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Engineering News | Latest News

Engineering News is South Africa’s premier source of weekly real-economy news on projects, products, policies, personalities and technoeconomic progress, covering a wide range of industries.

Major global utilities announce joint intent to scale renewable capacity by 2030 

The Utilities for Net Zero Alliance (Uneza) has adopted a roadmap to 2030, targeting a total increase of renewable energy capacity within their portfolios to 749 GW by 2030, an increase of 2.5 times relative to 2023. The alliance members’ joint renewables ambition was announced this week alongside a grid infrastructure action plan.

Posted on 19 April 2024 | 4:39 pm

Gates Foundation, EIB launch capital for women entrepreneurs pilot in Kenya

Philanthropy organisation the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and development finance institution the European Investment Bank (EIB) have launched a €30-million microfinance programme for women entrepreneurs in Kenya. The new partnership aims to strengthen women’s economic power in Kenya by tackling key barriers to financial inclusion. The €30-million microfinance programme in Kenya is backed by €15-million from EIB Global and financing from financial services firm KCB Bank Kenya.

Posted on 19 April 2024 | 3:46 pm

Research group reports that the latest El Niño had a significant impact on South Africa

A South African research group has reported that the 2023/24 El Niño phenomenon was the fourth strongest yet recorded, and that it had a noticeable impact on South Africa. The research team, designated the El Niño Southern Oscillation Reference Group (ENSO-RG), was convened by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s Applied Centre for Climate and Earth System Science. The ENSO-RG was set up in June last year, after the World Meteorological Organisation officially determined that an ...

Posted on 19 April 2024 | 3:43 pm

Elections highlighted as a concern for SME owners, but also promises change

Almost half, or 49%, of small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) business owners who responded to the Fourth Quarter 2023 SME Confidence Index by specialist SME financier Business Partners said they were concerned that the imminent risk of economic turbulence and protest action during the election season would impact their operations. While the SME owners said the social climate ahead of the May elections was cause for concern, about 33% of the respondents said the elections would bring about much-needed change, said Business Partners impact investing executive GM David Morobe.

Posted on 19 April 2024 | 3:39 pm

John Deere continues focus on innovation, technology

Equipment manufacturer John Deere South Africa will continue to focus on pursuing innovation on its machines and technology as it looks to strengthen its footprint in Africa. This was outlined by speakers on April 18, when John Deere’s Construction division showcased its equipment and technology solutions to customers at an event in Johannesburg.

Posted on 19 April 2024 | 3:01 pm

NTCSA begins consultations on market code to govern shift towards competitive electricity industry

With the National Transmission Company South Africa (NTCSA) currently scheduled to be operationalised in July and efforts under way to ensure that the Electricity Regulation Act (ERA) Amendment Bill is passed by the current Parliament, work is now advancing on the market code for the future multimarket architecture that will progressively replace the vertically integrated structure that has prevailed for over a century. Eskom transmission MD  Segomoco Scheppers will lead the NTCSA once it begins trade after addressing the remaining Companies Act requirements, having already met the key conditions of board independence, licensing and lender consent.

Posted on 19 April 2024 | 2:50 pm

Jaguar Land Rover develops portable charger using second-life batteries 

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has developed a portable battery energy storage system (Bess) using second-life Range Rover and Range Rover Sport plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) batteries.  The unit, built in collaboration with energy storage startup Allye Energy, is the first Bess to be commercially available with JLR battery packs.

Posted on 19 April 2024 | 1:14 pm

Conditions challenging, but some green shoots emerging – MBA North

Last year was one of the most challenging years the Master Builders Association (MBA) North has ever experienced, with many of its long-standing members entering business rescue or closing their doors, says MBA North executive director Mohau Mphomela. The 120-year-old employers’ body serves the construction industry in Gauteng, North-West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga. Many of its members are smaller, family owned businesses.

Posted on 19 April 2024 | 1:13 pm

Decarbonised iron production possible using sodium, company says

A new process being pioneered by energy companies such as Israel-based Helios and Netherlands-based Alkalium proposes the use of sodium metal rather than coal or hydrogen to refine iron-ore into direct reduced iron (DRI). Traditionally, iron is beneficiated by mixing iron-ore fines with coal. The iron oxide (Fe2O3), when heated in a furnace, undergoes a chemical transformation whereby the oxygen molecules from the Fe2O3 bind with the carbon molecules in the coal, creating carbon dioxide (CO2) as a by-product and leaving pure iron behind.

Posted on 19 April 2024 | 11:32 am

JSE plans overhaul to encourage smaller listings

The operator of the JSE has proposed easing some listing requirements in a bid to encourage smaller companies to the bourse, removing some of the red tape it says has become an obstacle. The exchange intends to split its main board into two — what it called a Prime Segment and a General Segment — as part of efforts to streamline regulations to better suit the needs of smaller firms, the JSE said in a statement.

Posted on 19 April 2024 | 7:58 am

Efforts to boost local manufacture of renewable energy components

Engineering News editor Terence Creamer discusses South Africa's plans to stimulate local manufacturing around solar, wind and batteries.

Posted on 19 April 2024 | 7:39 am

New boost for platinum group metals may arise from emerging eFuel scale-up

The emerging use of electrofuel (eFuel) as an interchangeable substitute for petrol, diesel and aviation fuel has the potential to create important new demand for Southern Africa’s platinum group metals (PGMs). This is because eFuel is a combination of green hydrogen and waste carbon dioxide (CO2) and demand for PGMs will arise when proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolysers are used to generate the green hydrogen. PGMs and PEMs go hand-in-glove.

Posted on 19 April 2024 | 7:39 am

Magazine round up | 19 April 2024

A video round up of this week’s magazine, highlighting our cover story, features and Business Leader.

Posted on 19 April 2024 | 2:15 am

Will the Zimbabwe Gold, or ZiG, restore currency confidence?

The heightened sense of urgency within Zimbabwe’s government to act as the country’s currency crashed – losing 90% of its value since the beginning of the year – was there for all to see in the past few weeks. The latest tell-tale sign was the assumption of office of the new central bank governor on March 28, a month earlier than the scheduled departure of his predecessor, to expedite the launch of a new unit. Unveiled on April 5 and set to enter into circulation by month-end, the Zimbabwe Gold (ZiG) is described by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) as a “structured currency” that is backed by $285-million worth of reserve assets comprising $100-million in greenbacks, 1.1 t of gold in the bank’s vaults and an additional 1.5 t held abroad, as well as other precious metals.

Posted on 18 April 2024 | 11:00 pm

South Africa to keep anti-dumping duties on chicken imports from US

South Africa’s trade minister approved a recommendation to maintain anti-dumping duties on frozen bone-in chicken portions originating in or imported from the US. Following an investigation that started in December 2022, the International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa, known as ITAC, concluded that the expiry of duties on these poultry portions would likely lead to the continuation or recurrence of dumping, and material injury to the chicken industry in the Southern African Customs Union, according to a Government Gazette Notice.

Posted on 18 April 2024 | 10:23 pm

Norwegian airline to start low-cost London-Cape Town service in six months

Norwegian long-haul but low-cost carrier Norse Atlantic Airways announced on Thursday that it was going to launch flights between London, in the UK, and Cape Town, during the Northern autumn/Southern spring later this year. The new service will start on October 28. “We are thrilled to introduce our new route between London and Cape Town,” enthused Norse Atlantic founder and CEO Bjorn Tore Larsen. “By breaking the duopoly on this route, we are not only expanding travel options for consumers but also driving down costs and putting the customer back in the pilot’s seat. At Norse Atlantic Airways, we believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to experience the wonders of the world and our new route to Cape Town will allow many more people to visit this amazing destination.”

Posted on 18 April 2024 | 3:52 pm

World Bank, AfDB seeks to provide more Africans with electricity by 2030

The World Bank Group and the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group are partnering to provide at least 300-million people in Africa with electricity access by 2030.  The World Bank Group will work to connect 250-million people to electricity through distributed renewable energy systems or the distribution grid, while the AfDB will support electricity connections for a further 50-million people. 

Posted on 18 April 2024 | 3:19 pm

Scatec inaugurates 540 MW Kenhardt solar farm

Norwegian renewable energy company Scatec has inaugurated the 540 MW Kenhardt solar farm in the Northern Cape. In his keynote address at the event, on April 18, CEO Terje Pilskog commended how far the site has come to producing electricity for South Africa’s grid and reiterated the company’s commitment to the local market.

Posted on 18 April 2024 | 3:17 pm

Cryogenics technology, expertise crucial in future gas economy

Cryogenics technology and expertise are becoming increasingly important as South Africa plans on leaning into using liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a major source of energy, Howden senior application engineer Pieter Swart said at mine ventilation solutions developer Howden’s Technology Day, hosted at Mintek, in Johannesburg on April 17. Cryogenics also played a crucial role in the handling of helium, which played a critical role in scientific research, medical technology, high-tech manufacturing, space exploration and national defence initiatives, he added.

Posted on 18 April 2024 | 2:12 pm

Electric trucks too expensive? Now you can rent one from Volvo Trucks SA

Volvo Trucks South Africa (SA) has introduced an equipment-as-a-service (EaaS) model for its new electric truck rentals business. Following last year’s launch of Volvo electric trucks in South Africa, the company has been importing a range of configurations to suit local conditions.

Posted on 18 April 2024 | 1:48 pm

Private renewables procurement may mitigate boom-bust cycles curbing South Africa’s green ...

The combination of public and private procurement of large-scale renewables in South Africa signals increased stability for manufacturers of key components, a new GreenCape report argues. Published ahead of the release of the much-anticipated South African Renewable Energy Masterplan (SAREM), which will outline the country’s official approach to localising renewables value chains, GreenCape’s ‘Large-scale Renewable Energy’ report forecast that there will be about 32 GW of installed renewables capacity in South Africa by 2030.

Posted on 18 April 2024 | 1:35 pm

Goldman says South African market ‘tough’ before election

South African investors are holding off on big moves before the vote next month, Goldman Sachs Group said, as the elections shape up to be the most pivotal in 30 years. Assuming the vote is trouble-free, “we could see quite a significant pickup in foreign interest in both equities and debt,” said Simon Denny, chief executive officer for South Africa at Goldman. Interest-rate cuts and progress tackling the nation’s rolling power outages will also be key to attracting more foreign capital, he said. Goldman has significantly expanded its operations in South Africa, tripling headcount over the past five years in its Johannesburg offices, from where it services the rest of sub-Saharan Africa. The US bank is betting on growth as energy constraints ease by the end of the year and a smooth outcome in the nation’s most-contested general election since 1994. “The market remains tough,” Denny said. “But we have capital on the ground and everything in place to continue to grow our businesses.”

Posted on 18 April 2024 | 1:13 pm

South Africa contingency reserves won't be spent on Eskom, Transnet – Godongwana

South Africa will use future drawdowns of its Gold and Foreign Exchange Contingency Reserve Account to curb its debt burden, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana said, adding he was pondering tax hikes and expenditure cuts in the next post-election budget. Africa's most industrialised nation is grappling with an ailing economy and high debt ahead of a general election on May 29 that could see the governing African National Congress party lose its parliamentary majority for the first time since the end of apartheid 30 years ago.

Posted on 18 April 2024 | 1:11 pm

Nehawu has called a strike at the Dube TradePort at King Shaka International Airport

The Dube TradePort Corporation, an agency of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government, has announced that 112 employees, members of the Nehawu trade union, have gone on strike. The workers work in the company’s Bargaining Unit. The corporation has created and operates the Dube TradePort special economic zone and air cargo complex at Durban’s King Shaka International Airport. Nehawu issued the notice to strike after what Dube TradePort described as a “prolonged” process of negotiation and arbitration.

Posted on 18 April 2024 | 11:57 am

Joint report on the main roadmaps for aviation to reach net-zero emissions released

The ‘Aviation Net Zero CO2 Transition Pathways Comparative Review’, which is a joint initiative of the International Air Transport Association (IATA – the global representative body for the airline industry), the Air Transportation Systems Laboratory of the University College London, the Air Transport Action Group, the International Council on Clean Transportation, and the Mission Possible Partnership, has been released. This compares the 14 main roadmaps for aviation’s transition to net-zero ...

Posted on 18 April 2024 | 11:17 am

Reserve bank to cut rates less than earlier thought in 2024 – poll

South Africa's central bank is now predicted to deliver only 50 basis points of interest rate cuts this year, less than earlier projected as inflation is seen taking slightly longer to return to the Reserve Bank's comfort zone, a Reuters poll found. A cut of 25 bps to 8.00% next quarter, either in July or September, is expected from the Reserve Bank, according to a survey carried out in the past week, compared with 50 bps predicted in a March poll. The repo rate will finish the year at 7.75% instead of the 7.50% predicted last month if the central bank delivers another cut in November as the latest poll predicts. "We now forecast a more drawn-out, shallower easing cycle in South Africa," wrote Razia Khan, head of macro research for the region at Standard Chartered. Although inflation will likely dip below the mid-point of the central bank's target band in the fourth quarter it may ease hesitantly, Khan added. There will be a temporary dip in inflation in the last quarter of 2024 before it quickens again early next year, the poll showed.

Posted on 18 April 2024 | 9:27 am

Africa’s oldest oil-rich dictatorship has a succession problem

Two South African engineers working in Equatorial Guinea’s offshore oil fields were preparing to return home in February 2023 when they were arrested for cocaine trafficking and thrown in jail, where they remain. Both men, their families and their employer have declared their innocence. They were detained days after a South African court ordered the seizure of one of Equatorial Guinean vice-president Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue’s yachts. The two incidents are linked, said people familiar with the matter who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the situation. They described the arrests — the first involving foreigners in the country’s critical oil sector — as the latest example of the vice-president’s impulsive behavior, which threatens the long-term stability of the Central African state that has been ruled by his father for the past 45 years.

Posted on 18 April 2024 | 8:36 am

Households remain under high interest rates chokehold

South Africa’s high interest rates continue to pressurise the finances of households amid the ongoing restrictive monetary policy stance by the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB). The latest Altron FinTech Household Resilience Index (AFHRI) shows that, over the past two years, the country’s benchmark prime lending rate has been raised consistently to almost 12% – the highest level in 14 years.

Posted on 18 April 2024 | 8:06 am

PPS highlights good value return to members in challenging 2023

The Professional Provident Society (PPS), the financial services group focused solely on providing customised financial services solutions for graduate professionals in South Africa and Namibia, says in a statement that it returned “exceptional value” to its members last year, as operating performance improved. The group announced total profits that were added to its members’ notional PPS Profit-Share Accounts in South Africa and Namibia of R4.54-billion.

Posted on 17 April 2024 | 4:11 pm

Report questions role of CCUS in steel decarbonisation

A new report by the Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) has shown that carbon capture use and storage (CCUS) is unlikely to play a major role in steel decarbonisation despite support for the technology at the 2023 COP28 climate conference. Direct reduced iron- (DRI-) based steelmaking, which can run on green hydrogen, is gaining momentum in the steel sector, the institute points out.

Posted on 17 April 2024 | 4:09 pm

South Africa needs 13 GW of gas-to-power capacity – more than the IRP envisions

Standard Bank head of Southern Africa’s oil and gas coverage Paul Eardley-Taylor has suggested that South Africa needs 13 GW of gas-to-power (GtP) capacity, rather than the 7.2 GW to 8.6 GW outlined in the draft Integrated Resource Plan 2023. Speaking at mine ventilation solutions developer Howden’s Technology Day, hosted at Mintek, in Johannesburg, on April 17, he explained that this calculation was made by considering the need to overcome Stage 6 or even Stage 7 loadshedding, when Stage 6 was being regularly achieved, as well as ensure a 15% reserve margin for winter peak demand.

Posted on 17 April 2024 | 3:53 pm

A 30% increase in whole grain adoption can reduce carbon emissions by 120Mt - BCG finds

A report published by global consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG) finds that, with thoughtful and gradual changes to how wheat is grown, processed and consumed, the food system can be transformed to be more nutritional. With grains, in particular, including wheat, corn and rice, most nutrients are stripped during refining and contributes to various diet-related diseases. The way grains are currently produced also have a negative impact on the environment, the consultancy states.

Posted on 17 April 2024 | 3:39 pm

CSIR joins international science community to improve understanding of ocean metabolism

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has recently joined a new global research programme focused on improving understanding of the future state of the oceans under various climate change scenarios. Led by CSIR principal researcher Dr Tommy Ryan-Keogh, the programme, titled BioGeoSCAPES, includes participation by over 30 countries. 

Posted on 17 April 2024 | 3:28 pm