World can learn from Africa’s resilience and dynamism

first_imgBrand South Africa, Forbes Africa and CNBC Africa convene senior business and government leaders to discuss sustainable growth and regional integration, infrastructure development and labour market reform.Davos, Switzerland; 24 January 2013: Developments in infrastructure – both physical and financial, and deeper economic integration were seen as key to sustained growth in Africa, according to a panel of global leaders from business and politics, brought together by Brand South Africa at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland.Hosted in partnership with CNBC Africa and Forbes Africa magazine, the discussion centred on Africa’s “resilient dynamism”, the theme of this year’s forum, and featured a keynote from Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan, with a panel featuring Minister of Trade & Industry, Rob Davies; Maria Ramos, CEO, ABSA; and Brian Molefe, CEO, Transnet.The panel was extremely optimistic about Africa’s future.  Indeed, while the United States and Europe battle political gridlock and mounting debt, and global growth continues to stagnate as economic powerhouses like China seek to avoid a hard landing, Africa has remained one of the few bright spots for economic activity.The African continent saw growth of more than 5 percent in 2012 and is projected to see the same in 2013, according to the IMF.“In a world that is troubled with slow or no growth, which is struggling with the impact of unemployment, both business and government have serious challenges ahead,” said Minister Gordhan.“Collectively, we must balance the need for short-term solutions to immediate challenges, while making a long-term commitment to sustainable growth and implementing a sound political and economic framework.”Africa, and South Africa in particular, are clear embodiments of this year’s Davos theme, showing resilience in the face of a challenging global economic climate; South Africa has ranked in the WEF Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) as being among the best places in the world for corporate governance, regulation of the financial system and availability of financial services.*Beyond trade – deepening economic integrationMinister Davies highlighted the need for African countries to not just broaden their economic and trade ties, but to deepen their relationships – something he said is being achieved through the development of the free trade areas covering 26 countries on the continent.Minister Davies acknowledged that the absence of sovereign debt crises, alongside better governance across the continent, has gone a long way to creating an environment where African investments see long-term growth and returns that create sustained development across the continent.However, he reiterated the need to ensure industrialisation benefits all Africans, and cautioned against becoming over-reliant on mineral resources. While existing infrastructure was developed in large part for – and still largely supports – the mining industry, Minister Davies said that long-term growth strategies must reach further.For growth, he said, there must be investment in financial, energy, and technology infrastructure just as there is for the extractive industries.Innovating infrastructureBoth Ramos and Molefe agreed that infrastructure development creates opportunities for both investors and the African people, with more than 80 percent of Africans remaining unbanked and 70 percent without access to internet.Molefe, who is spearheading Transnet’s $300 billion investment in infrastructure projects, said that innovation in financial services and ICT create huge potential for Africans.According to Molefe, the globalisation of the retail finance market and the increasing use and availability of products such as bonds and mortgages, is helping to unlock value and capital, creating liquidity across all levels of the market.At ABSA, Ramos said she is seeing a significant increase in infrastructure funding and is particularly encouraged that more deals are being financed in African capital markets.However, she highlighted the need to keep innovating the financial services industry in Africa, to talk more about financial infrastructure and to create greater certainty in legal environments across the continent with regards to tariffs and financing.Looking forwardDespite the resilience and dynamism currently being seeing across the continent, unemployment and labour market instability must be tackled to sustain the dynamism of the African continent.However, unemployment in particular was highlighted as the global challenge of our time, in the words of Ramos.According to Minister Davies, there is no ‘magic bullet’ for unemployment, and job creation cannot be seen as simply an incidental outcome of growth, but a target in its own right.There must be commitments from different stakeholders across labour, business and government to address practical matters and in particular youth unemployment, he said, with training and skills development being absolutely critical.Closing the event, Brand South Africa’s CEO Miller Matola said: “We often forget to highlight the positives we’ve achieved. South Africa is a well-established democracy, the continent is emerging from the global economic crisis well-positioned for growth and we have a solid, stable fiscal environment.It is all too easy to lose sight of what’s good, and to just focus on what is not good. Our task is to demonstrate that we not only acknowledge the challenges we face, but that we are responding to them in a dynamic and innovative way through our National Development Plan and infrastructure build program.”Notes for editors:For more information, please contact Sandile at Brand South Africa via or on +27 11 483 0122.*2012-2013 WEF Global Competitiveness IndexAbout Brand South AfricaBrand South Africa was first established in 2002 under the name of the International Marketing Council of South Africa (IMC).In 2011 we got a new name to reflect our new mission – to proactively market the country internationally and raise awareness domestically. www.southafrica.infolast_img read more

Asidi celebrates 100th school in Free State

first_imgThe 100th school has been delivered under the government’s Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative with the completion of Dorrington Matsepe Primary School in Kroonstad. The schools all have specialist classrooms and much-needed facilities. Dorrington Matsepe Primary School in Kroonstad makes it a century, as the Asidi’s 100th school. (Images: Supplied by Asidi) Melissa JavanThe Department of Education has made its century – it handed over its 100th school under its Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (Asidi) in Free State on Thursday, 29 April.More than R70-million was invested through Asidi to rebuild Dorrington Matsepe Primary School, near the township of Troubou, in Kroonstad. This school now has facilities such as a science laboratory, a library, a multipurpose centre and a computer laboratory.Albert Gumbo, the communications officer for Asidi, explains the programme’s criteria: “It is the replacement of schools built, in their entirety, from inappropriate material. Under this criteria, the programme identified 527 school for which grant funding was sought.“Since the project started [at the end of 2011], there are now 107 schools completed. A total of 84 schools are completed in the Eastern Cape, 11 in the Western Cape, four each in Mpumalanga and the Free State, two in Limpopo, and one in the Northern Cape,” says Gumbo.Asidi is funded by the National Treasury.Here are some of the tweets on the day of celebrations:Great atmosphere this morning at Dorrington Matsepe Primary School for the opening of our 100th ASIDI school! @DBE_SA— Cde Troy (@Troy_Martens) April 30, 2015Readers are leaders! #ASIDI— Dep. Basic Education (@DBE_SA) April 30, 2015@DBE_SA #ASIDI is a brilliant initiative. 100 schools in 4 years. That’s an average of 2 new schools per month. Well done!— Donald Maila(@DonaldMaila) April 30, 2015Growth in pupil numbersThe 100th Asidi school was named after the father of Dr Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri, the late communications minister. “The school got this name in 1992 [when it was established], because Dorrington Matsepe, in his own right, was an educator at the school and later chairman,” says Gumbo.Earlier this month, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said that in 1992, the school had 500 pupils and 15 teachers. “Today it has 1 100 pupils; most of them are orphans,” she said. “Despite its challenges I am told that the school performed well in the Annual National Assessments, that last year it achieved a bronze (60% to 69%) in mathematics, and that it has become one of the 50 top schools in the Free State.”Work on rebuilding the school began in March 2014, and 10 local contractors were employed to undertake the work. During construction, 455 people were employed.Gumbo says it takes 12 to 15 months to build a school. “But well before that, the process of design, planning, procurement and social facilitation can take up to another 15 months. So a project cycle is typically 25 to 30 months [to build a school].”The challengesThere are many challenges when it comes to building a school, he adds. “In certain areas, such as the Eastern Cape, the terrain makes it very difficult to access the site. This means that you have cases of double handling of material when drivers of heavy trucks are unable to negotiate a way through.“This is further compounded in the rainy season when the roads become impassable.”Poor contractor performance can also be an issue, he admits. “The correct replacement process takes time and this causes delays. On some sites in the Western Cape, the weather is again a factor after heavy downpours, for example, which render a site water-logged and unsafe for work.“From time to time, because of raised expectations for jobs and sub-contracts, communities can disrupt work on sites for months.”Gumbo points out that the Asidi programme is much more than brick and mortar. “It is firstly a dividend of democracy, and secondly and perhaps more importantly, it is a programme that is helping to restore dignity to education in rural and under-privileged areas. There are 1 100 children at Dorrington Matsepe Primary School, which now has a science laboratory, library and computer lab.“The doors of learning have opened that much wider for learners from those areas because of the increased opportunities for better learning that the facilities and equipment present. Every single Asidi school comes standard with specialist classrooms which include science and computer labs as well as libraries.”Despite the need for decent educational facilities, there are frequent reports of vandalism of and theft at schools. At a previous engagement at a school in Western Cape, Enver Surty, the deputy minister of education, urged parents to protect their schools. “Collectively, the community must ensure safety and security of this new school. You must also ensure that quality learning takes place. It is your responsibility to jealously guard these facilities as they now belong to you all.”As part of the Asidi programme, he added, more than 340 schools had received water for the first time. “A total of 351 schools have received decent sanitation, and 288 schools have been connected to electricity.”last_img read more

Where’s the Earth Day fanfare for farmers?

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Each year on April 22, Earth Day marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.According to“The height of hippie and flower-child culture in the United States, 1970 brought the death of Jimi Hendrix, the last Beatles album, and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. Protest was the order of the day, but saving the planet was not the cause. War raged in Vietnam, and students nationwide increasingly opposed it.“At the time, Americans were slurping leaded gas through massive V8 sedans. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of legal consequences or bad press. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity. ‘Environment’ was a word that appeared more often in spelling bees than on the evening news.  Although mainstream America remained oblivious to environmental concerns, the stage had been set for change by the publication of Rachel Carson’s New York Times bestseller Silent Spring in 1962. The book represented a watershed moment for the modern environmental movement, selling more than 500,000 copies in 24 countries and, up until that moment, more than any other person, Ms. Carson raised public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment and public health.“Earth Day 1970 capitalized on the emerging consciousness, channeling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns front and center.“The idea came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a ‘national teach-in on the environment’ to the national media; persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair; and recruited Denis Hayes as national coordinator. Hayes built a national staff of 85 to promote events across the land.“As a result, on the 22nd of April, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.”And so Earth Day began, 45 years ago. Yet, without fanfare, protests, rallies, political movements, controversial books, and Senators, farmers have been quietly celebrating Earth Day for centuries. Farmers have harnessed the vast resources of the sun, soil and water for productive gain while studiously working to conserve them — not because they had to but because they wanted to. Conservation is in their bones. If they were not interested in caring for the land, they would not be farming. Here are some examples of how farmers through the rich agricultural heritage in Ohio have been celebrating Earth Day year round for generations. read more

Using cover crops with fall manure applications

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Livestock producers will soon be applying manure as corn silage harvest starts. To best capture the nutrients in manure, livestock producers should incorporate fall applied manure and also consider using cover crops.The most common cover crops used with livestock manure are cereal rye, oats and radishes. However, farmers have also used wheat, clover, annual ryegrass, or almost anything they are comfortable growing.• Cereal rye is the best cool-season grass for capturing excess nitrogen. Because rye over-winters, research has shown it can capture and hold 25 to 50 pounds of nitrogen (organic form). It germinates at lower temperatures than oats so may be planted later, but less nitrogen will be recycled the later the rye is seeded.• Oats are sometimes used as a cover crop in the fall and need to be planted soon after silage harvest. Drilling oats improves germination and growth before frost. Some farmers in northwest Ohio have had great success surface seeding oats and incorporating them with shallow tillage.• Another cover crop that is excellent at recycling nitrogen is oilseed radish: a fast growing, non-legume broadleaf that needs nitrogen to grow rapidly is often used with livestock manure. Needing time to grow, radishes are usually not the best option following soybeans or corn in October.Cover crops can help livestock farmers recapture manure nutrients and conserve soil by reducing erosion. Cover crop seedings do not have to be perfect. The goal is to combine nutrient recovery and to protect the environment.last_img read more

Muslim youth lynched in West Bengal

first_imgA Muslim youth who was beaten up by a “few of his acquaintances” in Malda district on Friday, died of his injuries later. The incident was reported on Sunday. Sanaullah Sheikh, in his early twenties, was called to the Baishnabnagar market, about a kilometre from his village Chak Meherdi.“He was asked to start a bike so that he could be framed as the one stealing it,” an official told The Hindu. “He was then thrashed by five or six persons, who could be identified from a video,” the official said.Mr. Sheikh used to live with his three children, wife and mother in Chak Meherdi and was “largely unemployed.” Locals alleged that Bappa Ghosh, associated with the Communist Party of India-Marxist [CPI-M] earlier and now attached to the Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP], led the mob.Swadhin Sarkar, Chief Whip of the BJP and Baishnabnagar MLA said that Mr. Ghosh “is associated with the Trinamool Congress.”“In the last election, [Bappa] Ghosh worked with the Trinamool,” he said. Mr. Sarkar claimed that the deceased was suspected of stealing a motorcycle and caught by the locals in the market area. “The beating started and very unfortunately the person died. No Hindu-Muslim colour should be given to it and the culprits should be punished,” he said.Congress MLA from the adjoining Assembly segment Isha Khan Chowdhury and Trinamool’s district president Moazzem Hossain visited the area. Local Trinamool functionary Paritosh Sarkar said the “culprits are not associated with our party.”“It is not a Trinamool-BJP thing but a law and order issue. One person has been arrested on the basis of the video. The rest will also be identified and arrested,” Mr. Paritosh said.last_img read more