Archive for June 9th, 2007

source: The Midweek Sun
by Sun reporter

6/3/2007 3:23:27 AM (GMT +2)

The whole of Botswana was thrown into darkness on Sunday evening as the country experienced an emergency power cut of unprecedented proportions, lasting up to a minimum of five hours in most areas.

A source in the faults department of the Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) who was on duty when there was a sudden blackout has told The Midweek Sun that the problem was a result of major maintenance works being carried out in South Africa by ESKOM, the country’s power utility corporation which also supplies 70% of Botswana’s electricity needs.

“ESKOM had earlier communicated the possibility of a major cut in electricity supply to Botswana owing to maintenance works at their main plant. They had asked that we should consider limiting domestic supply as they would not be in a position to meet demand both within South Africa and without,” said a source.

He emphasised that the problem was not through a fault of the BPC, but admitted that businesses and households throughout Botswana were greatly affected as a result of what happened.

He said on Sunday the power went off for about five hours around 6 pm, returning only after 10 pm in some places, while in others, power was restored around 3 o’clock in the morning.

Another source at BPC said blackouts similar to the one on Sunday could happen anytime. However, he said this one was an emergency, adding that their telephone at work rang off the hook for several hours as numerous enquiries from concerned residents kept on coming.

“I live in an area where power supply regularly goes off for an hour or just about. On Sunday, my family was in the dark for six hours, but we had no real hardships as we still had water but no means to boil it. Luckily the tuck shop down my street was still open and we went there to buy candles to have light,” said one resident of New Canada in Gaborone who did not want to be named. Sento Seile of Tsholofelo suburb said her family was inconvenienced by what happened. “The children had to do their home work under candle light. We could not do any ironing that night as the power had not returned when we decided to call it a night after midnight,” she said.

The few places which were not affected were those offering essential services such as hospitals, fire stations and petrol stations, which normally have standby systems which provide a backup service in case of emergency. The Midweek Sun

source: allAfrica
Zimbabwe Independent (Harare)

8 June 2007
Posted to the web 8 June 2007

Shame Makoshori

ZIMBABWE’S year-on-year inflation for May due next week is most likely to gallop beyond 5 000% on the back of further basic commodity and fuel price increases that characterised the market last month, bank economists say.

The year-on-year inflation ended at 3 700% in April following a shock 1 500 percentage points increase on the March figure of 2 200%. Month-on-month inflation, which had averaged between 40% and 50% over the past six months, is projected to reach between 60% and 100% in May, according to results of a poll by businesdigest from economists.

Genesis Bank economist Brains Muchemwa said prices of goods and services went up by 28% while the parallel market exchange rate increased by 85% in May.

He said fuel prices had also increased by 80% during the same period. Muchemwa said inflation could rally to about 5 300%. “Looking at the price trends in May, the conclusion is that prices went up way above 28%. This means inflation is still on an upward trend. Inflation is expected (to be) above 5 300%,” Muchemwa said. The major drivers of inflation, he said, would be fuel, bread and transport costs.

This means inflation will further erode the people’s purchasing power.

The price of two litres of cooking oil raced to $156 000 in June from $86 000 in April. A kilogramme of chicken is now costing at least $110 000, up from $45 000 last in April.

Transport costs for most workers last month averaged $600 000 per month from an average of $400 000 per month in April. A family of six requires at least $2,5 million per month for basic upkeep, according to the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe.

“One day workers will wake up to find they cannot afford to commute to work,” said an economist with a local commercial bank. “The country has failed to find a working formula to reverse the damaging effects of the galloping inflation. We are slowly sliding into a very big problem especially on people’s lifestyles and dietary requirements,” said the economist.

Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group economist, David Mupamhadzi, said the depreciating currency, heightened speculation and [continue reading]

allAfrica.com
source: allAfrica
INTERVIEW
8 June 2007
Posted to the web 8 June 2007

Katy Gabel
Washington, D.C.

As the 2007 Group of Eight [G8] summit concludes, African countries are still looking for industrialized nations to follow through on aid promises from previous summits. G8 countries have written off debt forgiveness as aid money and African countries are struggling to find funds to build basic infrastructure to participate in the world economy and meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

However, “Africa’s economy is better than it has been in the past 25 years,” John Page, the World Bank’s chief economist for Africa told AllAfrica’s Katy Gabel. Page also discussed regional trade blocs, China’s role in Africa, and corruption. Excerpts:

Many activists are complaining about the lack of follow up on aid promises from previous G8 summits. Are there any mechanisms to help monitor aid commitments? Could there be?

There actually is a quite well-worked-out process for monitoring development assistance that’s run by the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD [the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] So, with a lag of about one year, we get what are a good set of official statistics with respect to development assistance. From the point of view of civil society, the bad news is that the members of the DAC [the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD] defined what is meant by official development assistance. It takes a fairly careful reading of the statistics to know where that definition is self-serving, and where that definition in fact reflects resource transfers to developing countries…

What the advocacy groups need to do – and what some of them are already doing – is use… data available in the public domain… [to] apply stricter accounting standards that [continue reading]

source: SouthAfrica.Info

Michael Appel

8 June 2007

Finance Minister Trevor Manuel has introduced the new Taxation Laws Amendment Bill, which aims to help South Africans manage their saving amid an environment of rising personal debt.

He told Parliament this week that personal income tax relief will be granted to the public across-the-board, as a result of the “steadily growing economy and administrative efficiencies of the South African Revenue Service (Sars)”.

The tax-free threshold for low-income earners will be raised by from R40 000 to R43 000.

The 18% tax bracket has been raised from R100 000 to R112 500, and top-end earners will be bumped up to R450 000 from R400 000 in the 40% tax bracket.

Manuel said the raising of thresholds for taxable earnings would effectively put R8.8-billion worth of personal income tax back into the pockets of taxpayers.

“Long-term savings for pension, provident funds and individual retirement annuities can now grow tax-free so as to maximise the savings ‘nest egg’ of future retirees,” Manuel said, noting that the most notable changes to the Bill have been in the area of savings.

Another related amendment to the Bill is a new tax regime for lump sum payouts on retirement or death.

Under the basic mechanics the Bill provides for:

* First R300 000 lump sum amount will be tax-free
* Amounts between R300 000 to R600 000 will be subject to 18% tax
* Amounts between R600 000 to R900 000 will be subject to 27% tax
* All amounts above R900 000 will be subject to 36% tax

Manuel reported that interest and dividend exemption for individuals of aged below 65 would increase from R16 500 to R18 000, and the exemption for older individuals will increase from R24 500 to R26 000.

He added that the exemption for capital gains and losses would increase from R12 500 to R15 000. Tax exemption on donations would also increase from R50 000 to R100 000.

In the interest of making sure that individuals “have sufficient funds upon retirement or to pass onto future generations,” Manuel said estate duty exemption would increase from R2.5-million to R3.5-million.

Source: BuaNews , SouthAfrica Info

source: IOL
Melanie Gosling
June 08 2007 at 11:18AM

Eskom has a budget of R6-billion for nuclear energy, but a mere R4,5-million for renewable energy.

This vast difference in South Africa’s energy spending was highlighted at the Renewable Energy and Climate Change conference on Thursday, hosted by the Western Cape’s department of environmental affairs and development planning.

Yaw Afrane-Okese, renewable energy specialist at the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa), told delegates that part of Nersa’s job was to review Eskom’s budget.

He said anyone who compared the amount Eskom spent on nuclear energy with the amount it spent on renewable energy, would be “amazed”.

“If you compare this (R4,5m on renewables) to the billions on nuclear energy, really, there is nothing green here, far from green,” Afrane-Okese said.

Afrane-Okese said Nersa had begun to support renewable energy, and should have a [continue reading]

 source: Engineering News

By: Gerrit Bezuidenhout
Published: 8 Jun 07 – 0:00
Environmental consulting company Digby Wells & Associates (DWA) is nearing completion of its environmental studies for CIC Energy Corporation’s Mmamabula project.

The company started on the project in 2005 and it is expected that the studies will be completed before mid-2007.

“The studies involved a pre-feasibility study, followed by a bankable feasibility study and an environmental impact assessment (EIA), which is nearing completion. Various specialist studies were also undertaken,” DWG environmental consultant Liz Hilton Gray says.

The Mmamabula Energy Project comprises the development of coal mines and the construction of a power plant with a capacity of between 2 100 MW and 2 400 MW. It also includes all infrastructure relating to the project.

The Mmamabula coalfield in [continue reading]