Africa Business Communities

[SA Business Week] Water tariffs rise, no markets for black traders

Access to clean water is still a challenge in most of the sub-Saharan Africa countries. Due to the scarcity, the ones who are lucky enough to access it have to dig deeper into their pockets in order to enjoy this basic commodity. One such example is South Africa's Cape Town residents.

According to a report released this week by Global Water Intelligence (GWI), Cape Town is at the topmost listing for having a 390% increase in water tariff this year. The survey sought to calculate the changes in price of urban water and wastewater in 512 cities from 191 countries. The tariff increase in Cape Town is aimed at penalizing households using more than 6m3 per month because the water levels in the supplying dam has fallen below 35%. The increase is also aimed at seeking for the much needed investment in the water sector, even as the residents are encouraged to make good use of the resource.

As the residents of Cape Town get into terms with the increased water tariffs, the black industrialists are also crying foul for lack of market access for their products and services, locally and internationally. During the Inaugural Black Industrialists Roundtable Dialogue hosted by the Minister of Trade and Industry in Pretoria, the beneficiaries of the Black Industrialists Scheme (BIS) pleaded with the government to address the issue of localization and procurement. They also urged for the enforcement of local content, additional funding from Development Finance Institutions, the increasing cost of electricity and fuel, among others. On its part, the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) assured that it will lobby other governments departments from all three spheres of government to prioritize black industrialists in their procurement processes.

Still on trade matters, The South African government has now become the fourth member state to ratify to the Tripartite Free Trade Agreement, following in the footsteps of Egypt, Uganda and Kenya. The Tripartite Free Trade deal was signed in June 2015 and for the agreement to be implemented, 10 more ratifications from the member states will be required by the end of April 2019, which also marks the deadline for members to ratify. The implementation process will start right away after the minimum threshold has been achieved.

In the manufacturing sector, the Sumitomo Rubber Company unveiled a $66m tyre production facility this week. The new state-of-the-art truck and bus radial factory is located in Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal. The launch was graced by VIPs, dignitaries, stakeholders and government officials who were given an opportunity to tour the world class TBR factory. The President and CEO of Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Ikuji Ikeda who was also in attendance, said the reasons for proceeding with the investment despite the challenges of developing a TBR factory from scratch included the African market’s potential and particularly the Free Trade Agreement which would support SRI’s business initiativesHe added that local TBR tyre production would result in the expansion of business for truck and bus vehicle manufacturers and present opportunities for government related businesses.

Another launch that took place this week was the opening of the British luxury automobile maker Rolls-Royce first lease engine storage facility in the South African Airways Technical (SAAT) site at Johannesburg’s Oliver Tambo International Airport. The event was attended by the United Kingdom’s Trade Commissioner for Africa, Emma Wade-Smith OBE and Thandi Phele, the acting deputy director general at the South African Department of Trade and Industry responsible for industrial development. In order to enable the SAAT staff conduct work on the engines in the storage, the Rolls-Royce Company is providing them with technical training. The ultimate goal is that SAAT mechanics will eventually be in a position to perform a wide range of inspection as well as on wing services to Rolls-Royce customers in Africa.

This week has also seen the South Africa based original equipment supplier Weba Chute Systems extend its footprint into the northern hemisphere, which came as a result of  the recent appointment of a licensee in Russia. The company said the selection of Somex as its partner in Russia is in line with its long term goal, which is a sustainable international business model.  Apart from Weba Chute Systems having had an established reputation as an OEM with more than 4500 of its custom engineered systems installed all over the world, it also has extensive representation across the globe with licensees and agents in the USA, Canada, South America, Turkey, Australia, and throughout Africa.

KiteBnB, a tech start up, will also be expanding into South Africa and Mauritius through AccelerAfrica, a business development company that helps technology companies from Europe penetrate the African market in a smooth, fast and cost efficient manner. KiteBnB was launched in 2015 and it is an online marketplace for kitesurfing accommodation. There are no fees or set-up costs to work with KiteBnB but the accommodations are handpicked and only the most relevant kitesurfing destinations are invited to join the portfolio. This is because the company has decided to value quality over quantity and to geographically narrow their focus to several key kitesurfing destinations.

Still on tech, software pioneer APD Communications announced its alliance with South Africa's based RapidDeploy, in order to provide a complete hosted solution for control room operations globally. This collaboration brings together complementary, cloud-based technologies to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of critical control operations. RapidDeploy provides an innovative cloud-based call-taking and Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) platform serving public safety and other markets. The RapidDeploy system simplifies the complexity of emergency dispatch through precise address location, improved situational awareness, allocation of appropriate resources for optimized response, mobile field service apps and advanced incident management tools. 

Technology will also be employed to tame the spread of diseases at one of the largest game reserves in Africa, spanning more than 2 million hectares, Kruger Park. This is after the Black & Veatch Company was tasked by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) to implement an electronic system that will enable the inventory and management of biological materials at the park. The park has 137 mammals and over 500 birds serviced by the Office of the State Veterinarian. The software developed by Black & Veatch will provide detailed tracking of biological samples from the animals to diagnose, research and control zoonotic diseases, including the control of disease-carrying species that move in and out of the park and related risks that could affect the South African export market and in-country meat safety.

Finally this week, the South African Airways (SAA) appointed Mr. Deon Fredericks from Telkom as the new SAA Interim Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Mr. Deon will embark on his 12 month period duties come October 15, 2018. He takes over from Mr. Robert (Bob) Head whose contract as SAA Interim CFO ended on 30 September this year. Another appointment was that of Masego Khutsoane, who was appointed as the Divisional Head of Financial Services at digitalization expert, e4. Khutsoane has previously worked at the JSE, Absa, Woolworths Financial Services and Nedbank. She will be responsible for leading the overall direction and performance of the Financial Services Division and will maintain and enhance relationships with all key banking clients.



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