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Engineering News is South Africa’s premier source of weekly real-economy news on projects, products, policies, personalities and technoeconomic progress, covering a wide range of industries – from agroprocessing to information technology.

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    Energy minister Jeff Radebe on Thursday said the independent power producer (IPP) programme had been designed to enlist the private sector to develop an impressive renewable energy generation network in the country.  "On the renewable sector, the independent power producer programme, as it is known is a competitive tender process that has been designed by our country to facilitate private sector investment into great connected renewable energy generation in South Africa," he said.

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    A new report into South Africa’s coal sector argues that any subsidies set aside for the country’s “inevitable” transition away from coal in electricity production should be tailored to protect workers, their dependants and communities, rather than Eskom, or the coal sector as a whole. Published by the University of Cape Town’s Energy Research Centre (ERC), the study warns that the domestic coal industry is in crisis, owing to environmental pressures, as well as a loss of competitiveness.

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    Solar power company Brenmiller Energy is focusing on African countries to fill its project pipeline, where it sees strong growth for renewable energy and energy storage solutions. Brenmiller in 2012 developed a thermal energy storage-based generation unit, which can function either as thermal storage unit or heat exchanger unit using various heat sources, such as electricity from wind, solar power or traditionally-generated coal power, as well as heat collected from exhausts, smelters and biomass energy.

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    Power utility Eskom said on Thursday that it was offering its business customers free electricity load profile audits, which would assist businesses to free up existing electrical capacity without having to invest in new points of supply and/or upgrades in supply. Eskom noted that sufficient capacity enabled customers to optimally improve their productivity and expand their operations.

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    The 2018 World Bank Logistics Performance Index (LPI) ranks South Africa as the third most competitive market behind Thailand and China in terms of logistics performance among upper-middle-income economies ranking. Brand South Africa on Thursday welcomed the results of the LPI, which also sees South Africa rank as number 33 of 160 countries assessed in the index.

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    Creamer Media’s readers continue to be part of the mobile revolution.  Over 20% of Creamer Media’s online readers view the websites on their mobile devices. To cater for this growing mobile readership Creamer Media offers an Engineering News Online app for iPhone and Android users.  These apps offer access to all content available on the Engineering News Online website and also offers additional benefits such as push notifications to alert the reader of breaking news items and the opportunity to save articles for a later read through the app’s bookmarks functionality.

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    The rush to test and implement fifth-generation (5G) services has already started, however, this time around, the latest technological advancement will not be built up or deployed in the same manner as preceding technologies, but rather be implemented on a use case basis. Despite the fact that the standards, specifications and regulations for the next generation technology have yet to be fully finalised, the mobile broadband industry worldwide has quickly and quietly been working on deploying 5G networks in different radio frequency bands, taking the steps needed towards commercial 5G.

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    Capital expenditure (capex) of R2.7-billion has been approved for the modernisation and optimisation of Assmang’s Gloria Manganese Mine at Black Rock in the Northern Cape, Assore CEO Charles Walters told Mining Weekly Online on Thursday. Assore owns 50% of Assmang, which it controls jointly with Patrice Motsepe’s African Rainbow Minerals.

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    Power utility Eskom said on Thursday that it was offering its business customers free electricity load profile audits, which would assist businesses to free up existing electrical capacity without having to invest in new points of supply and/or upgrades in supply. Eskom noted that sufficient capacity enabled customers to optimally improve their productivity and expand their operations.

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    Government and the automotive industry are said to be close to reaching consensus on the South African Automotive Masterplan. Irma Venter tells us more.

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    Transnet's board on Thursday, announced the suspension of two senior executives. "The board of Transnet today suspended two senior Transnet executives – Thamsanqa Jiyane, the chief officer for advanced manufacturing of Transnet Engineering and Lindiwe Mdletshe, the senior manager for strategic sourcing for Transnet Freight Rail," the board said in a statement.

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    South African businesses have completed a five-day mission to Peru organised and funded by the department of Trade and Industry (dti) to help them seek a market in the South American country.  Kama Industries managing director Grand Rousseau said he viewed the mission as a success, with two of the ten companies he met expressing keen interest to do business.

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    The headline earnings of diversified mining company African Rainbow Minerals (ARM) rose sharply in the 12 months to June 30, when the company generated strong cash flow that has underpinned a boosted cumulative dividend payout of R1.7-billion. Headline earnings increased by 51% to R4 814-million, cash from continuing operations amounted to R3 291-million, excluding the attributable cash of R2 507-million held at ARM Ferrous, and the final dividend of 750c a share took the cumulative dividend to 1 000c a share, well up on last year’s 650c a share.

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    South Africa is not in a recession, despite the latest gross domestic product (GDP) figures released by Statistics South Africa, economist Roelof Botha said on Thursday. South Africa slipped into what is generally considered a technical recession - defined as two successive quarters of negative GDP growth - on Tuesday, after GDP growth decreased by 0.7% in the second quarter of the year. This follows a restated contraction of -2.6% in the first quarter.

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    Embattled construction group Aveng expects to finalise the disposal of all noncore businesses by June 2019. Following a strategic review, the JSE-listed company identified Aveng Trident Steel, Aveng Grinaker-LTA, Aveng Manufacturing, as well as certain properties and other assets, for sale.

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    South Africa is currently in a period of chaos – a normal phase to go through after years of neglect, corruption and weak leadership. This is the view of policy specialist Theo Venter of the North West University School of Business and Governance. He was one of the speakers at the Momentum Consult annual conference on Thursday.

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    Expropriating property without compensation could "trigger a classical banking crisis", Nedbank chief executive Mike Brown told MPs on Friday. Brown was participating in the last round of public hearings by a parliamentary committee probing whether section 25 of the Constitution needs to be amended to allow government to expropriate land without compensation in the interests of land reform.

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    The Competition Tribunal has confirmed the settlement agreement between Omnia Fertilizer and the Competition Commission, in which the Omnia Holdings subsidiary agreed to an administrative penalty of R30-million. The agreement stemmed from a 2003 complaint lodged by small fertilizer blender and distributor Nutri-Flow in respect of a collusion case involving Sasol, Omnia and Yara (previously known as Kynoch).

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    The latest mobile laboratory of the Department of Science and Technology, launched on Friday, has robotics kits that children use to build and program robots, thereby inspiring them to pursue careers in science, mathematics, engineering and technology. The inspire science, engineering and technology (i-Set) project leader and University of South Africa (Unisa) lecturer Patricia Gouws said the eight other mobile laboratories, sponsored by petrochemicals major Sasol, will also be revamped to include robotics kits alongside the physical and chemical science kits.

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    Kenya's economic growth momentum for this year could be snuffed out if a widely unpopular 16% value-added tax on fuel is maintained, the country's chamber of commerce said on Friday, pointing at higher prices of goods and transport. The tax, which came into force on September 1, is part of a government bid to boost revenue collection in order to narrow its fiscal deficit and secure an extension of a standby credit facility from the International Monetary Fund.

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