25 May

Cape Town’s water crisis proves we need to think about water in a new way

Cape Town caught the world’s attention earlier this year with dramatic headlines that it could become the world’s first major city to run out of water, joining an ever-growing line-up of major cities, regions and nations facing comparable threats, including São Paulo, Mexico City, Barcelona, Bangalore, Nairobi, California; and Australia and large parts of the Middle East and North Africa.

A tough water-saving regime helped push back Day Zero for dry taps in Cape Town to 2019. But the crises around the world have surfaced deep patterns of disconnect in our relationships with water. At the same time, at a local scale, water has emerged as a lens through which to view the complex dynamics of politics, governance, privilege and agency in one the world’s most unequal societies.

The Khoikhoi pastoralists, thought to be the original inhabitants of what is now Cape Town, were drawn to the slopes of Table Mountain around 2,000 years ago for the freshwater springs and rivers that flow year round. They named the place Camissa, the “place of sweet waters.” The natural abundance of water also drew early Dutch settlers here in the 17th century to establish a supply station for ships crossing the seas for the Dutch East India Company.

Aqueducts, channels, an old sand filtration system, and other relics of an extensive colonial-era water infrastructure can still be found on the mountain. The growing modern city long ago outstripped these natural resources, however, and these local waters disappeared from everyday life. Rivers and streams were encased in concrete, recharge areas for underground groundwater stores were paved over, and distant catchment areas were tapped to feed the city. At the same time millions of liters of fresh water were channeled from the city out to sea every day in storm-water drains.

But the Cape Town water supply remains as dependent as ever on surface water collected in dams from rivers, and the ecological health of these rivers has long been neglected.

Read more at: Quartz Africa


22 Feb

Gupta Empire Crumbles as Zuma Exits South African Presidency

For years, brothers Ajay, Atul and Rajesh Gupta were ranked among South Africa’s most prominent businessmen and socialized with the ruling elite, including their friend, then-President Jacob Zuma.

They weathered accusations that they’d exploited their political connections to land an aircraft at a high-security military base to ferry guests to a private wedding, installed their allies in key positions at state companies, tried to influence cabinet appointments and looted billions of rand of taxpayer funds. Law enforcement agencies took no visible action against them, saying only that investigations were ongoing.

That all changed on Feb. 14, when Zuma quit as president under pressure from the ruling African National Congress the same day the police’s Hawks investigative unit staged a dawn raid on the Guptas’ sprawling luxury estate in Johannesburg’s Saxonwold suburb. Some of their top lieutenants were arrested and the eldest brother, Ajay, was declared a fugitive.

The timing of the two events was no coincidence, according to Mark Swilling, a professor at Stellenbosch University who convened an academics’ study last year that concluded that the Zumas, the Guptas and their allies had orchestrated “a silent coup.”

“There is a multi-pronged attack on the Zuma-Gupta network,” Swilling said. “One of these was a political attack launched from within the ANC to get rid of Zuma as the linchpin of that power elite. Linked to that is another set of actions initiated by the criminal justice system to nail the Guptas.”

The Guptas arrived in South Africa from India in the early 1990s and built up a business empire with interests ranging from mining to pay television. They acquired a private jet and mansions from Cape Town to Dubai. Their business partners included Zuma’s son, Duduzane, and they employed one of his four wives.

The Guptas became household names in South Africa in 2013 when they secured access to the Waterkloof airforce base for their wedding guests.

To read the full article, click here. 

06 Feb

‘Only Flush When You Need to’ Is the Advice to Cape Town Execs

Executives flying into Cape Town for Africa’s biggest annual mining conference are immediately confronted by the city’s looming water crisis.

The city is reminding visitors to “only flush when you really need to” and there’s hand sanitizer instead of tap water at sinks in the conference centre.

Bath plugs are missing from hotel showers. And for jet-lagged executives or anyone who overindulges at the many cocktail parties, organizers say tea and coffee servings will be limited.

It’s a constant reminder that Cape Town is contending with its worst drought on record. At the same time, the city is hosting thousands of executives, government officials and investors for African Mining Indaba, which covers one of the continent’s most vital industries.

The water crisis is also coming up in meetings. Anglo American Plc’s South Africa deputy chairman quipped that one of his first questions when meeting its biggest shareholder, billionaire Anil Agarwal, would be, “Did you have a shower this morning?”

Conference Managing Director Alex Grose and his team went as far as rehearsing 60- to 90-second showers before heading down to Cape Town, he said in an interview on the sidelines of the event.

The organizers briefly discussed not holding the event in Cape Town this year but decided to go ahead after considering the economic effect on the city. “For us, it’s a big deal,” Grose said. “Everything’s been on the table.”

Organizers spent time making sure the thousands of delegates were educated on the need to save water. On the conference website, there are reminders such as “take short, stop-start showers” and “wash hands less frequently, instead of using hand sanitizer.”

The conference is also trucking in bottled water and buying some “undrinkable” supplies from the city that it’s paying to purify.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-06/-only-flush-when-you-need-to-is-the-advice-to-cape-town-execs

05 Feb

Culture Needs to Be `Less Alpha Male’: Africa Mining Update

Mining executives, investors and government ministers are meeting in drought-hit Cape Town for the African Mining Indaba, the continent’s biggest gathering of one of its most vital industries.

Recent multiyear highs for many commodities have the world’s biggest miners swimming in cash and new demand from electric vehicles mean once-overlooked metals like lithium and cobalt are grabbing the spotlight.

But it’s not all blue skies, as the industry grapples with regulatory changes and uncertainty in countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania, as well as host South Africa.

Here are the latest developments, updated throughout the day. (Time-stamps are local time in Cape Town.)

Mining Culture Needs to Be ‘Less Alpha Male’ (11:18a.m.)

The mining industry’s culture needs to become “less alpha male” and has a long way to go to create a workplace that includes women, said Mike Fraser, president and chief operating officer for Africa at Perth-based South32 Ltd.

From safety gear to facilities, the sector often doesn’t cater enough for women, he said. “Those kinds of conversations, whilst they are now emerging to the surface, are probably 20, 30, 40 years too late and I would say there’s still a significant amount of work we have to do.”

Ownership of South32’s South African energy-coal business will go beyond the government’s minimum requirements on black empowerment, Fraser said.

Rio’s Mines of the Future (10:45 a.m.)

Here’s a glimpse into how the world’s number two miner sees the future. Rio Tinto Group’s Bold Baatar, head of energy and minerals, said the company will be competing with the likes of Facebook Inc. and Google for workers as mining automation increases. Currently, two-thirds of Rio’s engineers are miners, but within a decade that number will be halved, he said.

He also echoed a popular point from the industry: governments often have too high expectations for the money to be made from mines and don’t factor in the costs.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-05/anglo-hopes-for-reset-button-in-s-africa-africa-mining-update


01 Feb

Coca-Cola to find ways to help with the provision of water to Cape Town

Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages (CCPB), in partnership with the Coca-Cola Foundation and suppliers, are busy working out how to provide millions of litres of water to the Western Cape and the City of Cape Town during the water crisis.

The initiative hinges on CCPB’s ability to make use of alternate water sources in order to supplement the use of municipal water.

Priscilla Urquhart, Public Affairs and Communications Manager at CCPB said that the “prepared water” will be provided in 2-litre recyclable PET bottles.

These bottles will clearly be marked ‘Not for resale’ and would also be produced to supply emergency sites which will be determined by the Provincial Task Team on Water and the Disaster Risk Management team.

CCPB has stated that they will be working closely with the authorities so that full approval of this water relief attempt will be authorised and approved.

CCPB has already implemented a discount structure with retailers on the BonAqua 1.5 litre still water so that consumers are able to attain this at an affordable price.

All non-flavoured Bonaqua and Valpre bottled water sold in the Western Cape is produced and brought in from outside the Western Cape.

CCPB is also involved in other initiatives to reduce the reliance on municipal water such as using professionally installed boreholes and facilitating the speedy issuing of the necessary licences to ensure that municipal water supplies are protected.

The company has installed a 1.5 million-litre bulk water tank at the plant in order to ensure a buffer in supply once the boreholes are approved and operational. It has also acquired three 33,000-litre food-grade water tankers to transport water from sources outside the water-stressed areas.

“We are deeply concerned by the water crisis facing the city and have implemented many changes and efficiencies across our operations to ensure it is being watered efficient,” said Urquhart.

As one of the main partners of the Cape Town Cycle Tour, CCPB will be using tankers to assist in delivering the 2-million litres of water required by the City for the race. The water is being sourced from areas outside of the Western Cape, unaffected by the water crisis.

“In addition, CCPB, has committed R1-m to fund an entrepreneurship initiative in conjunction with the City of Cape Town and Western Cape Government to fund new ideas that will stimulate the “water-wise economy” in the Western Cape,” said Urquhart.

Source: https://www.thesouthafrican.com/water-crisis-coca-cola-peninsula-beverages-to-find-ways-to-help/

26 Jan

Ramaphosa vows to help “bring water to Cape Town”

While the World Economic Forum comes to an end today, ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa has already left Davos and returned home.

Ramaphosa and team South Africa have been talking to global investors, politicians and the world’s media. While rooting out corruption was the main question, there were also plenty about the situation in Cape Town.

Minister in the Presidency Responsible for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Jeff Radebe said, said one of the government’s key priorities will be infrastructure maintenance regarding water systems in Cape Town.

With day zero now scheduled for April 12, Radebe committed that national government will assist the province and local spheres of government in dealing with the crisis.

“Especially its maintenance, because we have spent a lot of money as the South African government in the past few years, but on the maintenance, there are major challenges which explains why we are having some of the challenges of water in the Western Cape.”

As the current Deputy President of South Africa, Ramaphosa made the international media rounds on Thursday evening. In his interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, he also promised to help Cape Town in every way possible.

“Climate change is the reality… we in South Africa regarding Cape Town are now seeing the real effects of climate change. We’re facing a real, total disaster in Cape Town that will affect four million people. “

“I’m going back home and I’m going to get as many people as possible to put our heads together and see exactly what we should be doing, in the immediate and long-term. But in the immediate term, we have to make sure we bring water to the people of Cape Town without any fail.”

The statement from Ramaphosa comes less than a week after the Department of Water and Sanitation vowed to provide specialist equipment to gain access to the last 10% in the dams, water normally impossible to extract.

Source: https://www.thesouthafrican.com/ramaphosa-water-cape-town/

08 Dec

Will Cape Town Run Out of Water?

If “Day Zero” comes, the 4 million residents of South Africa’s second-biggest city will face a catastrophe.

Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille says she has a new reason to hate Mondays.

That’s when she gets weekly reports on levels in the dams that supply South Africa’s second-biggest city, and on how much water its 4 million residents are using. The numbers regularly show that “Day Zero”—when most taps could stop running—will probably arrive in May, a month or two before the onset of the winter rains.

“We have to change our relationship with water,” said De Lille, who has filled in her swimming pool and stopped washing her car. She spends 70 percent of her working day dealing with the crisis. “We have to plan for being permanently in a drought-stricken area,” she said in in her office on the sixth floor of the Cape Town civic center.

Cape Town, whose lush, stunning setting induced explorer Francis Drake in 1580 to call it “the most stately thing and the fairest cape we ever saw,” risks running dry. The severity of the crisis, brought on by three years of poor rains and surging water demand, is highly unusual even at a time of climate extremes, said Bob Scholes, a professor of systems ecology at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

“Running out of water in places that have a highly developed water infrastructure is not that common,”  he said. “I know of no example of a city the size of Cape Town running out of water. It would be quite catastrophic.”

The water shortage has become staple dinner-table and radio talk show conversation, and a Facebook group on how to save water and prepare for outages has drawn more than 121,000 followers. Rainwater-tank suppliers and borehole companies are doing a roaring trade as those residents who can pay seek to reduce their reliance on the municipal grid.

Massmart Ltd.’s building supply chain Builders Warehouse, which sells the tanks, and driller De Wets Water & Boreholes both have waiting lists of at least six months.

To read the full article, click here.

10 Aug

Weaker inflation ups real South African economic transaction activity

transactional activity

Cape Town – For the first time in 10 months, economic transactional activity in South Africa picked up in real terms on a year-on-year basis in July, according to the latest BankservAfrica Economic Transactions Index (BETI) released on Thursday.

According to the BETI report it was mainly due to weaker inflation.

At the same time the index reflected slow growth on a quarterly and monthly basis.

The monthly transactional activity – as measured by BankservAfrica’s national payment system – for July showed a 0.6% year-on-year increase in the actual value of transactions.

“This change is the result of a very weak July 2016 which saw the transaction values fall out of the current annual numbers. Therefore, the annual increase is a ‘base effect’ that lifts the actual index numbers above last year’s lows,” explained Mike Schüssler, chief economist at Economists dotcoza.

The quarterly numbers are negative due to the very low May 2017 BETI numbers and follow from the sovereign credit rate downgrades for SA by the global ratings agencies.

Schüssler told Fin24 that the BETI shows how the uncertainty in the SA economy is just dragging on. It makes consumers hesitant about spending. They might, for instance, rather opt to buy a cheap laptop, eat at fast food outlets perceived to be less expensive than restaurants and shop at general merchants rather than upmarket stores.

“They will buy cheap, because their outlook is rather shorter term,” said Schüssler.

The same tendency goes for businesses, where they would, according to Schüssler, rather buy stock in smaller quantities and more often than in big quantities.

“The uncertainty created in the run-up to the downgrades and the changing of the minister of finance, has grabbed hold of SA businesses and creates a problem for all of us. Everybody rather buys something they can pay off in two to three months than taking on long term repayments,” said Schüssler.

“They are watching their costs and do not want to take on more risk.”

Between June and July, the BETI declined by 0.2%. This, however, is minor in comparison to other monthly declines since 2015.

In July, the number of transactions increased by 6.7% on a year-on-year basis, but the average value per transaction declined by 1.3% on a year-on-year basis. The standardised value of transactions for July was R789.2bn, a 5.4% year-on-year upturn.

In the last 43 months, 21 of the monthly changes in the BETI have been declines and one month had no change, while the other 21 months showed increases. These are all indicative of a flat economy, according to Schüssler.

“There is hope that further interest rate reductions will boost consumer confidence and a better understanding of the economic situation by policymakers will help the SA economy,” he said.

24 Jul

The top 10 wealthiest cities in Africa: AfrAsia Bank & New World Wealth

AfrAsia Bank and New World Wealth recently reviewed the 10 wealthiest cities in Africa by total wealth held.

“Total wealth” refers to the private wealth held by all the individuals living in each city. It includes all their assets (property, cash, equities and business interests) less any liabilities. We exclude government funds from our figures.

Top 10 Cities:

  • Johannesburg: Total wealth held in the city amounts to US$245 billion. Home to 18,200 millionaires (HNWIs), 970 multi-millionaires and 2 billionaires. Our figures for Johannesburg include Sandton. Major sectors in the city include: financial services (banks, accountancies, insurance), professional services (law firms), construction, telecoms and basic materials.
  • Cairo: Total wealth held in the city amounts to US$140 billion. Home to 8,900 millionaires, 480 multi-millionaires and 5 billionaires. Major sectors in the city include: real estate & construction, financial services and basic materials.
  • Cape Town: Total wealth held in the city amounts to US$135 billion. Home to 8,200 millionaires, 440 multi-millionaires and 2 billionaires. Major sectors in the city include: real estate, financial services (fund management), retail and tourism. Cape Town is also a second home hotspot for the wealthy with over 1,500 multi-millionaires living in the city during peak holiday months (many of these individuals are from outside South Africa).
  • Lagos: Total wealth held in the city amounts to US$120 billion. Home to 6,800 millionaires, 360 multi-millionaires and 4 billionaires. Major sectors in the city include: real estate & construction, telecoms, transport, financial services and basic materials.
  • Nairobi: Total wealth held in the city amounts to US$55 billion. Home to 6,800 millionaires and 280 multi-millionaires (no billionaires). Major sectors in the city include: financial services, real estate & construction, retail, tourism, FMCG, telecoms and basic materials.
  • Luanda: Total wealth held in the city amounts to US$48 billion. Home to 4,100 millionaires, 240 multi-millionaires and one billionaire. Major sectors in the city include: real estate & construction, transport and basic materials (oil & gas).
  • Durban: Total wealth held in the city amounts to US$46 billion. Home to 3,200 millionaires, 130 multi-millionaires and one billionaire. Our figures for Durban include Umhlanga, Ballito, Zimbali and La Lucia. Major sectors in the city include: real estate, finance, healthcare, construction, retail and transport.
  • Pretoria: Total wealth held in the city amounts to US$42 billion. Home to 2,600 millionaires and 110 multi-millionaires (no billionaires). Major sectors in the city include: basic materials, manufacturing and financial services.
  • Casablanca: Total wealth held in the city amounts to US$40 billion. Home to 2,300 millionaires, 110 multi-millionaires and 2 billionaires. Major sectors in the city include: basic materials, manufacturing and financial services.
  • Accra: Total wealth held in the city amounts to US$35 billion. Home to 2,300 millionaires and 100 multi-millionaires (no billionaires). Major sectors in the city include: basic materials, manufacturing and financial services.

Read More: African Business Central