May 2017

Why the Lamu coal plant doesn't make sense. Kenya has better energy options

A proposed coal plant in Kenya would rely on imports for up to 10 years. Flickr/Matthew Rogers

Kenyans pay high prices for electricity up to USD$0.19/kWh for residential customers compared to about US$0.10 in South Africa which is a barrier to the country’s sustainable economic development. The country is also expecting a steep rise in demand.

To address this Kenya is modernising its electricity system and shifting away from costly diesel generators. Investments in new infrastructure are being made to lower prices. New projects are moving forward such as geothermal, natural gas, wind – such as the Lake Turkana Wind Farm, and a solar photovoltaic (PV) project in the northeastern city of Garissa.

But the most ambitious, and most controversial, is a coal-fired power plant proposed for the seaside town of Lamu – a Unesco World Heritage site.

How ANC presidential elections trump South Africa's constitution

ANC leaders greet party supporters at a recent rally. Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

South Africa’s Constitution is clear on a number of issues related to the relationship between the country’s parliament and its executive. It lays down that if the National Assembly passes a vote of No Confidence in the cabinet, the cabinet must resign and the president must appoint another one. Or, if it passes a vote of no confidence in the president then the president and the entire government must resign.

In a presidential system the president is directly elected by the voters, normally has a fixed term, and can only be removed through processes of impeachment. This usually require passage of votes of no confidence, or their equivalent, in the responsible legislature or congress.

In contrast, in a parliamentary system, a president or prime minister assumes office by virtue of his or her capacity to command a majority in the legislature.

Despite various hybrid features, the South African Constitution is more of a parliamentary system than a presidential one. The party enjoying a majority presents its candidate to the National Assembly for election – as required by the Constitution. In practice, that person has been chosen by the governing African National Congress (ANC) outside the legislature.

It is time for Kenyans to stop celebrating Madaraka Day

Kenyans celebrate to mark Madaraka Day. Noor Khamis/Reuters

Kenya’s national holidays have gone through interesting twists and turns since the country attained its independence in 1963, and became a republic in 1964.

For a long time there was very little clarity about what constituted a national holiday and why these were created. They seemed to be named at the whim of presidents or, at the very least, with presidents in mind. The now-abolished Moi Day was created to celebrate the presidency of Kenya’s longest serving head of state, President Daniel arap Moi.

The same was true of Kenyatta Day, which was initially set aside to remember the Kenyans who fought for independence but quickly became a celebration of Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta.

In 2010 a new constitution was promulgated. This brought a fresh and well defined meaning to national holidays. Article 8 of the 2010 Constitution recognises Kenya’s three national days as Madaraka Day (June 1), Mashujaa Day (October 20) and Jamhuri Day (December 12).

On Madaraka Day, Kenyans celebrate the moment in history when the country was granted internal self-rule by the British colonialists. On Jamhuri Day, they mark the day they gained complete independence.

Maxeke Academic Hospital roof collapse caused by overloading

Pretoria - An investigation report received by the Gauteng Infrastructure Development MEC, Jacob Mamabolo, shows that the roof over the entrance foyer of Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital collapsed as a result of severe overloading.

The MEC on Wednesday released the findings of the investigation that was commissioned immediately after the hospital roof collapsed a few months ago. The collapse happened while contractors were doing waterproofing work as part of the maintenance programme at the hospital.

The investigation has found that although the extent of the overloading cannot be precisely determined, the weight placed on the roof greatly exceeded its design capacity.

The report was prepared by Adams & Adams attorneys, assisted by engineering firm AureconSouth Africa (Pty) Ltd. The MEC said it contains an assessment of the cause of the incident, as well as legal advice on who should be held liable for the damages caused.

According to the report, the hospital was designed and constructed to a high standard. The primary steelwork is galvanized and is, after 40 years, still in excellent condition.

“The overloading was caused by the stockpiling of crushed stone. The crushed stone was moved to the roof as part of the execution of the waterproofing contract and is specifically provided for in the project specification.

“The intention was for the crushed stone to be removed from the platform roofs, as the new waterproofing was not going to be covered by crushed stone.

“Regrettably, the crushed stone was stockpiled on the roof above the entrance foyer of the hospital, instead of being taken off the roof through a chute that had been erected for that purpose. The excessive load created as a result caused the roof to collapse,” said the MEC, reading the report.

RBIDZ officials receive high level SEZ training in China

RBIDZ officials receive high level SEZ training in ChinaRichards Bay Industrial Development Zone senior management partake on a fourth Capacity Building programme on Special Economic Zones taking place in Tianjin - China from 24 May to 13 June 2017.
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RBIDZ officials receive high level SEZ training in China

RBIDZ officials receive high level SEZ training in ChinaRichards Bay Industrial Development Zone senior management partake on a fourth Capacity Building programme on Special Economic Zones taking place in Tianjin - China from 24 May to 13 June 2017.
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Deux ans de mise en œuvre du Programme d’Action d’Addis Abeba : un bilan mitigé pour les collectivités territoriales

Une délégation de maires a participé au 2ème Forum sur le Suivi du Financement pour le Développement des Nations Unies (FfD Forum) à New York, du 23 au 25 mai 2017. Cette réunion a été l’occasion, pour la Global Taskforce des gouvernements locaux et régionaux, de rappeler aux parties prenantes les engagements du paragraphe 34 de l’Agenda d’action d’Addis-Abeba en faveur des gouvernements locaux et régionaux.

Réunissant le Secrétaire Général des Nations Unies, les directeurs des organisations financières internationales, des ministres et représentants des gouvernements, ainsi que des représentants des autorités locales, de la société civile et du secteur privé, le Forum a débattu le rapport 2017 du groupe de travail inter-agences sur le financement pour le développement (IATF). Malgré les progrès enregistrés, le rapport souligne que, compte tenu d’un contexte mondial peu favorable en 2016, « la trajectoire de croissance actuelle ne permettra pas d’atteindre l'objectif d'éradication de la pauvreté extrême d'ici 2030 ». La finance locale n’est que brièvement mentionnée appelant les gouvernements nationaux à promouvoir et à renforcer la gestion des taxes foncières.

Smart City Expo Latam Congress

27-29 June 2017. Puebla, Mexico


Smart City Expo Latam Congress is the smart and sustainable cities macro event for Mexico and Latin America whose goal is to expand the platform for boosting and developing smart and sustainable cities and territories. 

No offers yet for a deal, says Group Five

No offers yet for a deal, says Group Five
© Leon Swart – [[]]</span>Group Five says it remains some way from concluding an empowerment deal in terms of a settlement agreement with the government to transform SA's construction industry.
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A clear vision when expanding into Africa is critical

A clear vision when expanding into Africa is critical
© Dereje Belachew – [[]]</span>Expansion into African markets is not a decision that should be taken lightly - even the best-laid plans can be stymied by unexpected challenges. Small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) need to have clear understanding of what they are trying to achieve, says Michael Duys, CEO of Duys Engineering, the South African-based operation which expanded into Mozambique in 2002.
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France and Africa: Macron's rhetoric shouldn't be confused with reality

French President Emmanuel Macron with Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. EPA/Christophe Petit Tesson

The 2017 French election was watched with great nervousness by millions across Francophone Africa. That’s because the French president remains a pivotal figure in about 20 former French colonies on the continent.

Over the past 60 years France has maintained disproportionate influence over its former African colonies. This has included control over their military and currencies.

Despite being led by different presidents over the past six decades, the French government’s policy on Africa has been faithful to its neo-colonial roots and grounded in a yearning for the lost Empire.

But will Emmanuel Macron’s presidency herald a significant change to France’s relationship with its ex-colonies?

Unlike any other French leader Macron has openly expressed remorse for aspects of France’s colonial past. His election rhetoric suggested that he viewed France’s neo-colonial dominance with some embarrassment, preferring to loosen France’s hold on its former colonies.

Incentives for academics can have unintended, negative consequences

When academics are pushed to publish and to compete, teaching and research can take a back seat. Shutterstock

Rent seeking is a term coined in economics to describe the process by which private entities seek to use the state’s power to obtain or protect excessive economic surplus.

A classic example of this behaviour is when a monopolist bribes politicians or officials to protect or maintain the monopoly power that allows the company in question to charge excess prices and earn excess profits.

But the idea of rent seeking can be applied more broadly. Economist Robert Tollison described the analysis of rent seeking as “the study of how people compete for artificially contrived transfers”. In a recent paper, I argue that Tollison’s description provides a useful framework in which to understand the dynamics of modern academia.

Governments and universities are effectively encouraging academics to behave like rent seekers. This has negative effects for the integrity of academics and academic institutions. It’s also bad news for society at large. My paper focuses on South Africa and on how financial incentives, institutional rankings and the valorisation of grant funding encourage rent seeking behaviour among academics.

Africa must re-adopt its orphan crops in the face of a changing environment

Prickly pear is a type of orphan crop. Shutterstock

A large portion of Africa’s people rely on several indigenous plant species for subsistence. These plants are often primary food sources for people and animals, and are also used for other non-food purposes. Most are farmed as food crops and are preferred by indigenous people and farmers. They are often hardy and tolerant, which means that they can be expected to survive better under varying climatic conditions.

But their agricultural importance is undervalued and they often play second fiddle to more commercial crops. Referred to as “Orphan Crops” – they are not classified as major crops, and are under-researched and underutilised. Examples of orphan crops are: African persimmon, marama bean, prickly pear, guava, and marula.

Diversifying global food sources with orphan crops can be a vital tool in combating food and nutrition insecurity that are worsened by global change. Orphan crops have the ability to battle a range of stresses like droughts and extreme temperatures. But invasive species also threaten their survival.

Clues and solutions to Kenya's puzzling food price crisis

Roasted maize for sale in Nairobi as grain prices reach historic highs in Kenya. Reuters/Noor Khamis

Governments everywhere have the twin responsibility of ensuring that food prices are affordable for the majority of people, while guaranteeing good margins for producers.

In practice, many opt to subsidise producers of staple foods. Subsidies usually have the effect of keeping the costs of production low enough to guarantee affordable prices for urban consumers. They may include subsidising the cost of inputs such as seed or fertiliser, or subsidising the output price to maintain an agreed minimum price.

The Kenyan government has from time to time applied input subsidies to reduce the cost of production. But they haven’t always produced the desired effect. As a result the producer and consumer prices for maize – a major staple – have always been a subject of anxious debate in Kenya.

Such a debate has been sparked once again by the recent price spike in food prices, including maize. Maize and milk consumer prices have soared to new heights, fuelling inflation which now stands at a six-year high.

Willowlamp scoops darc award

Willowlamp scoops darc awardWillowlamp, a South African lighting design company, scooped an award at the inaugural darc awards / decorative 2017 gala event held in London in May. The company's bespoke designs created for Hotel Crown Towers in Perth, Australia, took second place in the category for The Best Use of Decorative Lighting in a Hotel Project.
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SACAP achieves full Canberra Accord signatory status

SACAP achieves full Canberra Accord signatory statusNow a full signatory of the Canberra Accord (CA), all those on the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP) register, as well as all architectural students from local Architectural Learning Sites (which it validates), have the opportunity to register to undertake architectural work in countries represented by the accord. These countries presently include Canada, China, South Korea, Mexico, the USA and a further 35 countries represented by the Commonwealth Association of Architects (CAA) which sits alongside SACAP as one of the seven full signatories.
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Another green achievement for the National English Literary Museum

Another green achievement for the National English Literary MuseumThe first Public & Education (PEB) building in South Africa to achieve a five-star Green Star SA rating for its design in November 2013, the National English Literary Museum has added another first-in-SA to its list of achievements with a five-star Green Star SA PEB v1 As-Built rating.
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Another green achievement for the National English Literary Museum

Another green achievement for the National English Literary MuseumThe first Public & Education (PEB) building in South Africa to achieve a five-star Green Star SA rating for its design in November 2013, the National English Literary Museum has added another first-in-SA to its list of achievements with a five-star Green Star SA PEB v1 As-Built rating.
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Cities may be 8°C hotter by 2100: study

Cities may be 8°C hotter by 2100: study
© blinkblink1 – [[]]</span>Under a dual onslaught of global warming and localised, urban heating, some of the world's cities may be as much as 8°C warmer by 2100, researchers warned on Monday, 29 May.
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Hustling from builder to entrepreneur, one brick at a time

Hustling from builder to entrepreneur, one brick at a timeBuilder-turned-entrepreneur, 33-year-old Nhlanhla Ndlovu was recently selected as one of 16 participants for the 2017 intake of the Red Bull Amaphiko Academy, an incubator for grassroots social entrepreneurs.
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It's 30 years since Cuito Cuanavale. How the battle redefined southern Africa

Rebel UNITA troops walk through a field twenty miles from the front line at Munhango, Angola April 29, 1986. Reuters/Wendy Schwegmann

Thirty years ago in southern Angola, four military forces were mobilising for the largest conventional battle in Africa since the Second World War. It was a battle that would have huge consequences for Angola, Namibia and South Africa. Indeed it has been referred to as a turning point in southern African history.

On the one side was the Angolan army backed by Cuban forces and Soviet advisers. On the other was the South African backed Angolan rebel movement fighting to overthrow the government.

The rebel Union for the Total Independence of Angola, better known by their Portuguese acronym Unita, had been one of the three liberation groups fighting Portuguese colonialism. But it is the pro-socialist Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) which won power in 1975 and formed the government.

With western support and arms supplies from South Africa and the Reagan administration, Unita’s campaign to topple the government turned Angola into a Cold War battleground. The climax of this was the battle at Cuito Cuanavale in southern Angola that lasted from March 1987 until the end of June 1988.

Here's how to prevent another anthrax outbreak in Kenya

People who eat raw or undercooked meat from infected animals may get anthrax. Thumbi Mwangi

Meat lovers in Thika, north east of Nairobi, are worried. In just one week, eight licensed people who load meat for sale into vans were hospitalised with symptoms similar to anthrax.

They were later discharged, but the story is a sobering reminder of what anthrax and other zoonotic diseases – those passed from animals to humans – can do.

Anthrax, caused by a bacterium called Bacillus anthracis, is primarily a disease of herbivores, and is most commonly transmitted to people through contact with infected materials or the consumption of infected meat.

The latest hospitalisations follow other instances of anthrax outbreaks in Kenya. In May 2016, 16 patients were hospitalised after eating meat from a cow that had died of anthrax.

In August 2015, about 300 buffaloes died of anthrax at the Nakuru National Park.

In another case in May 2014, several people died and some were hospitalised after reportedly eating meat from a hippopotamus infected with anthrax.

Eskom CEO saga highlights massive systems failure in South Africa

Brian Molefe's return as CEO at South Africa's power utility, Eskom, has caused controversy. Alon Skuy/The Times

South Africa has, in the past, been credited with taking on innovative corporate governance standards and integrated reporting. So it’s particularly depressing to see the spectacle around the country’s largest state-owned enterprise, its power utility Eskom.

The drama has revolved around Eskom’s CEO Brian Molefe, who has returned to the job just months after quitting. The contradictory explanations of his return point to huge flaws in the accountability systems of the country’s state owned enterprises. It’s clear that Eskom flouted many basic principles of sound corporate governance.

This poses enormous risks as these systems are imperative for ensuring an ethical public service and society.

Toxic leaders affect companies, and governments. How to deal with them


Toxic leadership is characterised by a number of familiar traits: unwillingness to take feedback, lying or inconsistency, cliquishness, autocracy, manipulation, intimidation, bullying, and narcissism. The toxic leader can - if allowed to run rampant for long enough – destroy organisational structures over time and bring down an entire organisation. This applies to countries too.

There are a number of reasons for this. The most obvious is that a toxic leader can influence organisational culture through aversive action. This can include flouting organisational processes, rewarding loyalty over competence, normalising socially unacceptable behaviours like infighting, and by breaking down trust and eroding clear lines of authority.

A toxic leader’s other, more insidious, influence is through what they do to the relationships between people around them.

Psychologists, Paul Babiak and Robert Hare, describe how two factions typically develop in an organisation once the deviant leader’s ascent has begun. One faction consists of supporters, pawns and patrons. The other is made out of people who remain true to their principles, realising they have been used and abused, or that the organisation whose ultimate goals they still support is in danger.

earthworks video series – Serious About Games

In November 2016, digital creatives from the Western Cape were challenged to use a user-centred design process to propose a serious game design that allows people to think innovatively, reimagining their communities for greater prosperity & economic opportunity. Earthworks attended the Serious About Games competition final held on 4 April 2017.

The post earthworks video series – Serious About Games appeared first on Earthworks magazine South Africa.

A river runs through

Being both an environmental and a transport corridor, the land parcels that run adjacent to Cape Town’s Black River and the N2 highway have huge potential to create a physical and social connection that will enhance and integrate the spatially fragmented city.

In city design that incorporates integrated transport and land-use planning, transit corridors create a continuous link between metropolitan nodes, defined by a transit passage such as a railway or major road. Modes of transport between the nodes exist in hierarchy from primary transport modes such as trains, buses and taxis to smaller vehicles and non-motorised transport such as bicycles and foot. Ideally, there is only a 500m walkable distance between a person and some form of transport at any one time.

Unfortunately, this walkable distance is not the reality in Cape Town’s sprawling urban metropole. Although the CBD, confined between Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean, forms the core business hub, there are few integrated corridors that knit the rest of the city together. However, in every problem lies opportunity.

Civic central

The new headquarters of the City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality, located in the heart of Pretoria, were built with operational performance in mind and is one of the first government buildings to target a 5-Star Green Star SA certification within a public-private partnership (PPP).

Through a PPP agreement with the City of Tshwane, the Tsela Tshweu construction joint venture – comprising Group Five Construction, Trencon Construction and Imbani Construction – was appointed to provide serviced head office accommodation, including the demolition of the old Munitoria building, design and construction of the new building, financing of the project as well as lifecycle capital expenditure management, maintenance and replacements for 25 years.

Paul Silver, executive director of catalytic projects at the City of Tshwane, and Tshwane House project administrator, says: “The intent with this project was to be environmentally responsible by using less water, recycling water, reducing the use of electricity and providing a healthier working environment for the staff through access to natural light and maintaining a comfortable temperature range. The benefit to the city was the development of a building that consolidates dispersed staff at lower costs by reducing the amount of money spent on rentals. Also, through the PPP agreement, the building could be constructed and operated over a 27-year period, with quality controls in place that ensure the services provided by the private party will always be of a high standard.”

Godfrey Place, director of Platospec and project manager on Tshwane House, says the city issued output specifications covering a needs analysis of its accommodation requirements as well as the operational standards to be complied with, including the requirement for a minimum 4-Star Green Star SA certification from the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA).

Extraction attraction

As South Africans awaken to the serious impact of drought and the prospect of empty dams and reservoirs, looking beyond groundwater-saving solutions becomes a priority.  A wave of water-from-air technologies are available. earthworks investigates the most viable options.

Atmospheric water generators

Producing water from air is a technology that has been used for a number of years in many countries, including the United Arab Emirates, India, the United States and China. Essentially, generators transform the atmosphere’s humidity into potable water, with no negative environmental impact.

Air is sucked in by a centrifugal fan through a filter and condensed into water. The water is pumped through an ultraviolet light tank, killing airborne bacteria. Passing through numerous charcoal filters, minerals are added to the pure water. The final product is accessible through a water-dispensing machine. Unlike water from the municipal system, this water is chlorine, fluoride and heavy metal-free.

The system takes 24 hours to produce 20 litres of water and relies on relative humidity to work. However, drier inland areas will still obtain a 60% relative yield from the water-creating machines. Placing a humidifier in front of the machine increases production by a further 35%. The units can function in any room and can be left on permanently. Filters require changing every eight months.

The units can be powered through solar or electricity from the grid, and a 20-litre unit, for example, would require a 400-Watt power source.

Fog harvesting

South Africa has been at the forefront of “fog harvesting”, with government setting up the world’s first fog screens in 1969 at Mariekskop in the mountains of Mpumulanga for SA Air Force personnel. They yielded 31 000litres of water each month.

RBIDZ key in driving radical economic transformation

RBIDZ key in driving radical economic transformationRichards Bay Industrial Development Zone (RBIDZ) is deliberately focusing on opening opportunities for emerging contractors as part of efforts aimed at fast-tracking their entry into the mainstream economy. RBIDZ is an organisation made of real people with a real dedication and passion to effect real change in South Africa. This commitment to delivery is apparent in all dealings with not only potential investors but also internal and external stakeholders as well.
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