Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Africa’s Largest Wind Farm Opens in Morocco

Morocco’s officially inaugurated a wind farm in the town of Melloussa this week. The project has 165 turbines and a production capacity of 140 megawatts, enough power for 140,000 homes. The farm is touted as Africa’s largest wind farm and cost $300 million to construct. Besides significantly reducing CO2 emissions, the farm is expected to save over 125,000 metric tons of oil annually. Like many parts of the world, Morocco relies on imported oil and coal for its energy needs. The Kingdom of Morocco is the only North African country without its own oil.

Funding for the project came from the European Investment Bank, Official Credit Institute of Spain, the Moroccan National Office of Potable Water and Germany’s Kreditanstalt fur Wienderaufbau. This is not the first wind project for Morocco. The first farm was constructed in 2000 and several others have been added over the years. (Triple Pundit, 6/30/2010)

Coca-Cola Sponsored Sudents Tour Constitution Building


Twenty-one HBCU students are spending five days in South Africa soaking up the local culture, including this stop at the Constitutional Court Building, once the site of a prison where Nelson Mandela was detained.

The students are winner of the Coca-Cola “Open Happiness Tour,” a video competition that sought creative and inspirational answers to the question: How does the Coca-Cola RAIN program inspire you? The Coca-Cola RAIN “Water for Schools” initiative helps provide safe drinking water for schoolchildren in Africa and around the world.

Pictured are student winners: Funbi Oluwole, Clark Atlanta University; Alisa Routh & Justin Smith, Florida A&M University; Tatiana Mosley & Junious Smith III, Fayetteville State University; Jasmine Singleton & Graylin Taylor, Ft. Valley State University; Jelyse Dawson & Derrill Miller, Grambling State University; Lael Clark & Tremone Jackson, Johnson C. Smith University, Stephen Love, Morehouse College; Ashley Canty & Victor Pimentel, Norfolk State University; Edifon Ette & Sherron Douglas, Southern University; Karen Evans, Spelman College, Cherish Rush & Ryan Small, Texas Southern, Theresa Scales & Steve Morgan, Jr., Xavier University.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) Update

Second Take: PBMR Update

Creamer Media's Mariaan Webb speaks to Engineering News senior contributing editor Keith Campbell about the PBMR.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mining Companies Stalling on Black Economic Empowerment

A study by KIO Advisory Services, commissioned on behalf of the South African Mining Development Association, has found that the top 25 South African mining companies were lagging far behind the legislated targets contained in the black economic-empowerment (BEE) codes of good practice. The report stated that the sector had "huge" shortfalls in the representation of black people in management.

The report showed that the South African mining sector was not "anywhere close" to achieving the target of 26% black ownership by 2014. It stated that the gross value of black shareholding amounted to 5,27% of the total R1,8-trillion market capitalisation of the top 25 mining companies, as at the end of March 31, 2010.
Measured against the BEE codes, the percentage of black people in top management was 17,9% compared with a compliance target of 40%, while the percentage of black people in senior management was 15,5% compared with a compliance target of 43%. Middle management showed a 63% compliance with almost 27% of middle management being represented by black people and junior management ranked at 68% compliance with 32,8% being presented by black people.

The report showed that white women had a representation of 7,4% in senior management, a 14,6% representation in middle management and an 8,1% representation in junior management.Gqubule pointed out that the mining charter of 2002 had set a 40% target for historically disadvantaged South Africans (HDSAs) in management, which included white women. The high numbers of white women in the HDSA targets for management have the effect of distorting the true picture of transformation in the sector. This is why they benchmarked the sector against the BEE codes in addition to the Mining Charter. (Mining Weekly, 6/24/2010)

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Our Associates at the World Cup

Clearly all of us are supportive of South Africa and America in the soccer competition.

African Business Group partner Michael Sudarkasa at right

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Coca-Cola Sponsors 21 HBCU Students in South Africa

Student winners of Coca-Cola's “Open Happiness Tour” video contest are headed to South Africa for five days to learn more about Africa’s water crisis first-hand when they visit a local orphanage whose water system is in dire need of repairs. Coca-Cola will make a donation to assist with the repairs of the water system to provide the orphanage will have clean running water for cooking, bathing and other necessities.

The 21 Historically Black College and University (HBCU) students will also meet with executives from Coca-Cola South Africa, who will share information about other projects the company is sponsoring. The students will learn about other initiatives throughout Africa, including HIV/AIDS and malaria prevention, access to education, job creation and humanitarian assistance. The students leave Atlanta on June 25 and return on July 1. While there, the students will be taking photos and videos and will also to soak up South African culture, including a trip to the Nelson Mandela National Museum, go on a Safari and attend a FIFA World Cup match.

For more information, contact Sarah Woodward, Coca-Cola 404-870-6870.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Optimum Coal in Arbitration with Eskom Over Coal Deliveries

Mike Teke
Black-owned JSE-listed coal-mining company Optimum Coal is to go to arbitration over the differing interpretations of a coal supply agreement that it has with Eskom. Optimum is contracted to supply 5.5-million tons of the 7.3-million tons of coal that Eskom's Hendrina power station consumes a year.
Mike Teke, left, is CEO of Optimum.

BHP Billiton Coal South Africa, with Eskom's consent, ceded the coal supply agreement to Optimum as part of a black economic-empowerment (BEE) exercise. However, the terms of the agreement were simultaneously amended.

Instead of Optimum supplying 6,5-million of coal a year to Hendrina, the contracted volume was reduced to 5,5-million tons, on the understanding that the one-million tons that would no longer be delivered were coal fines, which Eskom preferred not to receive. There has been no alteration to the price, which remained at R93/t.
Optimum is continuing to supply the coal to Hendrina pending the outcome of the arbitration.

Optimum sold R3.9-billion worth of coal in 2009. Last year's volume totalled 9.3-million tons, of which four-million tons - some 45% - were exported. Optimum is South Africa's sixth-largest thermal coal producer and its fourth-largest exporter, after Anglo Thermal Coal, Becsa and Xstrata Coal. It raised R1,5-billion when it listed on the JSE in April, which assisted the company to acquire up to 96% of Koornfontein coal mine. (Mining Weekly, 6/14/2010)

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Blikkiesdorp, which is Afrikaans for “Tin Can Town”, is a relocation camp made of corrugated iron shacks. Blikkiesdorp was built by the City of Cape Town in 2007. It contains approximately 1,600 one room structures. According to government officials, it has cost over 30 million rand to build. The structures have walls and roofs made of thin tin and zinc sheets. They are 50 square feet (18 square meters) in size. Sanitation and water facilities are shared between four structures.

Protests over evictions and poor living conditions have erupted in squatter settlements around South Africa, particularly in relation to the developments for the World Cup. (Wash Post, 6/10/2010, Wiki)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Joe Biden To Attend Opening Ceremonies of World Cup

Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden departed for Egypt, Kenya, and South Africa on June 5th. Vice President Biden will travel to South Africa, where he will meet with South African Deputy President Motlanthe, South African Foreign Minister Nkoana-Mashabane, and other world leaders in attendance at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa.

The World Cup begins on June 11th. The Vice President and Dr. Biden will represent the United States at the opening ceremonies of the 2010 FIFA World Cup and attend the U.S. Men’s National Team’s first game, before returning to Washington, DC. (The White House)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Eskom Wants Carbon Offset Credit For New Coal Plant

Eskom Holdings Ltd. is studying whether the 4,800-megawatt Medupi Power Station is eligible for carbon credits under the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism. Eskom recently received approval of a $3.75 billion World Bank loan to build the world's fourth-largest coal-fired power plant. The plant will be South Africa's first power station in more than 15 years and the first to use supercritical boiler technology, which allows the plant to operate more efficiently.

Most NGOs oppose the plant and oppose the carbon credit proposal. The fight surrounding the Medupi loan was one of the most vicious in recent World Bank history. They insist Eskom should not be allowed to receive both World Bank aid and carbon credits to build a plant that will emit 25 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually. Environmental groups insisted the bank had an obligation to stop using limited public resources to fuel coal projects, particularly as the institution sought a greater role in relieving the impacts of climate change. The World Bank maintained that its top obligation was reducing poverty and enhancing energy access -- even if that sometimes means funding fossil fuel. Developing countries sided with South Africa, while industrialized nations engaged in a protracted debate over reconciling their governments' calls to solve climate change with funding a new coal plant. The United States and three other countries abstained as other World Bank board members approved the loan.

The Center-South Africa supports the plant and the proposal. Supercritical boilers are the best technology available for coal. We would, however, prefer that nuclear power plants would be built with the loan money and carbon offsets would be allowed for the nuclear plant substitute.

If Eskom ultimately wins CDM approval, it could generate millions of dollars for avoiding greenhouse gas emissions by using more efficient technology. South Africa has no choice, nothwithstanding nuclear power plants, which are expensieve to build, but to build new generating capacity and to rely on their most abundant and affordable energy source: coal.

The Medupi power plant will be the first in Africa to use cleaner super-critical technology, making it one of the most efficient large-scale power plants on the continent. As Eskom looks for additional financing for its critical energy program, the CDM could be one of options it considers. As the first power station in Africa to use cleaner "supercritical" technology, the Medupi plant will reduce emissions by 5 percent. It will also be fitted for carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology if and when it becomes available, though CCS is not a practical option.

According to the World Bank, $3.05 billion of the total loan will go toward completing the Medupi coal plant. Another $260 million will go toward piloting a utility-scale 100-megawatt wind power project in Sere and a 100-megawatt concentrated solar plant with storage in Upington. South Africa, meanwhile, vowed to use $1.25 billion of a larger World Bank loan package to reduce emissions at power plants. (The New York Times, 6/2/2010)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

France Hosts African Leaders

Climate Change at the Top of the Agenda

French President Nicolas Sarkozy hosted talks with 38 African leaders at a summit to renew France's ties on the continent. President Sarkozy stated that developing nations must make good on their promises of billions of dollars in aid to poorer countries at the Copenhagen summit unless they want international conferences to lose all credibility. At the Copenhagen summit in December, developed countries agreed to provide 30 billion dollars for three years to help poorer nations battle climate change. Part of the funds are earmarked for battling deforestation in the Congo basin, home to the world's second largest forest after the Amazon of Brazil.

But questions have been raised as to how much of that aid has been raised since Copenhagen. Ethiopian President Meles Zenawi, who chaired the debate on climate change in Nice, is sceptical about whether the financing would ever reach those in need. Zenawi has warned that the future of UN climate talks hinges on getting firmer commitments. At an African Union meeting in Addis Ababa in May, Zenawi also vowed that there will be no legally binding agreement on climate change unless there is a reliable and adequate accord on financing.

About 80 French business leaders including top bosses at oil giant Total and nuclear behemoth Areva took part in summit talks along with 150 heads of African companies. France has taken a back seat to China, Africa's biggest trade partner, which has injected billions over the past decade to tap into raw materials needed to fuel its economy.

According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), private sector investment in Africa gone from some 17 billion dollars in 2005 to 88 billion dollars in 2008.

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma and Nigeria's new leader Goodluck Jonathan attended the meeting. (, 6/1/2010)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Diamond Prices Recovering to Pre-Crash Levels

According to Trans Hex CEO Llewellyn Delport, left, diamond pricing is fully back to normal, mostly because of consumer demand in India and China. Trans Hex has begun to sell the 10% lots of diamonds that have been tied up at the State Diamond Trader. If Trans Hex fails to reach an amicable solution with the State Diamond Trader, the two will meet in court in early August. Trans Hex sexlls by tender and the State Diamond Trader situation presents a unique challenge.

Trans Hex is looking to use its cash conservatively across a spectrum of opportunities. Electricity represents only 3% of Trans Hex's total costs. (Mining Weekly, 5/31/2010)