TIPS In the News

Engineering News September 27-October 3 2013

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Mail & Guardian 20 September 2013

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Business Report - 18 September 2013

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Dewald van Rensburg and Thandeka Gqubule

City Press - 30 June 2013

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Concerns over 'insanity' of Shell South Africa fracking plans – Victoria Eastwood 

CNN- 23 March 2012

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Lynley Donnelly

Mail & Guardian -1 March 2013 

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Mail & Guardian - 9 March 2012

“A carbon tax that kicks in only above a certain threshold acknowledges that, in the course of economic activity, some carbon emissions are inevitable and, in the short term, unavoidable,” said Du Plooy. “The revised form of the carbon tax is, in a way, a tax on excess carbon emissions. The rationale for the RRT is similar. It recognises that, for mineral resources to be extracted, the companies that do so must be able to make a profit but argues that an excess profit, or rent, is neither sustainable nor fair.”

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Mail & Guardian - 2 March 2012

A mineral being discarded as "waste" may well be able to provide South Africa's -- and the world's -- energy needs for the next thousand years or more. Thorium, aptly named after the Norse god of thunder, Thor, is a nuclear fuel that is four times more abundant in the Earth's crust than uranium. It was the topic of a conference in Cape Town last week, organised by the South African Institute for Mining and Metallurgy.

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Engineering News - 25 January 2011

As increasing environmental pressures take hold in South Africa, the country's major construction companies showed that they were starting to focus on pursuing green practices and projects, particularly in renewable energy projects where opportunities were emerging.

For Group Five in particular, a view has developed that climate change opportunities exceed risks, and the company sought to develop capabilities around greener practices and technologies on a wide scale across its business units.

“Group Five and other construction groups, such as Murray & Roberts see it as critical for the group to have the ability to offer low carbon solutions as required by clients,” said climate change consultancy Camco in its recently released case study called 'The Construction Industry's Path towards a Low Carbon Trajectory'.

The research was conducted by Camco and the Trade and Industrial Policy Strategy institution, with funding from the British High Commission, for the 'Climate Change: Risks and Opportunities for the South African Economy' project.

The study highlighted that South Africa's construction sector has a key role to play directly and indirectly in moving the process of greenhouse gas emissions reduction forward.

It also suggested that a sectoral climate change development plan could assist the construction industry in taking its green practices forward, although this would require interactive discussions between government and construction industry players as well as a transformation of mind-sets within the sector.

A number of trends were evident in the construction sector, which were signalling changes in construction practices, an increased focus on the environment and, the introduction of greener practices and technologies.

It was also noted that there was clarity required from the South African authorities in terms of environmental priorities, as these influenced the type of interventions, investment and training in which construction firms needed to engage.

Another trend in the construction sector was that firms were engaging with products or strategies focusing on reducing energy consumption.

“Of note in terms of progress is that large firms are influencing the practices of suppliers. There is thus the opportunity for a more extensive process of energy efficient and environmentally-friendly products emerging within South Africa beyond construction firms – in manufacturing and through to service providers,” said the report.

The case study highlighted that greater efforts were required from authorities on South Africa's objectives around various environmental commitments – at an international level, national level, and locally at municipal level.

Municipal governments were said to have a crucial role to play in the implementation of climate change mitigation policies, as well as the monitoring and evaluation thereof.

Cities were responsible for 80% of all carbon dioxide emissions and 60% of all freshwater consumption in South Africa. “However, for local governments to have authority to enforce policies, it requires clarity on the structure thereof – which is communicated to them from a national government level,” the report stated.

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Business Day - 31 January 2011

WITH the African National Congress's announcement this month that job creation will be its main focus this year, the government could do well to boost support to small businesses. In this, India and Brazil hold some promising lessons.

Small businesses are key as they create by far the most jobs the world over. In SA between 1985 and 2005, 90% of all new jobs were created by small, micro and medium companies, according to the Finscope Small Business Survey Report of 2006.

In Brazil, the labour minister's General Register of Employed and Unemployed for last year revealed that between 1995 and 2000, 96% of new jobs were created by enterprises with fewer than 100 employees.

According to Finmark Trust's Finscope 2010 survey, small businesses could create 2,5-million jobs in SA by 2020. Added to this, Finmark believes the government could take about 500000 people off social grant schemes if it supported small businesses more actively.

However, numerous factors, such as a lack of business and financial management skills, make it difficult for small enterprises in SA to expand or for entrepreneurs to start up.

So what can India and Brazil teach us? Some might say Brazil and India's larger populations and land areas make it difficult to draw much in the way of lessons from them, but SA does share some similarities.

All three are grappling with similar development issues, such as a lack of quality education, a shortage of quality infrastructure and a low share of international trade, while Brazil, like SA, is one of the most unequal countries in the world. Despite these similarities, Brazil is ranked as the sixth most entrepreneurial country in the world, while SA is ranked a lowly 35th out of 54 countries, according to the 2009 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (Gem) Report. India was ranked 15th out of 43 countries when it last took part in the Gem Report, in 2008.

In general, small-business policies and schemes appear to be working best in Brazil and less successfully in India and SA, according to my assessment in a report for local economic think-tank Trade and Industrial Policy Strategies (Tips).

In SA and India, policies have done little to create effective support agencies to help business owners start up and grow their businesses. And awareness of many government support schemes remains low.

In SA, much of this is as a result of the government's lack of co-ordinated strategies aimed at small business as well as a government support architecture that is clumsy and confusing to business owners and public servants alike.

The government has too many agencies aimed at assisting business owners, which are spread across two different departments — confusing government officials.

Much of Brazil's lending to small businesses is channelled through its development bank, BNDES, allowing the state to play a strategic role in funding small businesses. In this way, the South African government's various funds for businesses might be more strategically deployed if they were all housed under a single body, such as the Industrial Development Corporation.

 

- Timm is a small-business journalist. He is the author of the TIPS report, How South Africa Can Boost Support to Small Businesses: Lessons from Brazil and India.

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Financial Mail - 17 February 2011

The R9bn jobs fund announced by President Jacob Zuma in his state of the nation address last week will invite competitive bids from projects with innovative ideas on how jobs can be created.

The fund will be run by national treasury, which proposed the idea to the cabinet lekgotla last month. It will operate on the basis of a competitive process, allocating funds to projects that show promise rather than on the usual budgeting principle of carving up funds among government departments.

It will look for innovation and ideas, say treasury officials, and will be open to experimenting with different approaches to find out what works. It will also look for co-funding from municipalities, donors and business.

With R9bn to give away over the next three years — R2bn in the first year — the challenge will be to get going quickly. What kind of projects are likely to secure support?

With the nation's attention focused on the problem of youth unemployment — more than 50% of people between the ages of 15 and 24 are unemployed — the idea of a wage subsidy for first-time workers, mooted by finance minister Pravin Gordhan a year ago, has been gaining currency in the ruling party. The fund could provide the opportunity for the subsidy idea, which was vehemently opposed by Cosatu, to be tested.

However, only one study on whether a wage subsidy would encourage employers to hire young workers has been initiated in SA. Though not a project of national treasury, the study by the African microe conomic research umbrella in the department of economics at Wits University is being keenly watched. First results are expected by mid year.

Proven examples of successful job creation schemes are more likely to get immediate attention. A prime example would be projects modelled along the lines of the community works project (CWP), a cost-effective form of government's expanded public works programme (EPWP) that over the past two years has been quietly piloted and has grown from 28000 participants in 2009 to more than 80000 in 2010.

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25 Degrees in Africa Volume 6, Number 2 - 2 May 2011

Camco, an international company specialising in climate change solutions, and Trade & Industrial Policy Strategies (TIPS), an independent economic policy research institution, recently released a case study entitled “The Construction Industry's Path towards a Low Carbon Trajectory” with funding from the British High Commission. According to the case study, the South African construction industry has been increasingly focused on both the introduction of green practices and on energy-saving technologies.

Globally, the building sector is said to contribute more than one-third of the total energy usage and associated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in society. Major South African construction companies, such as Group Five and Murray & Roberts, are starting to pursue green practices and projects. This has, in some cases, involved voluntary compliance with the Green Building Council of South Africa's (GBCSA) Green Star South Africa Office rating tool and the implementation of energy-efficiency and demand side management measures.

Recent media reports have also indicated that some construction companies (including Group Five and Aveng) are moving quite discernibly into renewable energy (RE) developments in the hope that they can secure a share of the renewables allocation under the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) for electricity. In this regard, Group Five has set up a specific new unit which deals with RE projects and Aveng has recently appointed an environmental manager for the group. Aveng is particularly positioning itself around wind and solar energy for bids that will emerge in this sector in the near future. Murray & Roberts have also adopted a new environment-friendly asphalt technology (Much Asphalt) that saves energy.

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New Age - 21 April 2011

Response to Stephen Timms research on small enterprise development in South Africa, Brazil and India.

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Economic Times, Zambia - 9 June 2011

LUSAKA — US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged African countries to lift trade barriers with the United States here Friday and voiced concern about China's aid and investment practices in Africa.

The first US chief diplomat to visit Zambia since 1976, Clinton attended annual talks over a US preferential trade deal at a time when China has overtaken the United States as Africa's top trading partner.

"China's presence in Africa reflects the reality that it has important and growing interests here on the continent," Clinton said during a press conference with Zambian President Rupiah Banda.

"The United States does not see these interests inherently incompatible with our own interests. We do not see China's rise as a zero-sum game. We hope that it will become successful in its economic efforts," she said.

"We are, however concerned that China's foreign assistance and investment practices in Africa have not always been consistent with generally accepted international norms of transparency and good governance," she added.

She said the United States has begun a dialogue with China on its activities in Africa.

Some African nations have leaned toward China because Beijing makes no demands on human rights or democracy.

"Generally speaking, I think the Chinese have been more aggressive in terms of trade into the region," said Mupelwa Sichilima, of Trade and Industrial Policy Strategies, a South African think-tank.

But Sichilima said that in practice, other restrictions hinder African trade with both the United States and China -- mainly practical considerations like safety standards for food products.

"China is just an alternative market that has come on board, but it doesn't mean it will swallow everything from Africa."

China-African trade soared more than 40 percent last year to $126.9 billion.

During his press conference with Clinton, Banda said Zambia has been dealing with China since even before independence in 1964 and was "fortunate" that China continued to buy Zambian copper during the global financial crisis.

But he said Zambia makes sure that foreign countries doing business here treat Zambians well and follow the nation's laws.

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City Press - 10 July 2011

Real policy innovation which is able to change society is rare. But the introduction of an employment guarantee in India is an innovation of this sort of magnitude, with far-reaching implications for social and economic policy.

Labour federation Cosatu's general-secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, recently praised the Indian programme, saying that a similar approach could help defuse the “ticking time bomb” of poverty and unemployment in South Africa.

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act was passed in India in 2005. It guarantees 100 days of work to every rural household with unemployed adult members.

The scheme has been rolled out across India and now has more than 55?million participants. And Vavi is correct: it is a model of obvious interest for South Africa, and has been a key source of inspiration for the design of the Community Work Programme.

While the programme is not an employment guarantee, it is designed to explore how this concept could be adapted to South African conditions.

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