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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.

Transnet revamping concessions model to speed up private involvement in rail and ports

State-owned freight logistics group Transnet is in the process of overhauling its approach to opening up its port and rail networks, including 8 000-km of branch lines, to private participants, acknowledging that its previous models have been far to slow and cumbersome. CEO Portia Derby said the group was prioritising the leveraging of private sector investment across several of its operations in support of government’s persistent call for the total cost of logistics to be reduced.

Posted on 23 October 2020 | 5:00 pm

The CSIR unveils its new logo and branding

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Technology (CSIR), South Africa’s pre-eminent multidisciplinary research and development agency, revealed its new logo and branding on Friday. Its previous logo was the just the letters CSIR, but with the C, S and I linked together and the apparently capital I surmounted by a tittle (a superscript dot) like a small i. The slogan (formally called a ‘positioning statement’) underneath was “our future through science” (all in small letters). The new logo has the agency’s initials as separate capitals – C S I R – and accompanied by a broken circle containing highly stylised human figures and other shapes, in the colours of the national flag (see the accompanying illustration). The new positioning statement is “Touching lives through innovation”. The dropping of the tittle over the letter i is to stress that it is a capital I and so to symbolically rank the word ‘Industrial’ equally with ‘Scientific’, explained the CSIR in its announcement.

Posted on 23 October 2020 | 2:48 pm

Maritime industry grappling with cyber-physical security as IT/OT converge

A panel of maritime and cybersecurity experts on October 21 discussed the changing demands on the maritime industry to ensure the physical security of vessels and shore side infrastructure and operations as information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) converge. The convergence is opening up new attack surfaces that can impact the critical OT systems that underpin the operations and safety of vessels and maritime supply chains.

Posted on 23 October 2020 | 1:44 pm

Airlines eye deals with South Africa's Airlink as SAA, Comair falter

South Africa's Airlink is in talks with several foreign airlines seeking to increase their reach in southern Africa at a time when major regional carriers South African Airways and Comair remain grounded, its CE told Reuters. The talks come as Southern African airspace reopens following Covid-19 restrictions, which have battered the global travel sector.

Posted on 23 October 2020 | 1:36 pm

Nissan to launch small Magnite SUV in local market in 2021

Japanese car maker Nissan has confirmed that it will bring the newly launched Magnite sports-utility vehicle (SUV) to the local market early next year. Pricing will only be announced nearer to the domestic launch, however.

Posted on 23 October 2020 | 1:18 pm

Eskom's State of the System briefing

Eskom delivered its State of the System briefing this week. Engineering News editor Terence Creamer attended the session and unpacks the prognosis for electricity supply for the summer months.

Posted on 23 October 2020 | 12:07 pm

Brazilian aerospace group delivered 28 civilian jets during the third quarter

Brazilian aerospace and defence group Embraer has announced that it delivered a total of 28 commercial and executive jets during the third quarter of this year. These were divided into seven airliners of its ‘E-Jet’ family and 21 executive jets. The company is the world’s number one manufacturer of commercial jets with up to 150 seats. It is also a major producer of executive jets, as well as military and agricultural aircraft, and additionally is active in other defence and the space sectors. The seven commercial jets delivered comprised six E175 and one E190. The E175 can carry 76 passengers in two classes or 88 seats in maximum density single class, over a range of 4 074 km. The E190 can accommodate 96 passengers in two classes or 114 in maximum density single class, for a distance of 4 537 km.

Posted on 23 October 2020 | 11:49 am

The Wine Farmer project launched to combat damaging effects of lockdown on industry

The Southern African Agri Initiative (Saai) has launched a new wine marketing project, The Wine Farmer, which is an online wine shop aimed at making family farm wines available to consumers across South Africa at cellar door prices. The project is based at the Marianne Wine Estate, in Stellenbosch.

Posted on 23 October 2020 | 10:58 am

Redefine diversifies into Polish logistics market

Despite sentiment towards global real estate having fallen sharply, the outlook for the Polish logistics sector has improved significantly as a result of Covid-19, says Redefine Europe CEO Pieter Prinsloo. Speaking during real estate investment trust (Reit) Redefine Properties’ Polish market update webinar on October 23, he elaborated that the European market in 202 saw “exceptional demand” from tenants for space close to urban clusters, as well as a growing preference for ecommerce and a rethink of supply chains.

Posted on 23 October 2020 | 10:56 am

BLSA implores Mboweni to prioritise revenue collection in MTBPS

In an open letter from Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) addressed to Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, the organisation asks that the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) "aggressively trim remaining fat" towards efficient revenue collection in the country. On behalf of business, BLSA calls for meaningful restraint on the public sector wage bill and that priority be given to necessary social and recovery spending.

Posted on 23 October 2020 | 10:40 am

Covid-19 will not affect current capex, but future projects are dependent on recovery, says Trac

The Covid-19 pandemic will not affect the rollout of the current R1.6-billion of capital projects along the N4, says Trans African Concessions (Trac) CEO Alex van Niekerk. TRAC manages the N4 Toll Route between Tshwane, Gauteng, and the Maputo port, in Mozambique.

Posted on 23 October 2020 | 10:22 am

Earth observation market to support precision agriculture forecast to double in a decade

A recently published study has predicted that the global market for Earth observation (EO) for agricultural applications will be worth more than $815-million by 2029. The study, ‘EO4AG – Earth Observation for Agriculture’, was jointly compiled by TerraMetric (an American-domiciled global business development company with specialised agricultural market expertise) and Euroconsult (an international consulting and research company). The 2029 market prediction represents an about 100% increase over the current value of this market. The main driver of this expansion will be the private sector, enabled by the achievement over the next few years of almost worldwide broadband coverage. However, sales to government agencies will remain significant.

Posted on 23 October 2020 | 9:18 am

Dept reaffirms commitment to implement water projects in KZN

The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) in KwaZulu-Natal has maintained that it will oversee the speedy implementation of water infrastructure projects across the province. This comes as the provincial water storage continued to decline week-on-week to 52.1% this week from 52.7% last week.

Posted on 23 October 2020 | 8:00 am

Oil demand may see lasting impact from pandemic, World Bank says

Oil demand could see “lasting impacts” from the coronavirus while modest gains are projected in metals and agriculture prices as commodity markets recover from the shock of the pandemic, according to the World Bank. The World Bank boosted its projections from April for the average oil price in 2020 and 2021 to $41 a barrel and $44, respectively, as a slow recovery in demand is matched by an easing in supply restrictions. That still leaves prices well below 2019 levels of $61. Outside of energy, a small decline in metal prices will be offset by an increase in agricultural prices this year.

Posted on 23 October 2020 | 7:51 am

Winde appeals to Ramaphosa, Mboweni over SAA R10bn bailout

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde has appealed to the national government to "think carefully" about a possible bailout for South African Airways (SAA). He said all the provinces desperately need everything they can get, to recover from the Covid-19 lockdown and job losses.

Posted on 23 October 2020 | 7:41 am

Umgeni Water CEO resigns with immediate effect

Thamsanqa Hlongwa has resigned as the chief executive of Umgeni Water with immediate effect, the State-owned entity announced on Thursday. In a note to shareholders, South Africa's second largest water board said that Hlongwa's resignation had been accepted.

Posted on 23 October 2020 | 7:39 am

Ramatlakane says it will be a challenge, but ’wrong things’ at PRASA must be fixed

PRASA's woes must be resolved so that it can deliver cheaper, safe and reliable public transport to South Africa's working class, former ANC MP Leonard Ramatlakane said shortly after he was named as the new chairman of the embattled entity. "All the wrong things must be dealt with and we must restore reliability, punctuality, safety and affordability to our trains," he told African News Agency (ANA).

Posted on 23 October 2020 | 7:35 am

Air Seychelles announces flights between Johannesburg and the Maldives

Air Seychelles announced on Thursday that it was instituting summer season flights from Johannesburg to the Maldives. These would be operated via a short stop in the Seychelles themselves. The flights would run from December 2 this year to January 9 next year. The flights from Johannesburg to the Maldives would be operated on Fridays, while the return flights would be on Saturdays. Total flight time (one way) would be less than nine hours.

Posted on 23 October 2020 | 7:26 am

AI-powered tool improves document analysis for legal use

South African artificial intelligence (AI) consulting company Deep Learning Café has launched an AI-powered tool that is able to sort through large volumes of data to find specific search phrases, improving the efficiency of document analysis for legal use. This is particularly useful for smaller law firms that will be able to take on larger cases that require more research and resources, Deep Learning Café founder Dries Cronje says.

Posted on 23 October 2020 | 7:00 am

Eskom moves to appoint advisers to structure 'green' transaction

South Africa’s coal-heavy power utility is moving to appoint financial advisers to assist it in structuring a potential transaction that could unlock discounted ‘green’ funding for the debt-laden State-owned entity in return for it meeting agreed decarbonisation targets. Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter reports that the utility has issued and enquiry through which it aims to secure the services of financial advisers with expertise in structuring green-finance deals and reports that several of its existing lenders, especially development finance institutions (DFIs), have expressed an appetite for participating in the arrangement.

Posted on 22 October 2020 | 3:55 pm

Unilever ring-fences €1bn for Clean Future initiative

Consumer goods company Unilever has launched its Clean Future initiative, which is aimed at engendering sustainability in the way it produces products and renders services. During a virtual launch of the initiatives on October 22, the company explained that it was seeking to transform its cleaning products to become lower carbon and lower waste, while still delivering the same quality of performance, or even enhancing it in some instances, through scientific developments.

Posted on 22 October 2020 | 3:23 pm

Afreximbank ready to raise up to $5bn for Covid-19 vaccines for Africa - CDC head

The African Export Import Bank is ready to raise up to $5-billion to purchase COVID-19 vaccines for African countries, the head of the continent’s disease control body told Reuters on Thursday. John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said Africa needs to be pro-active in the race to secure vaccines for the novel coronavirus that has infected more than 41 million people globally.

Posted on 22 October 2020 | 3:22 pm

Cabinet confirms PRASA board appointments

Cabinet on October 22 confirmed the names of the new board of control of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA). Leonard Ramatlakane is chairperson of the PRASA board.

Posted on 22 October 2020 | 2:49 pm

Fronting still a major issue in delivering on economic transformation, says commission

“Fronting”, where a person of color or entity is given a stake but does not get the powers associated with it, remains the biggest challenge to the power of the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) Act to deliver on economic transformation, the BBBEE Commission warns. Speaking at the launch of the commission’s Investigations and Enforcement Webinar Session, BBBEE commissioner Zodwa Ntuli said that, of the 822 complaints received since 2016, 687 (83.5%) were due to fronting.

Posted on 22 October 2020 | 2:28 pm

University of Pretoria team come second in Brics youth energy event

A South African team took second place in the recent 2020 Brics Youth Energy Outlook event, hosted in Moscow. Brics is the acronym for the Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa alignment and the Youth Energy Outlook involves teams of young researchers submitting papers on energy and the energy sectors of their countries. The recent 2020 event was the third edition of the initiative and involved 190 researchers from 42 leading universities from the five Brics countries.  It was a team from the University of Pretoria that secured second place for South Africa. The researchers involved were team leader and PhD candidate Vanessa Ndlovu, research assistant and PhD candidate Jessika Bohlmann, PhD student Alanda Venter, PhD student Jacobus Nel, and Masters student Ashley Gandy. (First place was taken by a Brazilian team.)

Posted on 22 October 2020 | 1:30 pm

SA parliament concerned about governance and finance challenges at Denel

South Africa’s parliament said on Thursday it was concerned about the governance and financial challenges at state arms manufacturer Denel. In a statement, the portfolio committee on public enterprises said it had heard from Denel officials during a briefing that the struggling firm suffered an unaudited loss of R1.8-billion for the 2019/20 financial year, due to a significant decline in revenue and poor programme management.

Posted on 22 October 2020 | 1:10 pm

Procurement of 11.8 GW only the ‘first step’ in full elimination of load-shedding threat ...

State-owned power utility Eskom, which is ramping up the maintenance of its unreliable and unpredictable coal power stations, anticipates that there will be a ‘step change’ in the performance of the fleet from April 2021, but has also warned that the risk of load-shedding will persist until at least September and will not be fully eliminated until significant new generation capacity is introduced. In fact, CEO Andre de Ruyter said during a ‘State of the System’ briefing on Thursday that far more capacity than the 11.8 GW of new non-Eskom generation earmarked for procurement by government over the coming three years would be needed to stabilise supply and create the platform for future economic growth.

Posted on 22 October 2020 | 1:10 pm

Resgen requests trading halt ahead of announcement

Trading of energy resources company Resource Generation's (Resgen's) securities on the ASX and the JSE will temporarily be halted, at the company’s request, until October 26. The company’s decision to halt security trading follows its reliance on formalising an extension to the first repayment date under the facility agreement with Noble Group and securing access to additional working capital to cover the period through to financial close and the first drawdown of funds to develop the Boikarabelo coal project.

Posted on 22 October 2020 | 11:58 am

Solidarity union blasts government over Denel

The Solidarity trade union has accused government Ministers of failing to support each other, as well as defence industrial group Denel, regarding the future of the financially-beleaguered State-owned entity. In a letter to the Denel board of directors and a number of Ministers, notably Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, the union asserted that the expressions of support by the Ministers were purely for public consumption and that their actions did not ...

Posted on 22 October 2020 | 11:57 am

Solidarity Fund marks progress

The Solidarity Fund says that, while there will be a time when its work will no longer be needed, that time has not come yet and, until it does, the fund will continue to work with partners and stakeholders to support the country. As of October 15, the fund had received more than R3.12-billion of the R3.16-billion pledged by businesses, governments and individuals and had allocated R2.26-billion and disbursed over R1.36-billion.

Posted on 22 October 2020 | 11:47 am

Furniture Industry Masterplan to be finalised in coming months – DTIC

The Furniture Industry Masterplan (FIMP) has been submitted to all relevant stakeholders and will be finalised and implemented in the coming months, Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) agroprocessing and forestry-based industries chief director Ncumisa Mcata-Mhlauli confirms. The FIMP was established to set clear guidelines and targets for the furniture manufacturing industry, as well as guide public sector procurement as part of government's efforts to support and stimulate the industry.

Posted on 22 October 2020 | 11:42 am

Fund establishes collective investment scheme with an infrastructure focus

South Africa’s first preference shares with an infrastructure focus were listed on October 22 on 4 Africa Exchange (4AX), Gaia Fund Managers and Kruger International Asset and Wealth Management confirmed. Gaia, together with Kruger, is listing Gaia Fund 1 (the Fund), which complies with Collective Investment Scheme regulations. The Fund’s A preference shares will trade under the ticker 4AGF1A on 4AX.

Posted on 22 October 2020 | 11:39 am

Covid has highlighted the value of operating remotely – mining editor

The extraction of data from machinery to improve decision-making is a key benefit of the digital mine and has changed the way that mines manage their assets and perform machine maintenance, Australia Mining managing editor Ben Creagh said on Wednesday. Creagh was speaking during a virtual presentation at which ifm Australia’s Freddie Coertze described the Covid-19 pandemic as a catalyst for the prioritisation of digitisation and Aditya Kunder outlined how software was updatable over the air and how modern car and cellphone technology was being industrialised in robust form for migration to mining.

Posted on 22 October 2020 | 11:36 am

Altron delivers growth during lockdown

JSE-listed technology company Allied Electronics (Altron) has achieved double-digit growth in revenue and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) from continuing operatons during the six months to August 31, 2020. The group’s Ebitda increased 17% to R883-million for the first half of the year, while revenue increased 14% to R8.4-billion.

Posted on 22 October 2020 | 11:11 am

Numsa to picket at RMI, Mibco offices

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) will hold a march to all the offices of the Retail Motor Industry (RMI) on October 27 to hand over memorandums of demands at each venue. The RMI is an employer body representing many component manufacturers in the automotive industry.

Posted on 22 October 2020 | 10:58 am

Mantashe reiterates energy sector efforts to complement economic recovery plan

During a sitting of Parliament on the debate of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe has reiterated government’s targets to deliver 16 313 MW of additional electricity generation capacity from a mix of energy sources. Mantashe pointed out that an already recessive economy, coupled with the descent of the pandemic and the lockdown to halt its spread, as well as downgrades by ratings agencies, had increased the reliance on a recovery plan to provide reliable and affordable supply of energy.

Posted on 22 October 2020 | 10:47 am

Tunnelling works progressing at Lesotho Highlands Water Project

Underground tunneling works inside the two Polihali diversion tunnels are progressing well, with excavations advancing from the outlets at about 6 m a day per tunnel at the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) site. So far, the excavation of the intake and outlet portals have been completed and work on the tunnels’ concrete lining is under way, with concrete casting and reinforcement having been started on tunnel one. Both tunnels’ intake and outlet portal drives have been supported with sprayed concrete and rock bolts and preparatory works for the concrete inlet structure are also ongoing.

Posted on 22 October 2020 | 10:41 am

South African Cabinet approves export tax on chrome ore

South Africa, the world's biggest chrome producer, has approved measures to support the domestic ferrochrome industry including through an export tax on chrome ore, according to a Cabinet statement on Thursday. "The interventions include the proposed introduction of the export tax on chrome ore, the usage of energy efficiency technologies on smelters, and the adoption of cogeneration and self-generation technologies," said Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu, reading the statement. He did not disclose details of the export tax.

Posted on 22 October 2020 | 10:17 am