projects, unlocking long-term socioeconomic gains for the region. Transport, water and energy projects will provide competitively priced and diversified short-, medium- and long-term advantages for the regional economy. Mozambique’s flagship Cesul electricity transmission project will feed into the Southern African power pool, providing cheap and clean power in the short term. The Grand Inga Dam hydroelectric project, on the other hand, will provide huge benefit to the subcontinent over the long term.Tripartite free tradeThese and other infrastructure projects complement plans to establish a massively enlarged free trade area encompassing 600-million people in 26 countries – roughly half of the member states of the African Union.With a combined gross domestic product of some US$1-trillion, the Tripartite Free Trade Area is likely to boost trade efficiency in southern, central and east Africa when it launches later this year. The aim is improved intra-regional trade, increased investment, and the development of cross-regional infrastructure.African common markets and free trade areas When it comes into effect in June, the tripartite agreement will unite Comesa, EAC and SADC.Better trade across bordersIn 2013 South Africa’s global rank for trading across borders improved by nine points – from 115 in 2012 to 106 – according to the World Bank’s Doing Business Index. The trading across borders score is determined by measuring the time and cost (excluding tariffs) spent on exporting and importing a standardised cargo of goods by sea transport. It specifically measures of the number of documents, cost and time required to export and import goods.Also in 2013, the national treasury proposed a new strategy to make it easier for South African companies to do business elsewhere on the continent. The proposal, included in the 2013 Budget Review under the heading “Gateway to Africa and other reforms”, aims to boost local tax revenue, dividends, competitiveness and jobs, while supporting economic growth and regional integration.Africa accounts for about 18% of South Africa’s total exports, and nearly a quarter of the country’s manufactured exports. In the past five years the South African Reserve Bank has approved nearly 1 000 large investments in 36 African countries.Bringing Africa into BricsIn March, South Africa will take the African developmental agenda to the summit of Brics nations – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Revitalising manufacturing, for example, is a core component of both South Africa’s and the larger continent’s economic development plans.South Africa is a major investor in Africa and, for many, a springboard into the rest of the continent. Its large investment footprint in Africa enhances its position and allows it to bring African interests into the Brics fold. South Africa is the biggest investor in the sub-Saharan region, with its economic structure and geographical proximity giving it an advantage over other countries when it comes to investing there.As the Brics countries have begun playing an increasingly prominent role in global trade, investment, finance and governance in recent years, so their cooperation with Africa has gained momentum and generated much interest. Africa has deepened its engagement with them, not only in trade, investment and development finance, but also in diplomatic and cultural relations.Regional cooperation agreementsSouth Africa’s membership of regional organisations also allows it to promote African development and integration. These include the Southern African Customs Union, the Southern African Development Community, and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development.The Southern African Customs Union is a trade agreement between South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. It aims to facilitate the cross-border movement of goods, promote fair competition, and equitably share customs and excise revenue raised by it member sates.The Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) main aim is to consolidate the region’s free trade agreement. It works to fully implement the agreement and bring all SADC states into it, as well as facilitate trade, remove non-tariff barriers to trade, and harmonise regional standards, technical regulations, customs documentation and procedures.Finally, South Africa’s investment and trade foray into Africa has, since 2001, been spurred by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, or Nepad. This is an undertaking by African leaders to eliminate poor governance, corruption and conflicts in their countries in return for increased aid, private investment and a reduction of trade barriers by developed nations.last_img read more


Presents For the Would-be Energy Savers Among Family and Friends


first_imgWith Black Friday behind us, it’s time for my annual Christmas shopping list — ideas for energy-saving and green living gifts this holiday season. Most of these products can be purchased locally — benefiting the local economy. Discounts may be available for both in-store and online purchases.Concept SL-100 Solar-Powered LED Security LightI haven’t actually used this product, but I read user reviews of some of the leading solar security lights, and the Concept SL-100 32 LED Solar Security Light with Motion Detector seems to be the top-rated product right now. It is installed without an electrician and requires no connection to your home’s wiring system. A small (two-watt) amorphous-silicon photovoltaic (PV) panel charges a lead-acid battery that powers a motion-sensor-controlled outdoor light source consisting of 32 individual LEDs. The manufacturer claims comparable light output to a 20-watt compact fluorescent lamp with ten hours of continuous operation on a full charge. The PV panel can be mounted up to 12 feet from the light. List price: $79.95. (I looked everywhere but was unable to track down the actual manufacturer; information on the product can be found on Amazon and many other websites.)Belkin Conserve Switch Surge Protector with RemoteThe problem is that a lot of our electronic equipment keeps on using electricity when it’s turned off. Home entertainment centers, TVs, DVD players, stereo equipment, computer monitors, cable modems, and wireless routers often consume electricity 24/7. The Belkin Conserve Switch Surge Protector allows you to quickly and easily turn off all the devices plugged into the power strip using a wall-mounted, wireless switch. Sure you could save as much energy with a simple power strip if you remembered to turn it off when you weren’t using the equipment, but convenience means a lot. The remote switch for this Belkin surge protector can be mounted right next to your light switch–making it easy to put an end to these phantom loads. List price: $39.99.Water Heater BlanketIf you have a storage-type water heater, “standby losses” account for a significant portion of its annual energy use. Those standby losses can be reduced by fitting the water heater with an insulating blanket. Most are made with fiberglass insulation and vinyl facing. Use care if insulating a gas-fired water heater; for safety reasons the air inlet must not be blocked. Cost: $15 to $35, depending on product; rebates may be available from some utility companies or energy offices.Public Transit PassLooking for gifts for employees? In an urban area with a public transit system, consider transit passes. You will encourage an energy-saving and pollution-reducing alternative to commuting by automobile — and you might actually improve productivity at the workplace, by allowing employees to relax or check e-mail on their way to work. Cost: varies widely depending on location, duration of pass, etc.Hand RakeHand rake? It’s a great alternative to a gasoline-powered or electric leaf blower. It saves energy, is easier on the ears (yours and your neighbors’), reduces pollution, and gets you outside to enjoy the fresh air. Available in bamboo, plastic, and steel. Cost: $8 to $60, depending on quality.Caframo Ecofan for Wood Stoves and Gas StovesThis is not only a functional present that can help deliver heat from your wood stove or freestanding gas stove, but it’s also a really cool gadget that demonstrates the fascinating process of thermoelectric power generation. When the Caframo Ecofan is placed on a hot surface, the base heats up, while an upper metal surface remains much cooler. A thermoelectric material sandwiched between these two layers uses that difference in temperature to produce electric current. Technically, this is called the Seebeck effect, after the Estonian-German physicist Thomas Johann Seebeck. With the Caframo Ecofan, the electricity powers a silent fan that pushes warm air rising from the wood stove into the room. List price: $159.99 for the larger three-blade model (#802). Different model sold for certain gas stoves.Accutire Digital Tire GaugeSome pundits made fun of candidate Obama when he touted the energy-saving benefits of keeping tires properly inflated, but he was exactly right. The Accutire MS-4021 Standard Digital Tire Gauge is the best-rated digital gauge on the market. With a tire-pressure range from 5 to 150 psi, it works for bicycles as well as cars and trucks, and the accuracy of 0.5 psi allows precision monitoring of tire pressure. For highway driving, keep tire pressure at the upper end of the recommended inflation range to reduce rolling friction and improve fuel economy. The downside is that it does require small batteries that have to be changed after a few years. List price: $14.99.The book “Your Green Home”All right; I’m  a biased judge of the value of this book, since I wrote it. But if you have a friend thinking of building a new home, this is a great starting place. Published in 2007 by New Society Publishers. List price: $17.95 from your local bookstore.In addition to this Energy Solutions blog, Alex contributes to the weekly blog BuildingGreen’s Product of the Week, which profiles an interesting new green building product each week. You can sign up to receive notices of those blogs by e-mail — enter your e-mail address in the upper right corner of any BuildingGreen.com blog page.Alex is founder of BuildingGreen, Inc. and executive editor of Environmental Building News. To keep up with his latest articles and musings, you can sign up for his Twitter feed.last_img read more


5 Actually Useful Wrap Gifts Your Crew Will Appreciate


first_imgWrap gifts show your crew that they were worth a little extra time and some personal consideration. Here are five ideas for gifts they can actually use.Cover image via Travelchair.The wrap party is the final act of the production — a time for the crew to come together and celebrate the completion of the shoot. This is especially true for producers, directors, and department heads. A good set or department leader knows to take this opportunity to make their crew feel valued beyond their paycheck.What’s a great way to do this? Wrap gifts.Wrap Party GiftsHere are some ideas for gifts that will help your crew out on their next job — or at least make it more comfortable.1. NotebooksNotebooks are one of the most important tools on any set. Two that I absolutely love are Elan’s Indestructible, Weatherproof Field Notebooks and the Rocketbook Everlast.(Image via Elan Publishing.)The Indestructible Field Notebook is just that: pocket-sized and unbreakable. It’ll work just the same regardless of whatever wild location you might be shooting in.(Image via Rocketbook.)The Rocketbook Everlast is something else entirely. It is a washable, re-usable notebook (already awesome) that kicks it up a notch with some amazing “cloud-scalability.” Translated from techno-jargon: you can use their app to save your notes on Google Drive, Dropbox, or a handful of other supported apps. It is a super quick and effective way to organize and archive your notes.It also looks like they offer custom designs. If the budget permits, order custom books with the production logo on the cover.2. Yeti Drinkware(Image via Yeti.)I’m not a big brand purist normally. Yeti makes lots of amazing drink ware, but what separates them from the myriad of other similar products is that they offer custom designs. Like the Everlast, if you can afford it, get them show-branded.All of Yeti’s products are fantastic at insulating beverages in hot or cold environments. Like the Indestructible Notebook, no matter where your crew’s future sets take them, they’ll be a little better off thanks to this gift.One thing to consider: the classic Yeti tumbler is a sensation. Many people already have several. Consider some of their other designs to stand out a little more.3. ExpendablesOn almost every set, there are tons of leftover expendables the production has to purchase. Consider assembling packages of these remaining materials as a gesture to the crew.Place an extra high priority on gaff tape. Every department uses it. Extra points if you have enough left over to give each member a couple rolls apiece.4. Power Banks and USB Hubs(Image via Anker.)Power banks have become awesome over the past few years. Many companies offer branded banks, but most of them are pretty worthless. Do a little research before purchasing these for your crew. Anker makes great, affordable banks.A quick power bank tip: look for banks with 10400 mAh or greater. This will give the user 2-3 full charges on their phone. Also, make sure it can output 2.1 Amps.(Image via Anker.)USB hubs are super useful — especially to anyone who works on their computer while on set. Look for hubs with multiple USB 3.1 ports, and consider that many people on set own Macbooks, so make sure the bank has USB Type-C options on the back end.5. Portable Folding Chairs(Image via AlexSN_Photography.)These are pretty self-explanatory. Small, collapsable camping stools are an easy addition to anyone’s kit. Like the Yeti bottles, these are super useful, and they can bring huge relief to hectic sets or shoots in extreme locations.Coleman makes several options that look great, but there are hundreds of other options available.(Image via Travelchair.)I prefer the small stools over full chairs simply for their smaller footprint when stowed. The best chair is the one you always have with you.All of these ideas are simply to get you thinking. Feel free to take all of them or none of them, but the biggest thing you can do for your crew is to show you appreciate them as individuals. Find a way to meet a need they all share. Showing thoughtfulness in your gifts will earn you so much more credit with your team than anything on this list.Looking for more on filmmaking gear? Check out these articles.Gear Basics: Is Filming with a Pancake Lens a Viable Option?Why You Shouldn’t Sleep On The Latest GH5 2.3 FirmwareThe Robotic Camera Arm That Plugs into an Outlet Is Now Half the PriceBuild Your Own Car Rig for Thirty Dollars + 10 Production TipsOn-Set Essentials: Production Gear You Need to Know Aboutlast_img read more


Pankaj Advani settles for silver at Asian Snooker Championship


first_imgIndia’s top cueist Pankaj Advani lost to China’s Lv Haotian in the summit clash of Asian Snooker Championship here today, as he failed in his bid to win the continental double of billiards and snooker titles in the same year.Advani lost 3-6 in the final to his Chinese opponent and it meant that he could not become the first player to win both Asian titles in Billiards and Snooker in same calendar year.The defeat in the final also meant that Advani could not complete a career Grand Slam in cue sport.Having won all the major events — Nationals, Asian and World Championships in both Billiards and Snooker and in both the long and short formats, this is the one title (15-red Asian Snooker) that has eluded Advani.A victory will make Advani only player in history to win all Majors in two sports at all levels and across all formats.The Chinese player took the first frame before Advani drew parity. This was the only time the two finalists were on equal terms.From there, Haotian was on song as he scored heavily to always keep the sixteen-time world champion Indian at bay.At 1-3 and just before the interval, Advani made a comeback with two well-crafted breaks to give himself a chance at a recovery.But at 2-3, Advani was yet again kept away from the table by his Chinese opponent. At 3-4, Haotian won the next two frames narrowly to clinch the Asian snooker title.advertisementAdvani lost 32-95(65), 75(58)-31, 43-69, 24-65(57), 78-0, 6-102(102), 61-48, 48-59, 69-71.This is the first silver Advani has won this season, the rest all gold medals — at the National Championships of Billiards, 6-red Snooker and 15-red Snooker, as well as the Asian Billiards Championship.Advani will now prepare to defend his Asian 6-red Snooker title next month in Kyrgyzstan.last_img read more