Photo Essay: Answer the Call of the Drakensberg Mountains this Africa Month

As Africa Month draws to a close, we zoom in on one of South Africa (and the world’s) most picturesque holiday destinations:  The Drakensberg Mountains.

If you’re travelling from Joburg, the four and a half hour-drive to the Drakensberg is a very scenic one that allows time to pass before you can say ‘road trip’, and if you’re coming from Durban, prepare a two and half-hour playlist for your listening pleasure.

Once you’ve reached the KZN treasure spot, the perfect home for the duration of  your stay should undoubtedly be the Drakensberg Sun Resort.  This family-friendly resort – that falls under the Tsogo Sun Group – is the ideal resting place if you’re looking to take a break from the hustle and bustle of  city life. Although, much rest cannot be promised with all the activities available at your family’s disposal.

Your trip might have caused a rumble in the tummy, so once you’re all settled and checked into your Standard Room, Superior Room, Executive Room, or the luxurious Presidential Suite (because options are imperative), head down to the Lakeview Restaurant that has just undergone renovations worth R3,7 million.  The buffet feast available for breakfast, lunch and supper is nothing short of delectable, boasting authentic South African delicacies for the whole family.

Up for the adventure of your life? How could you not be while in between the Drakensberg Mountains? Take the family on the Drakenberg Canopy Tour®, situated in the Central Drakensberg between Cathkin Peak and Champagne Castle. The Canopy Tour® takes you on a 12-slide zip lining tour, gliding between trees and cliffs and experiencing Mother Nature at her absolute best. Fancy yourself a daredevil? The highest slide is 65 metres high, and the longest is 180 metres. The trained guides will see to it that you’re both safe and entertained. Remember the Canopy Tour® is open to anyone over 5 years and under 160 KGs but booking is essential!

 

If you’re into horseback-riding, book a session at the Cathkin Equestrian Centre just metres away from the Drakensberg Sun Resort. Depending on your level of experience, you could opt for an hour long ride, or even an overnight trip to a secluded private cottage in Wonder Valley behind the Matterhorn.

Of course, relaxation is right at the top of the list of things-to-do. Go on a sunset boat trip on the Resort’s private lake with some of the choicest bubbles, while taking in all the tranquillity you possibly can. Block out the noise and stop by the Spoilt Green Eco-Spa situated on the premises of the Drakensberg Sun Resort.

You might want to take along your camera to capture the rich natural beauty of the Drakensberg Sun Resort. There’s so much to do and see at the Drakensberg Sun Resort, that at some point, you just want to stop and say Mama Africa, how we love you.

To find out more about the Drakensberg Sun Resort, click here.

Images: Supplied

China ready for more high-level Russia exchanges

Zhang Yunbi
Displayed with permission from China Daily

Beijing is ready to work with Moscow to prepare for high-level exchanges in the near future, as the two countries have always trusted and supported each other, no matter how the international situation changes, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.

Wang made the remark while meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday in the Russian capital.

As part of the good relationship between the two emerging markets, bilateral meetings of leaders have been frequent, including Putin’s meeting with President Xi Jinping earlier this month during a trip to China to attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing.

Wang said Putin made an important contribution to the success of the forum.

Putin told Wang he expects that Xi could visit Russia at an early date, and the bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination “is worthy of its name”.

Beijing and Moscow have kept close contact on global issues. Their senior diplomats have met recently to discuss the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue and the Syrian situation.

Wang said the two countries should also strengthen strategic cooperation on international affairs, firmly safeguard their strategic interests and jointly promote peaceful settlement of international and regional hot spot issues.

Putin said Russia and China should work closely together within multilateral frameworks such as BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the G20. He also said the two countries should strengthen international security cooperation, jointly tackle hot spot issues and maintain global strategic stability.

Regarding bilateral cooperation, Wang said both sides should act on the guidance of their respective leaders and push for new outcomes of bilateral cooperation on linking the Belt and Road Initiative with the Eurasian Economic Union.

Putin said the economic situation in Russia is improving, the departments of both governments should strengthen communication and consultation, and major cooperative projects should be implemented effectively.

Jiang Yi, an expert on Russian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the reinforced cooperation has laid a foundation for the lasting development of the bilateral partnership.

Progress in major projects will facilitate economic restructuring of both countries and boost their standing on the global stage, he said.

-Repubhub/China Daily

Indian Prime Minister Modi launches the country’s longest bridge

The 9.15 km long Dhola-Sadiya bridge launched today by India Prime Minister, Narendra Modi,  will shorten the distance between Rupai on NH- 37 in Assam to Meka/Roing on NH-52 in Arunachal Pradesh by 165 KM and reduce travel time from between the two places from six hours to just one hour.
At the launch of India’s longest bridge, Modi said Dhola-Sadiya bridge opens the door for economic development in the eastern and north-eastern parts of the country.
He said the enhanced connectivity between the North-East and other parts of the country continues to be a priority for his government and good connectivity in the North-East would also link the region with the economy of South-East Asia.
The bridge has been named after renowned Indian musician and poet Bhupen Hazarika who died in 2011.
Minister of Road Transport & Highways and Shipping Shri Nitin Gadkari revealed there were also highways and inland waterways projects currently being implemented in the North Eastern states.
He said there were major highway of about 3000 kms projects  in the eight North Eastern states under construction.
The occasion also marked three year anniversary of Modi’s rule in the country.

 

SA’s plan to boost investment in underdeveloped regions

South African Government wants to accelerate economic development in the country's underdeveloped areas by attracting investors to these regions.
The R42 million Babelegi Industrial Park project expected to be launched in Hammanskraal next week is one of the projects under the Revitalisation of Industrial Parks Programme which is aimed at attracting investment.

The Babelegi Industrial Park boasts about 261 units available for leasing and 188 occupied by firms operating in textiles, engineering, construction, light manufacturing, warehousing and distribution.


The Department of Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said the objective of the programme was to also create jobs in manufacturing and related sectors, the Citizen newspaper reported.

“The dti has forged strategic partnerships for the implementation of the programme on a national scale working with the provinces, their agencies as well as municipalities,” Davies was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

“In the case of Babelegi, the department is working with the North West Development Corporation, who are also the owners of the park. The City of Tshwane has also played a strategic role in ensuring the smooth implementation of the programme,” he said.

Investors think holistically when searching for great companies

Jonathan Ratner
Displayed with permission from Financial Post

Buy & Sell: As financial analysis becomes more industrialised, time has been freed up for investors to focus more on non-financial factors…

For a long time, most investors assumed everything they needed to know about a company was in the numbers. They’d comb through the past five years of annual reports to determine whether or not it was a great business.

But the reality today is much different, as financial analysis becomes more industrialised through computers, common reporting and accounting standards, and automation. That has freed up time for investors to focus more on non-financial factors like human and social capital – the way businesses discharge their environmental, social and civic obligations.

“Those sorts of things define whether a business is great or not,” said Habib Subjally, head of global equities for RBC Global Asset Management (U.K.), during a recent visit to Toronto.

The portfolio manager of the $2.3 billion RBC Global Equity Focus Fund never had to audit customer satisfaction or employee engagement in during his previous career as a chartered accountant. But when he talks to successful entrepreneurs and asks what makes their businesses valuable, nobody mentions factories, buildings, working capital or inventory. Instead, they typically single out customer loyalty, brand value, people and know-how in developing new products.

“Those are not typically found in annual reports,” Subjally said. “Investors need to spend much more time looking at those types of things.”

Investing in great businesses at expensive valuations is an “elegant way to lose money,” so Subjally and his team of 11 experts take a much more forward-looking approach to find value. They try to understand what businesses and management teams are doing, and project where they will be in five, 10 and 15 years. These includes tracking competitive dynamics and sustainable business models, execution and market share, and management’s attention to environmental, social and governance issues.

“If management is not focused on the long term, it often ends up being a poor investment,” Subjally said, noting that executives are frequently evaluated on very short time periods.

A chief executive could cut training and development budgets – savings that would translate directly to a stronger bottom line, but employees may be unhappy. Similarly, they can borrow from clients by cutting customer service staff, but there won’t be anyone to answer the phones.

“This sort of borrowing creates contingent liabilities that sooner or later become financial liabilities,” Subjally said.

That’s why he considers it important to find management teams that have an ownership mindset, and are prepared to invest in people, customers, suppliers, communities and the environment.

“This costs money, and does lead to lower profits in the short term, but it does lead to better long-term value creation,” he said.

One of the fund’s largest holdings, Fortive Corp. (FTV/NYSE), fits these requirements. The diversified industrial firm that was spun out from Danaher Corp. roughly a year ago, acquires businesses and implements a methodology for making them more efficient.

“They want to use less space, fewer resources, make businesses faster and better, and the process goes all the way up and down the organisation,” Subjally said. “They measure everything, and it’s all about selling more, so there is both a growth element and a people element.”

“They are very good at buying businesses and improving them dramatically,” he added. “They are taking market share, the end markets are growing, and management is able to execute.”

Another top holding, HDFC Bank Ltd. (India), has a technology-focused business model that Subjally believes makes it one of the best-managed banks in the world. He highlighted the country’s largest private-sector bank’s ability to use branches – sometimes with just one employee – to service small villages.

“In a country like India, where the economy and financial services are still growing, they are able to move fast and deal with the huge volumes,” Subjally said.

He highlighted HDFC’s roughly US$1 billion in micro finance: family-based loans that are primarily for women, as well as the bank’s market share gains in areas like credit and debit cards.

“We really like the management team,” Subjally said. “They have not only run the business very well with great transparency, but they also develop their people.”

Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. (EL/NYSE) is an example of a portfolio holding that has professionalised its management team in recent years. The skin care and beauty giant still has William Lauder as chairman, and continues to have a long-term focus, but by purchasing small brands, investing in them, and taking them around the world, that’s allowed the company to grow successfully.

Subjally pointed to Estée Lauder’s very rapid growth in China, India, the Middle East and Latin America, along with the addition of new brands such as Glamglow, Tom Ford and Joe Malone.

“There is much more coming,” he said. “So we can see that it is a great business, and why it is going to be much more valuable in 10 years.”

-Repubhub/Financial Post

Witnesses: ‘Panic’ after fatal Manchester Arena blast

Concert-goers say they frantically ran after hearing an explosion at an Ariana Grande show, which killed 22 people.

“Panic”, “chaos”, “confusion” – these are just some of the words used by witnesses to describe what followed a blast at the end of an Ariana Grande concert in the northern English city of Manchester that killed at least 22 people and wounded dozens on Monday night.
“We just heard a bang,” concert-goer Sadat Khan told Al Jazeera.

“A few seconds later there was a massive stampede of panic and shouting and screaming,” Khan said.

He added that those near him, the majority of whom were children and teenagers, ran towards the exits, “jumping on chairs and trying to run as fast as they could”.

Police on Tuesday said they are still gathering information about the explosion, which they are treating as a “terrorist incident”.

Sam Ward, another witness, described a “huge” explosion.

“Imagine like a two-story brick wall had separated itself from a building,” Ward told Al Jazeera.

Video from inside the arena showed concert-goers screaming as they made their way toward exits amid a sea of pink balloons.

Catherine Macfarlane told Reuters the blast hit after the concert was over.

“We were making our way out and when we were right by the door there was a massive explosion and everybody was screaming,” Macfarlane said.

“It was a huge explosion – you could feel it in your chest. It was chaotic. Everybody was running and screaming and just trying to get out.” Police responded to reports of an explosion shortly after 10:35pm (21:35 GMT) at the arena, which has the capacity to hold 21,000 people, where the US singer had been performing to an audience that included many children.

Messages flooded social media as loved ones searched for news regarding family and friends who had attended the concert.

Near the arena, witnesses said the said they saw concert-goers fleeing in panic after hearing the explosion.

“We basically heard two loud bangs,” Alan Brennan told Al Jazeera. “One was very quickly followed by the other.” He said he looked outside and could “see people running, screaming … there were lots of children screaming. It was horrific.” Paula Robinson, 48, was at the train station next to the arena with her husband when she felt the explosion and saw dozens of teenage girls screaming and running away from the arena.

Robinson took dozens of teenage girls to the nearby Holiday Inn Express hotel and tweeted out her phone number to worried parents telling them to meet her there. She said her phone has not stopped ringing since her tweet.

“Parents were frantic running about trying to get to their children,” she added.

A father who attended the concert with his young daughters spoke of disbelief. “Why? What’s the point? I mean we brought our children out for a day out thinking we’ll have a really good concert, they’ll remember the concert but probably for the wrong reasons. Innocent people.” Shortly after the explosion, Greater Manchester Police tweeted asking people to stay away.

“The incident took place outside the venue in a public space,” police said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims.” The local ambulance service said on Twitter it had taken 59 casualties from the incident and treated “a number of walking wounded on scene”.

British Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the incident, calling it an “appalling terrorist attack”.

“We are working to establish the full details of what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack,” May said in a statement.

May will hold a meeting of the country’s top security committee at 9am (08:00 GMT).

A “precautionary controlled explosion” was carried out near the venue on a package that was believed to be a suspect device, but turned out to be “abandoned clothing, not a suspicious item”.

Manchester Arena, which opened in 1995, is the largest indoor arena in Europe, according to its website.

A spokesman for Ariana Grande’s record label said the singer was “okay”. The concert was part of Grande’s The Dangerous Woman Tour.

Grande tweeted that she was “broken” after the incident.

-Repubhub

India and Africa to tighten foreign and economic relations

The Africa-India trade cooperation is expected to grow even further as the country has put the continent as its top priority in its foreign and economics policies.

This was revealed by India Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the 52nd African Development Bank meeting in Ahmedabad, India earlier today.

Bilateral trade between India and Africa has jumped from $11.9 billion in 2006 to $56.7 billion in 2016.

The Times of India quoted Modi saying:”Africa is a top priority for India’s foreign and economic policy and there isn’t a single African country which hasn’t been visited by an Indian minister.”

He said India’s partnership with Africa is based on a model of cooperation which is responsive to the needs of African countries.

“India has had strong ties with Africa for centuries and the rich Swahili language includes some Hindi words.

I am proud to say that there is no country in Africa that hasn’t been visited by an Indian minister in the last three years,” Modi said. The paper reported that Modi and senior government officials have together visited 16 African countries in the last few years.

“After assuming office in 2014, I have made Africa a top priority for India’s foreign and economic policy,” he said.

Indian Administrative Services (IAS) Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Manoj Dwivedi identified four missing links in India-Africa trade and investment that needed to be addressed:

He listed these as an inability of African countries to exploit the preferential trade agreements provided by India, the need for capacity building of small enterprises in Africa, the use of technology to develop crucial sectors such as education and the inability of Indian financial
institutions to push credit facilities to banks in Africa.

-Times of India

SA Tourism Minister wants more women to take up leadership positions in the sector

South Africa wants to increase women in leadership positions in tourism sector to 30% in the next five years.

This was said by SA Tourim Minister Tokozile Xasa during the Tourism Indaba held in Durban this week.

Last year Xasa revealed that there were about 20%  women in general management in the sector and only 5-8% in board positions.

 

She launched  the Department of Tourism’s campaign to achieve 30% of women in executive management and board directorship positions in tourism in the next five years at the Indaba.

“The campaign, dubbed “Women in Tourism (WiT) 30in5”, will be chaired by Tourvest chief operating officer Judi Nwokedi in a collaboration with the private sector,” she said.

President Jacob Zuma who opened the 3-day event revealed that Durban would host the Indaba for the next five years.

 

He also launched South Africa’s “I Do Tourism” marketing campaign, which is aimed at highlighting how tourism has the potential to change people’s lives for the better by making a direct and tangible contribution to economic growth.

KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Sihle Zikalala, said it the province is “thrilled” at the announcement to host Indaba for the next five years.

“This will give us an opportunity to further invest in the show and ensure that it continues to grow, thereby increasing its contribution to the province’s GDP. Furthermore, it will allow us the opportunity to engage tour operators to partner with us in growing intra-African travel into KwaZulu-Natal. We want to create an impactful tourism sector that will spread into our rural and township tourism economies as well,” he said.

South African Tourism CEO, Sisa Ntshona said the Indaba which attracted more than 7000 delegates was a success.

“This year was all about listening to the feedback from exhibitors and partners that resulted in some fundamental changes, to ensure the event stays fresh and relevant. These ranged from the show’s updated diary system that provided more matchmaking and meeting opportunities to a brand-new Indaba app as the show’s primary source of information about news, meetings and events.” Ntshona said.

He said this year’s programme also identified 90 quality tourism Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) from all nine provinces in the country and assisted them to be market-ready before their sponsored participation at Africa’s Travel Indaba.

“It proved to be a highly successful platform for them to meet and network with fellow exhibitors as well as travel buyers, and gain valuable exposure for their enterprises,” said Ntshona.

INDABA 2017 IN NUMBERS:

7000 delegates attended
1440 local and international buyers
1000 exhibitors showcased their work
18 African countries represented
692 registered media representatives covered the event

 

 

More than 1500 performers booked for Russia 2017 Confed Cup Opening Ceremony

Russia is gearing up for a show-stopping 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup opening ceremony with more than 1500 performers lined-up for the event.
With less than a month before the opening match between Russia and New Zealand on June 17, the organisers said there would be a 20 minute opening ceremony showcasing the country’s culture before kickoff.
Russia 2018 Local Orginising Committee (LOC) revealed that the opening would tell viewers about Russia’s traditions, history, culture and nature of the four cities hosting the tournament: Saint Petersburg, Kazan, Sochi and Moscow.

“This is a very special moment for Russia and we are glad that we can show football fans a glimpse of our culture before the football action takes the stage,” the Local Organising Committee (LOC) Russia 2018 CEO Alexey Sorokin said.
He revealed that more than 1500 performers would be involved in the opening ceremony, which would also feature colourful visual elements and the Russia 2018 Official Mascot, the Zabivaka.

“Differently from what the Russian audience saw in the opening ceremony of the Sochi Olympics in 2014, the highlight of the evening is the opening match. We will not be able to use heavy structures or pyrotechnic for example, but with a lot of creativity we are positive that Russian fans will feel proud while international spectators will wish to discover some of the country’s cultural treasures that will be presented during the show,” Sorokin says.
More than 300 000 tickets have been sold for the tournament which starts on June 17 to July 2.
Confederations Cup is a preparatory tournament for the biggest football event in the world, the FIFA World Cup to be hosted by Russia next year.

-Fifa.com

Modi x Putin to meet to discuss global political agreement

The meeting between India and Russia scheduled for next month is expected to strengthen political relations between the two nations to ensure that India gets to be a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

The NSG is a group of countries with an aim to curb the increase of nuclear across the world by controlling equipment that is used to manufacture nuclear weapons.

The FreePress Journal reports that the meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin comes amid a perceived political grandstanding to ensure that there is a global
political agreement between the two.

“While Russia is keen that India should pull out of cold storage the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with that country for developing Kudankulam 5 and 6 reactors in Tamil Nadu, India wants Russia to work harder on China to ensure that India gets the membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) which the latter has been blocking,” the journal reported.

Putin’s deputy Dmitry Rogozin met with Modi recently but reports suggest that the meeting did not produce an assurance on the MoU.

The FreePress Journal argues that Russia has been working closely with China on global issues.

“India boycotted the One Belt One Road summit hosted by China on sovereignty issues, Russia was an enthusiastic participant. India now feels that it is time to put Russia’s friendship with India to test. Both Russia
and India realise that without the MoU, there would be no real takeaway from the Putin-Modi summit,” the journal says.

The MoU between the two was meant to be signed last year at the 8th BRICS summit in Goa, India but it has been delayed until now.

– freepressjournal.in