ENERGY minister Jeff Radebe praised the renewable energy sector’s contribution to socio-economic development as he officially opened the doors to a custom-built R4-million library for residents of the impoverished Sea Vista community in the Eastern Cape on Tuesday. Radebe was invited as a guest of Kouga Wind Farm, which provided the funds to construct the state-of-the-art facility, and Kouga Municipality, which made the land available and will manage the library as part of its community services portfolio. Delivering his keynote address, Radebe said that renewable energy was here to stay. “It is the policy of our government and renewable energy is going to save the world.” Radebe said the current challenges faced by Eskom “would have been worse”, were it not for the contribution from independent power producers such as Kouga Wind Farm, which contributes more than 280 gigawatts of electricity to the national grid per year. He said, as energy minister, he was determined to push forward the growth of the renewable energy sector to “not only fire up our energy but also to develop the communities where these projects are based.” The minister called on the Sea Vista community to take ownership of the library as a community asset which would help to break the cycle of poverty. “Education is the future for our children and a library is the fountain of knowledge in a community. “Treasure it and be its protectors because our children will depend on it to improve themselves,” said Radebe. Kouga Wind Farm’s community liaison officer, Trevor Arosi, said the library was a tangible and sustainable symbol of the wind farm’s commitment to development through education. Arosi said the three-year project had created 96 jobs during construction, injecting direct wages of R1.4 million into Sea Vista and that a further R1.3 million was spent on local procurement of materials. He said St Francis Bay residents and the local Rotary Club had embraced the . . .
In a boost for 80 Nelson Mandela Bay families, one of the Eastern Cape’s longest-standing companies has finalised an empowerment deal with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) – to the benefit of its 80-strong labour force which now ranks as a shareholder. Thanks to the restructuring deal, Rhino Manufacturing – formerly known as Rhino Plastics which was launched 50 years ago – is now a B-BBEE Level 2 company. Since the new deal was signed late last year, business has taken off, making strides in the plastics recycling and manufacturing sector while strengthening its lead in the supply of plastic products to the construction, agricultural and the packaging sector nationally and into Africa. Under the new business structure, the 80 employees at the North End plant – who each support, on average, five dependants – now own a collective 10% stake in Rhino Manufacturing, with acclaimed local entrepreneur Siyabulela Mandla coming on board with a 41% shareholding, and the remainder held by Rhino Plastics, headed by businessman Brian van Niekerk. Mandla, a strong advocate for the upliftment of previously disadvantaged communities, said of the deal: “We have a responsibility to shape and improve the living conditions of our communities, where unemployment and inequality are our biggest challenges. It always inspires me to see business used as a catalyst for change in this regard.” Thirty-seven-year-old Mandla is a former regional SAB Kickstart, Seda Stars Business Competition and National Gazelles SME programme winner. His successful ventures include 469 Carwash & Café, 469 Bar Lounge & Butchery, Patapata Lifestyle, and Kasi Craft Beverages in Motherwell and New Brighton. “Thanks to the new deal, we are now geared to expand the company’s footprint and look into new opportunities in the public sector and into Africa,” said Mandla. “We are also looking at diversifying our product range to include products such as plastic droppers and poles, . . .
IN a boost for South Africa’s ailing education system, business heavyweights are backing a plan to place a fully resourced e-learning tablet in the hands of one million of the poorest pupils within the next five years. Already MTN, Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Shuter & Shooter and WIZZR Technologies have signed on with the organisation spearheading the plan, the Closed-loop Learner Network (CLN), resulting in a successful trial roll-out of the tablets – called Omang – to 1,000 pupils at no-fee schools in the Free State late last year. Based on the trial’s success, and together with the provincial Department of Education, a further 20,000 pupils at no-fee schools will be benefitting from the initiative during 2019. MTN provides free connectivity for the tablets, while CAPS-approved textbooks for grades 10 to 12 pupils are pre-loaded onto the devices thanks to international software developers WIZZR Technologies and the three textbook publishers. CLN in turn ensures that high school pupils receive the Omang devices, complete with textbooks, tutorials and white-listed online resources to assist them in their studies. The initiative was celebrated at a gala dinner in Bryanston this week [Thursday, March 14th], where private sector heavyweights including MTN’s David Mphelo* and SAP Africa head of innovation Dr Adriana Marais – who is a candidate for the Mars One human settlement mission – addressed the audience of 150 delegates. Included in the line-up of speakers were MD Ramesh, regional head of the multi-billion dollar agri business Olam International, as well as African Industrialist of the Year**, Jendamark MD Quinton Uren. Also in attendance were Massimo de Luca, head of trade and economics for the European Union delegation to South Africa, Danone Southern Africa MD Hendrik Born, and singer Danny K. CLN had already begun building the infrastructure required to implement President Cyril Ramaphosa’s vision of a tablet . . .
KWAZULU-NATAL – WHEN members of a small Kranskop community drilled down in search of water to meet the daily needs of community members, they could not have known that from it would spring one of South Africa’s purest and most beloved bottled water brands – aQuellé. Found to be too pure for domestic use, the spring water “had to be bottled” and was introduced to the local market in 1998 – with immediate and unexpected success. Now, 20 years on, the water business continues to support community development projects, with 100% of the profits ploughed back into these initiatives. Reflecting on two decades as one of the country’s leading water brands, aQuellé managing director Arno Stegen said joy and thankfulness were the defining themes of the brand’s journey so far as well as its 20-year celebrations. Stegen said people, and especially the brand’s community work, had always been the driving force or the “why” behind the business. “The reason for our existence is our calling to help people in need and make their lives better. Therefore, by extension, aQuellé is not just about making profits but about giving the consumer a high-quality, affordable, value-for-money product.” This market strategy has seen a sustained growth in consumer demand, with the fully automated Kranskop plant continuously expanding from just 360m2 in 1998 to over 18 000m2 today, and the addition of a second bottling plant in Franschhoek in 2016 to provide the Western Cape with aQuellé’s natural spring water range. Whereas staff initially loaded product onto a few small bakkies by hand, aQuellé’s automated warehouse today has a 6,000-pallet storage capacity, with product distributed nationally via a dedicated fleet of delivery trucks. After starting out with the natural water range plus four typically South African flavours including marula and naartjie, aQuellé today bottles 13 flavoured variants and the natural range, each with its own customised, lightweighted bottle in . . .
Agri Eastern Cape president Doug Stern has called on the province’s farmers to stay on their land despite facing the triple financial threat of unrelenting drought, raging veld fires and land expropriation without compensation. As the drought entered its fifth straight year, Stern said stock farmers’ cashflow had been dealt an additional blow in the form of falling commodity prices due to the recent outbreak of foot and mouth disease. Describing the drought as “one of the worst farmers have had to endure, due to its intensity”, he said summer heatwaves had resulted in the further deterioration of the veld. “More importantly, this has impacted dramatically on our farmers’ water resources, with borehole levels dropping almost daily and surface water drying up completely, resulting in major livestock water supply problems.” Stern said, over the past four years, farmers had recorded annual rainfall figures varying between 30 and 70% below what their average annual rainfall should have been. “The official word from the weather authorities is that we can expect the prevailing dry conditions to continue, with no significant rainfall being predicted. However, we as farmers believe that rainfall is always possible.” He said agricultural producers’ cashflow had been stretched extremely thin, as they had been spending large sums of money for long periods with the purpose of keeping their animals and lands in a productive condition. “2018 was an incredibly tough year for farmers throughout the Eastern Cape for a number of reasons. “Our farmers are renowned for their resilience. However, this resilience is now being properly tested by the climatic conditions we are expected to deal with on a sustained basis, without any support from the state to date.” Despite this, Stern said he had every confidence that the province’s farmers would survive the drought, as previous generations had done, by standing together and doing their best to remain productive . . .
PORT ELIZABETH – GOOD rain in recent weeks has relieved some pressure for Eastern Cape farmers, but with cash flows all but exhausted thanks to the drought, the future is still far from certain. According to Agri Eastern Cape president Doug Stern, farmers in the province have been under great pressure for four concurrent seasons, in which they have received “way below average rainfall”. “The recent rains were great news for some, with the level of the Kouga Dam rising from an unsustainable 7% to over 50%,” said Stern. “But while that takes the pressure off farmers in the Hankey/Patensie area, who are reliant on that water to produce crops from potatoes to citrus, it does not help the rest of the province, especially the northern areas where there are huge problems due to the extremely cold weather experienced in August and September. “The late, unexpected cold weather was not conducive to vegetation growth. That, and also there is a desperate need for follow-up rains.”Stern pointed out that, due to the drought, many farmers’ cash flows had been exhausted. “The only thing which saved many farmers from going under is the huge increase in commodity prices for red meat, fibre and citrus [creating higher revenue for cash-strapped farmers]. Without that increase, results would have been disastrous for all concerned,” he said. “The downside, of course, is the effect on already hard-hit consumers, with these prices expected to remain inflated for at least five years as farmers try to rebuild their herds.” CLICK HERE to submit your press release to MyPR.co.za. . . .
KWAZULU-NATAL – aQuellé recently concluded their “Triple the Joy” campaign which saw the brand travel over 4800 kilometres across South Africa and distribute bottles of water and gifts to children and adults in underdeveloped rural communities. The three-month campaign, which ended in August, followed the #SpreadTheJoySA” summer campaign. That campaign introduced consumers in the major centres of Durban, Cape Town, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth to three limited edition sparkling water flavours – watermelon, granadilla and apple. According to aQuellé managing director Arno Stegen, the public response had been such that all three limited edition flavours rolled out for the campaign had been added to aQuellé’s permanent line-up. “We had intended to choose just one flavour when the campaign ended, but the public voted in favour of keeping all three. In response, we also multiplied our giving back to the community,” said Stegen. The aQuellé new flavour mascots visited non-profit organisations in three provinces, distributing bottled water, meals and donations such as gazebos, playground equipment, schoolbags and stationery to beneficiaries. “The premise behind the community campaign was that joy is meant to be shared. So, we asked the public to share stories on social media about organisations they knew of that deserved a bit more joy. We were really touched by what we heard and selected four to visit,” said Stegen. The campaign kicked off in May with a visit to the Careways Siyanakekela Centre in KwaNdengezi, KwaZulu-Natal. Here intellectually impaired adults meet once a week to learn basic skills and take part in activities that help them to build self-esteem and find their place in the community. In June, the team visited the Goldhill Legends Netball Club in Mitchell’s Plain, Cape Town. The club draws players as young as seven from the impoverished communities of Hanover Park, Lavender Hill, Delft and Mitchell’s Plain, keeping them off the . . .
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 . . .