South Africa’s new Carbon Tax Law

South Africa has finally made the carbon tax an official law, first drafted in 2010 the law has had a long road in getting approval, with 3 postponements due to mining companies, steel  manufactures and even government owned enterprises disputing the law saying it will hurt profits and push up costs.

South Africa being one of Africa’s worst when it comes carbon emissions can move towards lowering emission in agreement with global climate change requirements.

Signed in to law by President Cyril Ramaphosa it will come in to operation 1 June December 2022, with a tax rate of R120 ($8.34) per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent. Climate change activists believe that the law is still not doing enough to lower carbon emission and are called for more stringent measures.

 Source: ewn.co.za

The Growing Tech Cold War between the US and China

The Trade war between the US and China has spilled over in to the tech industry, with the US claiming that China’s advancement in 5G technology is a national security threat which resulting the banning of Chinese tech company Huawei.

The ban which prevents Huawei from accessing US made Hardware and Software services could lead to China build those previously outsourced products internally. This would lead to a possible global split in tech hardware, software and general compatibility.

For example the Huawei won’t be able to use the smartphone operating system Android owned by Google as a result of the ban this will lead to many of Huawei’s smartphone users unable to access other Google services like gmail and chrome.

Chinese companies could fill this gap by building out their own hardware and software capabilities, resulting in competition for the dominate US tech companies, this could see consumers forced to pick whether they want the US tech or Chinese tech.

 

By Mokgethi Mtezuka

Trump visits Japan, North Korea resumes missile testing

US President Donald Trump travelled to Japan to meet with Prime Minister Shino Abe for a four day visit which started on Saturday. On the agenda will be the new US-Japan trade deal, the new raising in tension with North Korea.

The US-North Korea deal seems to be back in the improbable category even though Trump has claimed that there is still a chance for a deal. North Korea on the other hand has returned to testing its missile which is a further indication of a no deal situation.

Japan is the US’s closest Asian partner with military, technology and financial ties link the two countries since the Second World War, North Korea’s missile test is very worrisome for Japan due its proximity, while Trump and South Korea have done played the recent aggressions by not calling out Kim Jong-un.

Trump’s visit to Japan also serves as good getaway from Washington as there is a push by certain democrats to have him impeached according to CNN.com. With the trade war with China escalating and no deal with North Korea, Japan could be a good place for Trump to score and easy win in Asia.

By Mokgethi Mtezuka

Theresa May’s Resignation leaves more questions on BREXIT.

British Prime Minster Theresa May’s failure to pass any deal on BREXIT has left her with no options but to announce her resignation and is expected to stay in office until the end of July. In her resignation address she stated that she will official resign 7 June and will remain as interim prime minister until the next prime minister is chosen.

Eight possible candidates have been highlighted as possible replacements for May. The most controversial is Boris Johnson who is very divisive not only in his own party, but in the UK and EU. Johnson a Brexiteer is also the bookies favourite for the top job and has many MP’s in his own party planning to block his succession.  

It is expected that Johnson will be more than willing to have a no-deal BREXIT if he becomes Prime Minister. Britain is expected to finally leave the EU 31 October and a no deal situation with EU is now looking to be more than likely given May’s failure. Add with the fact that the British parliament is unable to come to any agreement on BREXIT the next prime minister will face the same challenges as May.

By Mokgethi Mtezuka

 

South Africa Celebrates Africa Day

25 May 2019 will mark The 56th Africa Day, established in 1963 when the then independent African States met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Africa Day is therefore a symbol of Liberation and the fight for Human Rights, It also a day to acknowledge African heritage.

South African on the 25 May will also have the 6th democratically-elected President Cyril Ramaphosa’s inaugurated, at the Loftus Stadium where he will take his oath of office.

Yesterday the City of Johannesburg hosted the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) for Africa Day Social Cohesion Summit at the Metropolitan Building.

The goal of the summit was to highlight that integration of people from all backgrounds and walks of life which is democratic responsibility South Africa was built on.

By Mokgethi Mtezuka

Minister Sisulu challenges UN Country Team to support South Africa’s national priorities

The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Lindiwe Sisulu, has received a Letter of Assignment from Ms Nardos Bekele-Thomas following her appointment as the United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator to South Africa, the highest-ranking UN official in the country.

Ms Bekele-Thomas is a direct representative of the UN Secretariat and her role includes, but is not limited to, ensuring the coordination of all UN operational activities for its development programme in the country and to facilitate the alignment and coherence of UN operational activities for development in line with national priorities and development objectives of the host country. Prior to her appointment to this position, she was the Senior Director of the Office of the UN Secretary-General.

Minister Sisulu expressed the view that Ms Bekele-Thomas’ experience would offer deep insight into the development challenges confronted by South Africa, the continent and developing countries as a whole.

“We believe that the relationship between the UN entities and our government departments will be elevated in order to maximise the mutual benefits of the relationship between South Africa and the UN system”, Minister Sisulu said.

“It is important that the operations of the United Nations Country Team in South Africa are relevant and closely aligned with and supportive of South Africa’s national priorities such as job creation, education and skills development, healthcare and rural development”, added Minister Sisulu.

South Africa currently hosts 17 UN agencies engaged in activities and projects in support of South Africa’s national priorities and development objectives. These include UNICEF, UNAIDS and UNHCR.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

Indian Elections: Modi claims victory for BJP

After seven weeks long and seven phases the India election which started on 11 April, has finally come to a close. Prime Minister Narendra Modi garnered a landslide victory securing he and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) another term – vote counting is on-going.

According to The guardian, the BJP amassed 290 seats. The BJP is expected to gain almost 300 seats out 542 in congress which is up from their previous result in 2014 of 282 seats.

A new five year term for Modi and an endorsement of his policies means that he has more breathing space and stronger mandate to enact policies unable in his previous term.

Modi also promised to unity India after elections, the second most populous country in the world is not without its divisions.  In terms of foreign policy, Modi will now the tackle the tension with Pakistan and  resolve its issues with the US over Iranian oil and Russia weapons purchases.

 

By Mokgethi Mtezuka

Deputy Minister Landers to lead the South African delegation to the 109th Session of the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP)

The Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Mr Luwellyn Landers, will lead the South African delegation to the 109th Session of the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Council of Ministers and the 44th Session of the ACP-European Union Council of Ministers, scheduled to take place from 21–24 May 2019 in Brussels, Belgium.

One of the key issues for discussion at the Ministerial meetings is the status of the post-Cotonou negotiations, given that the existing agreement between the ACP and the EU will expire on 29 February 2020. Discussions on the regional protocols (Africa-EU, Caribbean-EU and Pacific-EU) commenced earlier this year, following the December 2018 decision of the 108th Council of Ministers that the post-2020 agreement shall comprise a foundation plus three regional protocols.

African Regional Consultations were hosted by Eswatini, in its capacity as the Chair of the African Central Negotiating Group, in Ezulwini on 3 May 2019. African Ministers, supported by technical teams from the African Union, agreed on a draft framework agreement for the African Regional Protocol and negotiations with the EU are expected to commence in Brussels shortly.

In addition to the post-Cotonou negotiations, the ACP is also in the process of carving a new vision, mission and mandate, through a revision of its founding document, the Georgetown Agreement. The 109th Ministerial will consider a draft revised agreement incorporating input from Member States.

As South Africa is serving in the sub-committee on Development Finance and Intra-ACP Programming for the period 1 February 2019-31 January 2020, the South African delegation will also participate in the ACP and ACP-EU Ministerial meetings on Development Finance.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

How BRICS can use AI to lead in the 21st century

In October 2017, Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev took part in an online conference with people in China. During the conference, one of the participants asked what China-Russia ties would look like in 2050.

Medvedev’s response did not make headlines. It should have – because he talked almost entirely about artificial intelligence (AI). Several months later, in May 2018, a similar development took place.

Following a trip to China by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, China and India launched an AI corridor, boosting co-operation between Indian software companies and Chinese firms in high-tech manufacturing and information technology projects.

As with Russia, this development did not make headlines. In June 2017, a Sino-India standoff occurred over disputed territory near the three-way border between India, its ally By Abishur Prakash

How BRICS can use AI to lead in the 21st century Bhutan, and China. The dispute lasted a few months and nearly led to war. Then, in an effort to “reset” or mend ties, India and China turned to AI.

A few months after this, in July 2018, at the 10th BRICS Summit held in Johannesburg, a memorandum of understanding was introduced to bolster co-operation on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, also known as “Industry 4.0”.

As AI and robotics create new opportunities and challenges, BRICS member states are starting to look to each other for support. The writing is on the wall for anyone paying attention. BRICS, a grouping of nations that represent 25% of the global economy, is looking to AI for its future.

For now, AI is being used to strengthen ties between members. But in the future, BRICS could go beyond this. The bloc could start using AI to redefine and restructure geopolitics – a move that could take the world in brand new directions.

Full Article in BRICS Journal Issue 7

President Ramaphosa undertakes Working Visit to Arab Republic of Egypt

President Cyril Ramaphosa has today, 22 April 2019 departed South Africa to undertake a Working Visit to the Arab Republic of Egypt to attend an emergency African Union (AU) Troika Summit convened to discuss the political and security situations in the Republic of Sudan and Libya.

President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi has called the Emergency Summit in his capacity as Chairman of the African Union. The AU Troika consists of Egypt current Chair; South Africa incoming Chair and Rwanda outgoing Chair. The Summit will also be attended by the AU Commission Chairperson, Mr Moussa Mahamat Faki who is expected to report on the AU initiatives undertaken to resolve these crises. Mr Faki has just concluded a visit to Sudan.

South Africa is serving as non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the period 2019-2020 and these political and security challenges in Libya and Sudan are already before the UN Security Council.

President Ramaphosa has prioritised regional and continental peace, stability, security and integration and development and will attend the Emergency Summit to contribute towards the African Union’s stated goal of silencing the guns by 2020.

The President will be accompanied by Ministers of International Relations and Cooperation, Lindiwe Sisulu, Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and State Security, Ms Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba.