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Minister Lindiwe Sisulu reiterates good governance in Budget Vote Speech

South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Lindiwe Sisulu believes that SA is now in a period of renewal to good governance and responsiveness to its people.

During the Budget Vote Speech of the Dept. of International Relations and Cooperation, Sisulu said that the new era will re-energise the country’s foreign policy. “We want South Africa to be once again a moral compass and a voice of reason in a world increasingly overcome with selfish, narrow interests. We want to be the hope for all in times of despair.”

She also spoke about plans that will unleash not only South Africa’s potential but the African continent.   

“The President’s target is to raise R1 million in investments over five years, which we will not only use for South Africa, but also on the African continent. We believe that if we can create a stable Africa, we can unleash its potential. The resources of this continent are enormous and properly tapped will change the fortunes of the whole generations to come.”

Sisulu added that President Cyril Ramaphosa will be co-chairing a meeting of the High-level Global Commission on the Future of Work of the International Labour Organisation with the Prime Mister of Sweden.

“We continue to be committed to keeping peace. We stand for potential solutions whenever there is conflict. Our track record of keeping peace on the African continent is unchallenged by any one country. Our efforts in creating dialogue are hallmark of our foreign policy. We have had great successes in the past on the continent and we will continue to put at the apex in our interventions.”

 

Source: www.gov.za

 

 

BRICS NDB could speed up Africa infrastructure projects

The Capacity Development Officer of the new Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad), Bob Kalanzi has revealed that Africa lacks adequate infrastructure that hinders regional trade and the delivery of basic services such as health and education. 

Kalanzi said infrastructure was Africa’s  top priority and that the continent has suffered from low levels of intra-regional economic exchange and had the smallest share of global trade.

“Bridging this gap can only be achieved through [greater] regional and continental cooperation, which could be achieved through support from the New Development Bank (NDB),” he said.

He pointed out that infrastructure development in Africa must be prioritised to achieve the accelerated industrial development of the continent.

The African Union’s (AU’s) Agenda 2063 plans to propel intra-African trade to 50% by 2045 and Africa’s share of global trade from 2% to 12%.

Kalanzi also added that infrastructure had the potential to raise gross domestic product by 2% and develop the backbone for rapid industrialisation across the continent, boosting capacity to generate more domestic resources.

“The NDB signifies developing countries’ coming of age and reflects their aspirations to stand on their own feet. It also focuses on funding sustainable development and infrastructure in member nations, as well as other emerging and developing countries,” he said.

Source: engineeringnews

 

How to Grow and Develop Small Manufacturing Businesses

With the onset of pioneering innovations in the manufacturing sphere, prospective business owners are often faced with a plethora of questions when contemplating how to break into this sector. To answer and address the most pressing questions and concerns regarding the development of small manufacturing units, a team of manufacturing pundits and entrepreneurs are to gather at the Small Business Indaba. This event will feature alongside the Manufacturing Indaba 2018, to be held at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, Africa’s economic hub, on the 19th and 20th of June 2018.

Business expansion through capital acquisition is one of the most challenging phases of company growth. Within the manufacturing sector, this aspect is even more concerning, due to the extensive financial injections required during the initial phases of business development. Lack of information and awareness regarding financing options often hampers potential entrepreneurs from executing their plans. It is therefore imperative to explore the merits and drawbacks of all available options for acquiring capital and applying effective strategies for improving a company’s chances of receiving funding from financial institutions.

Small manufacturing units are usually backed by a competent idea for driving business growth, however, these ideas are seldom supported by a strong and well-researched business plan. Industry analysts believe that thorough business plans play a critical role in ensuring that a company becomes an ideal candidate for lending. By integrating the elements of financial projections, economic forecasts, product marketing, organisational overview, target market and expected sales revenue, a business plan depicts the entrepreneur’s confidence in the success of a venture.

With the launch of several industrial initiatives across Sub-Saharan Africa that have extended to the fields of technology, healthcare, construction and social development, amongst many others, the entrepreneurial conditions in the region are indeed promising. This provides the ideal opportunity for prospective speculators in South Africa to learn the tools required to drive a manufacturing venture towards the path of success. As the government aims to establish a positive and welcoming climate to stimulate investment in South African Small and Medium Enterprises (SMMEs), a number of funding options have become available to kick-start potential projects.

Apart from government institutions and financing bodies, private investors who are optimistic about the economic growth of the region are willing to extend their capital to South African business ventures with the potential to provide a superior return on investment. While these investors will secure a portion of the profits generated by the company as a reward for their investment, a business has a better chance of obtaining substantial funding through this option without any additional borrowing costs. As Sub-Saharan Africa propels itself towards a promising economic future, small manufacturing businesses can benefit by applying effective strategies and ideas to grow the scale of their operations.

The Small Business Indaba will serve as an excellent liaison and business networking opportunity for the small manufacturer, manufacturing stakeholders and SMME leaders and entrepreneurs to advise potential manufacturing business owners on definitive strategies to advance the development of their business.

– Issued by: Siyenza Management

SA ranks 2/115 in the 2017 Open Budget Survey

South Africa ranks 2 out of 115 nations, making the country the second most transparent system after New Zealand,
and leading Sweden and Norway that rank at 3rd and 4th respectively.

The Open Budget Survey (OBS) is the world’s only comparative and independent assessment of fiscal transparency, oversight, and participation at the national level. The survey is carried out by independent researchers who respond to a set of factual questions in each of the 115 countries assessed. Each country’s results are then reviewed by an anonymous expert, and governments are also given an opportunity to provide their comments.

The survey examines formal participation in the budget process at the national level. The 2017 OBS also assessed the core institutions of representative democracies by evaluating novel approaches to formal public participation in budgeting.

Brand South Africa’s CEO, Dr Kingsley Makhubela said: “Transparency is an important aspect of good governance, and transparent decision making is critical for the public sector to make sound decisions and investments, while also attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the country.

“Transparency creates an environment for effective decision-making. The most frequently cited argument for transparency is information should be accessible to enable citizens to actively participate in policymaking and hold leaders accountable for their decisions, and ultimately influence which decisions are taken and why. At a more basic level, transparency is critical for decision-makers, as it assists them to formulate policy, improve service provision, and manage resources responsibly.”

The OBS 2017 report states that ‘Sub-Saharan Africa showed the largest decline in transparency in this round, yet the region drove much of the improvement in transparency in the 2015 survey.’ It also notes that ‘this recent decline in transparency overall is significantly less than the gains found in previous rounds of the survey; which means that government budgets are still considerably more transparent today than they were a decade ago.’

Follow the conversation on #CompetitiveSA

Copy: Brand South Africa

Why the Brazilian interest rate was cut to a record low

The board of directors of the Central Bank recently decided to cut the basic interest rate for the Brazilian economy, known as Selic (The Sistema Especial de Liquidação e Custodia (SELIC). The rate was reduced from 7% to 6.50% per year, reaching the lowest recorded rate since it was first set in 1986.

According to Reuters, the Central Bank has indicated that it will continue cutting interest rates at its May meeting.
“Unless the Brazilian real comes under pressure for domestic or external reasons, the Central Bank will be in no hurry to begin the tightening cycle,” economists at Societe Generale wrote in a report.

The Brazilian government has attributed this calculated condition to numerous factors, including fiscal adjustments, public spending ceiling and a general more positive economic stance.

A lower interest rate is good news for the consumer because it means better access to jobs, stronger economic growth and greater access to credit.

Source : Reuters, www.brazilgovnews.gov.br

[VIEWPOINT] Mugabe and His Country: A Chinese Perspective

By Liu Yunyun (Assistant Executive Editor of Beijing Review)

It came as a big surprise to China that the long-time leader of Zimbabwe and an old friend of China’s had been confined and forced to resign in a “military coup,” despite the fact that many had long questioned whether the nation’s revolutionary leader could effectively lead the poverty-stricken nation to industrialisation and modernisation.

Though his resignation is deemed celebratory by many – some of his people and the so-called media elites from the West – his achievements and failures are part of the nation’s history and legacy which will remain true and significant in understanding this Southern African nation.

Mugabe visited China several times in the hope of finding support for his government and also the Chinese “secret” to success. But unfortunately, as our great reformer Deng Xiaoping had said to his entourage, after his meetings with Mugabe, “He won’t listen.”

China was once in the same international and domestic position as Zimbabwe: poor, backward, and with foreign sanctions. But eventually, after many twists and turns, it found out its own path for economic and social development, which is: making policy changes in accordance with its own national condition without blindly copying others’ way of governance.

READ MORE: Zimbabwe: Domestic Rivalries, US-China Competition Underlie Political Crisis

When it became evident that the former Soviet Union socialist approach could not help Zimbabwe, Mugabe did not draw lessons from the failure of the “big brother,” but instead, continued down the road of proactive policies in various fields, including the land ownership.

Looking back on history, there are some lessons to be learnt from the rise and fall of Mugabe: reform the system when it is necessary; put aside ideological debate while focusing on development; set up a legal base for transition of power and tenure system. Nonetheless, it’s always easier said than done. It is widely expected that his successor can move the nation forward, however difficult it now seems.

Resigned or not, Mugabe has been, is now, and will always be China’s good friend, and so also his country, Zimbabwe. As China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson said, China has always adhered to the principle of not interfering in internal affairs of other countries and respects Zimbabwean people’s choice and the choice of Mugabe too. China is committed to cooperation with Zimbabwe to improve the well-being of its people regardless of who its leader will be.

China’s plans to standardise elderly care services

Displayed with permission from China Daily

The draft requires nursing homes to provide telecommunications services, including but are not limited to telephone and the Internet. If residents have problems with telecommunications services, institutions should provide professional staff to help them.

Staff should treat the elderly with politeness and patience, keeping the private information of residents and visitors confidential. The environment and facilities must be safe and protect resident privacy, the draft said.

Outsourcing services should be commissioned to qualified organisations, and withdrawal systems established.

Nursing homes should make public service programs and charging standards, and set out rules for addressing complaints. Complaints should be responded within 10 working days.

The draft also requires nursing homes to offer hospice services. Hospice services providers should receive training before offering services.

China had more than 230.8 million people aged 60 or above at the end of 2016, 16.7 percent of the total population, according to a report released by the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

By international standards, a country or region is considered an “ageing society” when the number of people aged 60 or above reaches 10 percent or more.

– China Daily 

 

Moving from health challenges to collaborations

[In association with BRICS Journal and the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences]

Access to affordable healthcare is a priority for all the BRICS countries. Dr Aquina Thulare looks at how BRICS is faring and how further collaboration would benefit everyone involved.

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Good health is an indispensable prerequisite for poverty reduction, sustained economic growth and socio-economic development.

Placing  health within a globalised, market-based capitalist system results in a dialectical interplay between social classes and the exact nature of whichever social force is best able to set the agenda differs from country to country. These conditions explain why differential exposure and vulnerabilities have an impact on health and wellness and how these have distinctive consequences on populations. These are the “causes of the causes” of common health challenges.

BRICS is home to 42% of the world’s population and contributes 29.5% to global GDP. Notwithstanding the general economic prosperity and improvements in demographic and epidemiological profile since 1990, profound socio-economic inequalities and public health challenges persist within BRICS countries. Over the years, the different BRICS countries have followed diverse evolutionary trajectories in improving the performance of their health systems.

Health has been placed on the BRICS agenda through the social justice, sustainable development and quality of life dimensions as a key area of development and co-operation. Moreover, BRICS ministers of health are mandated to pursue the agenda of ensuring healthy lives and promoting the well-being of populations in their countries by reaffirming public health financing as an essential element for socio-economic development.

They have committed to:

  • Ending epidemics of communicable diseases;
  • Prevention and relevant treatment of non-communicable diseases (NCDs);
  • Prevention and treatement of substance abuse;
  • Decreasing the number of injuries and deaths from road traffic accidents; and
  • Achieving universal health coverage (UHC) and high-quality healthcare systems.

BRICS would also focus on social determinants of health (SDHs) while also introducing UHC strategies that are appropriate for each country’s context. The concept of “health as a human right” and “health in all policies” pervades much of BRICS’ engagement in contributing towards better global health underpinned by several United Nations (UN) frameworks.

Written by: Dr Aquina Thulare
This is an extract of the full article Moving From Health Challenges to Collaborations, found in Issue 3 of BRICS Journal.

MTN Bushfire 2017 presents ‘Bring Your Fire’ – Environmental Sustainability

For the past decade, BRING YOUR FIRE has been MTN Bushfire’s inspiring call to action, a concept that encourages the proactive contribution of the individual towards social change. Your Fire is your energy, your spirit, your passion, and your drive to make a difference.

In 2017 MTN Bushfire will take BRING YOUR FIRE to a whole new level with the introduction of the BRING YOUR FIRE ZONE, a dedicated space that will articulate and manifest this call to action around a specific theme. The theme for this year’s BRING YOUR FIRE theme will be ‘*Environmental Sustainability*’.

MTN Bushfire 2017 is partnering with a host of organizations to present a truly interactive and creative space that will engage with the myriad issues related to environmentalism and sustainability more broadly, including arts sustainability in the region. These activities will live not only at the Festival, but also before and after the event.

Within this theme, MTN Bushfire 2017 will also be further committing to become a more carbon-friendly event with this year seeing an increased focus on recycling and an insistence that all vendors at the festival use
packaging that is bio degradable.

Everyone is invited to become a pro-active contributor and to #BRINGYOURFIRE. For more information, visit: www.bush-fire.com.

Preparations in full swing for Thailand’s 1 December succession

Following the death of 88 year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej on 13 October 2016, Thailand has proceeded with preparations for Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn (son of King Adulyadej) to take up the throne one month from now, 1 December, this according to two reliable senior military sources (via Reuters).

One of the sources revealed: “We are making preparations. Everything is being prepared for 1 December. But this timeframe also depends on His Royal Highness.”

Since the king’s passing, the country (with a population of 67 million people) has gone into a year of mourning.

Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha added that the prince’s formal ascension could take place anytime between seven to 15 days of the king’s death, or even later. The formal coronation ceremony however, will only take place place once the king has been cremated after the year-long mourning process has been completed.

A senior military source told Reuters that Prince Vajiralongkorn left for Germany over the weekend but will return in November ahead of his ascension ceremony.

According to Reuters, Prayuth says that the prince has requested to move the formalities out so that he can grieve with the Thai people.

More about King Bhumibol Adulyadej:
The late King Bhumibol Adulyadej was born on 5 December 1927 at Cambridge Hospital (now Mount Auburn Hospital) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States. King Bhumibol was the youngest son born to Prince Mahidol Adulyadej (Prince of Songkla) and his wife Mom Sangwan (later Princess Srinagarindra, the Princess Mother). King Bhumibol moved to Thailand with his family in 1928 when his father obtained a certificate from Harvard. He was crowned King of Thailand on 5 May 1950 in the Baisal Daksin Throne Hall in the Grand Palace in Bangkok.

More about Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn:
Maha Vajiralongkorn was born on  born 28 July 1952 in the Ambara Villa of the Dusit Palace in Bangkok. Vajiralongkorn currently holds the ranks of General in the Royal Thai Army, Admiral in the Royal Thai Navy and Air Chief Marshal in the Royal Thai Air Force and in addition, is the pilot of an RTAF F-16, and two Boeing 737s, HS-HRH and HS-CMV. 

-Reuters; Wikipedia