Russia celebrates Victory Day

Russia is today celebrating Victory Day, a national holiday in which the country remembers the end of World War II and the defeat of Nazi Germany. A typical celebration of Victory Day involves military parade showcasing troops and advanced military hardware at Russia has to offer. 

The day will also remember the sacrifices made in order to defeat the Nazi all the millions of soldiers and civilians who died in the conflicts. Family members of those who died during the conflicts, march with their pictures.

The parade which will take place at the Moscow red square and will also be used the government to show off its latest military or security vehicles. The parade is also seen as a way for Russia to demonstrate the world its capabilities and its strengths as a way of discouraging its rivals from any aggression towards Russia.


By Mokgethi Mtezuka

France makes plea for India, Brazil, Germany and Japan to be included as permanent members of UNSC

France has made a plea for India, Brazil, Germany and Japan to be included as permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). According to France his is “absolutely needed” as only a reformed and enlarged UN Security Council will better reflect contemporary realities. The inclusion of these countries is among France’s “strategic” priorities.

 François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations in New York and head of France’s UN mission said that “Germany, Japan, India, Brazil and a fair representation of Africa in particular are absolutely needed at the table to get towards a fairer representation of the Security Council. This is for us a matter of priority.”




Technology and the future of farming

In the next 20 years farming will have drastically changed all over the world, with new technologies coming into play and an increase in the size of global population increase demand on food. The advancement of technology and the spread of electrification have helped evolved farming to the current state it in today.

However, the future of farming though could see huge changes in terms of farm workers. New technologies like automation, artificial intelligence and drones slowly shape the farms of the future as well as hydro farming which will impact farming productivity and efficiency.

Technologies like automated tractors, pickers, shakers and sprinklers will changes how crops are made and how many farm workers are responsible for making those crops. Hydro- farming lowers the need for vast amount of land and water, meaning that farming in the future could also become less rural and more urbanised or localised inside city and buildings.

Drones are also cited as a technology which will help in monitoring crops and farm land, determining early which crops are ready for harvest or need more irrigation and fertiliser. Drones could target specific areas for pesticides dispersal ending the need for blanket spraying as well removing weeds without destroying any crops.

Sensors, cameras and smartphone advancement will also help farmers in vastly increase monitoring, productivity and cost of farming. Real-time data will also be collect on a large number of areas allowing farmers to maximise their efforts.

The future of farming could see entire farms from before crops are planted to monitoring and adjusting to when they are harvested become completely automated.



Image source: VDI Wissensforum


Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) strides

The year 2018 marks eighteen years of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). The SCO now boasts eight full members, four observers and six “dialogue partners” – China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

At its 2018 Qingdao Summit, it formally welcomed India and Pakistan as the organisation’s new members. Stretching from Eurasia to South Asia, the SCO now contains 44 per cent of the world’s population and 21 percent of its GDP, reports East Asia Forum.

Today the SCO has grown further to promote peace and stability among its members through cooperating in domains of security, politics,trade and cultural understanding.

The SCO has over the years expanded far beyond the region. Security, economic and people-to-people cooperation have become pillars in the SCO’s development, says China Institute of International Studies. The SCO successes include; continuous expansion in security cooperation, steady advances in economic cooperation and cultural cooperation.


By: Kgothatso Nkanyane



USA to pull out of nuclear treaty with Russia

US president, Donald  Trump has announced that the US  will pull out of Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) with Russia. President Trump has said that Russia has violated the bilateral treaty. Trump further that the US is the only one up holding to the agreements made in the treaty.

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was established in 1987 by the US president Ronald Reagan and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and was an agreement to end the proliferations and use of intercontinental nuclear weapons.  The treaty was also key in ending the Cold War between the USA and Soviet Union.

The US has said that they have honoured the agreement but Russia is not adhering to it, as well as saying China is also developing nuclear weapons. President Trump stated that if all three countries came together to create new agreement they would be open to that, but they cannot allow other countries to develop nuclear weapons while they cannot.

Under the treaty the US and Russia are required to eliminate land launched nuclear missiles with a range of 500-5500km. The treaty has kept Russia and the USA from engaging in another arms race. Vladimir Putin, Russia’s President said Russia will provide an immediate and reciprocal response and that Russia has fully complied with the treaty and will continue with it as long as the US does.


Introduction to BRICS Plus

BRIC was established in 2006 by Brazil, Russia, India and China, emerging economies with the common purpose of becoming developed economies. Talks about the establishment of BRIC started at the margins of the General Debate of the UN General Assembly in New York, beginning a series of meetings between the four countries. This led to the first formal summit being held in Yekaterinburg, Russia on 16 June 2009. South Africa began its efforts to join the BRIC bloc in 2010, officially becoming a member on 24 December 2010, giving birth to BRICS.

The main objective of BRICS has been to build economic, political, social and cultural cooperation among the member countries, ensuring development, support and unity between these countries.Since its establishment, several countries have shown interest in joining BRICS, these are countries that are newly industrialised or emerging developing countries. These countries include Afghanistan, Argentina, Indonesia, Mexico, Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Nigeria, Sudan, Syria and recently Greece and Bangladesh.

At the 2017 BRICS Summit,China invited Egypt, Kenya, Tajikistan, Mexico and Thailand as guest countries, but explained that the invitation is not part of the BRICS Plus initiative, even though Chinese President, Xi Jinping, called for promotion of the BRICS Plus approach during that time. South Africa at the 10th BRICS Summit 2018 also invited guest countries, Rwanda, Senegal, Gabon, Uganda, Ethopia, Togo, Zambia, Namibia and Angola, under the theme Africa Outreach.

The BRICS Plus approach is not only about countries but also international organisations that can partner with BRICS to create a platform for collaboration and partnerships amongst countries of the Global South, to shape the agenda that will influence changes in the global economy. Organisations such as the African Union, United Nations, East African Economies, Group of 77, Islamic Cooperation, Caribbean Communities, etc have been approached and invited to the 2017 and 2018 BRICS Summit. The purpose of the BRICS Plus has been to ensure development and economic growth through trade and investment collaborations,in order to build cooperation in global governance financial, economic and political institutions.

Ahead of the 2018 Summit, South Africa was elected by BRICS to lead the consideration of the BRICS Plus Initiative, under the sub-theme: BRICS Plus: Securing sustainable and inclusive growth for the prosperity of the Global South. This has proven that the BRICS Plus approach has moved from just talks to the implementation of adding other emerging economies in the Global South.


By Ntsikelelo Kuse



South Africa signed a free trade agreement – what does it mean?

On Monday, 1 July South African president signed an agreement that will allow for the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Ramaphosa expressed excitement after ratification as the republic joined almost 50 African countries that have signed the agreement.

This free trade will “yield great benefits for all countries on the continent as well as big business, small companies and micro-traders” said Ramaphosa interview on Business insider South Africa.

An American financial services company and credit rating agency Moody’s predicted that, South Africa will be one of the biggest beneficiaries from the new African free trade area.

This free trade area is the biggest in the World due to the involved countries. Benefits of this agreement include that trade between members will flow with little or no trade tariffs.

It is believed that the AfCFTA will spark a trade merger in Africa and improve Africa’s credit profiles due to the stability that the inter- regional trade agreement offers members.

Source: Business Insider SA

India’s Sterlite, China state Grid and Colombia’s Isa secure a Brazil power license

India’s Sterlite, China’s State Grid, and Colombia’s Isa have all secured licenses to build power transmission lines in Sau Paulo, Brazil.

Other 47 companies, including consortia had registered to bid at the stock exchange B3, which resulted in a competitive auction. The rules of the auction included that the company that offers the most discount in tariffs will clinch the power licenses. Aneel, Brazil’s energy regulator recorded a 55% fall in the minimum tariffs the companies will be permitted to charge.

Indian company Sterlite secured six projects require approximately 3.6 billion Brazilian reais in investment. This comes after the company approached Brazil in the last year. A unit of Colombia’s Isa, Cteep secured two, worth an estimated amount of 880 million reais. China’s state grid received a projected to cost 102 million reais.

Electricity companies known to champion the industry, Portugal’s EDP and Spain’s Iberdrola bided collectively under their joint venture Neoenergia, but lost the bid.

The license includes a 30 year-contract which cover the maintenance, operation of the lines and annual revenues coming from the tariffs charged for the service.

Source: Thomson Reuters 2018

Expat Abroad: Bridget Pikes takes China

Bridget Pike is a Mozambican-born South African personality who decided to spread her wings. Since moving to China, Bridget has also expanded her career to the Arts.

Read more about her journey below.

BJ: Briefly explain how you ended up in China
BP: I needed a change, I was tired of the same things, the hopes and ideas I lived with daily. I felt like opportunities in South Africa were not in my favour and it was time to completely turn it around. I enrolled with an agency, had a skype interview which I passed and so I sold most of my valuables and headed to China to teach English.

BJ: How long have you lived there?
BP: I have been here for 7 months.

BJ: What was your biggest cultural/political adjustment?
BP: Language plays a huge role in how one adjusts to a new country, this has been my most difficult challenge yet.

BJ: What do you miss most about South Africa?
BP: The vibrancy of our people, the sun, blue skies and smiles. The variety of flavours. I miss my friends and those closest to me.

BJ: Was China always on your bucketlist?
BP: No it was never initially part of the plan. It was the last place I imagined myself being.

BJ: What is your favourite holiday destination in China?
BP: To be honest I have not traveled outside of the Sichuan Province as yet but I would like to explore it more this year.

BJ: Favourite place to eat and favourite food?
BP: The street food in China is really good and is also very affordable, but here in Sichuan the cuisine is known for its spicy flavours and of course the world famous Hotpot! I would be lying if I knew any names, but as long as you’re on a busy street you’re sure to find a street vendor cooking up something delish! I’d recommend the BBQ – this way you can select what you would like and they will pop it on the grill and serve it right up!

BJ: What do you love most about the Chinese?
BP: That they eat together, that they have family values and are always active.
I love how they remain true to their culture and heritage. They religiously drink hot water, I’ve been told it cures all aliments, I’m still experimenting with this theory. I drink a lot of hot water.

BJ: Share your list of must-see places for any Chinese visitor travelling
to South Africa?
BP: I would definitely say for wildlife, The Kruger National Park, Knysna and the Garden Route. Coffee Bay is a personal favourite, it the perfect place to get away and unwind. I would say hire a vehicle and roadtrip your way along the coast, stopping along the way. I won’t be specific because anywhere you travel to in South Africa is beautiful.

BJ: What in your opinion, is the biggest misconception about Chinese people?
BP: That they live like prisoners and are controlled by their government. The Chinese live a fairly free life and are not as stiff as everyone assumes they are. It is an efficient country where things work. They are curious and open to understanding the rest of the world.

Expat Abroad: Sfiso Sokhela makes Shanghai his home away from home

Meet Sfiso Sokhela, the 28-year old English teacher from Vryheid in KwaZulu Natal who has made Shanghai in China his second home.

Why did you move to China?
I moved to China because it was a chance for me to explore a bit more of the world and it was not as expensive as I thought it would be. I moved as well to learn and develop as a teacher. I am based in Shanghai.

How many years have you been in the country?
I have been in the country now for a year and 2 months but it feels like I just landed yesterday.

What was the most challenging adjustment for you?
I have to admit that the culture and the pace at which life goes here was a big adjustment. People are always on the move and if they get an opportunity they take it, doesn’t matter where it leads them. I was surprised by the culture as there are some similarities and vast differences. I know at home grandparents, if they are close enough, take care of the children, take them to school and bring them home until their parents come home. Here in China if you look when the school bus comes to drop off the kids or pick them up its the grandparents and a few housewives with the grandparents. I thought this was strange at first but I learnt that most parents work such difficult hours that the grandparents have to do this and they love doing it.

How China different from South Africa?
I have to also say the public transport,  taxis, the subway and even the busses are very well run. The trains and bus run on time but during rush hour you see that there are really a lot of people in the city. Add the fact that there is free WiFi and that data is cheap. It is so easy to do things and spend hours and hours on your phone streaming shows and movies.

The other major difference is the work ethic. Public services and security is incredible. The police are very efficient and response time is very quick and the public services are a lot cheaper than I expected. However, the pollution levels are pretty bad but I have to admit that they are improving.

What is the fashion, food and weather like, compared to SA?
The fashion is on point here. You get people who really know how to go all out, wearing big brands. You’ll also find few people who wear questionable clothing.

What was the first thing you noticed about the Chinese that was different to South Africans?
The first thing I noticed was how brutally honest they are – they tell it like it is. The other thing I noticed was how they believe that if something is bad for you, get it out of your system. So you’ll sometimes see people spitting in
public and it was a bit of an adjustment but I have come to understand it.

How different is the work culture compared to South Africa?
The work culture here is unbelievable. People travel across the country to find jobs, irrespective of how small it is or the kind of job it is. There are so many parents who leave their children with their grandparents to find work in the cities as they develop and grow so fast. If you choose to leave a job you must know that there are at least 30 other people who will be grateful for that job you hate. The people here work hard and they try make sure that their families are taken care of.

What is your favourite place to visit in China?
I am still travelling around China but I have to mention the Great Wall and Hangzhou. These two place are so beautiful. I learnt from one of my students that people died on the wall and they are part of it. The West Lake is so beautiful words cannot describe it. This country is so beautiful and every city has something special about it.

What is your favourite local dish and drink and why?
One of my favourite dishes is Double deep fried pork with lemon and honey dressing. You would think it sounds unhealthy but its so good. Every time I go to the restaurants here I always try get that.

What are other amazing things the outside world doesn’t know about China?
I would have to say is that when they see foreigners, some of the people from the smaller villages stare at you especially if you are a person of colour.

What advice would you give someone visiting China for the first time?
Embrace everything. You are in a different country, they do things differently but if you embrace it and try to adapt you will love it. Come with an open mind.

What is your favourite meal from back home?
The meal I miss most is one of Mom’s dishes, Phutu (pap) and beans with (any kind of meat. When I come home soon, I want to have that as my first meal.

Which go-to spots would you recommend to tourists visiting South Africa?
I would have to say Natal Spa and Resort. It’s a good place to just escape and relax with the family and friends.

What is your favourite thing about South Africa?
Without a doubt, its people. Where I work there are a few South Africans and we speak to each other in IsiZulu, IsiXhosa and Afrikaans. We have a real sense of what it means to be one people as we are so far away from home. When I think of home and the parts that I miss, it’s not the buildings or food or even the nature, it’s the people.

If there is something about South Africa that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime, what would it be?
There is no one thing that I think people should do but a series of things, like going to the Western Cape and doing some winetasting, going to Clarens and going through Golden Gate and spending a week in the Drakensberg.