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South Africa’s leading farmers head to Zambia agricultural opportunities

TWENTY-four of South Africa’s leading farmers will arrive in Zambia on Tuesday to open discussions with Government on how they can move their investment into the country’s agricultural sector.

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The farmers, who literally control South Africa’s agricultural economy, will meet Agriculture Minister, Mr. Given Lubinda and other senior Government officials on Wednesday afternoon, while the schedule for a meeting with President Edgar Lungu is yet to be finalised.

The farmers, who each have an annual turnover in excess of USD $6.5 million per year and have been organised under the auspices of Agri All Africa (AaA), are focusing to invest in areas of fresh produce which include sugar cane, wheat, maize, soya beans; livestock products ranging from cattle to sheep to goats and chickens.

The AaA client-farmers have identified, among other countries; Zambia, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, Mozambique, Malawi, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Namibia and Sudan as their immediate investment destinations.

Zambia has been pegged as number one priority because of its proximity to South Africa which made it easier for the farmers to drive their equipment into the country. Zambia has also been favoured because of her “friendliness in attracting foreign direct investment through the current policies”.

The decision to travel to Zambia was made last month at a meeting organised by AaA held in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
The meeting was convened to discuss acceleration of strengthening of management platforms to ensure the successful implementation of agriculture investments in prioritised destinations in Africa. The meeting also discussed current opportunities with the aim of aligning them to making a difference in agricultural development.

The participants who included client-farmers, AaA functionaries and board members, diplomatic representation, project managers and representatives from the agribusiness value chain looked at agricultural investment opportunities and how risk could be minimised in order to create assurance for the Africa option.

It was resolved that cooperation among the key elements and actors was essential to reach properly managed and implementable projects that would change the lives of people on the ground as well as allow commercial viability for all stakeholders.

The farmers are keen to move their investment into Zambia as soon as suitable land was secured.

AaA, which was born out of South Africa’s commercial agricultural sector aims to support the development of commercial agriculture in Africa, which it has identified as a key driver of the continent’s economic development.

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Source: lusakatimes


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Green jobs boom: meet the frontline of the new solar economy

The growth in renewable energy is fuelling new jobs in Asia and Africa. Meet three beneficiaries of the new green economy from Zambia, Pakistan and Kenya.

While the price of oil is plummeting, taking with it a significant number of jobs, the renewable energy job market is booming. It is estimated that it will grow to 24m jobs worldwide by 2030 – up from 9.2m reported in 2014 – according to analysis by the International Renewable Energy Industry (Irena), which predicts that doubling the proportion of renewables in the global energy mix would increase GDP by up to $1.3tn across the world.

The rise and rise of the solar industry has been the largest driver of growth. In 2014, it accounted for more than 2.5m jobs, largely in operations, maintenance and manufacturing – now increasingly dominated by a jobs boom in Asia.

The industry is providing hope and income to workers – present and future – across the global south.

Sheila Mbilishi, ‘solar-preneur’, Zambia

Although employment in renewable energy is comparatively low across Africa, the sunny continent is where the need and potential for employment is perhaps greatest. A fast-growing economy and population is driving demand for energy, but two-thirds of people in sub-Saharan Africa still lack access to electricity.

Now the renewables revolution is witnessing the rise of a generation of African “solar-preneurs” who are creating small-scale businesses by taking solar energy – in the form of lights, radios and mobile-phone charging facilities – into local communities.

In western Zambia, Sheila Mbilishi is self-employed and sells solar lights to local residents and businesses. The 67-year-old widow and mother of six buys the lights for $5 from the social enterprise SunnyMoney – part of the UK based charity SolarAid – and sells them on with a 50% profit margin.

“They sell like cupcakes,” says Mbilishi. “There is life in the lights – people got interested in them.” They are popular with pupils who want to study after dark, businesses during electricity blackouts or as a replacement for toxic kerosene lamps in homes.

Since starting the business three years ago, it has provided Mbilishi with a significant source of income, helping her to open a shop and build a two-bedroom flat. “The difference is huge,” she says. “Selling lights has helped me a lot. I have built a house out of the lights. Owning personal ones has helped me too with the current load shedding – electricity is usually off and I am not affected by no light.”

Shehak Sattar, renewable energy student, Moscow

For Shehak Sattar, choosing to study renewable energy was more a social than a personal decision. “I want to practise something different from the mainstream. It is related to the concept of believing in humanity and our survival on earth,” he says.

The 27-year-old Pakistani student is now four months into a masters degree in the science and materials of solar energy at the National University of Science and Technology in Moscow, funded by a scholarship. The course is in its first year and has mostly attracted international students – from Afghanistan and Iran to Nigeria and Namibia.

Before coming to Moscow, Sattar worked for NGOs and other agencies in Pakistan, installing and spreading the transmission of solar energy to remote communities and to slums in Islamabad and Lahore. Larger solar projects are now starting to come online in Pakistan, amid ambitions to construct the world’s largest solar farm.

“There has been a general electricity crisis in Pakistan. People are waiting for alternatives to rescue them from this suffering,” he says.

Once he has completed his course, Sattar wants to work at a university in Pakistan “to convert the attention of students to renewable energy sources” by lecturing and researching methods to make solar energy more efficient.

“We have to fight more,” he says. “We have to fight against the people who will be digging for petroleum in the coming 20 years because it will destroy our ecology’s balance.”

Mohamed Abdikadir, solar panel installer, Dadaab, Kenya

The promise of renewable energy in refugee camps could save humanitarian agencies hundreds of millions of dollars and provide job opportunities for thousands of young refugees.

Mohamed Abdikadir, 21, was born in the refugee camp complex at Dadaab in eastern Kenya, where the average family spends $17.20 per month – 24% of their income – on energy. The complex is home to more than 330,000 refugees.

Like most of his neighbours, Abdikadir’s family came to the camp after fleeing the civil war in Somalia more than two decades ago. Both his parents have since died, leaving Abdikadir to provide for his 10 younger siblings. He is now one of 5,000 young people trained to install solar panels as part of a programme in Kenya and Ethiopia organised by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), which has recruited local teachers to deliver it.

“It was hard [to learn] at first but I tried my best and now it is easy,” says Abdikadir. After completing a six-month programme a year ago, he gets up at 5am every day to pray before preparing breakfast and collecting the tools for his job in Dadaab’s dry desert landscape. “There is a lot of sun here.Renewable energy is very good in this environment.”

Before he started the programme, Abdikadir earned money by selling water but he could only make enough to provide one meal a day for his family. Now, with the extra income from solar installations – $10 on an average day – his siblings are eating three meals daily, have new clothing and are able to attend a fee-paying school.

“I am the breadwinner of the family,” he says. “[The programme] has really helped me. Before I was idle. It helps with my daily bread, my daily income.”

Abdikadir now wants to expand his education to incorporate other forms of renewable energy. Meanwhile, the NRC recently announced plans to deliver a similar programme on a larger scale for Syrians at Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.

Source: theguardian


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Tourists flock to Zambia; S. Africa keeps them out

Sunday marked World Tourism Day, and the U.N.’s theme this year was “One Billion Tourists, One Billion Opportunities.” According to the U.N. World Tourism Organization,tourism contributes 10% of global GDP and 6% of the world’s total exports. Many factors come into play when explaining tourist flows to a particular country, but the ease of getting a tourist visa is surely a big one. The diverging paths of Zambia and South Africa demonstrate this clearly.

Zambia’s Tourism Minister Jean Kapata said on Sunday that tourism is among the alternative sectors that can save Zambia’s economy in light of the current decline in copper prices. Zambia’s annual increase in arrivals has been over 12% for several years (apart from a slowdown to 3.5% in 2014). In the case of MICE (meetings, incentives, conferencing, exhibitions) tourism, arrivals have grown 400% annually for the past two years. The country predicts that its steady growth in tourist arrivals will create 300,000 jobs by next year.

“Zambia has instituted substantial visa reforms to make it easier for tourists to come to our destination. These include the implementation of the KaZa Univisa system between Zambia and Zimbabwe, similar to the EU Schengen visa for all countries who are on our ‘visa on arrival’ list for both countries which are 41 in total. This has already increased arrivals to the two countries,”Kapata stated in mid-September. She highlighted that more countries are being added to the list, and noted, “Before the end of this year, Zambia will also launch the electronic visa processing system. This is expected to give tourist arrivals a further boost.”

On the other hand, South Africa has seen a decline in tourists over the past year after enacting tough visa regulations aimed at stemming illegal immigration. The measures require that prospective travelers visit a South African consulate to capture biometric data before departure, and require that children entering the country must be accompanied by an adult in possession of a birth certificate that names both parents.

According to the South African Reserve Bank, preliminary estimates suggest that travel receipts declined by 9% in the second quarter of 2015. And a study done on behalf of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa estimated that in 2015 the regulations would result in a total net loss to South Africa’s GDP of around $295 million.

However, South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba criticized the local tourism sector for not doing enough to sell South Africa as a destination for visitors, adding that other factors, including a constrained global economy, had also contributed to the decline of tourism numbers. “That the number of travelers dropped because of the new visa regulations is always an opinion. And the Reserve Bank is entitled to its opinion and also entitled to be wrong,” he said.

Still, the government is now rethinking the visa regulations to mitigate further losses. Constructive proposals to mitigate the potential unintended consequences of the new regulations were “at an advanced stage,” Gigaba noted. “The department is in the process of developing an e-permit system with an intention to roll it out in all South African missions abroad and also extend the visa facilitation services centers in countries where we receive mostly skilled persons for our economy,”stated the Home Minister’s parliamentary reply, published last week.

Tourism can bring in a lot of revenue and create local jobs, but it needs to be enabled by visa rules that reduce hassle. Otherwise travelers will just go elsewhere.

Source: blogs.blouinnews


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Electricity shortage, low copper prices hit Zambian mines

LUSAKA – An electricity shortage and weaker copper prices have put pressure on Zambia’s mining industry, threatening output, jobs and economic growth in Africa’s No. 2 producer of the metal. The power problems and copper price slide have driven the kwacha currency to record lows amid a selloff in commodity-linked currencies as key consumer China’s economy has slowed, renewing pressure on Zambia to diversify its economy. Print Send to Friend 0 0 Glencore, Vedanta Resources Plc and China’s NFC Africa and CNMC Luanshya Copper Mine have said they will shut down some operations due to the harsh business environment.

“This is serious, it could bring our economy to its knees,” independent analyst Maambo Hamaundu said. Zambia’s power generation capacity stands at 2 200 MW, with most of the electricity produced from hydropower, but supply is often erratic. State power utility Zesco Ltd, which generates the bulk of the electricity, said last week it would deepen power cuts after water levels at its largest hydropower station dropped following a drought.

President Edgar Lungu said on Friday that Zambia should reduce its overall imports of goods to tackle the country’s trade imbalance, but it should import more power to address the shortages. The Zambian government on Tuesday started importing 148 MW of power from a ship docked off the coast of Mozambique. “CEC (Copperbelt Energy Corporation) has communicated to the mines, the need for them to begin accessing imported power,” Chama Nsabika-Kalima, spokesperson for CEC, the largest supplier of power to Zambia’s copper mines, said.

Zambia is the world’s No. 8 copper producer. The closure of mines and smelters is likely to hit its output, which was projected to increase to 916,767 tonnes by 2018 from 741,916 tonnes in 2015, largely on account of increased output at the Kansanshi mine owned by Canada’s First Quantum Minerals, according to government data. The slide in global copper prices, to six-year lows last month, has already prompted the government to slash its economic growth forecast for this year to 5%, from an initial 7%, and the deepening power crisis and curbs to copper production risk a further slowdown, analysts say.

Copper production accounts for 11% of Zambia’s gross domestic product. Labour unions are worried about the impending job cuts, while the government has asked mining companies to consult with the ministry of labour before shutting down operations. “We started importing electricity and they have the option to buy that power and continue with the operations,” the chief government spokesman, Chishimba Kambwili, said. The Zambia Chamber of Mines, an industry body, said it was talking to the government over the problems facing the industry. “We understand the severity of the situation. We want to work with the government to find a long-term solution to this problem,” the chamber’s chief executive, Maureen Dlamini, told Reuters.

Source: engineeringnews


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Zambia Faces Crisis as Biggest Man-Made Reservoir Dries Up

The last time Munandi Siatambika remembers Lake Kariba being this empty was 20 years ago. As the world’s largest man-made reservoir dries, the economic fortunes of Zambia continue to fall.

“The situation is quite serious, looking at the rate the water level is going down,” Siatambika, a 35-year-old tour guide at a lodge in Sinazongwe, on the northern lake shore, said in an interview. “It’s likely to be even worse than in 1995.”

The southern African nation, the second-biggest copper producer on the continent, typically generates almost half of its electricity output from a hydropower plant at Kariba. The power shortage is deepening an economic crisis as President Edgar Lungu’s government struggles to cope with a plunge in metal prices, a widening budget deficit and a collapse in the nation’s currency.

Kariba is the world’s biggest man-made reservoir by volume that straddles the Zambian and Zimbabwean border and supplies about 1,830 megawatts of power to the two nations when running at full capacity. The dam was 40 percent full on July 19, less than half what it was a year ago, according to official data. Fed by the Zambezi river the reservoir is 226 kilometers (140 miles long) and as wide as 40 kilometers.

Zambia’s state-owned utility Zesco Ltd. has already asked mining companies including Glencore Plc and Vedanta Resources Plc to curb power demand by 30 percent, reducing output from an industry that makes up about 12 percent of the economy.

Assets Abandoned

“A drought-related power crisis in Zambia will further erode the near-term fiscal and growth outlook,” Clare Allenson, an Africa analyst at Eurasia Group in Washington, said in an e-mailed reply to questions. Power rationing “will undermine economic activity not only in mining, but more broadly, driving lower revenue collection.”

Investors are starting to abandon Zambian assets, once a favored bet because of the nation’s stable political environment and average economic growth of 6.8 percent a year in the past decade. The kwacha has plunged 20 percent against the dollar this year, while the government sold its third global bond last month at a yield of 9.38 percent, the most ever for an African issuer in the Eurobond market.

In June, Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda cut his forecast for economic growth this year to 5.8 percent from more than 7 percent, a month before the start of 8 hours a day of power rationing.

Taking electricity reductions into account, expansion could be 4 percent or slower this year, said Mushiba Nyamazana, an economics research fellow at the University of Zambia. That would be the lowest level since 2000, just as the country was completing privatization of its copper mines and the industry was on the cusp of a boom.

Mining Impact

It’s still too early to predict the exact toll that reducing power will take on mining production, although “it’s bound to be serious,” Situmbeko Musokotwane, who served as finance minister from 2008 until 2011, said by phone.

Copper prices have fallen 18 percent in London since January.

“The accumulation of risk factors threaten the viability of mining operations,” said Irmgard Erasmus, a NKC African Economics economist in Paarl, South Africa. “While miners are globally struggling with price shocks, the high costs of doing business and policy risk in Zambia could ultimately result in further mine closures and suspension of expansion plans.”

Zambia will enter its hottest months in October and November, said Siatambika, and even when the weather turns wet, which it normally does in late November, there’s no certainty the water level will be restored immediately.

After “1995, the water stayed low for three or four years,” he said, standing on a sandbank on Lake Kariba and looking out into the afternoon sunlight. “It didn’t just come back.”

Source: bloomberg


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