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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 – from agroprocessing to information technology. Engineering News Online provides real time news reportage through originated written,video and audiomaterial.

African countries urged to allocate 25% of stimulus spending to renewable energy

African countries should aim to invest 25% of their Covid-19 stimulus budgets in renewable energy, Sustainable Energy for All CEO Damilola Ogunbiyi said on Wednesday, noting that renewable energy had emerged as the cheapest source of new electricity for most countries on the continent. Speaking during a high-level political forum hosted by the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena), Ogunbiyi argued that the pandemic presented a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” for African governments reset their economies by improving energy access through large-scale investments into both centralised and decentralised renewables solutions.

Posted on 8 July 2020 | 3:10 pm

Committee calls for speedy investigations into fraudulent UIF claims

The Portfolio Committee on Employment and Labour has called on law enforcement agencies to speed up investigations into fraudulent claims paid out by the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF). The Department of Employment and Labour and the UIF had briefed the committee on fraudulent claims and revealed that 75 suspected claims were being investigated.

Posted on 8 July 2020 | 2:58 pm

South African companies say economic growth will reduce racial inequality

South Africa’s biggest companies believe they have the solution to the racial inequality that has riven the country since the end of apartheid a quarter-century ago: Grow the economy. The debate about integrating more Black South Africans into one of the world’s most-unequal societies is being thrust into the open amid anti-racism protests sparked by the Black Lives Matter movement. It also comes as the coronavirus pandemic exposes the divide between rich and poor in a country where White households earn five times more than their Black counterparts, government data show.

Posted on 8 July 2020 | 2:48 pm

PSV business rescue plan presentation delayed

The business rescue practitioners handling industrial holding company PSV Holdings’ business rescue process have extended the date for presentation of the business rescue plan to July 13. More than 50% of PSV’s creditors had agreed to the extention.

Posted on 8 July 2020 | 2:41 pm

Activists highlight Santam’s refusal to pay out Covid-19 business interruption claims

South African non-profit shareholder activist organisation Just Share has highlighted local insurance group Santam’s refusal to pay out business interruption claims from policy holders in the hospitality and tourism sector resulting from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. This followed Just Share’s raising of the issue at Santam’s electronic annual general meeting (AGM) on Tuesday. The claimants hold policies from Santam that cover business interruption caused by contagious or infectious notifiable diseases. But Santam, along with other South African insurance groups, argues that the business interruptions have been caused by the government ordered national lockdown (imposed to counter the pandemic) and not by the pandemic itself, thereby making the claims invalid.

Posted on 8 July 2020 | 2:18 pm

Africa's Covid-19 recovery lies in regional integration through AfCFTA − commission

Africa does not need a “Marshall Plan” to ride out the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, instead it has a more powerful tool in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which can be used to accelerate regional and economic integration and prepare for uncertain times, says Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) executive secretary Vera Songwe. The Marshall Plan was a US initiative passed in 1948 to provide aid to Western Europe following the devastation of World War II.

Posted on 8 July 2020 | 1:55 pm

Germany to become major source of platinum demand for fuel cell EVs, says WPIC

As much of Europe prepares for a rapid green energy transition as part of the region's Covid-19 recovery strategy, Germany, in particular, could be the gamechanger that makes widespread adoption of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) in Europe a reality, says the World Platinum Investment Council (WPIC). It reports that Germany has set itself the target of becoming climate neutral by mid-century and notes that the country is leading the way with its recently announced national hydrogen strategy.

Posted on 8 July 2020 | 1:55 pm

Eskom issues power alert due to 'constrained system'

South African power utility, Eskom on Wednesday issued an alert level one urging users to reduce electricity supply due to a constrained system. "Eskom requests the public to reduce electricity usage as the power generation system is still severely constrained. This morning one generation unit each at the Kendal and Tutuka power stations tripped, adding to the Tutuka unit that tripped yesterday evening," said the organisation. 

Posted on 8 July 2020 | 1:36 pm

CSIR to roll out 10 000 locally made ventilators to hospitals

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), in collaboration with a number of local partners, has completed work on a local ventilator to be rolled out nationwide to patients showing respiratory distress in the early phase of Covid-19 infection.  The development forms part of government’s National Ventilator Project (NVP), which falls under the auspices of the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC), and is supported by the Solidarity Fund. 

Posted on 8 July 2020 | 1:08 pm

Africa’s economic growth could rebound by 3% in 2021, says AfDB

Africa’s economic growth could rebound by 3% in 2021, provided that governments manage the Covid-19 infection rate well, the African Development Bank (AfDB) said on July 7. In a comprehensive socioeconomic assessment of the pandemic’s impact, the bank said growth was now projected to rebound to 3% in 2021 from a 3.4% contraction in the worst-case scenario for this year.

Posted on 8 July 2020 | 1:08 pm

DPE welcomes revised SAA business rescue plan

The Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) has welcomed the publication of a revised Business Rescue Plan for South African Airways (SAA) and has urged creditors, employees and stakeholders to vote in favour of the plan next week. As the shareholder on behalf of government, the DPE says the plan is “the most expeditious option for the national carrier to restructure its affairs, its business, debts and other liabilities, resulting in the emergence of a new viable, sustainable and competitive airline that provides integrated domestic, regional and international flight services”.

Posted on 8 July 2020 | 1:06 pm

Court orders insurer to pay business interruption claim for Covid-19 lockdown

The Western Cape High Court has ordered insurance company Guardrisk to pay the business interruption claims of Cape restaurant Cafe Chameleon. The ruling has been welcomed by specialist public loss adjustment firm Insurance Claims Africa (ICA). “This is a significant win for the tourism and hospitality sector,” highlighted ICA CEO Ryan Woolley. “While there is no doubt that this is precedent setting, we expect the judgment to be appealed, so it is still long way from payment. Of critical importance, is the fact that Judge Andre le Grange rejected the insurers argument that the losses suffered by the claimant was [sic] due to the lockdown, and not the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Posted on 8 July 2020 | 12:01 pm

Kenyan sports minister Mohamed to bid for top WTO job

Kenya's sports and culture minister Amina Mohamed will run to be the next Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), a spokesperson said on Wednesday and a WTO official confirmed. "For Amina Mohamed, yes we can confirm that we received her nomination from Kenya late yesterday," a WTO official said.

Posted on 8 July 2020 | 11:07 am

Covid lockdown pushes back completion dates for N4 projects

The four major rehabilitation and expansion projects on the South African side of the N4 Toll Route are back on track, says toll road manager Trans African Concessions (Trac). All sites were officially opened in the second week of May and are fully operational.

Posted on 8 July 2020 | 10:00 am

First 1 100 foreign mineworkers scheduled to cross back into South Africa

The first batch of 1 100 foreign mineworkers was scheduled to cross back into South Africa on Tuesday, Mining Weekly can report. This is part of a total of 12 500 gold and platinum workers returning from Mozambique, Lesotho and Eswatini, formerly Swaziland.

Posted on 8 July 2020 | 9:25 am

Public Enterprises reports nearly all unions have withdrawn objections to SAA packages

The Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) has announced that all but one of the unions representing staff at South African Airways (SAA), plus the representatives of the non-unionised staff, have now stated that they would not object to the DPE or SAA offering voluntary severance packages (VSPs) to their individual members. The sole exception is the SAA Pilots Association (SAAPA), whose position on the issue, says the DPE, is “unclear at this stage”. “The DPE appreciates the level of ...

Posted on 8 July 2020 | 9:19 am

Getting it right: Kogi Iron

Mining Weekly incorrectly reported on July 7 that ASX-listed Kogi Iron had received a large investment from European funds management company Torridon Investments Research to develop its Agbaja cast steel project, in Nigeria. However, Torridon, which is a European funds manager with billions of dollars of resources assets under management, had only expressed, in a research note, Kogi Iron's value proposition.

Posted on 8 July 2020 | 9:15 am

Tongaat, Barloworld appoint third party to check for material adverse change

JSE-listed companies Tongaat Hulett and Barloworld have appointed Rothschild and Co South Africa as the independent third party to evaluate whether a material adverse change (MAC) had occurred in the sale and purchase agreement terms between the companies. The sale and purchase agreement relates to sugar manufacturer Tongaat disposing of its starch business to a Barloworld subsidiary, KLL Group, which was first announced in February.

Posted on 8 July 2020 | 8:15 am

MTN maintains best network status in lockdown, rain hit by incorrect spectrum

Telecommunications giant MTN has, once again, been named South Africa’s best mobile network for the second quarter of 2020. The MyBroadband Insights quarterly Mobile Network Quality Report shows that MTN has a network quality score of 9.94 during South Africa’s lockdown, higher than its first quarter score of 9.69.

Posted on 8 July 2020 | 8:05 am

SAPVIA elects new board members

Solar energy industry body, the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA) has announced the names of its new board members. This follows their election during a recent annual general meeting.

Posted on 8 July 2020 | 7:58 am

Solar energy offers benefits for airports

Airports in Africa have the opportunity to implement solar energy projects that will have various benefits, ranging from environmental to financial, speakers said during an Africa Solar Industry Association (AFSIA-hosted) webinar on July 7. Barrett Energy principal Stephen Barrett said solar energy and airports were a good match owing to a number of elements. This includes airports already having existing on site load and electrical infrastructure.

Posted on 7 July 2020 | 3:52 pm

New science, tech policy book focuses on transformative policy making

A new book authored by a host of international scientists and policy advisors sets out the theories, approaches and lessons for how science, technology and innovation (STI) policy making should be developed to ensure the intended benefits of research, development, innovation, progress and development are achieved. An electronic book launch and discussion was held on July 7 for 'Innovation Policy at the Intersection: Global Debates and Local Experiences', which was edited by Dr Mlungisi Cele, Professor Thierry Luescher and Dr Angelina Wilson Fadiji.

Posted on 7 July 2020 | 3:28 pm

Tribunal fines Dis-Chem R1.2m for excessive pricing of face masks

The Competition Tribunal has ordered pharmacy group Dis-Chem Pharmacies to pay an administrative penalty of R1.2-million for allegedly charging excessive prices for surgical face masks during the Covid-19 pandemic. The tribunal says Dis-Chem contravened Section 8(1)(a) of the Competition Act in that it charged an excessive price for three types of surgical face masks to the detriment of consumers during March.

Posted on 7 July 2020 | 3:25 pm

Committee concerned about impact of new budget on electrification backlog target

While still in the process of reviewing the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s revised budget for the 2020/21 financial year, the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy has noted its revision to R7.8-billion, from R9.3-billion previously. The revised budget follows after Finance Minister Tito Mboweni announced a revised fiscal framework, taking into account Covid-19 factors.

Posted on 7 July 2020 | 3:19 pm

Correction: Kogi Iron

Mining Weekly incorrectly reported on July 7 that ASX-listed Kogi Iron had received a large investment from European fund management company Torridon Investments Research to develop its Agbaja cast steel project, in Nigeria. However, Torridon, which is a European fund manager with billions of dollars of resources assets under management, had only expressed, in a research note, Kogi Iron's value proposition.

Posted on 7 July 2020 | 3:18 pm

City of Johannesburg invites tech startups to submit Covid-19 mitigation ideas

The City of Johannesburg’s (CoJ’s) Smart City Office has invited startup technology companies to submit proposals for smart city innovative solutions in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and innovative ideas on how we can go into the future together. “The lockdown protocols have ignited new thinking about the future of our city and its residents. Therefore, the aim of the Smart City Innovation Challenge is to find and develop digital technology solutions that respond to urban and community challenges faced by the city in the new normal resulting from Covid-19,” the CoJ says.

Posted on 7 July 2020 | 3:18 pm

Covid death toll on mines rises to 21, positive cases at 3 119

The Covid-19 death toll in the mining industry has risen to 21, Minerals Council South Africa recorded on its website on Tuesday, with the number of Covid-positive cases totalling 3 119. Platinum mining, which employs the most people, continues to have the largest number of Covid deaths so far at 10, followed by gold mining with seven deaths, coal with two deaths and unstated sectors with another two deaths.

Posted on 7 July 2020 | 3:18 pm

Chicken producer lends support to food drive in Pretoria

A collaboration between the chicken industry and nonprofit organisations (NGOs) WeCan and Atterbury Trust has delivered hope to 222 vulnerable families in Pretoria in the form of food parcels. According to principal Erich Cloete, several of the families whose children attend Westerlig Primary School in the west of Pretoria live a hand-to-mouth existence that has been severely impacted by the lockdown.

Posted on 7 July 2020 | 2:48 pm

Cleaning company fined R250 000 following 2016 Sassa tender collusion

The Competition Tribunal has, after requesting and receiving further submissions from involved parties, confirmed a consent agreement whereby corporate cleaning company Quintax Cleaning Services has admitted to collusion in 2016 with regard to a South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) tender. The collusion was in contravention of Section 4(1)(b)(iii) of the Competition Act.

Posted on 7 July 2020 | 2:46 pm

Presidential Climate Change Coordinating Commission seen as key to navigating South Africa’s ...

A member of South Africa’s National Planning Commission has called for the Presidential Climate Change Coordinating Commission to be established, arguing that such a multi-stakeholder institutional platform is required to implement the just transition vision outlined in the country’s National Development Plan. Tasneem Essop, who was instrumental in writing the NDP chapter dealing with environmental sustainability and South Africa’s transition to a low-carbon economy, stressed during a virtual dialogue on July 7 that the principles for the just transition have already been agreed and that the focus should, thus, shift to implementation.

Posted on 7 July 2020 | 2:40 pm

Gauteng Covid-19 visualisation platform enables monitoring, prediction

A visual analytics tool allows Gauteng Government users to visualise prediction models provided by the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) to see predicted active Covid-19 cases, as well as predicted bed availability over time. This can help determine where to focus resources ahead of when they are needed to ensure hospitals are able to cope with the expected number of cases, IBM Research Africa software engineer Richard Young said. The platform was developed by IBM Research to help the Gauteng Government track the spread of the virus into various areas of the country over time, and help to make an informed response. It serves as a visual analytics tool where, instead of displaying statistics and charts, it allows users to drill down into areas of interest, analyse specific time periods, and cross filter on a number of dimensions such as age group and gender.

Posted on 7 July 2020 | 2:39 pm

ECSA chief says ‘new normal’ involves putting expertise together for greater good

Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) CEO Sipho Madonsela says the manner in which business operates has shifted and the need to heed the call for a “new normal” is now. His statement comes amid the continuing spread of Covid-19 throughout South Africa and while the measures taken to try to halt the spread of the pandemic has had a significantly negative impact on the economy and people's livelihoods.

Posted on 7 July 2020 | 2:34 pm

Emirates continues to restore its SkyCargo network

Air cargo operator Emirates SkyCargo, part of the Emirates airline group, has announced that it is this month resuming operations to another 14 cities around the world. This will take the total number of cities it serves to 100. The 14 additional cities that will now be served are Accra, Algiers, Athens, Fort Lauderdale, Glasgow, Larnaca, Los Angeles, Male, Moscow, Phnom Penh, Rome, Santiago, Sialkot and Tunis. (It is already serving Johannesburg.)

Posted on 7 July 2020 | 2:09 pm

South Africa's consumer confidence crashes to lowest level since 1985

Consumer confidence in South Africa plunged to its lowest in about 35 years during the second quarter of 2020, dragged down by the outbreak of Covid-19 and subsequent severe restrictions to almost all non-essential economic activity, a survey showed on Tuesday. The First National Bank/Bureau of Economic Research Consumer confidence index tumbled from an already depressed level of -9 in the first three months of this year to -33 during the second quarter, just three index points shy of the all-time lowest level recorded in 1985.

Posted on 7 July 2020 | 1:42 pm

Mazda unveils new BT-50, supplied by Isuzu

Mazda Motor Corporation has lifted the veil on its all-new Mazda BT-50 bakkie.  Fully redesigned for the first time in nine years, the new BT-50 is supplied by fellow Japanese manufacturer, Isuzu Motor Limited. 

Posted on 7 July 2020 | 1:36 pm

Debt sale may tell if investors can stomach South African glut

It could prove to be the bond auction that swamped the South African market. Demand at weekly sales of fixed-rate bonds has been well below average since the National Treasury raised issuance by 34% in May. Now it’s increasing the amount again, and the question is whether investors have the stomach to continue absorbing the pile of new debt at a cost the government can afford.

Posted on 7 July 2020 | 1:15 pm

Stenprop makes further acquisitions

UK multi-let industrial (MLI) property company Stenprop has acquired a further 43 500 ft2 of MLI property across four adjoining warehouse units in Stretton Business Park, in Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire. The £3.75-million acquisition reflects a net initial yield of 6.9% and a capital value of £86/ft2.

Posted on 7 July 2020 | 1:07 pm

CDC Group backs Helios IV with $100m commitment

UK development finance institution CDC Group has committed $100-million to Helios Investors IV, the fourth private equity fund raised by Helios Investment Partners, an Africa-focused private equity firm. The pan-African generalist fund will invest in and build companies across the continent.

Posted on 7 July 2020 | 1:06 pm