UMZAMOWETHU, OYSTER BAY – ABOUT 1,000 pupils, their parents and teachers flocked to the Umzamowethu Community Hall on Heritage Day to meet US astronaut Dr Donald Thomas and listen to him speak of how – despite his humble beginnings – he became an intrepid space traveller. Thomas was visiting the community on invitation of the Kouga Wind Farm, as part of the Eastern Cape leg of his tour which started in Cape Town earlier this month (September 16). After visiting pupils in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday, he wrapped his tour on Wednesday (September 26) in Grahamstown. The talk formed part of Kouga Wind Farm’s sustainable development drive in the communities within its geographic footprint, with education being a key area of investment. Among the wind farm’s many other community upliftment programmes is a R4-million custom-built library and IT centre launching later this year. Addressing the pupils, Thomas detailed the many obstacles he overcame, including growing up in an impoverished home without a dad and, on many occasions, even without food on the table. He had to work hard to earn scholarships for university in order to land the education he needed to become an astronaut, he told pupils. “Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something,” he told the star-struck youngsters, stressing the importance of never giving up on one’s dreams and that hard work really does pay off in the end. “You should be willing to work hard towards your dreams and not be deterred by those that tell you it can’t be done,” he said. Thomas also described what it was like to fly in a space shuttle and answered questions from pupils which included how he managed to eat, sleep and even use the toilet in outer space. During his 20-year tenure with NASA, which included four historic shuttle missions, Thomas logged over 1,000 hours of adventure in space and completed 692 orbits of the earth. His inaugural mission aboard the STS-65 Columbia in July 1994 set a new flight . . .
Quinton Uren, managing director of Port Elizabeth-based global technology company Jendamark Automation, was named a finalist in the prestigious All Africa Business Leaders Awards at an event in Johannesburg last night [Thursday, September 20]. Uren, 53, will now represent the Bay – and the Southern African region – in the Industrialist of the Year category at the eighth annual continental awards on November 29. His fellow category finalists from South Africa include Nampak CEO Andre de Ruyter, Likoebe Innovation Consultants founder Nneile Nkholise, and Nana Sebelo, CEO of Thata uBeke Manufacturing. Speaking at the awards ceremony, Uren said he was very proud to have received recognition on behalf of Jendamark. The PE-based group has grown from a small automotive engineering firm, which Uren co-founded in 1992, into a global automation technology leader with offices in Pune in India, Penzing in Germany and a sales office in Detroit in the USA. “I see our company as a beacon of what is possible in Africa and in the Eastern Cape specifically. We have an amazing talent pool and supplier base, which makes us more than a business. We are an industry,” said Uren. The AABLA Industrialist of the Year award recognises individuals who have made efforts to develop a specific industry in Africa and transformed a market, company, product or service through innovation, special advancements in technology, management production and operations. Jendamark’s export orientation, which seemed a risky move after the global economic crash of 2008, has paid dividends and today accounts for 90 to 95% of the company’s business. Jendamark is also a two-time winner of the Eastern Cape Exporter of the Year. Its powertrain and catalytic converter assembly systems, which incorporate Industry 4.0 elements such as augmented reality and predictive maintenance software, can be found in 18 countries across Asia, Europe, Africa as well as North and South America. CLICK HERE to . . .
WOMEN in the South African maritime sector were the focus of an inaugural career fair hosted by the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), which attracted high school pupils, tertiary students, educators and women in in the maritime industry on Thursday (September 6). Presented in conjunction with partner African Marine Solutions (AMSOL), the fair hosted about 120 students and pupils from Nelson Mandela Bay high schools, Nelson Mandela University, the University of Fort Hare and Rhodes University. While experts from the sector addressed pupils and students about their experiences of the maritime industry, other issues such as marine tourism and entrepreneurship were touched on by academics. The aim of the event was to link women already working in the maritime sector with university students and high school pupils, to share information on careers and opportunities in the industry. The event was also used to announce a new merit bursary scheme for female students wanting to pursue maritime qualifications, in honour of the late Sindiswa Nhlumayo. Nhlumayo, who was the executive head of the Centre for Maritime Excellence at the SA Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), was directly responsible for spearheading and implementing the National Maritime Cadetship Programme and creating awareness of maritime careers, jobs, business and recreational opportunities – and in so doing, introducing youth to the sector. SAIMI spokesman Samantha Venter said the inaugural maritime women’s event was part of a wider campaign targeted at all South Africans, to raise awareness of the wide scope of the “blue economy” and attract talented women and men to the nation’s thriving oceans economy. SAIMI was embarking on a National Maritime Awareness Campaign to “ensure that the many job and business opportunities in the maritime sector are conveyed to the public through various strategies that include career guidance and mentoring”, Venter said. “We want to celebrate . . .
TSHWANE – SOUTH Africa’s largest zoo, the National Zoological Garden of South Africa (NZG), on Wednesday launched a recycling pilot project aimed at job creation and addressing the massive litter problem which its thousands of annual visitors leave in their wake. Should the programme prove successful, it could also be rolled out at the Mokopane Biodiversity Centre in Limpopo. The pilot project, which was founded in conjunction with the national PET Recycling Company (PETCO) and the City of Tshwane, will be operated by the Umkariso Women in Water cooperative. The NZG’s acting manager for commercial services and business development, Marcel Singh, said five previously unemployed Tshwane residents had been trained and appointed to collect and sort the high volumes of recyclable materials generated daily by the zoo’s restaurants, curio shops, offices, research facilities, animal kitchens and veterinary hospital. “This project forms part of the NZG’s environmental management plan and recycling is just one area in which we are committed to expanding our green footprint,” said Singh, adding that this was in compliance with the National Environmental Management: Waste Act. “In implementing the waste hierarchy of reduce, re-use and recycle, we are also waging a war on littering, which is a huge problem. The NZG is currently in the concept phases of developing environmental campaigns aimed at reducing our plastic waste and educating visitors.” PETCO chief executive officer Cheri Scholtz applauded the zoo for taking a proactive stance on waste management, while providing jobs and skills development for future entrepreneurs. “The PET industry has long been committed to reducing the environmental impact of PET plastic packaging. This is another fantastic platform for us to engage with the public sector to make a meaningful difference,” said Scholtz. “Keeping waste out of landfills and leveraging the economic value of recyclable materials presents a great . . .
PORT ELIZABETH – The contentious issue of land expropriation, the proper management of dwindling water resources to ensure food security, and the impact that climate change will have on coastal communities will be among the hot topics when the Eastern Cape’s farmers gather for their 17th annual congress later this week. Provincial agricultural body Agri Eastern Cape will play host to the conference in Jeffreys Bay on Thursday and Friday, which features a line-up of speakers that includes academics and industry experts who are set to address the major issues affecting farming in the province. Keynote speaker Angelo Fick will launch proceedings with an in-depth look at the complexities of land issues. Fick, who is the director of research at the Auwal Socio-Economic Research Institute (ASRI), is also known for his role as a senior researcher and news analyst. In response to the land question, Fick will discuss how changes in ownership structures demand creative thinking to solve this multi-faceted problem. “There are two conflicting aspects to land expropriation. We are trapped by politicians who are working towards their own agendas which, I believe, are influenced strongly by the upcoming elections, and also by land owners who are afraid of change,” said Fick. “But all the talk about who owns the land misses the point. You also have tenant farm workers whose ancestors were buried on the farm, and who will be buried there themselves. They, and their children, attended school on the land. There is a sense of history and they need to be afforded some kind of rights. “However, while there is a still a long way to go, there are already structures in place, models which are already working, under which land owners co-operate with tenants, and vice-versa, to achieve harmony.” With the prolonged drought currently wreaking havoc in parts of the Eastern Cape, the importance of water in ensuring food security is another critical issue under the spotlight. . . .
JOHANNESBURG – Recycling SMMEs received support from the PET recycling sector on Friday (July 13) in the form of equipment that will enable their effective participation in the mandatory recycling programme launched by the City of Ekurhuleni this month. This follows concerns from small industry players and informal waste collectors that they could be sidelined by the new “separation-at-source” municipal recycling initiative. PET plastic bottle producer Serioplast and the PET Recycling Company (PETCO) donated the equipment – baling machines, industrial platform scales and signage – to local SMMEs with the aims of improving the collection, weighing and baling of recyclable material for resale to recycling businesses. More beneficiaries are set to receive similar donations from PETCO in the coming weeks. The Gauteng-based small businesses included Ekhuliza Gauteng Primary Cooperative and CJU Environmental Management in Boksburg and Lakhwisha Holdings in Vosloorus. Speaking after the event, which was hosted in partnership with the City of Ekurhuleni, PETCO chief executive officer Cheri Scholtz said the citywide household recycling initiative was a positive step forward in creating a recycling consciousness among ordinary South Africans. “It is also an important opportunity for local government and industry stakeholders to develop meaningful strategies for waste reduction as well as an inclusive framework that facilitates participation and creates income-generating opportunities for businesses of all sizes,” she said. Scholtz said PET recycling had been particularly effective in creating a “circular economy”, with plastic water and soft drink bottles offering post-consumer value to waste collectors and recyclers, while also reducing producers’ need for virgin PET material. “The hard work and efforts of all players in the PET value chain – from brand owners and producers to individual waste pickers – allowed us to recycle 2.15 billion bottles in . . .
CAPE TOWN – Industry stakeholders across South Africa’s PET plastic value chain have reaffirmed their commitment to extended producer responsibility with three key appointments to the national PET Recycling Company (PETCO) board. Nominated by the industry sectors they represent, the newly elected non-executive board members will serve a voluntary three-year term. Representing the retail sector, Lisa Ronquest, head of food technology for Woolworths, replaces retired colleague Tom McLaughlin, while Kevin O’Brien, who is the risk and sustainability executive for the SPAR Group, assumes the position vacated by Pick n Pay’s general manager for sustainability, André Nel. In addition, the board has appointed independent expert Professor Linda Godfrey, who is the CSIR’s principal scientist for waste research development and innovation, to contribute to the strategic oversight of PET recycling and assist with the development of an industry waste management plan. PETCO chief executive officer Cheri Scholtz welcomed the new directors, who join existing members representing the entire value chain – from brand owners, bottlers and resin producers to converters, retailers, recyclers and collectors. “It’s wonderful to have the broader commitment of industry players throughout the value chain on our board,” said Scholtz. She said the non-profit organisation was a good example of voluntary extended producer responsibility in action. “More than 15 years ago, industry players got together to develop a model to take care of their product at the end of its life cycle. PETCO takes collective responsibility for this on their behalf, while the oversight rests with the obliged industry.” Members pay a voluntary recycling fee on every tonne of raw material purchased, which last year enabled PETCO’s contracted recycling partners to pay out R430 million to collectors for baled bottles delivered to their plants. Scholtz said the organisation had achieved consistent . . .
PORT ELIZABETH – THE South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) marked the International Day of the Seafarer by officially opening its new national headquarters in Nelson Mandela Bay today (June 25). The institute, which is based on the Ocean Sciences Campus of Nelson Mandela University in Summerstrand, operates under a government mandate to assist in growing the “blue economy” by facilitating maritime skills development through relationships between industry stakeholders and education and training institutions countrywide. Dignitaries at the opening were guided through SAIMI’s role in the city and the global maritime sector, which includes everything from aquaculture and fisheries to coastal and marine tourism, shipping and off-shore oil and gas exploration. “We are thrilled to be operating from our first permanent ‘home port’,” said SAIMI chief executive officer Professor Malek Pourzanjani. “But this is just the beginning for us, with our eventual aim being to have a presence in all South Africa’s coastal cities. “In fact, there is already a satellite office at the Royal Cape Yacht Club in Cape Town, with a Durban branch in the pipeline. “This planned expansion will position us well to ensure that we continue to play a vital role in South Africa’s oceans economy.” The Institute also aims to strengthen maritime education and research through facilitating co-ordination and co-operation among education providers, a role which is enhanced by now being based at the Ocean Sciences Campus. Delivering an address on behalf of NMU vice-chancellor Professor Sibongile Muthwa, SAIMI advisory board member Dr Oswald Franks – who is also dean of the faculty of engineering, built environment and information technology – said the opening of the national head office represented significant a milestone in the development of SAIMI, which launched in 2014. “It also represents a significant commitment to the national agenda of growing the oceans . . .
Kouga Wind Farm ushered in Global Wind Day on Friday by announcing that the R4-million custom-built library and IT centre that it is building for the Sea Vista community outside St Francis Bay is on track to open in October. Celebrating the announcement are community members (from left) Babalwa Sahluko, Nozuko Ntshota and Ragel Goeda, who themselves have benefited from another of the wind farm’s community projects – the Rainmakers women empowerment programme. The seven-month programme has seen groups of women from the Sea Vista, Umzamowethu, KwaNomzamo and Kruisfontein communities undergoing specific skills development and business training, to equip them to identify and implement impactful upliftment projects in their communities. CLICK HERE to submit your press release to MyPR.co.za. . . .
DROUGHT-hit farmers in the Gamtoos River Valley have had their already stringent water allocations from the Kouga Dam – the largest in the region – halved for the 2018/19 water year, it was announced late on Thursday. With Kouga Dam at only 7.7% capacity on Friday, this means that farmers will now be forced to operate on 20% of what would be their full irrigation quota for the new water year, which starts in July. This is set to have a significant impact on fruit and vegetable production in the valley, as farmers will not be planting “cash crops” and will be forced to leave older, less productive citrus orchards to die off. The little water they have will be dedicated to the preservation of younger, premium orchards, according to valley farmer and Gamtoos Irrigation Board (GIB) chairman Tertius Meyer. This follows Thursday’s annual meeting between officials from the national and provincial departments of water and sanitation, Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality and GIB, which manages the dam. Meyer said the greater part of Kouga Dam’s water supply was given to sustaining agriculture in the valley, with the remainder forming a critical part of Nelson Mandela Bay’s water supply. There had been mixed reaction to the news from local farmers, whose allocation for the current water year had already been restricted to 40% of their normal consumption, Meyer said. Many, he said, had in fact been expecting more drastic measures to be introduced. GIB financial and human resources manager Rienette Colesky said the department had done its best to balance the needs of farmers with creating a sustainable supply to the surrounding towns and cities. “Curtailing water use is vital to prevent dam failure at this stage,” she said. Unlike many dams, Kouga is built in such a way that the outlet is low enough to prevent “dead storage” and can be used up to the 0% level, Colesky said. The last time the dam was at full capacity and overflowing was in December . . .