EASTERN CAPE AUTOMOTIVE SUPPORT INITIATIVE LAUNCHED – The Eastern Cape Automotive Sector Support Initiative is launched in Port Elizabeth. The initiative, which government, labour and industry pledge to support, will see a collaboration among stakeholders to respond to opportunities and challenges in the sector. Provincial MEC for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism Mcebisi Jonas outlines the importance of the cluster to ensure a coherent and integrated public sector approach to the automotive sector in the province. “Today marks the start of a process of ongoing collaboration between the public and private sectors in the Eastern Cape to jointly formulate responses and implement key programmes in the automotive sector. The strategic initiatives agreed upon include logistics, supplier development, localisation and incubation and skills development,” says Jonas. Some key initiatives to be realised by the cluster include corridor development between Nelson Mandela and Buffalo City, as well as the Eastern Cape and Gauteng, undertaking skills and needs audits within the sector to quantify skills requirements and collaboration with the Durban Auto Cluster in implementing the Automotive Supplier Competitiveness Improvement Project. Speaking at the launch, Trade and Industry Minister Dr Rob Davies (pictured) says production volumes grew from about 389 000 units in 1995 to a peak of 587 719 units in 2006, before dipping to 373 923 units in 2009 and bouncing back to 532 545 units in 2011. He adds that the sectoral trade balance continues to be negative owing to the reliance on imported components produced by original equipment manufacturers. Davies points out that the opportunity exists to increase the local content in domestically assembled vehicles, coupled with an expansion of the component export basket.
DST AND ABSA TO COLLABORATE ON TECHNOLOGY – Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor (pictured) says she hopes the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with banking group Absa sends out a signal that government is serious about working with the private sector to compete more effectively in the global economy. Pandor and Absa CE for retail and business banking Bobby Malabie signed the MoU, which is aimed at developing strategic programmes to stimulate growth and development, in Pretoria. Areas of cooperation include human capital development, technology commercialisation, renewable energy technologies, information communication technology (ICT), venture capital creation and enterprise development, as well as agricultural business development. The Minister says that building on the Department of Science and Technology’s growing portfolio of public–private partnerships will assist in addressing the innovation rift in selected technology platforms, such as ICT, information security and renewable energy technologies. “This partnership is timely as it occurs at a time when government is seeking sustainable strategies to increase investment in research and development (RD) and stimulate business to do the same,” she states. Pandor says significant potential exists in the Internet market in Africa.
SAA ESTABLISHES NEW ACADEMY TO TRAIN PILOTS – South African Airways (SAA) has announced plans to establish a new flight academy for the focused, expert training of new pilots. SAA says it is searching for a qualified and internationally recognised partner to launch the SAA Flight Academy, which will recruit previously disadvantaged students from South Africa, as well as lay the ground for an international centre of excellence for candidates from other South African, African and international airlines. “Key will be the ability of any prospective partner, whether from South Africa or elsewhere, to prove that they have a track record in implementing international best practice in the airline pilot training sector,” says SAA CEO Siza Mzimela. SAA issued a tender calling for established flight training institutions to express interest in a long-term partnership to establish and manage the training academy. The tender is open to all qualified service providers globally. The academy aims to develop pilots well trained in the ethos, practices, corporate culture and safety disciplines of major international carriers, while making a significant contribution to the transformation of the entire South African airline industry, SAA says. A clear career path in commercial air transport will also be offered, with the best candidates earning the opportunity to fly as second officers alongside SAA’s established captains and first officers. “With only 17% of pilots trained since 1994 coming from previously disadvantaged communities, South Africa has not yet made all the progress it needs to in opening this highly skilled area of airline operations to aspiring pilots,” Mzimela says.
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ALSTOM OPEN TO WIND-ENERGY ACQUISITITONS – CEO – French engineering group Alstom is open to acquisitions in the wind-energy sector, its CE says, though he adds the priority is for organic growth. “Our strategy [for wind power] is based on organic development, on the work of our engineers,” says Patrick Kron. He was speaking at an event to inaugurate what Alstom says is the largest offshore wind turbine in the world, at Carnet, on the west coast of France. “If, one day, there is an opportunity to develop, we will see, but let’s not speculate,” he says. Earlier Kron told investors he would not undertake risky deals after speculation that Alstom was seeking targets to expand its wind power business, following press reports it was considering wind turbine makers Gamesa of Spain, Vestas of Denmark and REpower of Germany. Alstom, along with French utility EDF’s EDF.PA unit EDF Energies Nouvelles, is part of one of three consortia bidding to build France’s first offshore wind parks, which are massive projects with as many as 600 turbines and 3 GW of capacity in a €10-billion first phase off the Normandy and Brittany coasts. “Today we have a clear objective: win this tender offer and then bid for future offers,” Kron says.
ZAMBIA PLANS TALKS WITH MINERS TO CUT POWER USE – Zambia, Africa’s top copper producer, will ask big electricity consumers, such as miners, to cut back their energy use after the country was hit by an electricity shortage, the State-run power firm says. Zesco MD Cyprian Chitundu says that peak demand, when Zambian consumers switch on their heaters, outstrips the 1 800 MW it currently generates. The electricity shortage should be overcome by December 2013, when 360 MW will be added to the 660 MW the Kariba North Bank power station is now generating, Chitundu adds. “We are going to engage industry, talking to the mining companies, manufacturing, the farmers, that please reduce consumption by between 15% and 20% because that is going to help significantly,” he says. “We need to engage all the big consumers and then also appeal to our domestic customers to start reducing consumption.” Foreign miners operating in Zambia include Canada’s First Quantum Minerals, London-listed Vedanta Resources, Glencore International and Barrick Gold. Chitundu says expansion of Zambia’s power generation should match the 7% annual economic growth rate for the southern African country to meet ballooning demand. The whole southern African region is experiencing a deficit and neighbouring South Africa, Namibia and the Democratic Republic of Congo have requested to import Zambian power outside peak hours, he says.