April 2017

Building regulations workshop helps standardise construction in South Africa

Building regulations workshop helps standardise construction in South AfricaThere is a deep concern in South Africa that National Building Regulations developed by the South African government are not being implemented by builders, architects, and engineers. Many new buildings are not compliant with the National Building Regulations, which is a major health and safety issue for everyone.
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Rebosis Property Fund aims big with Shopping Centres

Retail-focused real estate investment trust Rebosis Property Fund, has concluded a transaction valued at R5 billion, acquiring two large regional malls — Baywest Mall in Port Elizabeth and Forest Hill in Pretoria.

No nuclear energy option for South Africa -- for now at least

Recent protests against President Jacob Zuma outside parliament in Cape Town. Nic Bothma/EPA

A South African court has ruled that critical aspects of the country’s nuclear procurement process are illegal and unconstitutional. The outcome is a significant setback for a network of entities that had been aggressively promoting a 9.6 GW nuclear expansion programme in the face of popular opposition.

Over the past four weeks controversy over the proposed nuclear build has reached new highs. This was sparked by a major cabinet reshuffle in which President Jacob Zuma ousted both his finance and energy ministers, replacing them with individuals regarded as pro-nuclear.

The reshuffle prompted some of the largest and most diverse street protests since the dawn of the country’s democracy in 1994. While many factors contributed to the outpouring of public anger against the president, the nuclear question was a common motif in the protests.

Court ruling on Zuma's nuclear deal is a marker of South Africa's political health

Celebrations outside the Western Cape High Court after it ruled against the South African government's proposed nuclear deal. Nic Bothma/EPA

The South African government’s plan to bulldoze through a nuclear energy deal has been dealt what might be a fatal blow by the Cape Town High court which has declared the plan invalid. It found that the government had not followed due process in making the decision to pursue a nuclear power option, as well as in other critical areas.

The court’s decision has put paid to President Jacob Zuma’s hopes of clinching the nuclear build programme before leaving office in 2019 if he completes his term.

The case was brought to court by Earthlife Africa and the Southern Africa Faith-Communities’ Environmental Institute. The two NGOs were challenging the way in which the state determined the country’s nuclear power needs. The plan would have seen South Africa purchasing 9,600 megawatts of extra nuclear power.

The Big 5: Captains of BIM in South Africa

The Big 5: Captains of BIM in South AfricaBuilding information modelling (or BIM) has exploded onto the building and construction landscape in recent years, with South Africa following in the footsteps of the UK and Canada in adopting these collaborative tools.
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Jobs: Contracts Manager - Mauritius

Country: 
Mauritius

CONTRACT MANAGER - Mauritian Contractor

Well established successful building and civil construction company in Mauritius requires further staff due to strategic planning and growth decisions.

They need a Contracts Manager with about 15 years experience with a notable building contractor.

You need to have skills in supporting locals to develop, good systems orientated, contractually astute and able to keep a close control of finances. Ideal candidate would have a Degree or diploma in Building or civil engineering with a stable work history and a proven track record.
Project range includes large upmarket villas, general commercial, shopping centres, hotels industrial related airport buildings - new, revamp and extensions.

Should you be interested and enjoy the challenge of a standalone C Mngr, we would love to hear from you. Should you wish me to discuss this with you, please send an email to Jacqui Tuck.

Are you thinking of building?

Are you thinking of building?
© Romolo Tavani – [[www.123rf.com 123RF.com]]</span>Unless you have the cash saved up, constructing a home is going to require getting a loan from a financial institution called a building loan. Essentially, a building loan can be used to finance the construction of a home, additions to an existing property or renovations.
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ASAQS launches programme to support quantity surveying students

ASAQS launches programme to support quantity surveying students
© Boris Sosnovyy – [[www.123rf.com 123RF.com]]</span>The skills shortage in the South African built environment is exacerbated by a lack of transformation, retiring baby boomers, too few formalised training and apprenticeship programmes, as well as a lack of funds to support minority groups who are studying towards qualifications within the industry.
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Why brutalising food vendors hits Africa's growing cities where it hurts

A fishmonger pleads for customers in a Kenyan market. Reuters/Thomas Mukoya

In January this year, the Harare City Council in Zimbabwe accused informal food vendors of spreading typhoid. The council then attempted to confiscate, and destroy, all perishable food items that were being hawked in the central business district. Many vendors fought back, resulting in deadly clashes over a series of days in the opposition run capital city.

Sadly, such violent treatment of workers in informal markets is all too common in African cities. Indeed, based on calculations from the Armed Conflict and Location Event Database, such treatment dramatically increased over the past decade. In 2015, there were more than 250 incidents of violence against informal workers in Africa reported in the media, a more than fourfold increase since 2005.

Other examples of these so-called cleanup operations were carried out in Malawi in 2006 and 2015, in Nigeria in 2009, in South Africa in 2013, and in Zambia in 2007 and 2015. These represent just a few examples of concerted “decongestion” efforts to push informal traders off the streets.

South Africa's national minimum wage could hurt small firms and rural workers

Protests by farm workers in the Western Cape added to pressure for a minimum wage. EPA/NIC BOTHMA

South Africa will formally adopt a national minimum wage of US$1.5 (ZAR20.00) per hour on Workers’ Day next year. There are questions as to whether this is enough to be termed a victory for the country’s working poor? If historical trends continue, our research shows that this might be beneficial for some workers. Others, especially those in small firms and rural areas, may not be so fortunate.

Workers in rural areas and those currently working in small enterprises could be particularly susceptible to job losses as a result of the national minimum wage. The policy framework acknowledges these vulnerabilities. Its recommendations provide temporary exemption for small employers in particular, but none for rural jobs. That means that workers in rural areas could be adversely affected.

We found that most retail jobs were secure after minimum wages were introduced in that sector in 2003. But when we broke this down, we traced many job losses in rural areas. Similarly, many rural farm jobs were destroyed. In addition, if minimum wages continue to be poorly enforced many workers may still be paid wages below acceptable poverty lines.

The fate of Africa's Lake Tanganyika lies in the balance

The declining fishing yield in the Lake Tanganyika region is being exacerbated by an influx of refugees. Reuters/Sala Lewis

Standing on the steep rocky shores of Lake Tanganyika at sunset, looking out at fishermen heading out for their nightly lamp-boat fishing trips, it’s easy to imagine this immense 32,900km2 body of water as serene and unchanging.

Located in the western branch of the great African Rift Valley it’s divided among four countries; Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, and Zambia. It’s one of the oldest lakes in the world, probably dating back about 10 million years.

That expanse of geological time has permitted literally hundreds of unusual species of fish and invertebrates to evolve in isolation - organisms that are unique among the world’s lakes. Every day millions of people rely on the lake’s riches.

But despite being a world class reservoir of biodiversity, food and economic activity, the lake is changing rapidly and may be facing a turbulent future.

Lake Tanganyika was recently declared the “Threatened Lake of 2017” – adversely affected by human activity in the form of climate change, deforestation, overfishing and hydrocarbon exploitation.

More than an oppressor's language: reclaiming the hidden history of Afrikaans

Award-winning Hemelbesem is a black Afrikaans hip-hop artist. Facebook

The language of Afrikaans remains a contested issue in South Africa. The controversy over the medium of instruction at traditionally Afrikaans universities such as Stellenbosch has brought this to the fore again. Should it be in Afrikaans, English, a combination, or a hybrid which will include other South African languages?

The institution has to find ways to continue to advance Afrikaans without the perceptions and experiences of racist behaviour associated with early and ruling Afrikaner nationalist practices. It’s essential to consider the current status of Afrikaans, as well as its history.

Many South Africans of every hue have contributed to the language’s formation and development. Afrikaans also has a “black history” rather than just the known hegemonic apartheid history inculcated by white Afrikaner Christian national education, propaganda and the media.

Afrikaans is a creole language that evolved during the 19th century under colonialism in southern Africa. This simplified, creolised language had its roots mainly in Dutch, mixed with seafarer variants of Malay, Portuguese, Indonesian and the indigenous Khoekhoe and San languages. It was spoken by peasants, the urban proletariat whatever their ethnic background and even the middle class of civil servants, traders and teachers.

Real Estate Investments in South Africa increased by R28 billion

Investment volumes in South Africa’s real estate saw a 55,2% increase in 2016, despite economic challenges, weak currency and political uncertainty.

Kenyan voters need to resist the allure of voting for the usual suspects

Kenyan voters queue to cast their ballots during the 2013 general election. Thomas Mukoya/Reuters

Fledgling democracies in Africa tend to experience cyclical radical shifts between democratic booms and the doldrums. This suggests that the democratisation process in some parts of the continent is erratic.

However, there are elements of democracy even in authoritarian states. The reverse is also true – there are elements of authoritarianism in democratic states. Proof of this can be seen in the current democratic struggles in Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Uganda and South Africa, just to mention a few.

Kenyans refer nostalgically to the gold standard that the 2002 polls set for successive elections. This period in the country’s history signalled a new political dispensation, paving the way for major reforms that culminated in the promulgation of a new constitution in 2010.

A poll conducted by Gallup International in 2003 ranked Kenyans as the most optimistic people in the world. But this euphoria was short lived.

Pipe-joining technology can help address welder shortage

Pipe-joining technology can help address welder shortageThe South African economy is hampered by a tragic irony. The country suffers from extremely high levels of unemployment, yet many industries cannot find the workers it needs. A shortage of skills means most workers simply cannot do the jobs the economy needs them to do.
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Cities are complex systems - let's start looking at them that way

Cities are complex systems - let's start looking at them that way
© blinkblink1 – [[www.123rf.com 123RF.com]]</span>The way we design our cities needs a serious rethink. After thousands of years of progress in urban development, we plateaued some 60 years ago. Cities are not safer, healthier, more efficient, or more equitable. They are getting worse on these measures.
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Insuring infrastructure projects from concept to completion

Insuring infrastructure projects from concept to completion
©marchcattle [[www.123rf.com 123rf.com]]</span>Infrastructure projects are complex, often large and long-term undertaking, and the inherent risk can have far-reaching consequences for every stakeholder throughout their lifecycle. Yet they are generally perceived as the greatest growth opportunity in sub-Saharan Africa.
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South Africa needs moral leaders, not those in pursuit of selfish gain

Concerned South Africans disapprove of President Jacob Zuma. Reuters/Mike Hutchings

South Africa has seen a great deal of progress in many spheres of life since non-racial democracy in 1994, yet many of its people are still waiting for their hard-won freedom to pay dividends. Economic freedom still eludes them.

Unemployment is stubbornly high and the redistribution of wealth and land hasn’t been successful. It seems that the country’s leaders have hijacked this freedom in pursuit of their own selfish gains.

Politically exposed people, public officials and cronies in the private sector abuse their contacts, positions and influence unashamedly. Social pathologies such as rampant corruption and state looting are the order of the day. The cult of materialism is destroying the moral fibre of the nation.

Famine creeps in on Africa while the world's media looks elsewhere

A UN helicopter flies over people waiting for food aid in South Sudan. Reuters/Siegfried Modola

Major political events in the US and Europe have preoccupied western media over the past year. Chief among these has been Donald Trump’s rise to US president and his continuing efforts to establish a credible domestic and foreign policy agenda.

Before that, the inability of the European Union to agree on a plan to host an influx of refugees gained the media’s attention along with the United Kingdom’s referendum on Europe. Now a succession of national elections across Europe – in France, Germany and the UK among others – looks set to dominate front page news.

The western media’s focus on momentous events at home has come at the expense of reporting on events unfolding in the global South. Among the events which have been eclipsed by the media’s preoccupation is the famine that’s unfolding in Africa.

Today the causes of famine are largely man made even though below average rain fall has exacerbated local food production in the Horn of Africa over the past 18 to 24 months. However, in Sudan, Niger, the Central African Republic and Nigeria military conflict over the past three to four years has disrupted food production, displaced millions and created conditions which prevent the delivery of humanitarian assistance (assuming it was available).

South Africa has a new trade union federation. Can it break the mould?

Delegates at the launch of the South African Federation of Trade Unions. The Star/Nokuthula Mbatha

The newly launched trade union grouping in South Africa - the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) - promises to be a voice for the growing numbers of unorganised and marginalised workers in the country. But, as the secretary of the South African Informal Traders Alliance warned delegates,

Don’t break our hearts with false promises.

Historically, trade unions in South Africa have played a significant role in shaping the political landscape, especially during the struggle against apartheid. But the union movement has declined globally in influence as the growing informalistion of work has eroded its power and unions are seen as protecting the special interests of those in regular employment.

With increasing numbers of people outside the formal employment net, unions have had a tough time defining their role. Yet the rights won by South African workers in the struggle for democracy continues to give them a degree of influence unsurpassed in post-colonial Africa.

The role of NGOs in Africa: are they a force for good?

The not-for-profit sector continues to grow in Africa and across the world. Shutterstock

Non-governmental organisations have become key actors in responding to poverty and related suffering. In Africa, NGOs play a leading role in providing health care and education.

The non-profit sector continues to grow rapidly in Africa and around the world. In South Africa alone, there are more than 100,000 registered non-profit organisations and in Kenya the number of NGOs grew by over 400% between 1997 and 2006. And for most observers, they seem to be well-intentioned actors who do a lot of good on the continent.

But NGOs also have their detractors who argue that they are receiving growing amounts of donor aid, but aren’t the most suitable actors for really improving people’s lives.

The cases made against the NGO sector

Some critics also insist that the neo-liberal policies advanced by powerful international actors have limited the influence of the state and that NGOs have benefited as a result.

Neo-liberalism is an approach that favours a smaller role for the state in the economic arena. Advocates believe that the market and other non-state actors provide better services than governments.

Désertif'actions 2017

27-28 June 2017, Strasbourg, France

+ INFO: www.desertif-actions.fr

D’a17 est le Sommet international des acteurs non-étatiques dans le domaine de la dégradation des terres. Il réunira plus de 300 acteurs du développement international les 27 et 28 juin 2017 à Strasbourg.

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Johannesburg and Accra, inching their way up the urban food chain

Johannesburg and Accra, inching their way up the urban food chainLike it or not, we measure the success (or failure) of cities according to broad principles of urban culture inherited largely from the west. This includes quantitative data: infrastructure, transportation, access to health care, education, amenities and so on. Harder to measure, but no less important, are “other” factors like a sense of belonging, community, identity and history.
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Local governments are crucial for the implementation of the global development agendas

@UNACLA

Photo credit: UNACLA / UCLG-MEWA

Representatives from local and regional government networks gathered in Istanbul on 24 April for the meeting of the United Nations Advisory Committee of Local Authorities (UNACLA), under the theme "The global development agendas, implications for local governments", upon the invitation of Kadir Topbaş, Mayor of Istanbul and Chair of UNACLA.

UNACLA is the fruition of the work of the organized constituency of local authorities’ plea for a growing partnership between local authorities and the UN system, in particular UN-Habitat. The existence of UNACLA emanates from the Istanbul Declaration. United Cities and Local Governments and its founding organizations have played a crucial role both in the setup of the Committee and in the mobilization of its members.

Call for Service Providers to apply on the SACAP Database

CALL FOR SERVICE PROVIDERS TO APPLY TO BE REGISTERED ON THE SACAP DATA BASE

SERVICE PROVIDERS ARE REQUIRED FOR THE PROVISION OF SERVICES LISTED BELOW:

· Building Maintenance and Repairs: Applicants should have experience and/or expertise in services such as painting, dry walling, waterproofing, tiling, flooring etc). (Based in Gauteng)

· Plumbing Services (Based in Gauteng)

· Courier Services: Domestic and International service (Based in Gauteng)

· Stationery, Copy Paper and HP Laser Jet Cartridges supplies (Based in Gauteng)

· Office Furniture (Based in Gauteng)

· Florist (Based in Gauteng)

Numsa expects steel talks to be a test of state's resolve

Numsa expects steel talks to be a test of state's resolve
© laurentiu_iordache – [[www.123rf.com 123RF.com]]</span>The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) expects unusually difficult wage talks in SA's embattled steel and engineering sector in 2017.
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Johannesburg and Accra: inching their way up the urban food chain

Johannesburg's night sky with its most densely-populated suburb of Hillbrow in the foreground. Leon Krige

Like it or not, we measure the success (or failure) of cities according to broad principles of urban culture inherited largely from the west. This includes quantitative data: infrastructure, transportation, access to health care, education, amenities and so on. Harder to measure, but no less important, are “other” factors like a sense of belonging, community, identity and history.

What makes a good city? Or what makes a city “good”, as opposed to “bad”? In the past 30 years or so, measuring urban success has become an industry in its own right. There are a host of companies willing to answer that question. They use a mixture of factors that include political stability, economic performance, environmental issues, safety and security, transportation and public services. Add to it more nuanced indices like inclusion, diversity, multiculturalism and choice.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, in 2017, European cities dominated the top 20, with Singapore, Tokyo, Melbourne and Auckland also in the mix. African cities are always in the bottom quartile of every survey, from Mercer’s Quality of Life Index (QoL) to the UN’s World Cities Report. Johannesburg, Cape Town, Port Louis and Durban are the continent’s highest-ranked cities. In Mercer’s 2016 QoL Index, Accra, the capital city of Ghana, Africa’s first independent nation, is at # 166, one slot ahead of Riyadh and one behind Cairo.

Mosquito discovery sheds light on how malaria is spread in South Africa

A second Malaria causing mosquito has been discovered in South Africa . Flickr

Across the world there are limited tools available for controlling mosquitoes. The two most successful and widely used initiatives are indoor house spraying and the use of insecticide treated bed nets. These target mosquitoes that feed on humans inside their homes and then rest indoors. Hundreds of millions of bed nets have been distributed across Africa in the last 15 years.

But there are no methods that control mosquitoes that operate outdoors. This is a major challenge across the continent. It poses a particular problem for South Africa which has set itself the goal of eliminating malaria by 2018.

The reason is the variable behaviour of the main malaria carrying mosquito in the country, Anopheles arabiensis. Although it prefers to feed on people inside their houses – and rest there while its eggs develop – it’s not averse to doing so outside. This makes it less amenable to house spraying which means that it’s never completely eradicated from an area.

Our research has uncovered that another mosquito vector, Anopheles vaneedeni, also carries the parasite and is also amenable to biting and breeding outside. Anopheles vaneedeni has been known about since 1977, it has never – before now – been identified as a malaria carrying vector in nature.

What Africa still needs to do to eliminate malaria

A young girl with malaria rests in the inpatient ward of a health centre in the South Sudan. Reuters/Adriane Ohanesian

Malaria is one of the oldest and deadliest infectious diseases affecting man. It is an ancient and modern disease – descriptions of illnesses similar to malaria are found in ancient texts from China, India, the Middle East, Africa and Europe.

Malaria parasites have co-evolved – which involves genetic changes and adaptation – with people as their hosts over a period of four thousand years.

After the Second World War, the Global Malaria Eradication Programme was intensified by the discovery of DDT, a powerful pesticide. The campaign partially reduced the malaria transmission cycle and infection rates within a short time.

The US eradicated malaria by 1951 but in Latin and South America pockets recurred two decades later.

Kenyan study shows why reusing old mosquito nets should be encouraged

Millions of mosquito bed nets have been distributed in Africa. Shutterstock

Treated mosquito nets are vital in the fight against malaria. But the average lifespan of a net is about four years. The Conversation Africa’s Health and Medicine Editor Joy Wanja Muraya asked Dr Lydiah Kibe to explain how old and torn bed nets are being reused in coastal Kenya.

Why are treated bed nets a critical protective barrier against mosquitoes?

Mosquitoes are a nuisance and cause irritation. On the public health front, they transmit diseases such as malaria, Rift Valley Fever, Dengue fever, Zika virus and Chikungunya, yellow fever, filariasis among others.

One of the key ways mosquitoes are controlled is through the use of insecticide treated nets which are hung over beds, especially at night.

Insecticide treated nets reduce illnesses and deaths from malaria. It can reduce deaths in children by a fifth and episodes of malaria by half.