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Additional broadband for universities and research institutions

Towards the end of the year, all South African universities and public research institutions are going to have ability to access internet broadband, at a speed comparable to that of more developed nations.

South Africa’s Department of Higher Education and Training has revealed that R886-million (US$117-million) is going to be invested in linking local universities and public research organisations, by way of a broadband connection with a minimum speed of 10 gigabits per second.

The development signals a whole new era in research and cooperation for South Africa. It places the country on a par with the rest of the developed world for the very first time.



South Africa’s message to overseas scientists is apparent. “Scientists will have the opportunity to come to the country, with the knowledge that they are able to access the exact same quality ICT services as they are used to in their home countries,” says Christiaan Kuun, project manager for the South African National Research Network (SANReN)

The SANReN forms a part of the government’s goal to grow scientific infrastructure and develop a new national research and education network (NREN) in South Africa.

The SANReN project, which happens to be an initiative of the Department of Science and Technology, started in 2007 to develop an enabling information technology environment for students and researchers at tertiary institutions.

SANReN for rural areas

As reported by the Meraka Institute at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), tertiary institutions in rural areas are the latest to reap some benefits from the SANReN roll-out.

The Meraka Institute manages implementation and oversight of the project. The institute concentrates on advancement and research in information technology.

Included in phase two of the project, infrastructure development is going to be expanded to smaller, rural universities and satellite campuses throughout the country.



The University of Venda and its satellite campuses in the North West province, Limpopo, and the Eastern Cape amongst others, are going to connect later in the year to SANReN the very first time.

This will insure that it is possible to access the internet at a minimum speed of one gigabit per second.

Phase one, which was completed late last year, made it feasible for 105 tertiary and research councils, included in this 23 educational institutions and eight science councils, to connect to SANReN.

The South African Large Telescope (Salt) and the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) internet connections were at the same time finalised in the first phase, which now makes it possible for local and international scientists to process large quantities of data every day.


How it works


The SANReN national ring network links all South Africa’s major cities – Durban, Pretoria, Johannesburg, Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and East London -with each other. This connection provides a speed of 10 gigabits per second.

International connectivity is supplied via the Seacom undersea cable along with a joint collaboration with the Tertiary Education and Research Network of South Africa and international networks such as G√ČANT, a pan-European research and education network.


ICT for Education


Prof Hlengiwe Mkhize, deputy minister of higher education, states that the network forms part of the government’s aspiration to fast track research and education capabilities through ICT at all tertiary institutions, with top priority given to rural based institutions.

Mkhize represented the country at the Southern African ICT for Education Summit held at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe on 26 and 27 January.


Significant investment


Government has made a significant investment in various projects and infrastructure, of which SANReN forms a part.

Government-owned telecommunications company Sentech is establishing a national wireless broadband network focussing on rural access.

Broadband Infraco, also government owned, is modernizing its network to boost capacity and reach.



The government has additionally invested in submarine cable projects including the West Africa Cable System (Wacs) and the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy).

Wacs is an under-construction submarine communications cable linking South Africa with the United Kingdom running along the west coast of Africa.

EASSy is an undersea fibre optic cable system linking countries of eastern Africa to the rest of the world.

According to Mkhize, EASSy will provide an extra eight terabits to the country.


SA’s global IT ranking


The 2010-2011 Global Information Technology Report from the World Economic Forum ranks South Africa 61st of 138 countries on its networked readiness index.

The index analyzes a county’s IT readiness in three areas: the regulatory, infrastructure and business environment for IT in the country; the readiness of business, government and individuals (three key groups identified) to use and benefit from IT; and actual ICT usage figures by these groups.

For the second consecutive year, Sweden and Singapore were placed first and second respectively. Overall, Nordic and Asian countries lead in the readiness ratings.

South Africa has both good and bad points in this regard. Its regulatory environment is excellent, however its individual readiness and uptake of ICT remains low.

The high cost of access to ICT in South Africa is an additional challenge. However, SANReN is dealing with this problem.

This lies at the centre of the skills challenge in South Africa, admitted Mkhize.

Approximately three-million young people in rural and semi-urban areas have the most pressing educational needs, she stated.

While government’s investments is going a considerable way to enhance the future of rural students, in order for ICT investments to be meaningful, a holistic approach is required, she added.

“Above everything, we need to utilize centres of higher learning as hubs of technology transfer.”

Source: mediaclubsouthafrica.com


Tourism to generate more than 10 000 work opportunities

Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk

The National Department of Tourism is going to bring about 10 270 full time work opportunities in the current financial year, along with roughly 530 small rural enterprises will most likely at the same time be supported, according to Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk.

Presenting his department’s Budget Vote, van Schalkwyk said the work opportunities will likely be created via the Social Responsibility Implementation (SRI) programme and the Tourism Enterprise Partnership (TEP).

The department in addition planned to invest R253 million in 2011 financial year to finance tourism projects which had been aligned to the Expanded Public Works Programme.

“We believe that this will likely make it easier for the transfer of wealth to poor and rural communities by amongst others guaranteeing ownership of assets as well as the facilitation of skills development,” he explained.

Strategies were in addition going ahead to boost the volume of foreign tourist arrivals to South Africa from 7 million in 2009 to 15 million by 2020, not to mention tourism’s overall contribution towards the economy from R189 billion in 2009 to R499 billion by 2020.

The quantity of domestic tourists may possibly also increase from 14.6 million in 2009 to 18 million by 2020 and in addition create 225 000 new jobs by 2020.

Van Schalkwyk explained that government bodies would undoubtedly at the same time be utilizing the department’s budget to promote new growth by being able to access markets unlocked by the World Cup.

“In this perspective, we envisage maximising the importance of our involvement in numerous international and regional tourism platforms. We will look for cooperation together with other African partners to be able to make a difference to the economic prosperity of our continent as a result of tourism.”

The department is going to further develop a Tourism International Relations Strategy to tactically guide our events at multi-lateral level, which includes South Africa’s involvement in the BRICS formation.

The travel and leisure sector, subsequently, also embraces the projected launch by South African Airways of a non-stop service to New York in May 2011 as well as a direct service to China towards the end of 2011, in addition to Air France’s scheduled launch of a completely new thrice weekly non-stop service from Paris to Cape Town in November 2011, stated the minister.

With regards to responsible and low carbon tourism, van Schalkwyk explained he has been worried about the deficiency of harmonisation of accreditation certification and labelling within the tourism industry.

There was clearly a number of “very admirable” private sector and civil society driven initiatives which have produced systems of integrity, but “most of these are typically in silos and really should find broader application.”

“This regulatory vacuum with regards to the tourism sector regrettably produces the space for abuse and green-washing. Furthermore, it is not going to effectively reward those who work in the industry that do engage in leadership functions simply by investing in low carbon, ethical, clean and green tourism transformation,” said van Schalkwyk.

The department is going to in the near future publish the National Minimum Standard for Responsible Tourism in the current financial year. The minister explained these kinds of benchmarks will deal with numerous proportions of green and responsible tourism, which includes biodiversity conservation, energy consumption and water use.

Source: BuaNews


SA to reap benefits as a result of joining Bric


South Africa’s membership to the Bric group of emerging economies will prove to add value and benefits to the country’s trade and exports, President Jacob Zuma said.

“It is going to positively encourage and promote the development of trade and investment which boosts industrialization and stimulates job creation,” said Zuma.


In economics, BRIC can be described as a grouping acronym that makes reference to the countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China, who are all considered to generally be at a comparable phase of newly advanced economic development. It is usually rendered as “the BRICs” or “the BRIC countries” or as an alternative as the “Big Four”.

He was addressing a question in the National Assembly with regards to the benefits associated with being a member of the Brazil, Russia, India and China grouping. South Africa becoming a member of the bloc would most likely take it from Bric to Bricsa.

Zuma talked about the business opportunities and possibilities offered for South Africa to do business with the various other Bricsa members were “fantastic”.


“We at the same time co-operate as members in the aspects of finance, agriculture, statistics, justice development, finance institutions, business development and exchange in addition to academia.

“Completely new elements of co-operation are increasingly being given consideration when it comes to science and technology, culture, sport, climate change and energy.”


He explained the “influence,effect and impact” associated with the grouping was increasingly being felt internationally and that South Africa’s membership connected the African continent to other countries in the world.

South Africa is going to participate in its very first meeting as a member of the group on 14 April.

Source: southafrica.info


Pravin Gordhan rethinks economic transformation

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan

In order to meet the ambitious target of developing the overall economy by seven percent per annum, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan suggests the country will need to redefine its economic transformation strategy.

“All of us would need to redefine economic transformation. We have been in simple terms mimicking precisely what the previous elite did … all of us choose to wear precisely the same attire and drive precisely the same cars. Where is the social conscience of the new elite?” asked Gordhan, who was addressing the Investment Forum of the Association of Black Securities and Investment Professionals Student Chapter (ABSIP) at Wits University.

During the past year, the minister explained that South Africa’s GDP required a growth of seven percent to be able to really transform the overall economy. On Monday, the minister for a second time remarked that the South African economy simply cannot afford to grow somewhere between three and five percent.

“All of us need to develop a different model of growth,” he mentioned, adding the fact that this was at the same time necessary to tackle economic inequality.


“It truly is crucial to set in place the appropriate aspirations for South Africa as well as ensure that our economy ends up being globally competitive,” he explained to the two-day forum.

Investment was in fact of utmost importance for the purpose of economic growth and development, Gordhan suggested, adding the fact that the younger generation had a vital role to play.

“We have reached a phase in our development precisely where all of us need to make clear what we need to do,” he was quoted saying at the talks titled “Awakening Investment Potential.”

Gordhan explained that the modern world was in fact transforming and in addition beneficiaries should not necessarily simply be the elite. To be able to establish an environment for investment, a county’s savings at the same time performed a function, said the minister.

“The particular challenge is whether or not a country possesses a sufficient amount of savings … You will find significant imbalances of investment, savings and consumption. The real question is how you would rebalance. We now have a significant savings gap; we do not save adequate amounts in South Africa.”

Concerning the issue of “hot” capital inflows into South Africa, the minister explained these types of inflows had appreciated the local currency and in addition created a certain amount of instability.

There was clearly also a requirement to be able to develop an environment in which small business would most likely prosper.

Relating to the debate of nationalising the nation’s mines, Gordhan said: “It is simply not our policy as South Africa. We certainly have a vital contribution to make to develop the appropriate climate when it comes to economic growth. We will need to do what it requires to create the suitable confidence in our overall economy.”

Source: BuaNews, africa.ibtimes.com, bbc.co.uk


IDC ploughs billions into South African economy

The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) has dedicated R25 billion to innovative opportunities within the country’s green economy over the up coming five years.

The statement was made by Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel in Parliament.

While addressing the National Assembly, Patel stated that Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan is going to declare additional monetary commitments which will be presented in the Budget to encourage business opportunities within this sector.

“We already have commenced with installation of solar water geysers in brand new low-cost households and to date, already have 25 000 units set up by way of a joint venture that also includes the IDC,” explained Patel.

Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel

“Together with an additional 170 000 units scheduled, this specific undertaking is going to play a role in employment creation along with strengthening the local manufacturing of components as we plan to enhance the sourcing of components to at the very least 85% local content in the near future.”

At the same time, Patel claims the New Growth Path is likely to expand the overall economy by way of improving infrastructure investments on a variety of projects, vamping up the agro-processing and farming market sectors, and taking advantage of trillions spent on the African continent – all in order to generate a great deal more work opportunities.

Aside from that, the IDC is going to make available R5 billion in funding over the up coming five years for the agro-processing sector.

The development finance institution has additionally been requested to examine its financial loans application procedures – particularly, extensive amounts of time it takes in order to grant finance to entrepreneurs as well as the cost of finance.


Jacob Zuma, Ebrahim Patel and Pravin Gordhan

Government is additionally focusing on a one-of-a-kind project, that might be a catalyst for thousands of jobs.

“We happen to be working on a venture to create the world’s very first integrated metals plant beneficiating titanium, zirconium, vanadium, magnesium and silicone. Should it be verified by way of the feasibility study being carried out, it is going to require a R15 billion financial commitment and can also generate in excess of 7 000 work opportunities in construction in addition to the operation of the plant,” said Minister Patel.

Patel’s department would definitely in addition seriously look into reducing bureaucracy in addition to assisting businesses within the informal economy, by among other things, combining the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) – which gives business help and support to entrepreneurs – with small business funding agencies to create a single organization that can assist small businesses.

A brand new direct small business funding programme is going to be rolled out, with information and facts to be publicised in he upcoming weeks, Patel pointed out.


The DA’s Athol Trollip stated the party welcomed the R9 billion job opportunities fund, along with the R20 billion in tax breaks in order to incentivise investment within the manufacturing sector, revealed by President Jacob Zuma in the State of Nation Address.

Trollip, however, suggested similar tax breaks really should be extended to small and medium-sized businesses.

He pointed out that former president Thabo Mbeki made a variety of promises to assisting small business owners in the 2006 State of the Nation address – commitments that had been remarked upon by Zuma in his State of the Nation Address.

Trollip said he was hoping the New Growth Path will be adapted to the National Planning Commission’s conclusions regarding how to minimize poverty and create viable and practical economic options available for South Africans.

He called on the President to additionally create completely new innovative solutions, green industries, and additionally take action against climate change.

Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota pointed out it seemed to be “exciting” to hear of the billions earmarked by the government to promote job creation, however he appeared to be apprehensive that President Jacob Zuma did not provide “practical steps” regarding how these amounts will likely be utilized.

Lekota believed the increase of tenderpreneurs was really a “catastrophe” for South Africa: “Job creation can be described as function of entrepreneurship. There have been tenderpreneurs created, not entrepreneurs.”

He explained a lot more effort and hard work would have to be taken in educating and training skilled people who run businesses regarding how to obtain tenders.

Lekota said while civil servants would certainly continually be safe with monthly salaries, business owners had to be successful with contracts in order to place food on the table.

He explained there are clearly lessons to be learned from other countries – such as Japan – which accomplished economic growth as a result of technological innovation and know-how following on from the devastation of that country after World War Two.

Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthulezi mentioned the country should become serious with regards to taking on job creation, by way of a collaboration between political parties.


Source: BuaNews, thedailymaverick.co.za, thenewage.co.za, ecoinstitution.com,