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Key Economic Data 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
Millions of US $ 159,886 104,235 113,300 29
GNI per capita
 US $ 2,780 2,600 2,820 93
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on South Africa

Update No: 067 - (17/08/07)

Who will Lead
African National Congress (ANC) branches will be able to start discussing their preferences for who should head the ruling party. After two years of drama around ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma dominating the headlines, the party's top brass gave its members the go-ahead to start talking July 28. However, they will have to wait two more months before they can formally begin to nominate their preferred future president. Thabo Mbeki's successor as ANC leader will be chosen at the party's national congress in December. Three candidates have so far unofficially announced their intentions, Mbeki, Zuma and businessman Tokyo Sexwale, who is said to be making inroads into the traditional support bases of both his rivals. The official kick-off potentially opens the door for more candidates to put themselves forward. Mbeki has acknowledged that he has his sights set on leading the party again, signalling a bruising battle for the top post. Mbeki is constitutionally barred from a third term as South African president but could potentially remain as president of the ANC.

Zuma - Nothing Stopping Me Leading ANC 
ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma dug in his heels over the party's presidential race July 24, telling Business Day newspaper he was eligible to stand for the top party post unless he was convicted before December. His determination, which sets up a stand-off with party leader President Thabo Mbeki, dashes any hopes of a compromise candidate emerging as the countdown begins towards the party's conference. The search for a compromise candidate is being supported by party insiders who fear a stand-off between the two men could result in Mbeki's humiliation and further split the party. Zuma enjoys popular support among the party's grassroots and the ANC Youth League, which has openly endorsed him. The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has been unable to draw up a new charge sheet against Zuma despite a nearly decade-long probe into his affairs. The NPA has reserved its right to take Zuma to court again. Politically, this will energise Zuma's election campaign as he will once again be seen as a victim. Zuma said in a broad-ranging interview yesterday that the ANC constitution clearly stipulated who was eligible to stand as party president. The document made it clear that any member in good standing was eligible to be ANC president. "I'm not sure to be charged means that I am not a member in good standing. I have been charged and acquitted. And I was charged and the trial thrown out," Zuma said. Zuma has insisted on his right to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. He was responding to questions on whether his run-ins with the law were an impediment to him succeeding Mbeki. "If I'm charged and there is a trial in four months to come and I am convicted, that is a different story. I doubt there is any case that could move so quickly." Zuma was acquitted of rape, and corruption charges against him were thrown out of court. He dismissed arguments punted by Mbeki supporters that only the president was capable of leading the party. He said the ANC was not short of leaders and there was no "leadership crisis". Some ANC power brokers have suggested that Zuma could lead the ANC, but not the country, an argument that has been used to advance the option of "two centres of power". Zuma is on record as saying that he is against that option, and said the party's recent policy conference proposal on the matter addressed the issue.

African Summit in Ghana
Regional integration in Africa featured high on the agenda of the 53-state African Union (AU) summit early July in Ghana. African leaders agree that some form of continental co-operation is a prerequisite for a successful renaissance. The idea is unquestionably a sound one and the task is urgent. The crucial question, however, is how to do it. Various African leaders, notably Libya's Muammar Gaddafi and Senegal's Abdoulaye Wade, as well as AU chairman Alpha Konaré, spoke in favour of the formation of a "United States of Africa". Of course, the "idea of Africa" embodied in the notions of African unity and pan-Africanism is an important starting point for African integration. However, under the watch of the Organisation for African Unity (OAU) and its successor, the AU, African unity has never metamorphosed into a genuine instrument for the promotion of continental development and stability. By and large, it remained a mantra, a protection shield behind which member states continued to assert their national freedom and independence. This is not the way towards African regional integration.

Diamond Strike
South African workers for the world's biggest diamond producer, De Beers, have voted to go on strike over pay. The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said about 11,000 of its members would down tools from 31 July to demand an 11% wage increase. De Beers, which is 45%-owned by mining giant Anglo American, said contingency plans would be in place to operate the mines during the indefinite strike. The planned strike is the latest union unrest that has rocked South Africa. The NUM has demanded an 11% pay offer and has said it is still open to negotiations. De Beers has offered 8%. "Workers have told us in no uncertain terms that double-digits is the route," said Peter Bailey, the NUM's negotiator at De Beers. De Beers told the AFP news agency: "In the event of a strike, contingency plans are in place to operate the mines. "However, the company would prefer to settle this without disruption to its normal operations or to employees." More than a quarter of a million engineering and metal workers walked out in protest over pay disputes earlier this month in a strike expected to bring 9,000 companies to a standstill. 

Zim Refugees
The flood of refugees pouring over South Africa's northern border from Zimbabwe has become "a tsunami" according to border police and Home Affairs officers working the Limpopo River district. And one of the country's premier institutes of migration research has warned that South Africa does not have the capacity and will not be able to cope with the fallout caused by an economic meltdown of its neighbour. But the Department of Home Affairs denied there had been any increase in the flow of Zimbabweans into the country. Up to four million Zimbabweans are thought to be living in South Africa. 

Mandela's Annual Lecture Focuses On Continent
A new strategy for Africa, which rests on peace and security, human rights and the rule of law, and development, has been unveiled at the Fifth Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture. Former Secretary General of the United Nations (UN) Kofi Annan, delivered this year's lecture at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg July 22, said the three pillars both reinforce and depend on each other. Mr Annan explained that Africa had seen real and measurable progress in peace and security over the past decade. "Many bloody civil wars have ended and there are fewer inter-state conflicts than there used to be. "I am proud that the UN has been an important actor in resolving conflicts. And I am proud of what my fellow Africans have achieved in ending much of the violence that has disfigured our continent. "South Africa, under President Thabo Mbeki's leadership, has played a major role." Mr Annan condemned the situation in Darfur where men, women and children are being driven from their homes by conflict; and further spoke out against the "ever downward spiral of Zimbabwe", which is experiencing political and economic chaos. He warned that although stability in Africa might be spreading, a peaceful Africa remained a distant goal. "We are working harder for peace. Through the African Union we are learning to better manage and resolve conflicts and, most importantly, to prevent new ones from breaking out," he said. However, Mr Annan explained, peace would only endure when it was accompanied by economic and social development. He highlighted some of the progress Africa had achieved, including inflation which was at historic lows in many countries and that 27 African economies were projected to grow by more than 5 percent this year. Direct investment has also increased more than 200 percent in the past five years, due to rising exports, advances on debt relief and aid and investment initiatives. Africa has also made headway toward the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), according to Mr Annan. "The latest report from the UN shows that today, halfway to the 2015 target date, we've achieved positive change in several crucial areas. "We are not excelling, but we are advancing. It is vital that Africa lead its own development process. "The key now is to reinforce the progress we have made and eliminate shortfalls in development assistance, debt relief and fair trade," he explained. Mr Annan further cautioned that aid alone would not end poverty in Africa, but market access, fair terms of trade and a non-discriminatory financial system were equally essential in helping Africans to lift themselves out of poverty and deprivation. Mr Annan emphasised the importance for Africa to strengthen human rights and the rule of law to accelerate progress. "Only when government is grounded in the rule of law, and it is fairly and consistently applied, can society rest on a solid foundation. Mr Annan also praised Africa, saying democracy on the continent had deepened in the past decade and that more states than ever had governments that were duly elected instead of imposed. "The rule of law, like peace and security, is a prerequisite to strong and sustained development. And without prosperity and opportunity that are widely shared, peace cannot last long and democratic institutions cannot truly flourish," said Mr Annan in conclusion. The annual lecture offers an opportunity for leaders of international standing to present their views on critical issues impacting society at large.

Poverty On the Retreat, Figures Show
Poverty in SA declined strongly between 2002 and last year, official data showed July 24, but analysts remain divided on whether the government will achieve its goal of halving the number of poor South Africans by 2014. The ratio of households in which one child went hungry fell to 2,4% last year from 6,7% in 2002, while the ratio in which an adult went hungry fell to 2,5% from 6,9%, according to an annual survey from Statistics SA. Other key living standard measures showed that the proportion of households with access to electricity, water, toilets and waste removal rose significantly during that period, backing evidence that conditions for SA's poor are improving. "The findings suggest that, in terms of several of the main dimensions of poverty, the situation is likely to have improved over the period 2002 to 2006," said Stats SA. Analysts said it was hard to say how many of SA's 47,9-million people were poor as the term was relative, depending on the threshold used, and there was no standard measure for SA. In its February budget, the treasury said that it would introduce an official poverty line for SA this year, based on minimum food needs and essential items, in order to measure the extent and nature of poverty and to monitor the pace at which it was being reduced. Stats SA is preparing figures with a monthly income of R322 as one proposed threshold, with a final report due in the third quarter of this year. Rapid growth in social grants -- which had risen an average of nearly 20% over each of the past four years -- got most of the credit for reducing poverty, although employment growth had played a role, said analysts. Grants for old age, disability, foster care and child support amounted to R10,9bn last year. This is about 12% of the total spent by the government and reaches nearly 13% of the population. "We've seen a strong decline in poverty since 2002, mostly driven by the social grant," said Servaas van der Berg, an economics professor at the University of Stellenbosch. "The jobs which have been created generally don't go to the poor -- there is a long queue for jobs and the poor are at the end of it." Depending on which measure was used, 30%-60% of South Africans were poor, he said. Standard Bank group economist Goolam Ballim believes that the government will halve poverty and unemployment by 2014, if the economy continues to grow at the robust annual pace of 5% seen over each of the past three years. "Government policies are working. T here is momentum, better funding and better processes behind service delivery." However, Van der Berg said it was unlikely official poverty and unemployment goals would be met by 2014, although he saw a chance if the economy sustained the pace of job creation seen over the past few years. " We will get close, but probably not make it." Official figures show that about 1,5-million jobs were created in the past three years, but SA is still saddled with a jobless rate of more than 25%, one of the highest in the world. The percentage of households that used electricity climbed to 81,3% last year from 75,6% in 2002, while the ratio of households with piped water rose to 71,3% from 66,1%, showed Stats SA's figures.

Land Commission Settles 90 Percent of Claims
At least 90 percent of the land claims lodged in the four years after 1994 have been settled, the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights announced July 25. This means that of the 79 000 of the claims lodged between 1995 and 1998, about 74 000 have been settled. While this is a major accomplishment for the commission, it has expressed doubts that President Thabo Mbeki's call for all land claims to be settled by 2008 can be achieved. Linah Makhubele, spokesperson for the Commission in Restitution of Land Rights, said that many of the claims are tied up in the Land Claims Court due to issues such as community and traditional leadership disputes. "Due to the complexity of many of the remaining claims it will be difficult to meet the 2008 deadline." In line with furthering restitution progress to date, the commission has announced it will be handing over 16 000 hectares of land situated in the Potchesftroom Local Municipality July 28. The Barolong Boo Bodiboa Ba Matlwang tribe will be the recipients of the land valued at R54 million. Head of Communications at the Gauteng and North West Regional Land Claims Commission, Vuyani Nkasayi, told BuaNews that the claim was one of the most promising projects, as the land will also be used to establish the first National Park in the North West province. The park is to be called Highveld National Park. "The commission can confirm that this park is a joint venture between the beneficiaries and the South African National Parks Board, North West Parks and the Tourism Board." "(The joint venture) will in a way reverse the syndrome of rural-urban migration to urban-rural migration by opening the doors of economic liberation," said Gauteng and North West Regional Land Claims Commissioner, Tumi Seboka. "We will make sure that we give the necessary support to the claimants in order to participate in land within protected areas," said Ms Seboka. She said never again will people feel the effects of the 1913 Land Act. "This gave legislative effect to a process of land seizure by the white settlers that has been going on since Jan van Riebeeck set foot on the shores of the Cape of Good Hope in 1652," President Mbeki said in 2003, on the 90th anniversary of its adoption by the apartheid government. He explained that the Land Act of 1913 was followed by other laws, which sought to reserve most of the land in South Africa for exclusive ownership and use by the white minority. "These include the Development and Land Act of 1936 as well as a plethora of laws that denied black people the right to own land and property in most of South Africa. "Later, the Group Areas Act and other laws further restricted the possibility of blacks to own land in their country and denied them freedom of movement." Following the finalisation of the claim, Communal Property Association (CPA) Chairperson Joseph Lerefola said "our people have laid the foundation thereby becoming the first community to establish a national park."

Move to Appeal Against Ruling That Reinstates Striking Nurses
The 41 Khayelitsha healthcare workers dismissed during the recent civil service strike have been back at work for nearly a month, but now the government has filed leave to appeal the interim judgment that effectively saw them reinstated. On June 26, High Court judge Justice Siraj Desai handed down an order, after the Treatment Action Campaign instituted legal action, ordering the national and provincial health authorities to "restore the reasonable functioning of healthcare services in Khayelitsha". Judge Desai did not go so far as to order the reinstatement of the dismissed workers, a matter he said had to be dealt with in a different forum, but on July 2 the workers returned to work and all services were restored. Khayelitsha's three health facilities were seriously understaffed even before the industrial action, but the dismissals, the TAC charged, made it impossible for at least two of the three to offer adequate care. Most of the 41 were dismissed from the Site B clinic. The TAC said in a statement July 26 that the case was set down to be heard for final determination on August 20, after the State last week filed leave to appeal against the interim judgement, "even though the case is now moot". The TAC, with five patients who use Khayelitsha's health services, had brought the urgent action in the Cape High Court. The five described how they were dependent on Khayelitsha's clinics to treat their and their children's chronic illnesses, including HIV/Aids, tuberculosis and asthma. The respondents were Western Cape Health MEC Pierre Uys, head of health in the province Craig Househam, Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, and Minister of Public Service and Administration Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi. In his judgement on June 26, Judge Desai found that, given the evidence before him, the State had acted unconstitutionally and violated the rights of patients by not having a reasonable contingency plan in place to maintain health services. He upheld the evidence of doctors and nurses working in Khayelitsha who testified that service provision was dramatically affected by the dismissals. The TAC, judging the case "important for determining (the) government's health delivery obligations", said the judgment demonstrated that the government "may not terminate the provision of health services without making contingency plans". The end of the nearly month-long industrial action was announced two days after the judgment, and included in the settlement agreement between the unions and the State was the reinstatement of the workers. Nevertheless, the TAC said, the State had appealed the interim judgment. "The TAC national executive committee has resolved to mobilise the widest support for sufficient human resources in the health system," the group said.

U.S. Trade Union Joins Forces With Sactwu
A major U.S. trade union is to join forces with the South African Clothing and Textile Workers' Union (Sactwu) in a move which could see "significant" investment in SA and elsewhere, a media briefing attended by Hollywood superstar Danny Glover was told July 3. Glover, who represents U.S. lobby group, the Trans-Africa Forum, and Bruce Raynor, president of the Unite Here union, Sactwu's U.S. sister trade union, are in the country to identify opportunities that can assist the U.S. groups to promote social development in SA. The unions would also promote South African clothing and textile goods in the U.S., particularly since SA had fair labour standards, which complied with the investment strategy of the U.S. trade union. Raynor, who is also chairman of the $5bn union-owned Amalgamated Bank in New York, said he was in SA to investigate investment opportunities for pension fund investments. The bank had $7bn of pension fund investments in its portfolio and "substantial" amounts of money were available for further investment. He said that 10%-20% of the bank's investment capital was earmarked for global markets with productive economies, and SA was one of the targeted areas. Raynor said that what was also needed was a collaboration with Sactwu to take the message to U.S. consumers supporting the "largest retail market in the world for apparel textiles", that goods sold in the U.S. should be made in countries where "fair labour standards are applied and workers are treated respectfully". He said part of Glover's and the unions' power lay in their ability to appeal to the American public on issues of workers' rights. What was needed, he said, was to learn to exercise "some influence" over the buying decisions of U.S. consumers to get to the heart of American retailers, and change the behaviour of the retailers to make "sourcing decisions which make sense". Raynor also said that once a new U.S. president was elected there was a "good chance" for a more equitable African Growth and Development Act to be passed by congress.

Aids Sees Plunge in Growth Rate of SA's Population
The population growth rate in South Africa has taken a drastic plunge in recent years, with HIV/Aids-related deaths playing a lead role in the decline, say experts. Statistics South Africa released its latest findings July 3, which show that the population growth in the country has slowed down to 6.4% since 2001. This is a significant drop from the 10.4% growth rate between 1996 and 2001. The mid-year population estimates further show that 11% of the recently estimated 47.9 million people in South Africa are infected with the HIV virus. According to a 2006 report on the demographic impact of HIV/Aids on the country, the population growth rate is directly affected by HIV/Aids. The report - jointly compiled by experts from the Centre for Actuarial Research, The Burden of Disease Research Unit and the Actuarial Society of South Africa - says there were up to 346 000 Aids-related deaths nationally in 2005.
"... although the population growth rate is falling, it is not expected to become negative for the country as a whole, but may do so, slightly, for one or two provinces," the report says. The populations of Gauteng and Free State are expected to shrink dramatically by 2015. This was expected partly because Gauteng was enduring falling fertility and rising mortality rates and Free State was feeling the impact of migration. "However, whether or not these provinces will actually experience negative or stagnant population growth is very much dependent on the patterns of future migration, and this is something about which there is little certainty," the report says. The impact of HIV/Aids on the population growth rate was also backed up by Medical Research Council statistician Ria Laubscher and senior researcher Leigh Johnson and demographer Tom Moultrie at the Centre for Actuarial Research. Laubscher said HIV/Aids would "definitely have an influence" on the population growth rate because the death rate in the country was increasing as a result of the pandemic. Moultrie said fertility in the country had been falling for years and that there were a number of recent deaths because of Aids, which saw the "narrowing of the gap in terms of the slowing down of the population growth rate". Johnson said while there were probably other factors at play, "Aids mortality has had some impact on population growth". According to Statistics SA's estimates, 51% of the country's population was female and the average life expectancy for both sexes was 50 years. Also, closer to home, only 10.1% of the population was found to be living in the Western Cape, which is half the number of people living in Gauteng. People in the Western Cape can also expect to live a few years longer than South Africans in other provinces as their average life expectancy is 60 years and over.

South Africa 'Spurns World Bank's Aids Money'
The World Bank's HIV/Aids programme director Dr Debrework Zewdie expressed disappointment July 19 at the South African government's continued refusal of the financial institution's offers to help combat the country's HIV epidemic, one of the world's worst. SA has at least 5,5-million HIV-infected people, according to the government's own estimates. When SA's new R45bn National Strategic Aids Plan, was launched this year, Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said the government would be hard pressed to bankroll the entire plan itself and called on the private sector to help. The ambitious plan maps out SA's strategy for combating HIV and Aids over the next five years, and has been widely hailed. The government has earmarked R14bn for HIV/Aids over the three-year medium term expenditure framework. Zewdie said she had personally been involved in efforts to help the government but had been repeatedly rebuffed. "SA doesn't want the World Bank's money. We actually lost a lot of money in trying to entice SA to take money from the World Bank. We didn't succeed." Offers of practical help were also declined, she said. "We hope the situation will change. The bank stands ready to help," she said. The bank's Pretoria office was in "constant communication" with the government. Zewdie made her remarks ahead of the 4th International Aids Society (IAS) conference on HIV pathogenesis, treatment and prevention, which opens in Sydney on Sunday. The gathering is expected to draw 5000 experts from around the world to discuss the latest scientific developments in the prevention and treatment of HIV. They are also due to discuss the latest advances in scientists' understanding of the virus itself, and how to put new research findings into practice. Asked in Cape Town yesterday about the World Bank's offer and SA's apparent refusal of it, Mlambo-Ngcuka said she had no knowledge of either. The IAS, the world's largest independent association of HIV experts, planned to use the conference to launch a global call for governments and bilateral donors to earmark 10% of the funds they allocated to HIV programmes for research, said conference co-chair David Cooper. Many developing countries were battling to meet the demand for Aids drugs and were concentrating their limited resources on developing implementation programmes without detailed monitoring systems, he said. "Many of us are afraid if this rollout of Aids drugs doesn't go well, and the donors become fatigued and unhappy with some outcomes, then we won't have an evidence base on which to work out why it hasn't gone as well as we'd have liked." he said.

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Ford to Shift Focus Plant to Australia

Vehicle manufacturer Ford Motor Company of southern Africa will shift the production of the company's next-generation Focus range from SA to Australia in an effort to improve efficiency, eliminating 40% of its local production. Group communication manager Ben Pillay said July 25 the reasons behind the decision to take production to Australia were prompted by the group's strategy to improve efficiency. The company has been producing 30000 Focus range vehicles locally with 7000 of these destined for SA and the rest for the Australian market. The Focus was introduced in 2005. Pillay said the decision would not result in retrenchments of workers as the company was looking at alternative products that could be manufactured locally to close the gap. "Once a decision has been made on which other Ford products we can produce locally, workers will be absorbed. Going forward, we want to drive efficiencies. The decision only kicks in in 2010, so we have time." Pillay could not divulge how much revenue Ford would lo se in revenue due to the decision. On whether this would not affect the pricing of the Focus, as it would be imported from Australia, Pillay said: "Pricing is driven by the market. We obviously want to get competitive prices for our products." He said the third-generation Focus would be manufactured at Ford Australia's Melbourne plant. "About 40000 Focus units a year are being projected, many of which will be exported to SA, New Zealand and other right-hand-drive markets," Pillay said. The Focus range of hatchbacks and sedans is being produced at the company's Silverton plant in Pretoria. Sapa reported that Ford Australia president Tom Gorman said that the Focus production would "more than double" its export footprint. "It also reflects contemporary market demands for smaller vehicles and opens up significant export opportunities within the region," Gorman said. Bloomberg has reported that Ford, the second-biggest US vehicle maker, would probably report its eighth consecutive quarterly loss.

Tyre Strike Starts to Bite As Parties Stand Firm

The strike in the tyre manufacturing industry is starting to bite, with production affected adversely but both employers and unions are sticking to their guns with no resolution in sight. Almost 4000 members of the National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) out of the 7800 workers in the tyre industry downed tools over wages July 20, demanding a 10% increase. This comes after several rounds of negotiations failed to resolve the dispute with employers represented in the New Tyre Manufacturing Industry Association offering a 7% increase. Association chairman Basil Smith said employers had put a 7,5% salary increase on the table, linked to production improvements. "We are producing the minimum number of tyres and it is difficult to gauge how much the industry is losing a day as a result of the strike. We have given union representatives our offer to go and consider," Smith said. Romano Daniels, group communication manager at Bridgestone, said "we are unable to produce one tyre in our Brits and Port Elizabeth plants". Goodyear PR manager Lize Hayward would give details on production.

Fiat Leaps Ahead With New Parts Centre

Fiat Auto SA has made a quantum leap in its service provision with the opening of a state-of-the-art parts distribution centre, housed within the Automotive Distribution Park in Rosslyn, Pretoria. The ribbon-cutting ceremony heralded the start of a new level of customer service and satisfaction that is aimed at rivalling the best available in the world. Fiat Auto SA MD Gorgio Gorelli said: "We have been focusing intensely on two key drivers with regard to pushing the Fiat nameplate in this country: method and brand. We have moved a long way from a situation wherein our operation was relatively weak with 90 dealers with poor representation to a situation where we now have 40 dedicated dealers with full representation and equal commitment to our ideologies. "As a result of consistency in our marketing, we have targeted the fastest-growing market segments effectively and this has reflected in industry statistics that show Fiat as the fourth-youngest brand, the third brand in appealing to female customers and the first to black consumers," Gorelli said. "This was not the case a few years ago, but through multi-language advertising and our emphasis on concise component delivery, we are very proud of this staggering progress," he said. "The intense work placed into the supply chain has been a great contributing factor in Fiat becoming the third-fastest growing brand in SA, and has seen the delivery of customer excellence that we expect. "It is for this reason that the logistics provider that was selected through tender would need to meet with key parameters in facilitating our operation. These are speed, accuracy and the capacity to deliver. "UTI provided all of these prerequisites, and in addition, proved the most economical as well. "They best understand our needs and provide a unique solution to give Fiat the advantage we need to go forward," Gorelli said. GM of Fiat Parts, Theunis Eloff, sounded an upbeat note. "With Fiat's primary target being to deliver excellence to the customer, the very next step would be to enhance our branding network even further by entering into a service level agreement with UTI. This would require not only meeting, but managing and exceeding expectations in altering our dealer network to maximise its capacity," Eloff said. "UTI has met with and exceeded expectation in four key elements as required by Fiat Auto SA, namely an established South African infrastructure, operational excellence, IT integration capabilities and proven automotive experience." Customer solutions manager for UTI Automotive Division Anthony Wilson said: "UTI was started by three South Africans in 1976, and with a market capital of over R3,5bn and more than 19000 employees in more than 300 offices in 60 countries, it has moved from being a JSE-listed company to the Nasdac. "Over the years we have developed a reputation of delivering quantified value over the long term and this is achieved through customer service, return on investment and reducing operating costs," Wilson said. Eloff said at the end of the ceremony: "Fiat SA's mission is to become one of the top performing parts distribution operations of any Fiat operation globally, through world class operational performance, web-based supply chain visibility and advanced integrated cross-docking."

Toyota Fights Back

Toyota has been the dominant motor manufacturer in SA since taking overall market leadership in 1980, but it has been outgunned by Volkswagen in the high profile passenger car stakes since 2005. The launch of the Auris as the replacement for the RunX in the C-segment hatchback market marks the start of a renewed fight back in the car market by Toyota. The public introduction of Auris early August will be followed in September by the launch of the latest generation Corolla, one of SA's all-time top sellers. Together these two models and the related Corolla Verso multi-purpose vehicle will be aiming to regain the sales lead among individual model ranges from current chart-toppers, the VW Polo sedan and hatch. The obvious difference in the passenger car ranges of Toyota and Volkswagen is that Toyota no longer has an entry-level car - its base 1l Yaris three-door now costs R92700. VW meanwhile keeps revitalising its entry-level competitor, the evergreen CitiGolf, which dates back originally to 1984. The CitiGolf garnered 2222 sales in June to make it the country's second most popular model for the month -- behind Polo. This is quite some achievement considering that CitiGolf is basically an old model and sometimes takes flack from motoring writers as the only remaining "dinosaur" on the local market! It seems that Toyota SA has no quick-fix solution to the loss of its Tazz model last year, when production stopped. The joint-venture Toyota/Peugeot/Citroen minicar is already on sale here in its Peugeot and Citroen guises, but it appears that the Toyota version, the Aygo, does not make economic sense as its pricing would have to be close to the lower spec models in the Yaris range. Toyota Motor Corporation is developing a "low cost car for developing countries" and a concept will be shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September. This may well be a long-term solution to Toyota SA's current entry-level quandary. In the meantime Toyota SA will rely on new models such as the Auris and Corolla to win back lost share in the passenger car arena. Auris has a tough task as it is up against seasoned campaigners such as the VW Golf, Opel Astra, Ford Focus and Peugeot 307. South African journalists were taken to Britain by Toyota SA in June for the international launch of the Auris, which is a very important player in Toyota's thrust for increased sales in Europe, with the C-segment hatch being a key model. Details of the Auris line-up and detailed specifications for SA, as well as pricing, will be revealed at the local media launch on August 6. Sales will start on August 13. The Auris is made in only two countries outside Japan -- Britain (five-door) and Turkey (three-door). SA will import the five-door Auris from Britain and this will mark the first time in 22 years that the hatchback version of the Corolla will not be made in SA. Currently Toyota's plant at Burnaston in the UK builds Auris and Avensis, with each model on dedicated production lines. There are 34 variants of Auris to cater for the needs of different markets and the monthly volume destined for SA will be about 1000 units. A great deal of time, effort and training has gone into preparing the plant and its team members to ensure top class quality for Auris from the start of initial production, to ramp up to full volume, which took only 38 days. Another change from building the Corolla hatch in SA will be the adoption of the Auris name. The name Auris is derived from "aurum" (gold) and "aura" (atmosphere). The pronunciation of the name will differ however. Toyota Great Britain has opted for "Ow-ris", while other markets, including SA and France will use "Or-ris". Very high targets were set for the Auris in the design and development process in terms of aiming at class-leading interior design and spaciousness, noise/vibration/harshness, safety and driving dynamics. The enthusiastic British Toyota team says they are very pleased at the way the car is meeting these objectives. Feedback from research and initial sales figures has both been satisfying and rewarding according to Elfion Jones, the sales and market planning manager. Although Toyota SA's marketing communications manager, Brian Eades, would not reveal specific details about Auris for SA he did say that the marketing slogan for Auris would be "Passion for now" and all marketing will continue to be totally divorced from Corolla, as was the case with the Conquest and RunX in the past. Eades said there would not be an RSi performance model in the range, as the petrol engine used in the current RSi and TRD models has been discontinued. Europe uses a 2,2-litre D4-D Cat diesel engine in its high performance model, but this engine requires diesel fuel with a maximum sulphur content of 50 parts per million, which is not yet available countrywide in SA, so we will not get this version. However, there will be a diesel in the local Auris line-up, as well as 1,4l, a 1,6l and 1,8l petrol engines. The diesel is a two-litre, which complies with Euro 4 emission regulations and will be new to SA as the Avensis and RAV4 use a 2,2l diesel power unit. The 1,6l engine is all new and features variable valve timing on both inlet and exhaust camshafts. Both the 1,4l and the 1,8l engines have been revised for more power and better fuel economy. There will not be a conventional automatic in the Auris range, but a 1,6 with vastly improved multi-mode transmission will be offered. The exterior design is more an evolution of the RunX styling than being a possibly controversial ground breaker in styling, like the new Honda Civic hatch. Toyota traditionally prefers to play it conservatively. We had the opportunity to drive three of the British specification models. Initial impressions were most favourable, particularly the spaciousness of the cabin and the attractive interior lay-out, especially the "bridge" design feature around the gear lever. Gear shifting by means of a short lever was a marked improvement on the RunX, while the electric steering system provided good feel. Braking was most impressive and is claimed to be class-leading. Noise and vibration was also very well controlled and the general feeling was of a quiet, comfortable ride with good driving dynamics. Now we have to wait a few days to learn more about the target market Toyota SA sees for their newcomer, as well as the detailed specifications, model range and the important factor of pricing. It is going to be an interesting fight!

Locally Manufactured Toyota Corollas Head to Europe

As from next year, the South African subsidiary of motor company Toyota is expected to export its locally produced Toyota Corollas from Durban to Europe - a move set to boost the economy of KwaZulu-Natal. The decision was taken following a meeting July 11 in Tokyo, Japan between the provincial government and Toyota representatives. At the meeting with KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sbu Ndebele, the vice chairperson of Toyota Motor Corporation, Katsuhiro Nakagawa said Toyota South Africa would produce Corollas specifically to be exported to Europe. Mr Nakagawa announced that about 50 engineers had already been sent to South Africa to help with the manufacturing of the vehicles. "Toyota is determined to produce more vehicles in South Africa which can be exported to other countries. "The exporting of vehicles from South Africa to other countries is very important for South Africa's economy. The automotive industry is also important for the development of South Africa," he said. He said they also wanted an increased presence in Japanese automotive parts suppliers in South Africa as the country was considered to be the gateway to the rest of Africa. "We want to make our South African plant more competitive compared to Toyota plants in other countries," he said. In a bid to ensure the competitiveness of their South African plant, he acknowledged that the training of workers would be important to achieve this. "If we skill more workers, more automotive parts supplier companies will come to South Africa". He explained that they planned to establish a Toyota Training School in South Africa, which would benefit the company's employees and create a much needed skills base for growth. "We want to listen to the voice of the workers to be able to produce more vehicles, more efficiently and effectively. Training, development and education of our workforce must be intensified," said Mr Nakagawa. The production of the latest model of the Toyota Corolla in South Africa is currently proceeding well and will be launched in August this year. "However, we are trying hard to introduce new models of Toyota to be produced is South Africa as well," he said. Premier Ndebele appreciated the confidence shown by the company to South Africa, particularly KwaZulu-Natal. "We appreciate the new investment of more than R4 billion at the plant at Prospecton in Durban. However, we would like to see Toyota producing other automotive components in KwaZulu-Natal as well," he said. Mr Ndebele said they would welcome the development of an Automotive Supplier Park in the province. He said it was important to accelerate training of the current and future workforce. "Continuous training is very important. We have to train all the time. For the market in South Africa, the market in Africa and the market elsewhere, training is important," he said.

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SAA Division Strikes Maintenance Deal With Comair

A five-year R500 million deal has been finalised between Comair and South African Airways' technical subsidiary, SAA Technical (SAAT). The British Airways and fleets, operated by Comair, which total more than 22 aircraft will from now on be maintained by SAAT. SAA Group Head for Corporate Services, Robyn Chalmers said this was one of the largest and most significant maintenance agreements. The official said the decision by Comair to move the maintenance of its fleet of Boeing 737-300s and 737-400s to SAAT, confirms the extent of the organisation's solid local and international reputation. Chief Executive Officer of SAA, Khaya Ngqula, said the fact that one of the airline's competitors have decided to entrust the safety of its aircraft to SAAT is a great compliment and a proud achievement. "Not only will SAAT be able to offer Comair a seamless service, but the deal will also boost our revenue and further enhance our reputation," he said. SAA Technical is said to be the largest maintenance facility in Africa. Comair joint CEO, Gidon Novick, said: "The service levels we have had from SAAT in the past have enabled us to offer a high level of service to our customers. We look forward to further extending our relationship with SAAT." Until now, Comair aircraft have been maintained by both SAAT and Safair, a subsidiary of Imperial Holdings. Comair currently leases several aircraft from Safair and will continue to do so in the future. In addition, the two companies will continue with their successful freight joint venture, called Imperial Air Cargo. "We have already acquired two new and more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly Boeing 737-400s for as part of our plan to replace our old MD-82s. "This fleet upgrade process will be completed by the end of the year and we look forward to placing these aircraft in the capable hands of SAAT," he said. SAA Technical CEO Jan Blake said transferring maintenance on Comair's aircraft to SAAT already began in the beginning of July and will roll out over the coming months to ensure that there is a smooth transition. With the finalisation of the contract, the B737s will be the single largest fleet type under SAAT's maintenance schedule. "The B737 is the aircraft for Africa in the future which puts SAAT in a good position to bring in additional work from the continent in the coming years. "We will be focusing on neighbouring countries to expand our services in line with our strategy of diversifying our revenue stream and sourcing additional work from outside SAA," he said. The existing Comair fleet of MD82 aircraft leased from Safair will continue to be maintained by Safair until they have been phased out, this is likely to be within the next 8 months. Boeing 737 aircraft currently maintained by Safair will be transferred to SAAT over the next 3 months.

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Africa: Merger Makes Standard Africa's Biggest

Standard Bank Group, SA's largest bank by assets, planned to merge its Nigerian investment banking unit with Nigeria's IBTC Chartered Bank and acquire a further 17% stake in the enlarged entity for about $400m (R2,8bn) to give it control of the group, finance director Simon Ridley said July 16. The deal, which has been sanctioned by regulatory authorities in Nigeria and in SA, is part of Johannesburg-based Standard Bank's expansion in to the rest Africa. The bank currently operates in 18 African countries including SA. It also makes Standard Bank, which is mulling over another acquisition in Kenya, the largest bank in Africa by assets. Ridley said Standard Bank would merge Stanbic Nigeria with IBTC in exchange for 6,25-billion IBTC shares or 33% interest in the enlarged IBTC. Standard Bank would also make a tender offer to all IBTC shareholders to acquire more than 3,14-billion shares or 17% in Lagos-based IBTC Chartered at 16 naira a share, which was revised upwards from a February offer of 11,74 naira, he said. This would bring Standard Bank's holding in the enlarged entity to 50,1%, Ridley said. The tender offer opens next Monday and closes on August 13. Ridley said the enlarged ITBC, with 56 branches, would be the fifth-largest bank by capital in Africa's most populous country. "We are excited about the Nigerian transaction because the country has a very big and relatively unbanked population." Ridley said there was also potential for large, oil-induced corporate "activity" in the world's sixth-largest oil-rich country. Standard Bank would soon seek regulatory approvals for its plans to acquire a 60% stake in Kenya's CFC Bank, Ridley said. CFC Bank, with assets of 40,4-billion shillings (R4,2bn) at the end of last year, would be renamed CFC Stanbic Holdings. Standard Bank operates as Stanbic Bank in some of the African countries in which it trades. "Upon successful completion of the proposed merger, SAHL (Stanbic Africa Holdings) will directly own and control 164,2-million ordinary shares in CFC Bank, representing 60%, thereby acquiring effective control of CFC Bank," Standard Bank said recently. It did not say how much the acquisition would cost. CFC operates five branches in Kenya, and has insurance and financial services subsidiaries in Kenya and Tanzania.

Standard Chartered 'In Talks On Nedbank Stake'

British-owned Standard Chartered Bank said July 18 that it planned to grow its presence in SA organically and possibly through acquisitions amid market speculation that the wholesale banker was eyeing a stake in SA's fourth-largest bank, Nedbank. Standard Chartered SA CEO Christopher Low said SA was "core" to the group's strategy to expand its business in the rest of Africa, where it operates in 14 countries. Discussions between Standard Chartered Bank and Nedbank, which is majority owned by SA's largest insurer, Old Mutual, are understood to have been going on "for a while", according to sources. "Nedbank has been and still is a candidate for a possible takeover because it is the cheapest of the big four banks in SA. It has been linked to Standard Chartered going back two years," a market watcher said yesterday. Old Mutual's head of media relations, James Crampton, and Low could neither deny nor confirm the reports. "While we do not comment on market speculation, our focus for SA is niche organic growth as the country is an important gateway to the rest of Africa," Low said. "But this does not mean we would not supplement organic growth with acquisitions if the right opportunity presented itself in SA," he said. Standard Chartered, which established its first operation in SA in 1863, divested from SA in 1987 at the height of apartheid rule and returned to the country in 1992. A recent survey of banks operating in SA by professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers showed that while most banks in SA believed that the big four banks should be open to foreign investment, some thought the authorities would not approve of it. The report said the consensus was that, in addition to Absa, whose majority stake is in the hands of British bank Barclays, at least another one of the big four banks should be permitted foreign ownership. Standard Chartered group CEO Peter Sands said this week it aimed to be the "world's best international bank, leading the way in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Through strong, organic growth and disciplined acquisitions, the scale and performance of Standard Chartered has been transformed in recent years." Standard Chartered Bank planned to increase its stake in financial services firm First Africa from 25% to a controlling stake, Low said, without disclosing the quantum of shareholding it sought in the company. He said the bank, which also provides offshore correspondent and other banking services to SA's major banks -- Standard Bank, First National Bank and Nedbank -- also planned to expand its operations in Africa, outside SA. In the short to medium term, the bank was considering extending its African operations to a further nine countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Mozambique, Angola and Senegal, Low said. In the long term, it would also consider venturing into northern Africa, he said. Standard Chartered group had set aside $500m over the next five years to finance microlenders in the Africa and Asia regions. It was working with four microlenders in SA, three of which had operations elsewhere in Africa, Low said. Standard Chartered was also working with a number of insurance companies, in the markets that it operated, he said. The bank was this week named the best emerging markets bank at the 2007 Euromoney Awards for Excellence. It also scooped a regional award for the best bank in Africa, and a country award for the best bank in Ghana. "Africa is an important part of Standard Chartered history and future," Low said. "It is a diverse continent and many of its economies are experiencing strong economic growth and are being transformed by high commodity and energy prices." Low said the bank wanted to take advantage of the strengthening trade links between Asia, particularly China, and Africa, which had received much attention last year. "As an international bank with strong presence in both Asia and Africa, we are helping to fund this growing trade activity," he said.

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Government and Spain Agree On Trade Balance

South Africa and Spain have agreed to explore ways of ensuring a trade balance between them following bilateral talks July 18. South African Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad, and Deputy Finance Minister Jabu Moleketi, have been on a diplomatic visit to Spain as part of a four-nation tour.
The South African and Spanish governments have agreed to investigate ways of increasing two-way trade to address the trade imbalance currently in South Africa's favour, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs. The department said the two countries had identified the 2010 FIFA World Cup, as an important project through which they could explore co-operation. Deputy Minister Moleketi told his hosts about developments in South Africa's economy, including the existence of the two economies and the challenge of upgrading infrastructure to meet the demands of economic expansion. He also briefed the Spanish delegation about the country's Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (AsgiSA) and the Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition in South Africa (JipSA) as a means to uplift the economy and address South Africa's skills development challenges. The Spanish government was also briefed on the implementation of the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) policy in South Africa and South Africa's readiness to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The deputy minister was then given an overview of the Spanish economy, which has been growing at 3.5 percent per annum. In order to sustain this growth trend, Spain has identified four engines of growth. They include the lowering of interest rates, the development of infrastructure that benefit from European Union structural fund, and an increase in immigration which has also stimulated economy growth. Projects under the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad) banner will also be investigated and opportunities for co-operation will be explored. The department said some Spanish business federations are already participating in business ventures in South Africa, including in water, sanitation, mobile clinics, toll road management and infrastructure projects. The multi-lateral co-operation would also be facilitated through the European Union - SADC Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) to be finalised by the end of 2007.

Russia and South Africa to Boost Economic Ties

South Africa and Russia are to strengthen economic ties as Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma opened the SA-Russia Inter-governmental Trade and Economic Committee (ITEC) in Russia July 19. Minister Dlamini-Zuma led a senior South African delegation to the Russian Federation including Foreign Affairs and Mineral and Energy Directors-General Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba and Advocate Sandile Nogxina. Since the launch of ITEC, great progress has been made in strengthening bilateral political, economic and trade relations between the two countries. The last session of ITEC was held in Pretoria in February this year in which it was agreed that implementation of agreements through the committee is an area which would be focused on, as the framework for co-operation has already been established. One of the advances made through ITEC was the establishment of a Joint Business Council between the two countries launched during President Putin's state visit to South Africa. According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the visit seeks to further strengthen bilateral relations between South Africa and the Russian Federation in discussions with Russian Minister of Natural Resources, Yuri Trutnev. Ministers Dlamini-Zuma and Trutnev have expressed satisfaction at progress made after the tabling of reports from sub-committees of ITEC on water affairs and forestry, minerals and energy, trade and industry, agriculture, transport and education. The two ministers agreed to finalise preparations for the signing of four agreements between South Africa and Russia on issues regarding agriculture, education, energy and transport in 2008 in Moscow. The proposed agriculture agreement is set to enhance the expansion of export of South African agricultural products to the Russian Federation, while the education co-operation would deal with the mutual recognition of qualifications. Regarding energy, an agreement would be signed to facilitate closer co-operation in the fields of energy and power-generation. The ministers also emphasised the need to intensify the involvement of the private sector as driving force behind enhanced economic c-operation between Russia and South Africa, the department said. The Russian delegation to ITEC called for support of South Africans in arranging an Exhibition of Russian goods and services in South Africa in November 2007.

Deputy Ministers Conclude Visit to Cuba

A high-level South African delegation - led by two Deputy Ministers - has concluded an official visit to Cuba, which was characterised by intensive discussions on issues that will strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries. Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad and Deputy Finance Minister Jabu Moleketi visited the Latin American country July 10 to consolidate South Africa's commitment to political, economic and trade relations, as part of their four nation tour. The tour included Panama, Mexico and Spain. During the visit Mr Pahad and his Cuban counterpart Deputy Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez co-chaired the fifth session of the Joint Consultative Mechanism between South Africa and Cuba. The two leaders held a series of bilateral discussions, which also included regional situations in Latin America and the Caribbean as well as the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU). They also engaged on multilateral issues including Cuba's chairpersonship of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), the strengthening of South-South co-operation and developments in the United Nations, including its reform. The deputy ministers further discussed South Africa's tenure as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and progress towards the 2008 African Diaspora conference to be hosted in South Africa. Cuba extended its support of the Diaspora Conference. Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said on July 11 that during the discussions, South Africa agreed to take efforts in addressing the current trade imbalance between the two countries, which is in South Africa's favour. The Cuban delegation expressed its support for South Africa's attempt to address the challenges of skills development through the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (AsgiSA) and the Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA). "The Cuban government accordingly reiterated its offer to train South Africans in the fields of health, construction, housing, science and technology and literacy programmes. "South Africa also offered to share experiences and train Cubans in the fields of minerals and energy, biotechnology and geosciences," said Mr Mamoepa. Mr Pahad also briefed the Cuban delegation about peacekeeping and conflict resolution efforts in Africa, including the situation in the Great Lakes region, Côte dÍvoire, Somalia, Sudan and Darfur and Zimbabwe. "The Cuban delegation expressed support for the African position that each country in conflict determine their own solution and not have solutions imposed upon them," said Mr Mamoepa. Deputy Minister Pahad further briefed his Cuban counterpart of the outcomes of the African Union Summit in Ghana at the beginning of July 2007, which was held under the banner of the Grand Debate on African political and economic integration. He explained that all countries were committed to the goal of African integration and that processes should be put in place to achieve this long-term objective. Both sides also evaluated the situation in the Middle East, Iraq, Israel-Palestine, and Iran with regard to nuclear non-proliferation. "Both delegations agreed and reiterated that the creation of a Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel within secure borders and with Jerusalem as its capital remained a key element towards peace, security and stability within the region and indeed internationally," said Mr Mamoepa. Mr Mamoepa said the two delegations committed to intensify efforts aimed at bringing peace in the Middle East, including Iraq and Lebanon, through bilateral relations and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Deputy Finance Minister Jabu Moleketi also held discussions with the Cuban Deputy Minister of Finance and Prices Alejandro Gil Fernandez. Mr Moleketi also met First Deputy Minister of Tourism Alexis Trujillo Morejon and First Deputy President of the National Institute of Sport Roberto Leon Richard. They noted that aalthough South Africa and Cuba have different development challenges; there was a need to share experiences and strengthen bilateral economic relations. During discussions with the First Deputy Minister of Tourism Alexis Trujillo Morejon, Mr Moleketi commended Cuba's progress regarding the development of the tourism sector. "It was also indicated that South Africa could benefit from the Cuban experience, inter alia, institutional capacity building and the adoption of innovative and creative approaches to attract tourists," said Mr Mamoepa. Mr Moleketi also briefed the First Deputy President of the National Institute of Sport, Roberto Leon Richard on South Africa's hosting of the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

South Africa and Italy Consolidate Business Relations

Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka has highlighted the importance of strengthening and consolidating business and government relations between South Africa and Italy. Visiting Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Massimo D'Alema met Deputy President Mlambo-Ngcuka at the South Africa-Italy Business Forum, July 9. "We see this forum as a (necessary) mechanism to build a business to business relationship between South Africa and Italy," Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka said. South Africa's strategic positioning would provide Italian businesses with a key platform to access not only markets within the South African Development Community (SADC) countries, but the rest of the continent, she said. She said business opportunities in the manufacturing sector in particular, would allow South African and Italian businesses to operate jointly in a third market outside of South Africa. Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka said South Africa's economic boom was attributed to growth in the construction sector ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, but said demand for capital goods and skills capacity was one of the country's challenges going forward. SAB Miller and Sasol are among some of the South African companies who have managed to enter the Italian market and they have expressed hope that more South African companies would do the same, she said. Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka said she hoped South Africa could attract Italian companies which are producers of capital goods to help the country in this regard. She alluded to South Africa's growing second economy which "makes reference to citizens who have not been able to enter the mainstream economy." "Tourism is one of the most robust (second economy) industries in the country," said Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka who believes Italy has a lot to offer the country in terms of tourism. President of Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) Patrice Motsepe, agreed that "South Africa has much to learn in terms of SMMEs [Small Micro and Medium Enterprises] from Italy." In his address, he said BUSA would like to see advancements in the "design, manufacturing and distribution" sectors of the economy. He reiterated the deputy president's call for Italy to take advantage of South Africa as the gateway to SADC which has a perspective market population of 300 million. Mr D'Alema said Italy wanted to be South Africa's "principle partner for the huge event of 2010." The forum provides a platform for South African companies to interact with close to 120 Italian businesses from sectors including financial services, tourism, construction, biotechnology, automotives, machinery, agro processing and chemicals. Italy currently ranks amongst South Africa's top ten trading partners with a total of R23 billion having been traded in 2006. The forum was also attended by Minister of Trade and Industry Mandisi Mpahlwa and President of Italy's Confindustria Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, amongst others.

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Uranium One Outlines Expansion Bid

Global uranium company Uranium One was studying the viability of doubling output from its $180m Dominion mine and plant under construction near Klerksdorp, CEO Neal Froneman said July 9. He told media on a visit to the mine that Dominion was on track to produce 491000 pounds of uranium this year. By 2011 the mine would be at steady state production of 3,18-million pounds a year. The mine made its first shipment of ammonium diuranate, a slurry containing uranium, to AngloGold Ashanti subsidiary Nufcor, July 9, which will refine it further and market it. A study of the feasibility of expanding Dominion in two phases, first to plant capacity of 300000 ton s a month (tpm) and then to 400000tpm, or about 7-million pounds of uranium a year, should be completed by the fourth quarter of this year, Froneman said. Those production levels could be maintained for 30 years. Uranium One executive vice-president for Africa and Europe, Robert van Niekerk, said the company could not release cost estimates for the expansion project but they were within expectations. The expansion would not entail building another uranium plant, which had accounted for a significant portion of the costs in the first phase. Uranium One was drilling around the Dominion mine, where it holds prospecting rights over an area of about 57000ha . Work to date suggested that within 10 years the mine could double or even treble its production rate to 14-million to 20-million pounds of uranium a year. Dominion is Uranium One's most developed mine after Akdala in Kazakhstan, which was bought as part of the company's recent merger with Urasia. Later this year and early next year, South Inkai and Kharasan, also in Kazakhstan, would come into production as well as the Honeymoon mine in Australia. All five mines would be shallow, low-cost producers at low technical risk. Their cash costs would be $10- $14,50/lb compared with current uranium spot prices of about $135/lb. By 2013, Uranium One's global production should be at a peak of 19,4-million pounds, Froneman said. Nuclear utilities were holding back on buying uranium at elevated prices, he said, but he believed in the longer-term uranium could touch $150/lb.

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Vodacom Reports Positive Growth

As at June 30 2007, Vodacom Group recorded 32.4 million customers across its networks operating in South Africa, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho and Mozambique, reflecting a 7.5% increase in the three months since 31 March 2007. This was announced July 19. The growth in the customer base is a result of high gross customer connections of 4.4 million for the quarter. The group's non-South African operations comprised 7.8 million customers, or 24.1% of the total customer base. Year on year revenue for the quarter ended 30 June 2007 increased by 18.6%, while total group customers increased by 28.4% since June 30, 2006. South Africa increased its customer base by 6.9% since 31 March 2007 to 24.6 million customers in an increasingly competitive market. South Africa's customer base comprises 3.2 million contract customers and 21.3 million prepaid customers, reflecting increases of 7.5% and 6.9% since March 31, 2007, respectively. Vodacom South Africa claims it has retained its leadership in a highly competitive South African mobile communications market with an estimated market share of 59% at June 30, 2007. The SIM card penetration of the cellular industry in South Africa is now an estimated 89% of the population. Vodacom's non-SA operations increased their total customer base by 9.3% since 31 March to 7.8 million customers. The group reports satisfactory customer growth achieved in all non-South African operations, most notably DRC, with a 13.3% increase in its customer base.

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