11 January 2013 South Africa is already busy tackling the issues cited by ratings agency Fitch in its downgrade of the country’s sovereign debt, the National Treasury said on Thursday. The government was “aware of the challenges of poverty and unemployment the country is facing,” the Treasury said in a statement. “At its recent conference, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) endorsed the National Development Plan (NDP), which identifies the constraints to faster growth and presents a roadmap to a more inclusive economy that will address South Africa’s socio-economic imbalances and challenges.”From ‘BBB+’ to ‘BBB’ Fitch on Thursday downgraded South Africa’s long term foreign currency credit rating from “BBB+” to “BBB”, its long term local currency credit rating from “A” to “BBB+”, and its short term credit rating from “F2” to to “F3”. Giving reasons for the downgrade, the agency said that South Africa’s economic growth performance had deteriorated, and that this was likely to affect public finances and exacerbate social and political tensions in the country, which had increased. It added that South Africa had seen a decline in competitiveness, reflected in above-productivity wage settlements and infrastructure constraints which Fitch believes have contributed to the country’s widening current account deficit.Mangaung ‘gave certainty on economic policy’ In its response, the Treasury noted that South Africa’s slower economic growth rate was in part due to external factors, particularly the protracted debt crisis in the Eurozone, an important trading partner for the country. It said that the resolutions of the ANC’s conference in Mangaung in December had given certainty on economic policy, “which the Fitch report does not seem to fully appreciate”, adding that the government would be prioritising the implementation of the National Development Plan (NDP) in order to achieve higher levels of growth. Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s latest Medium Term Budget Policy Statement, published in October, “sets out a disciplined fiscal framework that keeps the expenditure envelope that was published in February unchanged,” the Treasury said. “It balances support for the economy in the immediate term with fiscal consolidation over the medium to long term. It provides for a sustained investment in growth inducing infrastructure.” This budget framework demonstrated South Africa’s unambiguous commitment to maintaining debt and expenditure growth within sustainable levels, the Treasury said, adding that these principles would continue to underpin South Africa’s fiscal stance. SAinfo reporter
Climate change is an increasing problem globally; and South Africa is among the top 20 largest producers of carbon emissions in the world. Reducing our carbon footprint is more important than ever. The Wonder Plant social enterprise and the Spekboom Foundation have just the plant for the job.Spekboom, indigenous to the Eastern Cape, has remarkable carbon fixing properties that have the potential to offset greatly our carbon footprint. (Image: Bradley Dennis)Mathiba MolefeThere was a time when it covered vast sections of the landscape in the Eastern Cape, spreading for kilometres in every direction. But today, as a result of overgrazing farm animals, spekboom, Portulacaria Afra, is limited to small patches scattered loosely throughout the province.Indigenous to South Africa, spekboom is considered by some to be a wonder plant of sorts. Given its remarkable ability to draw large amounts of carbon from the atmosphere, it is no surprise that it is regarded so highly.With climate change a growing problem worldwide, there are widespread efforts to reduce our carbon footprint and impact on the environment. Tapping into the under-utilised potential of local flora such as spekboom may be part of the answer.Most of South Africa’s energy is still generated by burning coal and this, coupled with the country’s energy- and carbon-intensive mining and industrial sectors, made it the thirteenth highest producer of carbon emissions in the world in 2008, according to data collected by the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Centre (CDIAC).This also makes South Africa the largest producer of carbon emissions on the African continent, with more than 460 metric tons of CO2 produced in 2011.According to the Spekboom Foundation and the Wonder Plant social enterprise, spekboom can absorb nearly 10 times as much carbon dioxide per hectare than any tropical rain forest on the planet.Offsetting carbon emissionsBradley Dennis, a conservationist from the Samara Private Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape, said “fortunately, environmental awareness is ripe and many people and organisations are actively working towards counteracting these threats.“One such way to combat these emissions is through carbon sinks.”According to the Spekboom Foundation and the Wonder Plant social enterprise, spekboom can absorb nearly 10 times as much carbon dioxide per hectare than any tropical rain forest on the planet.This is because spekboom functions differently from other plants in that it continues to photosynthesise during the night, thanks to its ability to store solar energy. This, together with its ability to grow in some of the country’s harshest conditions, makes spekboom the ideal plant to help offset our carbon footprint.“The plant is extremely water-wise and requires very little attention. It can tolerate long periods of drought,” Dennis explains.“And best of all, besides being very attractive and blooming wonderful little pink flowers, it is easy to grow.”Organisations such as the Spekboom Foundation and Wonder Plant offer members of the public easy access to this amazing plant, so you can play a part in actively lowering South Africa’s carbon footprint.“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now” – an old Chinese proverb. Above, volunteers planting spekboom saplings at the Samara Private Game Reserve.Get involvedThere is an old Chinese proverb that says “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now”.If you would like to get your hands on a spekboom plant, support local business and reduce your carbon footprint, you can visit either the Wonder Plant website or the Spekboom Foundation website to find out how.“Making a difference, even if it’s as small as planting a tree in your backyard, has a bigger impact than one realises,” says Dennis.Play Your PartAre you playing your part to help improve the lives of those around you through your everyday actions? Do you know of anyone who deserves recognition for improving South Africa and its people?If you do, then submit your story to our website and let us know what you are doing to improve the country for all; we want to hear it.If we don’t get actively involved in creating a better future for South Africa, then who will? Step up and play your part in our country’s journey to greatness.Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.
20 October 2015President Jacob Zuma has announced that following a working visit to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) last week, the two countries are working together to strengthen relationships and build new economic partnerships.“We have decided that the next decade of our Bi-National Commission (BNC) should intensify the implementation of joint economic projects, in particular the Grand Inga Hydropower Project, whose founding treaty was signed on 30 October 2013,’ Zuma said yesterday.The visit and the results of the relationship with the DRC fulfil a fundamental pillar of South Africa’s National Development Plan, that of assuring a stronger South African presence in Africa and the world.Earlier last week, Zuma co-chaired the ninth session of the BNC with his counterpart, President Joseph Kabila of the DRC.During the session, the two presidents reviewed progress made on bilateral programmes during the first decade of the Bi-National Commission. These included co-operation projects in the fields of politics and governance; defence and security; economy, finance and infrastructure; as well as social and humanitarian affairs.Bilateral trade increased from R11-billion in 2012 to R13-billion in 2014. South Africa is the DRC’s biggest supplier of foreign goods and services, providing more than 20% of the country’s total imports.Speaking in the capital Kinshasa, Zuma pledged support for an emerging DRC, adding: “This is not the DRC of 2004. (The country is) emerging from a prolonged conflict and civil strife, (and) required support and solidarity. South Africa has committed and pledged to accompany and walk with the government and the people of this great nation, and now, a decade later, we can look back with deserved pride considering the noticeable achievements that we have made.”Over the next 10 years, Zuma said, economic relations in the areas of trade, industrialisation and infrastructure development would be more prominent than they were now. “We have urged the responsible ministries and departments to finalise all outstanding issues in order to pave the way for the construction of this Pan- African flagship project,” he added.During last week’s visit, the South African leader witnessed the signing of the Bilateral Air Services Agreement by the ministers responsible for transport. The agreement will enable the two countries to facilitate movement of people and expand aviation co-operation. South Africa and the DRC maintain good diplomatic and political relations.Both leaders urged authorities in charge of the various projects in both countries to do their best to “speed up the process with a view to resolving all the outstanding issues. in order to clear the way for carrying out this pan-African project”.One of the projects highlighted during the visit that will enjoy a boost from the ongoing relationship is the multibillion-dollar Inga 3 dam project, on the Congo River. Africa’s most powerful river, it is perfect for hydro-energy generation.The Inga 3 Basse Chute project near Matadi will divert the river’s waters into a 12km channel and passing through a 100m hydropower dam in the Bundi Valley before releasing the water back into the river. The project is expected to generate 4 800 megawatts of power, equivalent to the output of three third-generation nuclear reactors, and boost power supplies to a region starved of electricity.“This project will help turn on the switch to a brighter future for Congo, and the continent,” Zuma said.Source: SAnews.gov.za
Two-day strike in Bicol fails to cripple transport Serena Williams of the U.S. reacts after missing a shot against Sofia Kenin of the U.S. during their third round match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, Saturday, June 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)PARIS — Maybe it was the daunting deficit Serena Williams faced in the French Open’s third round. Maybe it was the way her 20-year-old American opponent, Sofia Kenin, was questioning line calls.Either way, as Williams attempted to start a comeback Saturday with a three-ace game, she followed those big serves with some serious staredowns.ADVERTISEMENT Williams sat out four Slams in 2017-18 while she was off the tour to have a baby. Her first major back was last year’s French Open, where she withdrew before a fourth-round match because of a chest muscle injury. She went on to reach the finals of Wimbledon and the U.S. Open before wasting match points during a quarterfinal loss at the Australian Open this January.Williams came to Paris having played only four matches since then — she withdrew from two tournaments because of an injured left knee and another because of illness.And she had said she considered not entering the French Open at all.“I’m glad I came, at the end of the day,” she said, “but it’s been a really grueling season for me.”Asked whether a third-round appearance was satisfactory, given her issues, Williams not surprisingly said it was not.“I wouldn’t expect to have gotten only to the third round,” she replied.Said her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou: “All I know is, she was not ready. And it was obvious, I think.”Williams couldn’t control her shots, compiling 34 unforced errors, twice as many as Kenin’s 17. Another key statistic: Kenin won four of Williams’ 10 service games.Kenin also was composed as can be, never getting rattled by Williams or by a Court Philippe Chatrier crowd that whistled and jeered her for repeatedly eyeing ball marks to see whether calls were correct.“I didn’t care at that point,” Kenin said. “I was like, ‘I’m going to check the mark.’” Ethel Booba twits Mocha over 2 toilets in one cubicle at SEA Games venue MOST READ Ceres rises to the top Catholic schools seek legislated pay hike, too LATEST STORIES Undas tradition: 2 mom’s crusade against trash at cemeteries PLAY LIST 01:44Undas tradition: 2 mom’s crusade against trash at cemeteries01:04Early release of convicts like a thief in the night – Gordon02:07Aquino to Filipinos: Stand up vs abuses before you suffer De Lima’s ordeal02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. ‘Rebel attack’ no cause for concern-PNP, AFP Since those early-for-her defeats, Williams had won six of the 14 majors she entered to surpass Steffi Graf’s professional-era record of 22 Grand Slam singles championships. With 23, Williams stands one away from Margaret Court’s mark for the most in tennis history; Court played in both the professional and amateur eras.“Serena is such a tough player. I’m still trying to process what just happened,” Kenin said, about an hour after the match ended with her covering her face with both hands. “She’s a true champion and an inspiration.”Kenin was born in Moscow and is fluent in Russian. Her family moved to New York when she was a baby, and she now is based in Florida.“I’m proud to be an American,” said Kenin, who wore a blue U.S. Fed Cup cap to her news conference. “I think it’s great we moved to America for a better life for me.”She is appearing in the ninth major of her career and now is headed to her initial trip to the round of 16, where she’ll meet No. 8 seed Ash Barty. Other women’s fourth-round matchups established Saturday: defending champion Simona Halep vs. 18-year-old Iga Swiatek of Poland; No. 14 Madison Keys of the U.S. vs. Sinikiakova; 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova of the U.S. vs. qualifier Aliona Bolsova of Spain.ADVERTISEMENT PDEA chief backs Robredo in revealing ‘discoveries’ on drug war After Williams showed fight by going from 3-1 down to 4-3 ahead in the second set, Kenin hung in there. At 5-all, she got the last break she’d need with a forehand return winner off a 102 mph (164 kph) serve.She ran to her sideline seat and pressed a towel against her face.There was one last pivotal moment: Serving for the victory, Kenin faced a break point, but Williams’ miscue let it go by. One last error by Williams — a backhand that sailed long — ended things.Kenin dealt so well with the stakes, the scene, the setting.She’d never shared a court with Williams before, although Kenin did try to set up a practice session during the offseason by texting Mouratoglou.Didn’t work out.“Yeah, I tried to hit with her. It wasn’t possible, but I’ll take that,” Kenin said with a smile. “I’ll take the win over the hitting.”Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Cayetano: Senate, Drilon to be blamed for SEA Games mess View comments DA eyes importing ‘galunggong’ anew Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting Whether it was meant to get herself going or intimidate Kenin, it didn’t work. Outplayed from start to finish, Williams lost 6-2, 7-5 to the 35th-ranked Kenin, ending her latest bid for a 24th Grand Slam title with her earliest loss at a major tournament in five years.“In that first set in particular, she hit pretty much inches from the line, and I haven’t played anyone like that in a long time,” the 37-year-old Williams said. “I just saw a player that was playing unbelievable.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSPalace wants Cayetano’s PHISGOC Foundation probed over corruption chargesSPORTSSingapore latest to raise issue on SEA Games food, logisticsIt was the second significant surprise in a matter of hours: Earlier in the day, No. 1 seed Naomi Osaka was eliminated 6-4, 6-2 by 42nd-ranked Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic. That ended Osaka’s 16-match Grand Slam winning streak, which included titles at the U.S. Open final in September — when she beat Williams in the final — and at the Australian Open in January.Osaka was trying to become the first woman to win three consecutive major trophies since Williams grabbed four in a row in 2014-15, a run that was preceded by a second-round loss at Roland Garros and a third-round loss at Wimbledon.