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updated 6:54 AM SAST, Mar 14, 2031
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China to help Uganda build nuclear power plants

China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) has signed a memorandum of understanding to help Uganda build and operate nuclear power plants, Uganda’s energy ministry said yesterday.Uganda has uranium deposits, and needs power to develop its recently discovered oil fields.

Eight potential sites have been identified in the country’s central, southwest and northern regions, the government said, Reuters reports.

In targeting Ugandan nuclear power, state-owned CNNC has joined Russia, with whom Uganda signed a cooperation agreement for nuclear last year.Reuters notes that Uganda’s energy needs are expected to soar as the country prepares to start producing crude oil in 2020 from fields discovered in 2006.

Uganda has uranium deposits and President Yoweri Museveni has said his government wants to exploit them for nuclear energy.The agreement with CNNC, signed on 11 May, sees it helping Uganda with the design, construction and operation of power plants.

In June last year Uganda signed a similar memorandum of understanding with Russian State Atomic Energy Cooperation (ROSATOM) to facilitate the two countries’ cooperation on nuclear power.

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China wins $6.7bn Lagos-Kano railway contract

Nigeria has awarded a $6.68bn contract to the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) to build a major segment of a railway from Lagos, in the southwest, to Kano in the north.

“The signing of the ... segment contract agreement today (15 May) concludes all outstanding segments of the Lagos-Kano rail line,” the Chinese state news agency Xinhua quoted Nigeria’s transport ministry as saying. The work is expected to take two or three years.

CCECC, a subsidiary of Chinese state rail builder China Railway Construction Corporation, has been involved in other parts of the Lagos-Kano rail project, which started in 2006 and was broken into segments for implementation.

In 2016, Nigeria awarded it work on a segment between the northern states of Kano and Kaduna with a contract sum of $1.685bn.The railway line is also receiving funding from China. In April, China Exim bank approved a $1.231bn loan for the network’s modernisation programme, Reuters reports.

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Liberty Two Degrees to convert to Reit, acquires further assets

Liberty Two Degrees, a property portfolio established by financialservices and holdings company Liberty Group, on Friday announced its intention to convert to a corporate real estate investment trust (Reit) and list on the JSE as a new company (NewCo).

This is subsequent to the cancellation of the existing put option between Liberty Group and Liberty Two Degrees, in terms of which Liberty Group has the option to sell further portions of its undivided shares in properties co-owned by it and Liberty Two Degrees for no consideration.

This also follows the acquisition of a further R1.2-billion of properties from the Liberty Property Portfolio (LPP).

The internalisation of the management company of Liberty Two Degrees will result in NewCo taking over from the manager the asset management functions in relation to both the Liberty Two Degrees and the LPP co-owned property portfolios.

Collectively, in terms of the internalisation, it is anticipated that NewCo will buy the business of the manager for R300-million.

The consideration in respect of the internalisation and the acquisition, which totals R1.5-billion, is intended to be funded by debt.

The Liberty Group board believes the proposed transaction is in the best interest of unitholders and that these measures should assist in achieving a better correlation between the unit trading price and the net asset value of Liberty Two Degrees’ underlying asset portfolio.

Further, the proposed transaction represents an opportunity to introduce a conservative level of debt to NewCo’s capital structure, serving to reduce its weighted average cost of capital, while still providing Liberty Two Degrees with flexibility to execute on its investment objective and strategy.

The board does not expect the proposed transaction to affect the distribution guidance for the year ending December 31.

It is anticipated that the transaction will be concluded during September. 

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Zimbabwe, China seal US $1bn power deal

Zimbabwe has signed a US $1bn deal with Sinosteel Corp in a development that will see the Chinese firm building a 400MW coal bed methane-fired power plant in Matabeleland North Province and setting up new ferrochrome smelters at Zimasco.

During the signing ceremony, President Emmerson Mnangagwa revealed that the first phase of the implementation will involve drilling of two Coal Bed Methane (CBM) wells at the Shangani grants to fire a 12MW pilot power station, and the second phase, more productive wells will be drilled  to set up a 400 MW plant.

Sinosteel, a major shareholder in Zimasco, will build two ferrochrome smelters. One in Zvishavane and another one in Kwekwe, where it already operates the country’s largest ferrochrome plant.

Winston Chitando,minister for mines and mining development, signed the deal on behalf of the Government, while the Chinese firm was represented by its president Andong Liu. The signing ceremony was also witnessed by Vice Presidents Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi as well as other senior Government officials.

Chitando said that the project has a potential to create more than 25000 jobs and the electricity will be used by Zimasco’s chrome smelting operations with excess supplied to the national grid.

According to Andong, the Chinese firm considers setting up three more furnaces to increase annual ferrochrome production.

President Mnangagwa added that the signing of the agreement with Sinosteel was testimony of his administration’s willingness to open up the economy to investment as well as engage the global community to do business with Zimbabwe.

“Zimbabwe is rich in minerals, most of which are still to be exploited including coal bed methane. The untapped sector presents unique and competitive investment opportunities,” said the President.

Over the past six months, President Mnangagwa’s administration attracted foreign direct investment commitments worth US $11bn in various economic sectors.

He said his Government would continue putting in place measures to facilitate the ease and cost of doing business. The power plant is expected to commence operation in 2025.

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Researchers suggest 100% renewable energy system is plausible

A multinational group of researchers have co-authored a paper to demonstrate that there are no roadblocks to sourcing 100% of a country’s power supply from renewable sources.

The researchers, from Germany’s Karlsruhe Institute of TechnologySouth Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Finland’s Lappeenranta University of Technology, the Netherlands’ Delft University of Technology and Denmark’s Aalborg University, authored a response to the 2017 review paper by University of Adelaide researcher Benjamin Heard and his colleagues. 

They questioned the feasibility of many of the recent scenarios for high shares of renewable energy, questioning everything from whether renewables-based systems can survive extreme weather events with low sun and low wind, to the ability to keep the grid stable with so much variable generation. 

“While several of the issues raised by the Heard paper are important, there are technical solutions to all the points they raised, using today’s technology,” stated the lead author of the response paper, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology’s Dr Thomas Brown.

“Furthermore, these solutions are absolutely affordable, especially given the sinking costs of wind and solarpower,” said Lappeenranta University's Professor Christian Breyer.

Co-author, and now former CSIR employee, Dr Tobias Bischof-Niemz, added, “It’s beyond any scientific doubt that a renewables-led energy system is technically feasible, and recent technology cost developments for solar and wind have now made it economically viable too.”

Brown cites the worst-case solution of hydrogen or synthetic gas produced with renewable electricity, for times when imports, hydroelectricity, batteries and other storage fail to bridge the gap during low wind and solar periods during dark European winters.

Luckily, this is a problem that South Africa with very little seasonality in solar supply does not need to worry about too much. 

More importantly, the stability of the grid poses specific challenges in South Africa with existing low levels of interconnectivity with neighbours. To maintain stability, there are a series of technical solutions, from rotating grid stabilisers to newer electronics-based solutions.

The scientists have collected examples of best practice by grid operators from across the world, from Denmark to Tasmania.

The response by the scientists has now appeared in the same journal as the original article published by Heard and his colleagues.

“There are some persistent myths that 100% renewable systems are not possible,” says Aalborg University's Professor Brian Vad Mathiesen. “Our contribution deals with these myths one-by-one, using all the latest research.”

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R3bn Rosslyn Hub to create 160 000 jobs

The R3-billion mixed-use Rosslyn Hub development was launched at the African Smart Cities Summit, co-located with the African Construction and Totally Concrete Expo, at the Gallagher Convention Centre, in Johannesburg, on Wednesday.

The Rosslyn Hub is a crucial step towards the creation of the Tshwane Auto City (TAC), a collaboration between government and the automotive industry to transform the area into the leading automotive investment destination in Africa.

Big Cedar Properties MD and Rosslyn Hub director Brendan Falkson noted that it is envisioned that Rosslyn, which is already home to four automotive manufacturers – BMW, NissanIveco and Tata – along with an array of automotive suppliers, will emulate well-established automotive cities like those in SpainChinaGermany and Japan.

The 7,157-ha hub will include 1 200 houses and 250 rental apartments; a hospital and clinic; a hotel and conference centre; and pre-primary and high schools, as well as a university with student housing. It will also include two shopping centres and a filling station, town centre, waterfront development and a race track.

In addition to the automotive plants already established in Rosslyn, the hub will comprise a development logistics park and vehicle distribution centre, a truck staging area and truck stop, motor showrooms, a motor retail area and an outdoor automotive pavilion.

The hub will benefit from its proximity to existing transportinfrastructure, including access to the Capital Park Raillogistics hub.  

The Automotive Industry Development Centre (AIDC), which is mandated to support the automotive industry in becoming globally competitive, developed the TAC concept and, as an implementing agency of government, is the project manager for the hub's development.

AIDC CEO Dr David Masondo noted that the idea is to leverage the largest concentration of automotive original-equipment manufacturers and component manufacturers in Africa to establish a place where their employees can live, work and entertain themselves within the same precinct.

Masondo explained that the TAC aligns with the AutomotiveSector Vision 2020, which aims to produce 1.2-million vehicles and deepen the manufacturing base by stimulating investment and increasing local content. Falkson added that the project is expected to create 160 000 jobs.

Masondo said the TAC  will be the fourth automotive city globally, and the first in Africa. Global investment interest for the development project is high.

In addition to the AIDC, the Tshwane Economic Development Agency, City of Tshwane, the Gauteng province and the Gauteng Growth Development Agency have partnered with private sector companies to realise this project.

The hub development team has identified eight focus areas including logistics and freight to assist in the export of the goods produced in the hub; research and development; and the establishment of a green and sustainableautomotive city. Most of the developments will have north facing roofs with sufficient load capacity to enable solar installations.

Falkson noted that construction of the K217 road, which runs from north to south between Soshanguve and the N4 highway, will enable greater access into Rosslyn and unlock additional investment opportunities.

“Between 2008 and 2018 around R12-billion has been invested into the Rosslyn area. Following the launch of the hub, we anticipate a 400% increase in investment in the next decade,” said Masondo. 

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Ethiopia probes killing of Dangote Cement country manager

Ethiopian authorities are investigating the murder of the country manager of Dangote Cement Plc and two other staff members.

Unidentified gunmen shot dead Deep Kamra, his secretary and his driver on Wednesday, Tariku Alemayehu, deputy manager for sales and marketing in Ethiopia, said by phone from the capital, Addis Ababa. The killings took place in broad daylight near Dangote’s factory in Mugher, about 90 km north of Addis Ababa, Group Executive Director Edwin Devakumar said by email from Lagos, where Dangote’s head office is based.

The assailants forced the driver to lose control by throwing a concrete block at the vehicle the three people were traveling in, before opening fire on the occupants, Devakumar said.

“Mr. Kamra tried to get out and escape,” he said. “They shot him in the leg. When he slumped into the jeep, they went near and shot him multiple times. Then they shot the driver and the secretary -- also, each of them, multiple times. It was simply a massacre.”

Security forces are working to apprehend the suspects, according to a statement read on state-owned ETV.

Dangote is Africa’s biggest cement producer, with operations in 10 countries. Mugher is in Ethiopia’s Oromia region, which has been hit by sporadic anti-government protests over the past three years and where the company has faced opposition to how it sources raw materials.

Dangote Cement said last year it was considering shutting the plant unless authorities in Oromia reversed an order to cement makers to hand over control of pumice, sand, and clay mines to youth groups. The policy for the cement industry was in part overseen by Ethiopia’s new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, in his prior role as head of Oromia’s urban development and housing bureau as a means to ease youth unemployment and quell unrest.

Tariku said Dangote had come to an agreement last year for youth to supply pumice to the company each month “according to capacity.”

Kamra was an Indian national. The Indian Embassy in Addis Ababa said its providing all necessary assistance to repatriate his body.

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ARM announces resignation of director and company secretary

Nairobi-based ARM Cement has announced the resignation of Rick Ashley as a Director of the company, as well as Ramesh Vora as Company Secretary. The company made the announcement in a letter to the Kenyan Capital Markets Authority.

Ashley had served on the company’s Board of Directors, including a stint as Chairman, for over a decade and resigned “due to personal reasons”, the company said. He had been appointed an Executive Director last year to take over day-to-day operations from CEO Pradeep Paunrana.

According to local media reports, Paunrana will resume full-time management of the company.

The resignation of Vora, an ARM veteran, comes after he requested the board “to allow him to leave after serving for over two decades”.

“The board of directors record their sincere appreciation to both for their dedicated service, leadership, and guidance to the board,” said Paunrana.

Based in Kenya, ARM Cement operates cement production facilities in Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda. According to the company’s website, its cement production capacity currently totals 2.7 million tpy across the three countries with 1.6 million tpy of that located in Tanzania.

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Abland breaks ground on new home of Barloworld Logistics

Abland, a leading property developer for over 30 years, together with its partners; Giflo Developments and SOM have commenced work on a new mixed-use precinct called Irene Boulevard in the heart of Irene, South of Pretoria. This site will become the new home to Barloworld Logistics, a division of Barloworld who will be vacating their Sandton offices to occupy this new site.

“What started as a retail centre deal has now evolved into mixed-use precinct, where Abland will be integrating retail and commercial offerings. Abland shared their master plan with Barloworld, who was impressed and immediately bought into the bigger concept,” says Thinus Delport, Development Director, Abland.

The precinct will bring a bespoke lifestyle and a 16,000-m² shopping centre to the Irene market with the Barloworld Logistics headquarters comprising 5,500m² of the property.

“We broke ground mid-March 2018 and are aiming for completion of the Barloworld Logistics headquarters in April 2019. Barloworld Limited is a partner in the Barloworld Logistics development and we are privileged to have one of their headquarters become a showpiece of the precinct,” adds Delport.

The Irene site is a well-established area, boasting an affluent audience with a penchant for all things stylish and contemporary. The well-established residential element makes it a very attractive area to settle in. Located on Alexander Road just off the Botha Avenue interchange, the mixed-use precinct is well-situated with great exposure to the N1 highway and is easily accessible. There are plans for a future Gautrain station in the vicinity.

The precinct’s striking design will make it very visible from the N1 highway. The first building, the Barloworld Logistics Head office, will be a 4 Star rated Green building.

“Barloworld Logistics new headquarters is a physical embodiment of our vision for the company – modern, future-focused and fit-for-purpose,” says Kamogelo Mmutlana, CEO Barloworld Logistics. “We are excited to be co-creating this new space which will offer employees a superb environment to experience all the precinct promises to offer.”

Phase 2 of the development, which is the retail leg, will kick off in Q3 2018 – offering convenient retail and lifestyle amenities which include; a leading national grocer, new and existing restaurants, beauty and health facilities, giving the shopper all the services they would need from a centre.

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