We may have forgotten just how vital the transportation sector is to our economy and our growing nation…
Since 2005, South Africa has been celebrating October as Transport Month and 12 years later, we may have forgotten just how vital the transportation sector is to our economy and our growing nation. While there are certainly challenges that need to be addressed, such as the high road death toll during holidays, there is a great deal to be grateful for as we move towards integrating transport systems to provide mobility and accessibility to all South Africans.
Sustainable job creation and skills development
Before the dawn of democracy in 1994, South Africa lacked a reliable public transport system. The only modes of public transport were crowded commuter trains and a handful of minibus taxis.
Now, however, we have a public transport system that caters for millions of commuters, including a world-class, high-speed Gautrain, properly maintained roads, international airports to be proud of and we also have vehicle manufacturing plants that have grown significantly over the years.
Nissan South Africa is one of eight automotive brands manufacturing cars in the country and together, they have invested billions of rands in skills development and plant upgrades which enable the production of high-quality vehicles.
Thousands of jobs have been created over the years and hundreds of people have received training all over the world in an effort to foster ongoing educational opportunities.
The South African government has been incredibly supportive of the automotive industry with programmes such as the Automotive Production and Development Programme and, in turn, the industry has provided opportunities for people from previously disadvantaged communities while also investing in original equipment manufacturers and other entrepreneurs in this sector.
In recent years, the local motoring industry suffered from a critical shortage of good engineers and this hampered carmakers’ ability to achieve their manufacturing goals while continuing to be competitive in a global context.
Nissan SA’s solution was the Nissan Graduate Development Programme, which initially started off with research at Nissan’s plants in Mexico and North America to establish a best-practice model. Since the programme started in 2012, it has produced 53 engineering graduates per year, of which 50% are women. Nissan copied the programmes from its best plants and the results have been very promising because highly qualified engineers, who have valuable hands-on experience, are being produced.
Stimulating the economy
The important aspect of these largescale projects is that they show confidence in South Africa and they stimulate the economy directly through jobs and indirectly through ongoing international investments that ensure new projects are given the green light.
In an effort to support black economic empowerment, Nissan recently introduced onsite suppliers to its Rosslyn plant to reduce logistics time and costs, and in the next few months, Nissan plans to introduce a Nissan Incubation Centre to assist small, black-owned businesses to get into the automotive supply chain.
Upliftment of previously disadvantaged communities
Strategic investments in the transport sector over the years have transformed the quality of life of millions of people who were previously excluded from the economy. Now, there are reliable and safe transportation services that are enabling much-needed socio-economic development.
The government envisions that by 2020, more than 85% of the population of South African cities will be within a kilometre of an integrated rapid public transport network. The Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) System, the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project and the Tshwane Rapid Transit System are already carrying hundreds of thousands of passengers per week, according to the City of Tshwane.
The long-term plan for the BRT system is for it to cover 330km and to stimulate urban regeneration by bringing underprivileged communities closer to economic opportunities.
Everything from economic growth to social services and personal ease of movement is dependent on transportation, so during this month, take the time to appreciate that we are lucky to live in a country that has grown immensely and that continues to provide opportunities for all South Africans. As a major stakeholder, job creator and innovator in the transport sector, Nissan SA is proud of the country’s achievements and is optimistic about South Africa and Africa’s ability to prosper well into the future.
Via: Nissan South Africa
Over 7,600 tonnes of waste have been diverted from landfills, 25,300 tonnes of fossil Green House Gases have been saved, and R24 million in financial benefits have been delivered to member companies of the Western Cape Industrial Symbiosis Programme (WISP). These, and other environmental successes, were celebrated by the Mayor of the City of Cape Town, Patricia de Lille in her address at the recent inaugural WISP business breakfast.
WISP is a free facilitation service, funded by the City of Cape Town as well as the Western Cape Government and delivered by GreenCape, the Sector Developmental Agency for the green economy in the province. By utilizing an Industrial Symbiosis approach that connects over 490 member companies with unused or residual resources such as energy, water, assets, services, waste, transport, logistics and expertise, WISP enhances business profitability and sustainability within the Western Cape. In addition, for every 290 tonnes of waste that WISP diverts, a job is created. To date, 25 temporary jobs, 17 permanent jobs at member organisations and 63 jobs in the economy have been generated. De Lille said: “It is very encouraging to see opportunity in products that would otherwise have been disposed on our landfill sites. In terms of our new Organisational Development Transformation Plan, we don’t want any further landfill sites to be built in the City of Cape Town. That will help all the initiatives that have come from WISP and its members to grow even further.”
She continued: “Industrial Symbiosis identifies business opportunities to improve resource efficiency and typically results in economic, social and environmental benefits for all the companies involved. It also gives a real expression for the circular economy which aims to see materials used productively for as long as possible before disposal.” De Lille added that the impacts of climate change present very real challenges to Cape Town in general and its economy in particular. “I would like to pay tribute to all the members of WISP who are using this programme to improve efficiencies in the economy and who are contributing to our response to climate change. You are helping to build a resilient city economy that is better prepared to deal with the shocks and stresses of climate change.”
The free-to-attend breakfast highlighted the value that WISP adds to businesses in the city and province with three companies sharing their resource efficiency stories. They detailed the changes they have made to energy and water consumption as well as waste management and how those changes have helped them to improve their business processes, operate more sustainably and save money.
Chris Handt, Operations Manager at ACA Threads, which has been a WISP member since its inception in 2013, unpacked the sewing thread manufacturer’s energy reduction journey. To decrease its electricity consumption, meters were installed in every department throughout the factory and the data from this was then analysed. Based on these findings, further interventions were implemented which included the staggering of machine usage, introduction of a variable speed drive compressor, changing all bulbs in the plant to energy saving ones and putting 131 KW Photo Voltaic (PV) cells on the roof. The outcome has been a drop in the factory’s monthly electricity usage from 130,000 KW to 100,000 KW with a saving of R40, 000. Furthermore, whatever electricity is not used from the PV cells is being pumped back into the grid. ACA Threads aims to continue cutting its electricity consumption and will be utilising lights with timers or motion sensors, replacing old motors with new inverter motors and adding additional PV capacity.
GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) Tony Laughton shared that through its water conservation interventions, GSK experienced a 42% reduction in wastage over the past seven years. These have included the use of reject water from reverse osmosis tanks to supply water to the factory’s HVAC cooling towers, the installation of a solar hot water system to reduce water wastage whilst awaiting heating, retrofitting toilets with econo-flush systems and putting demand taps on 42 basins around the plant. After undergoing the City of Cape Town’s Water Star Rating Certification assessment, GSK received a 5-star rating for its water-saving efforts.
Charles Dominion, Owner of Simple Active Tactics SA Pty Ltd, noted the value of waste for his business. As a manufacturer and processor of granular abrasives for sandblasting, most of the company’s products are made by using waste from industry. Through WISP, the company has now been able to add to its product line-up by using recycled glass offcuts from the glazing industry, 200 tonnes per month of which was being dumped in landfills. The resultant product is used as abrasives as well as in swimming pool filtration systems.
GreenCape CEO Mike Mulcahy concluded the breakfast by saying: “There is evidence that there are increasing extreme events happening in regions and cities worldwide as a consequence both of climate change and how we’ve been producing goods and services in the past. There is a massive opportunity for Cape Town and this region to take a leading role in providing solutions to many of these problems. GreenCape’s role is to enable companies to look for these solutions, access opportunities, succeed in their businesses and access the green economy.”
The breakfast is one of the many networking opportunities offered to WISP members, comprising companies and organisations of all sizes, sectors and turnovers within the Western Cape. These are designed to help grow businesses and make them more resource efficient.
ISLAMABAD: Leading experts on water resources are of the view that there is not sufficient awareness among the policy-makers of the impending water crisis in Pakistan, which is posing a threat to the country’s security, stability and environmental sustainability.
Former chairman of the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) Shamsul Mulk highlighted water security issues discussed in a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report, ‘Development Advocate Pakistan’.
Pakistan’s water policy does not exist and key policy-makers act like ‘absentee landlords’ of water in Pakistan, he said. “Because of this absentee landlordism, water has become the property of the landlords and the poor are deprived of their share’’.
A draft report on water resources was framed at the expressed request of the ministry of water and power. Mr Mulk said it was unfortunate that the federal cabinet never allocated the time for its review and approval.
“The worst example of landlordism is in Sindh. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Pushtoon society is a lot more egalitarian. In general, landlords don’t want the poor to become economically self-sufficient to remain in power. So, this water issue is very political in nature,” he said.
Mr Mulk pointed out the extreme variability of river flows season-wise— 84 per cent of flows in summer and only 16pc in winter—as a major problem.
According to the report, with a Kharif to Rabi ratio of two to one, the seasonal needs were about 66pc in summer and 34pc in winter, showing surpluses of 18pc in summer and shortages of 18pc in winter.
The surpluses of summer create floods, inflicting major damages to the infrastructure in the Indus plains and shortages in water disable Rabi crops from its optional yields. Owing to the lack of a strong government, this disability continues to hurt Pakistan and its economy, said Mr Mulk.
According to Director General of Federal Water Management Cell of the ministry of national food security and research, Muhammad Tahir Anwar, 18 million acre feet (MAF) of rainwater or hill torrent potential have not been realised in the overall policy framework.
It is imperative that a comprehensive policy framework inclusive of river basin, groundwater and rainwater and hill torrents be developed and adopted to ensure sustainable use of scarce water resources, he said.
According to all indicators, Pakistan was rapidly becoming a water-scarce country, said Chairman of Pakistan Council of Research in water resources, Dr Mohammad Ashraf. However, there is little awareness of this looming disaster amongst stakeholders, particularly policy-makers and they cannot foresee the real picture of its repercussions on social and economic fronts, he added.
He said that the draft ‘National Water Policy’ should be approved which provides policy guidelines for sustainable management of water resources, adding that provinces should develop their own strategies within the framework of the national water policy.
Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) are an important way to fill investment gaps that arise due to lack of enough resources to finance public projects especially in developing countries.
According to East African Business Week, Dr. Uzziel Ndagijimana, the Rwanda Minister of State in charge of Economic Planning was recently speaking during a three-day working trip to South Korea where he attended the Korea-Africa Forum for Economic Cooperation (KOAFEC) Ministerial Conference.
“One of the objectives of Rwanda’s Vision 2020 is to develop a private sector led economy. It is in this context that Rwanda has done significant reforms to improve its business environment and to ease doing business for the private sector alone or in partnership with the government,” he said.
Some of the areas suitable for PPP investment model in Rwanda include the Nyabarongo II Hydropower generation, Mutobo water supply project, Rwanda International Trade Fairs and Exhibition Park, Muvumba Multipurpose dam among others.
According to a press release, the 2016 KOAFEC Ministerial Conference focused on ‘Transforming Africa’s Agriculture through Industrialization and Inclusive Finance’, as well PPPs.
Discussing how PPPs can fast-track development, Ndagijimana said most public investments are usually costly and may not be financially viable to attract the private sector. This then requires the government to get involved.
He added however, even when the government has resources, it may lack technical capacity to execute and operate them efficiently.
Currently several projects are being implemented under the PPPs arrangement in ICT, energy, water, transport and agro-processing sectors.
According to the organisers, KOAFEC has made significant progress in African countries in areas of human resource development, information communication technology (ICT), agriculture, infrastructure, green growth partnership and knowledge sharing on Korea’s economic development experiences.
The KOAFEC Ministerial Conference this year brought together Ministers and delegations from all over Africa and Korea, representing governmental organizations, the private sector, academia, and the media.
Established jointly by South Korea’s Ministry of Strategy and Finance, the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) and the Export-Import Bank of Korea in 2006, KOAFEC has served as a comprehensive platform for promoting mutually beneficial partnership between Korea and Africa.
By Sam OKwakol, East African Business Week
With a majority of African nations diversifying from traditional sources of income, entrepreneurship is increasingly seen as a key to economic growth. So far, entrepreneurship has yielded huge returns for entrepreneurs, and according to experts, there lies great untapped potential to drive the African continent into its next phase of development.
A study released in June 2015 by Approved Index, a UK-based business networking group, ranked Africa as among the top of the entrepreneurship chart. The Entrepreneurship around the world report listed Uganda, Angola, Cameroon and Botswana among the top ten on the entrepreneurship list.
The group sees entrepreneurship as a “necessity” at a time of high unemployment, saying: “When unemployment is high and the economy is weaker, people are forced to start small businesses to provide for themselves and their families.”
Entrepreneurship is seen as one of the most sustainable job generation tools in Africa.
Roselyn Vusia, a human rights advocate, points out that Uganda’s youth unemployment – estimated to be 83 percent, according to the African Development Bank’s 2014 report – is one of the highest in Africa.
Unemployment around the continent is also worrying. A 2013 study by Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank, found that African youth (15 to 24 years) constitute about 37 percent of the working age population. The same age group, however, accounts for about 60 percent of jobless people in Africa.
Kwame Owino of the Institute of Economic Affairs, a think tank based in Nairobi, says: High youth population, poor policy choices and a lack of comprehensive employment plans in many African nations precipitate the high rates of unemployment.”
Skills development focus
Vusia comments on one proactive approach: “The government of Uganda has implemented an entrepreneurship strategy that is focused on skills development, resource provision and access to markets. This seems to be bearing fruit,” she says.
The importance of entrepreneurship was underscored at the July 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) held in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, attended by US President Barack Obama, entrepreneurs from more than 100 countries and a group of US investors, among others.
Speaking at the summit, Obama lauded entrepreneurship for its promise for Africa with participants at the GES agreeing with him that entrepreneurship is one of the key ingredients in the toolbox to address youth unemployment in Africa, the region with the youngest population in the world. “Entrepreneurship creates new jobs and new businesses, new ways to deliver basic services, new ways of seeing the world – it is the spark of prosperity,” Obama said.
According to Evans Wadongo, listed by Forbes Africa as one of the most promising young African entrepreneurs, many African governments have not been keen on developing policies that will avert unemployment among the youth in a big way.
“Governments are not doing enough. The private sector is trying, but most goods brought into the African market are from China. This denies the youth the much needed manufacturing jobs, which are more labour intensive,” he says.
Kenya’s cabinet secretary in the Ministry of Industrialisation and Enterprise Development, Adan Mohammed, however, defends the policies of most African governments, saying that their efforts have been spurring confidence in the continent and are enabling more young people to turn toward entrepreneurship.
“Success breeds success – as many entrepreneurs make headway, others get on board. Also, technology-based inventions are pulling entrepreneurs,” Mohammed says. “The mindset has changed and many young people now think as employers. Many African governments have Âcreated opportunities in terms of finance and access to markets.”
Commenting on the increase in foreign investment and economic growth in Africa, Ugandan Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda says his government’s efforts to promote entrepreneurial culture have produced “remarkable results”. For instance, the state-run Youth Venture Capital Fund trains and provides money to young people with good business ideas. The government also helps young entrepreneurs to market their products.
Most importantly, with youth Âcomprising more than 75 percent of its population, Uganda has remodelled its education system to include entrepreneurship as one of the subjects of instruction in secondary schools and colleges.
Also, with the help of the private sector and development agencies, the government has established information, communication and technology innovation hubs, which help entrepreneurs to launch successful start-ups.
In Kenya, Eric Kinoti, the group managing director at Safisana Home Services, a company that provides cleaning services, hopes the government will follow Uganda’s example by creating an enabling environment to support entrepreneurship that can create jobs for youth.
“Many financial institutions in Kenya expect young people to provide collateral, yet only a few investors are ready to invest in young people’s ideas,” notes Kinoti, who mentors other young entrepreneurs and is listed among Forbes Top 30 under 30 in Africa.
Lack of access to working capital has hampered entrepreneurship in Kenya. Even though the government has created the Youth Enterprise Development Fund and Uwezo Fund to support youth entrepreneurship, budgetary constraints limit their impact.
“Entrepreneurship, if well managed, can create more jobs on the continent and increase the middle class, which is essential in sustaining economic growth. There is need to integrate entrepreneurship training in formal education in Africa to prepare the youth for the future,” Wadongo says.
In Cameroon, Olivia Mukami, the president and founder of Harambe-Cameroon, a social entrepreneurship organisation, insists that Africa needs to prioritise youth unemployment: “African countries are sitting on a powder keg and if they don’t change, it is going to explode.”
Mukami says that in addition to contributing to job creation, entrepreneurship can also help the continent solve some of the social problems that undermine progress. “I am encouraged that the government of Cameroon has prioritised entrepreneurship as a key pillar of Cameroon Vision 2035.”
Andrew Wujung, a lecturer of Economics at University of Bamenda in Cameroon, attributes the country’s entrepreneurship effort to its unique poverty reduction strategy. Unlike other countries in Africa, Cameroon’s poverty alleviation strategy is linked to entrepreneurship. Moreover, the government is organising robust skill acquisition and training programmes for entrepreneurs and making credit facility easily accessible to people with innovative technological and business ideas.
For entrepreneurship to strongly impact Africa’s economy, governments must tackle some of the greatest challenges that impede its progress, including lack of funds, relevant mentorship and poor government policies. In addition, African governments should consider giving the private sector incentives through tax relief to create more jobs. Laws and regulations should favour entrepreneurs.
Mohammed says Africa is on the right path. But to reap the fruits of entrepreneurship, effective strategies and policies are required to create more employment opportunities within small and medium enterprises.
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Experts from World Bank Group have said that the future of Africa to provide food for its teeming population lies in deliberate huge investment in agriculture. Holger Kray, Africa Agriculture Policy Unit of the World Bank Group, disclosed this recently at a three-day workshop on reporting agriculture hosted by the Africa Media Initiative (AMI) in conjunction with the World Bank in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
Kray noted that African with wide arable land can be utilised maximally to provide food for the people of the continent, adding that agriculture holds a future for the people if all the available potentials are harnessed.
According to him, over two billion people are hungry in the world and Africa is located at a strategic place to provide food in excess in order to feed its citizen and export to other parts of the world so as to boost their economy.
“Agriculture is the only sector that can fit food crisis, therefore if we continue to do business as we are doing it now, there will be food crisis in the future therefore African should wake up to this huge responsibility.”
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Local assembly plants in Ethiopia’s fledgling auto industry plan to begin exporting cars in a couple of years in a market dominated by Chinese brands — part of an effort to industrialize the agrarian economy, Reuters reports.
It’s a grand ambition for the tiny auto industry, transforming a handful of assemblers that bolt together imported kits into a network of factories that can make the country Africa’s biggest car manufacturer over the next two decades.
If it succeeds, it won’t be the first time Ethiopia delivers on an ambitious goal. With one of Africa’s fastest growing economies for more than a decade, Ethiopia has pulled off the Grand Ethiopian dam and others that helped make it an electricity exporter.
Ethiopia’s expanding transport network includes the successful Ethiopian Airlines, the largest and fastest growing African airline, according to GhanaWeb. Ethiopian Airlines won the African Airline of the Year Award 2016 at the 25th Anniversary African Aviation Air Finance Africa Conference & Exhibit in Johannesburg.
This year, a railway will link the landlocked country, population 97 million, to Djibouti port where the Red Sea meets the Indian Ocean, providing a cheap and fast way to import raw materials and export finished goods.
“The aim is to become a leading manufacturing hub in Africa,” said State Minister for Industry Tadesse Haile in a Reuters interview. “We want to become the top producer of cars on the continent in 15 or 20 years.”
In industrial zones around Addis Ababa and the northern city of Mekelle, Ethiopian firms and Chinese partners assemble vehicle kits. Theey imported 38,000 assembled cars in 2015, a 50 percent-plus increase over 2014.
Ethiopia produces about 8,000 commercial and other vehicles a year for the local market, including about 2,000 cars but they could make more if they could get more foreign exchange to import more kits, Reuters reported.
“There is a lot of potential for growth,” said Ma Qun, deputy manager of China’s Lifan auto group in Ethiopia, which has the capacity to assemble 5,000 cars a year but whose output is less than 1000. “We want to start exporting from Ethiopia by 2018, or a year later,” he said.
For now, Ethiopia has to compete with South Africa, which makes 600,000-plus fully manufactured vehicles, and Morocco, which makes 200,000. Egypt, Kenya and Sudan also assemble vehicles.
South Africa has a large domestic market with annual per capita income of $6,800 compared to Ethiopia’s $550, according to World Bank 2014 data. Morocco — annual per capita income, $3,070 — is geographically close to the huge European market.
Assemblers in Ethiopia put together Chinese brands Geely, FAW, BYD and Lifan.
With Ethiopia’s scant currency reserves, assemblers face challenges getting enough dollars to import kits. Another problem is consumers unsure about quality.
Chinese car firms are central to Ethiopia’s vehicle manufacturing plans. Chinese car kits are cheaper than rivals such as Japan, said an executive at an Ethiopian manufacturer.
South Korea wants a piece of the action. South Korean automobile manufacturer Kia Motors Corp. has broken ground on a community-run auto mechanic training center in Ethiopia due to be completed in 2017, EconomicTimes reported. The centers will enable trainee mechanics to work towards national qualifications.
Ethiopia’s car assemblers face another challenge. Their cars don’t hold their prices as well as finished imports. “The big obstacle they face is resale value,” said Araya Lakew, whose mekina.net website links buyers and sellers.
Some used imports, such as Toyotas, even gain value with the weaker currency, unlike locally assembled models.
Lifan’s marketing director Tomi Su said his firm would keep making models that are more attractive to consumers. “There will be new gadgets in every upgrade,” he said.
Experts in tourism sector from Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a regional bloc that includes governments from the Horn of Africa, Nile Valley and the Great Lakes, are meeting in Kigali to discuss ways to market regional tourism products in Eastern Africa.
The three-day meeting will focus on marketing regional tourism products in Eastern Africa and addressing the obstacles to regional tourism development.
At the meeting, organised by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, sub-regional office for eastern Africa (UNECA, SRO-EA) and tourism bodies in the region, participants stressed the need to work together to promote tourism in the region.
“It is imperative that we work together to improve every aspect of the experience we offer to our visitors, from their arrival, their movement and experiences within and across our countries but, most importantly, customer care and quality service,” said Belise Kariza, chief tourism officer at Rwanda Development Board.
It was also observed that regional initiatives like East Africa Tourist visa, use of ID cards as well as open skies and joint marketing through various platforms such as international fairs, would boost intra-regional tourism in Africa.
“These initiatives will enhance regional tourism development and trade opportunities among others. In my view, they need to be upgraded,” Kariza said.
“Tourism is an important contributor to Africa’s economy. Thus, Africa needs to maximise tourism development through regional cooperation.
“Product diversification is also important if we are to realise our growth targets. We should diversify tourism products based on potential segments such as traditional products, MICE, among others.”
Geoffrey Manyara, economic affairs officer for UNECA, SRO-EA called on countries to create special tourism products attractive to tourists.
“We have abundant natural resources but our products are similar. We should create attractions that are unique,” he said.
“In Rwanda, tourism contributes 8. 3 per cent to the national GDP while in countries like Uganda and Kenya it contributes 6 to 7 per cent. Tourism is significant and can be a vehicle for development of other sectors,” Manyara added.
Despite the commitment to collaborate, infrastructure deficiency, perceived insecurity and negative publicity from the western media are some of the challenges that tourism in the region encounters.
“We also have different levels of development and some countries do not prioritise tourism. This is a challenge to address holistically as a region. We need to work together and market the region as a single destination,” said Grace Aulo, director of tourism in Uganda’s ministry of tourism.
To address the issues, a sustainable tourism master plan that aims to ensure lasting peace and security in IGAD region as a prerequisite for sustainable tourism development in Eastern Africa was drawn up.
Participants also called on citizens to use social media to promote tourism in their countries.
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.
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.
A 14-mile stretch of sand dunes along South Africa’s breathtaking east coast is the battleground between big mining interests and the local community. The dunes hide a wealth of titanium.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
Mining is a mainstay of South Africa’s economy. It’s also been a curse, claiming lives and spoiling the environment. An Australian mining company has been trying to get a license to dig an open pit mine on the country’s remote east coast. The locals, or the Amadiba people, have been fighting against it for a decade. Sarah Birnbaum has the story of a traditional community willing to die to keep its land.
UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Singing in foreign language).
SARAH BIRNBAUM, BYLINE: Bazooka Radebe campaigned fiercely to stop the Australian mining company MRC from mining on his people’s land. In March, he was gunned down by men dressed as police officers. Thousands of people from across the country have made their way over dirt roads to the funeral on Radebe’s homestead. Pallbearers weave through the crowd carrying his casket while members of his church sing funeral dirges in Xhosa.
Nonhle Mbthuma was in the anti-mining activist group, the Amadiba Crisis Committee, with Radebe. She looks tired and shaken. She says Radebe called her an hour before he died to tell her that his name was on top of a hit list and she was number two.
NONHLE MBTHUMA: When I speak to him he said, hey, guys, our struggle is bigger than we thought. Now, Nonhle, you need to watch your back.
BIRNBAUM: Violence against anti-mining activists in the Amadiba area has been ramping up. In 2003, headman Mandoda Ndovela was murdered after speaking out against the mine. In December, community members who opposed the mine were beaten with clubs and bush knives. Mbthuma says she and her community will die to protect the land.
MBTHUMA: It’s our mother Earth to us. It’s holding us. If we let the land go, that means we lose the identity, the roots, because where you don’t have a land, you don’t even know who you are.
BIRNBAUM: At stake is 14 miles of sand dunes on what’s called the wild coast, a stunningly beautiful stretch along South Africa’s Eastern Cape.
(SOUNDBITE OF RUSHING WATER)
BIRNBAUM: The mining company MRC says underneath the sand is one of the world’s largest deposits of titanium. The company has applied for mining rights from the government. The project will require digging a huge pit mine and building infrastructure like roads, pipelines, storage facilities and electricity pylons up and down this unspoiled area.
Now, there’s the ocean, sand dunes and grassy hills with clusters of huts here and there. There are a few paved roads, no running water, no electricity. It’s the tribal land of about 300 or so families. They say the mining development threatens to destroy their way of life and undermine their livelihood, which revolves around subsistence farming. Nonhle Mbthuma.
MBTHUMA: We use land for everything – for farming, livestock, buried people. Everything.
BIRNBAUM: She says the Amadiba have been defending this land against outside development for generations. In the 1960s, when the apartheid government tried to group the scattered homesteads here into villages, fence off the grazing land and arable plots and impose quotas on livestock, the community revolted in what’s known in history books as the Pondo revolt. Mbthuma sees her fight against mining as a continuation of that anti-apartheid struggle.
MBTHUMA: My own grandfather, he was involved during the Pondo revolt. Now, I’m still following the steps of my forefathers.
BIRNBAUM: The CEO of the mining company, Mark Caruso, has refused NPR’s requests for interviews, but he briefly appeared of South Africa’s Talk Radio 702. He says the company is not involved at all in intimidation of activists or in the murder of Bazooka Radebe.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
MARK CARUSO: The company has continued to support non-confrontation. It has continued to act within the law and with restraint in relation to inciting any further violence.
BIRNBAUM: Caruso insists the majority of the community wants the mining because it will deliver over 600 jobs. The application for mineral rights is still pending, and the Department of Mineral Resources says it’s not prepared to take a position yet. But protesters like Mbthuma say they’ll keep fighting no matter what. For NPR News, I’m Sarah Birnbaum in Mdtaya, Eastern Cape, South Africa.