Daily Archives: March 29, 2017

BANK OF CHINA TO WORK WITH SOUTH AFRICA TRADE AND INDUSTRY DEPT TO ATTRACT INVESTMENTS

JOHANNESBURG– South Africa will embark on a roadshow in China to attract investment in the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in this country.

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies, who witnessed the signing of under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on strategic co-operation between the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) and the Bank of China here Monday, said the signing of the MoU would bear immediate results when the roadshow to promote SEZs kicks off in May.

Through the MoU on strategic cooperation, the dti and the Bank of China, one of China’s Big Four commercial banks, have agreed to co-operate on issues of investment promotion and facilitation, trade promotion and projects support. The bank will also mobilise international and domestic resources to promote investments for South Africa in its capacity as a commercial bank.

“I am pleased that there are already plans to move speedily in implementing the MoU, as there are arrangements in place for the Special Economic Zones investment roadshow that will take place in China in early May. The main purpose of the roadshow is to promote our SEZs in China and showcase the opportunities that are available there, with the view of attracting more investment in the SEZs,” said Davies.

He added that China was not only South Africa’s largest trading partner but it had also emerged in recent years as a significant investor in both infrastructure and industrial projects in South Africa.

“China’s investments in South Africa are important particularly to the dti as they boost the department’s efforts to industrialise the country. Financial institutions like the Bank of China play a very critical role in the facilitation investment projects in the country,” he noted.

“We are optimistic that the MoU will strengthen cooperation between SA and China in a number of areas, including trade missions, joint marketing activities, investment and industrial finance.”

The MoU was signed by the Director-General of the dti, Lionel October, and the General Manager of the Financial Solutions Department at the Bank of China, Ren Li.

SEZs are geographically designated areas of a country set aside for specifically targeted economic activities, supported through special arrangements (that may include laws) and systems that are often different from those that apply in the rest of the country.

The dti’s Industrial Policy Action Plan identifies SEZs as key contributors to economic development. They are growth engines towards government’s strategic objectives of industrialisation, regional development and employment creation.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

SOUTH AFRICAN GOVT TO INTRODUCE LEGISLATIONL TO SET UP LAND COMMISSION

CAPE TOWN– The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform will soon table a Bill in Parliament to provide for the establishment of a Land Commission which will help the government to conduct a comprehensive land audit, says the Minister, Gugile Nkwinti.

Briefing the at the Imbizo Centre in Parliament here Tuesday, he said the Regulation of Agricultural Land Holdings Bill has been put out for public comment and would be introduced in Parliament in the course of the current fiscal year.

“The Bill introduces a Land Commission because people who own land in South Africa must register with that Land Commission so that we know who owns South Africa so that we can use that as a measure to determine the extent to which land is being redistributed in the country,” he said.

The Minister said the Land Commission would be able to assist the state to determine the true extent of land ownership in the country. Land audits by the department had not been able to reveal the actual ownership and uses of land in South Africa as several parcels of land are administered by different departments, he added.

For example, some parcels of land are owned by Trusts, which he said are administered by the Department of Justice, while land owned by companies is overseen by the Department of Trade and Industry under the Companies Act.

The Minister said the Land Commission would serve as “the primary structure to oversee the collection, maintenance and dissemination of all information regarding public agricultural land and private agricultural land, including land owned by South Africans, and that which is held by foreign persons”.

He said once the Bill is passed into law, key instruments of the Land Commission will include: a register of agricultural land holdings; disclosures in respect of the present ownership of private agricultural landholdings, including the race, gender and nationality of the owner, the use and size of the agricultural land holding and any real right registered against and licence allocated to the agricultural land holding;

Prohibition on the acquisition of agricultural land holding by a foreign person; lease of agricultural land holding by a foreign person; disposal of agricultural land holding by a foreign person; determination of categories of ceilings of agricultural land holdings for each district, by the Minister by notice in the Gazette, after consultation with the Commission and having regard to such criteria and factors as may be prescribed;

Redistribution of agricultural land which is all agricultural land holdings that fall between or exceeds any category of agricultural land holding; and first right of refusal by the State in respect of redistribution agricultural land.

“[What the Bill] seeks to do in terms of pursuing that objective of the ANC (the ruling African National Congress party) resolution is that irrespective of the colour of the skin of the owner of the land, what it seeks to achieve is setting ceilings in terms of small scale, medium scale commercial viable farm and large scale, so that our people must then participate in this debate.. so that they have a voice to determining the extent to which a large scale commercial viable farm should be given the various pragmatic conditions across the country,” he said.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

NEW AFRICAN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY REPORT LAUDS ETHIOPIA’S ACHIEVEMENTS

ADDIS ABABA– A new developmental report on Africa notes that Ethiopia has given much emphasis to develop Science, Technology and Innovation (STI), despite its slow start to science, technology and innovation policies.

The Africa Capacity Report 2017, which was launched in Addis Ababa and in another seven African countries Tuesday, states that policies which encourage the expansion of STI, such as awards for innovation and allocations, have made a big difference in the number of science and technology graduates in Ethiopia.

According to the report, another important lesson from Ethiopia is the improvements achieved in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) to strengthen human resource development.

The government’s commitment in establishing the Ministry of Science and Technology, research institutions, universities and TVET institutions have contributed to the progress.

It also notes that Ethiopia’s research and development expenditure as a share of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) has more than tripled between 2005 and 2013.

At the launch of the report, State Minister for Industry Dr. Mebrahtu Meles said science, technology and innovation were essential for socio-economic development on the continent and the government of Ethiopia had adopted a Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Policy in 2012 with the vision of promoting STI.

The Managing Director of the Horn Economic and Social Policy Institute, the producer of the report, Dr. Ali Issa Abdi, said STI had a crucial role to play in promoting the ability of African countries to achieve economic transformation and development goals.

He said there is significant improvement in the application of science, technology and innovation in the Africa continent. However, the continent is still not sufficiently equipped in science, technology and innovation so as to become competitive enough in all fields, he added.

The report recommended that African countries tighten links among universities, government, industry, non-State actors and labour to promote STI. Investment in education in science and technology, engineering, and mathematics is vital for Africa to achieve a critical mass of educated human resources, to catalyze innovation and promote competitiveness.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

Former Ivory Coast First Lady Acquitted of Crimes Against Humanity

A court in Ivory Coast found former first lady Simone Gbagbo not guilty Tuesday of crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the 2011 post-election violence.

Gbagbo was not in court when the verdict was announced. Prosecutors have 60 days to appeal. They had called for life in prison.

Gbagbo was accused of leading a cell that carried out violent reprisals against opponents of her husband, ex-president Laurent Gbagbo, including supplying it with weapons and attack helicopters.

The International Criminal Court in the Hague wanted to try her, but agreed to let her stand trial in Ivory Coast.

Human Rights Watch and victims rights groups in Ivory Coast say they are disappointed with the verdict, which they say leaves a lot of questions about her role in the violence unanswered.

But Gbagbo still must serve a 20-year prison term on previous charges of endangering the state.

Her husband is on trial in the Hague for alleged crimes against humanity.

Ivory Coast exploded into violence in 2011 when Laurent Gbagbo refused to give up power after losing a presidential election to Alassane Ouattara. About 3,000 people were killed.

Source: Voice of America

Mediators’ Exit Leaves DRC Deal in Danger of Collapsing

KINSHASA, DRC – A political deal signed on New Year’s Eve that was supposed to clear the way for elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the departure of President Joseph Kabila could be on the brink of collapse.

At a news conference Tuesday in Kinshasa, Jean-Marc Kabund, secretary-general of the opposition UDPS party, said there could no longer be any doubt that Kabila and his political allies do not intend to move toward elections.

He accused the president and his allies of deliberately undermining the agreement they signed on December 31 with the Rassemblement, a large opposition coalition in which the UDPS is the leading member.

Kabund called on the Congolese to prepare themselves for a large march on April 10 to protest the nonapplication of the accord and Kabila’s plans for a lifelong presidency.

Hundreds of angry UDPS supporters gathered in the road outside, shouting that Kabila must step down or be chased from the country. The police soon arrived to disperse the crowd. They fired live rounds into the air while the crowd hurled stones.

Kabila’s second term – and what the constitution says should have been his final term – expired December 19, but elections to find his successor were postponed and the president has remained in office. The New Year’s Eve deal, which was mediated by the Congolese Catholic Church, offered a peaceful solution. A transitional government headed by a prime minister from the Rassemblement was supposed to take over and lead the country toward elections in late 2017.

Divisions remain

However, talks about how to implement the accord have faltered, and the two sides are still split on several key issues, most intractably on how to nominate the next prime minister.

Last week, the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) told the Rassemblement and Kabila’s political alliance to resolve their differences and sign an implementation agreement before March 27. That ultimatum went unanswered, and on Monday night, CENCO’s president, Monseigneur Marcel Utembi, announced the bishops were ending their mediation.

Utembi appealed to the negotiators to not lose sight of the main objective of the talks: the organization of elections in less than a year.

On Tuesday afternoon, the bishops met with Kabila. One told VOA that Kabila would try to break the impasse. On Tuesday night, the presidency issued a statement saying the “current impasse must not mean the definitive rupture of the dialogue.”

For the UDPS, however, there is no longer any hope of a resolution.

Political protests have been banned in much of Congo since September 2016, and the UDPS announcement of one on April 10 will renew fears of violent repression by the state.

Source: Voice of America