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Plans to raise R3 million for youth’s bursaries

JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – BRANDED Youth and Standard Bank plan to raise R3 million as bursaries for needy students in South Africa.

This is part of broader plans to empower youth in the country.

Through the Standard Bank Youth Expo set for August, the two organisations aim to through sponsorships, exhibitor contributions, donations from the public at large, including private businesses.

Once achieved, the money will be donated to various tertiary institutions, so they can award bursaries to deserving students.

Meanwhile, the Standard Bank Youth Expo is seen as a platform that will provide South African matriculants and university students with the tools to navigate the prevailing volatile economic environment. It set for August 6-7 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.

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The expo follows the realization that only about 15 percent of high school students make it to university, and the youth unemployment rate rests at 63,1 percent with the former influencing the latter.

“There’s a greater need for brands and organizations to engage with the youth of South Africa to ensure that they are educated and empowered for the future, we therefore designed The Standard Bank Youth Expo as a platform that will fully cater to this,” Bradley Maseko, Managing Director of Branded Youth, said.

Motlatsi Mkalala, Senior Manager for Youth Customer Financial Solutions at Standard Bank South Africa, said their research and the current political climate show that South African youth are concerned about their future outlook.

“They are afraid of becoming another unemployment statistic, failed entrepreneurs, or being unable to afford their tertiary tuition,” said Mkalala.

“The Standard Bank Youth Expo will show them that this does not have to be the case. The Youth Expo will provide all the resources necessary that can help turn dreams of future success and prosperity into reality.”

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Source: cajnewsafrica


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Blend of technology and the African sun to solve water purification problems

Take an African scientist and an African engineer and ask them to find a solution to water-borne problems that impact on 783 million people, and cause 443 million ‘lost school days a year’ due to disease. Chances are that they will come up with a solution to provide Africans with safe, healthy drinking water.

For Dr Lloyd Muzangwa, a Zimbabwean scientist, and his friend George Kahabuka, a Tanzanian engineer, knowledge is something that has to be shared with others.

“Life does not measure you on the basis of your credentials, but on the results you deliver,” they explain. This philosophy formed the basis of their entry into the recent Standard Bank Water 4 Africa challenge. Dr Muzangwa’s and Kahabuka’s submission was announced as the winner of the ‘Mid-stage’ (tested solutions, ready for first deployment) category of the competition, which saw them walking away with a prize of US$5,000 for the development of their MAJI 1200 water purification system.

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The category was one of three that saw inventors from around the globe competing for the honours for their innovative work in developing water solutions that could be implemented across the African continent.

Winners in other categories were:

·         Late stage (deployed solutions, ready for scale) – a single prize of US$10,000, which was awarded to the inventor of the SpaTap in Australia.

·         Early stage (new and promising concepts) – which saw three prizes of US$2,000 each being awarded to inventors Joel Mukanga of Uganda, Felix Manyogote of Tanzania, and James Murphy of South Africa.

Applying their minds and scientific and engineering skills, gleaned in Africa as well as with major US and European high tech companies, the inventors of the MAJI 1200 saw it as their duty to use their abilities to benefit Africa’s people.

Their prize money will go towards the construction of MAJI 1200 units that will be donated to schools in far-flung areas of rural Zimbabwe. Bringing together the natural energy of the African sun and trends in modern water purification practice, the MAJI 1200 promises to bring first-world science and engineering knowledge about potable water to African water treatment, explains the 28-year-old Dr Muzangwa.

He adds that he spent his childhood in rural Zimbabwe, but now spends his time as a researcher in the areas of chemistry, physics, astro-chemistry and astro-biology.

“The MAJI 1200 system uses innovative ultraviolet (UV) light technology and solar energy to purify water, using technology that is becoming acceptable to public and regulatory agencies for use as an alternative disinfectant.”

“When municipalities install UV systems, the water supply is protected from chlorine-resistant micro-organisms. UV disinfection can also be used as a virus-barrier against Adenovirus – a major cause of respiratory problems and diarrhea – in a multi-barrier strategy to provide confidence in water supply.”

“While chemical disinfectants destroy or damage a microbe’s cellular structure, UV light inactivates microbes by damaging their DNA, thereby preventing the microbe’s ability to replicate (or infect the host). UV light does not impart tastes or odours to water as chlorine does, and does not form harmful disinfection by-products, or increase bacterial regrowth in distribution systems.”

“The MAJI 1200 can be used as a mobile or fixed water disinfection system. It can help communities in rural areas since it is solar powered, is relatively affordable to construct, and delivers high volumes of water. It is basically a maintenance-free system in which only the lamp and filter require replacement.”

Looking to the future of the system, Dr Muzangwa says that funding is required to set up an installation plant in Africa. A positive spin-off of this could be job opportunities with each installation being tended to and operated by people trained in its use.

With the present cost running at approximately US$2,000 per unit, funding to scale up production and conduct further research would be a bonus. To this end, active lobbying for donors, sponsors, NGOs, and governments is underway.

In the meantime, the MAJI 1200 inventors aren’t resting on their laurels. They are developing other systems that use generators and electricity as well as smaller purification systems.

“The MAJI 1200 is undoubtedly a most exciting project from Africa to emerge from the Water 4 Africa challenge. It is already attracting interest in Zimbabwe and Tanzania and has the potential to open access to healthy water for millions of Africans,” says Jayshree Naidoo, Innovation Thought Leader at Standard Bank.

“It is exactly the type of innovative contribution we were seeking when we sponsored Water 4 Africa, and sought global input in major areas of water conservation. These ranged from ensuring the sustainability of groundwater resources, sanitation, and purification of water including solar, through to filtration of water, as well as innovative solutions to promote wise water use.

“Harnessing the internet ensured that inventors and social entrepreneurs from across the globe could take part in helping solve a significant African problem. By using ‘crowd sourcing’, a powerful tool to gather innovative ideas and identify practical solutions to address the water issues, we ensured that collaboration around water saving projects could take place, regardless of geographical boundaries.”

“It was particularly encouraging to see that of the five winners announced across categories, four are from the African continent. It is great to see that Africans from all walks of life are involved in their communities and are intent on spending their time and talents to benefit others,” concludes Naidoo.

Source: cbn


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Sub-Sahara Green Energy Gets A $250M Boost With Japan, Standard Bank Loan Deal

Green energy projects in sub-Saharan Africa will be the beneficiaries of a US$250-million loan agreement between Standard Bank and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, Standard Bank announced today.

The credit line will be co-financed by Mizuho Bank, Ltd, with Japan Bank providing a partial guarantee for the co-financed portion.

The funding will be used by Standard Bank to lend to green energy projects in sub-Saharan Africa, according to a prepared statement by Standard Bank.

Ben Kruger, CEO Standard Bank Group, signed the deal with Akira Ishikawa, Japan Bank chief representative, London, at Standard Bank’s new green building in Rosebank, Johannesburg.

The green building industry in South Africa has grown tremendously over the last few years, according to Jarrod Lewin with the Green Building Council of South Africa. The country has about 1 million square meters (1.07 billion square feet) of green building space.

“The green building movement is about 7 years old,” Lewin said in a CNBC Africa interview. “We started out with one-to-four buildings and we have grown exponentially year-on-year to about 60 this year.”

Initially, energy efficiency drove the green building movement, but now it’s more about about “awareness around environmental and social governance issues,” said Grahame Cruickshanks, manager for climate change and sustainability services for green buildings at Ernst & Young, according to CNBC Africa.

Standard Bank’s new green building in Rosebank opened in 2013, and it used a gas powered tri-generation plant — South Africa’s second — to produce energy simultaneously for lighting, heating, and cooling.

Tri-generation is expensive, EngineeringNews reported. It didn’t hurt that an existing Egoli Gas main gas line ran past the property, according to InfrastructureENE. Gas made commercial sense in light of sustained electricity price hikes in South Africa.

More than 60 percent of the Standard Bank building is recycled steel, according to Standard Bank. It uses automatic lighting that can detect human presence. Twenty percent of materials used in construction and all furnishings and fittings were sourced from less than 400 kilometers (248 miles) away to reduce fuel used for transportation to the site. Rainwater harvested off the roof reduces the need for potable water by 50 percent, according to Standard Bank.

Standard Bank CEO Kruger said the transaction with Japan Bank is significant for the Standard Bank Group.

“It provides a diversified funding platform to fund projects which are environmentally and socially sustainable, as well as providing alternative green sources of energy to the grid, not only in South Africa, but also in sub-Saharan Africa,” he said. “This ties into the overall objectives of the group to fund projects in Africa in the renewable energy sector.”

Standard Bank Group’s largest shareholder is Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world’s largest bank, with a 20.1-percent shareholding.

Source: AFK Insider


 

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Changing the way business is done: A critical review of two South African integrated reports

By: Carol Adams

The potential of integrated reporting to drive changes in the way business does business lies in its focus on long- term strategic planning, the multiple capital concept and its potential to change how we define value. A focus on short-term financial value is increasingly being seen as bad for business, let alone society and our natural resources.

Changing the way business leaders and their investors think is a prerequisite for real change towards social, environmental and economic sustainability. A focus on the longer term and thinking about value in non-monetary terms, means thinking about people, relationships, know- how and the natural environment and how they create value, rather than just what they cost or how we impact on them. And a reading of the best South African integrated reports reveals a concerted effort to think about the business differently.

It is pleasing to see reports which highlight key non-financial performance indicators, along with financial indicators right up front. For example, in Sasol’s case these include environment, safety and equity measures and, in the case of greenhouse gas emissions (only) a quantified long-term (2020) target. It is also exciting to see reports which talk about values and goals in broad terms and analyse the context in which the business is operating, its risks, including reputation risk, and opportunities.

Some of the reports available, such as Sasol’s 2013 annual integrated report, attempt to follow the IIRC’s consultation draft, but they all predate the recently released International <IR> Framework (IIRC, 2013 and Adams 2013). Yet they provide many learnings for companies new to integrated reporting.

Sasol explicitly acknowledges the link between values and behaviour:

“Our shared values define what we stand for as an organisation and inform our actions and our behaviour. They determine the way in which we interpret and respond to business opportunities and challenges.”
-Sasol Annual Integrated Report 2013 p7

So what behaviours is Sasol aiming to nurture? A focus on people, relationships and long term value for those connected with the company: “To grow profitably, sustainably and inclusively, while delivering value to stakeholders through technology and the talent of our people in the energy and chemical markets in Southern Africa and worldwide…our common goal To make Sasol a great company that delivers long-term value to its shareholders and employees; a company that has a positive association for all stakeholders”. -Sasol Annual Integrated Report 2013 p6

‘Sustainably’ in this case might mean both “environmental sustainability and longevity: “We also remain acutely aware of the environmental impact of extending our operations to 2050. We are working on initiatives to mitigate greenhouse gas and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions as well as on those related to air quality and water stewardship.” -Sasol Annual Integrated Report 2013 p27.

Social and environmental issues feature prominently in ‘top issues impacting our business’ (page 30), but neither here, nor in ‘Looking towards 2050’(page 27) is there any mention of the carbon bubble. Should there be? Well, it has been getting quite a lot of attention, it may impact on value to investors (and employees and stakeholders) and integrated reporting requires identification of material issues and discussion of the context in which a company is operating including risks and opportunities. So, yes, I think there should be a discussion on the likelihood of a carbon bubble impacting on future value.

Sasol appears to see the fight as being with regulators. “Risk of climate change and related policies impacting Sasol’s operations growth strategy and earnings” is identified as a regulatory risk (page 47) with possible regulatory interventions identified as carbon taxes, product carbon labelling, carbon budgets and carbon-related border tax adjustments linked to bilateral agreements.Sasol discusses efforts to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions, but also notes it is engaging in “co-ordinated regulatory intervention”(page 47). In the context of its concern about the cost of such interventions, this would appear to mean trying to stop them, a move unlikely to be in the interests of protecting natural capital.

The report has been ranked highly (see EY, 2013) and indeed, I did get the feeling that there had been some considerable ‘integrated thinking’, demonstrated by the discussion on value, strategy and the business model. But I was left wondering if all the reported activity around reducing carbon emissions was an attempt to hide the elephant in the room (the carbon bubble) and delay regulation. Of course, I should not be surprised by this (see Adams, 2004 and Adams and Whelan, 2009), but I am disappointed to see integrated reporting used in this way.

On the positive side, Sasol has identified how each stakeholder contributes to value creation (pages 38-9) along with more commonly provided information on how they engage with each stakeholder group, what their expectations are etc. The process of determining materiality set out at the front of the report involved consulting stakeholders amongst other steps.

The Standard Bank Group (SBG) does not suffer the same perception that the nature of its business is fundamentally unsustainable, as some would have of Sasol, but banks come up against scrutiny with regard to the nature of the projects they fund, and they are generally mistrusted by many. Demonstrating a contribution to creating value for the societies they depend on and diligence with regard to the environmental impacts of the projects they fund is therefore critical for their long term success. The Standard Bank Group appears to do this better than many. The real proof of course comes in information about the nature of loans made.

The reader of SBG’s annual integrated report is left with the feeling that the bank sees its success as inextricably linked with its relationship to society. For example, socioeconomic development and provision of sustainable and responsible financial services are identified as material issues.

“The bank aims to embed sustainability thinking into its business processes there are a number of determinants of materiality, including the bank’s values and accountability and responsibility for sustainable development rests with the board” -SBG’s annual integrated report p 46.

The report includes a value added statement (page 49), information on stakeholder engagement processes and explains its approach to environmental and social risk screening. Sustainability risk is explicitly mentioned alongside other operational risks (page 90).

Another strength of the SBG report is its disclosure on remuneration of it executives. Some are not so bold. One of the Guiding Principles of the International <IR> Framework is ‘conciseness’.

At around 130 (Sasol) and 180 (SBG) pages, neither report examined here can be said to fulfil that, but they contain information including financial and governance information which goes beyond the Framework’s content elements.

Source: The Sustainability and Integrated Reporting Handbook


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