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Business must start investing more: Ramaphosa

first_img23 June 2014For South Africa to prosper and create jobs, it is crucial for the private sector to start investing more in the economy, says Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.Speaking during a post-State of the Nation address interview with the SABC at the public broadcaster’s studios in Cape Town on Sunday, Ramaphosa said the government would do all it could to support big business by removing obstacles to doing business in the country.These included energy constraints and bureaucratic red tape, which business people had identified as hindering business development.Ramaphosa said South Africa’s energy constraints affected all role players in the economy, “and particularly business, or the private sector, that accounts for 70% of employment in our country. For as long as energy is constrained, we are not able to build the factories, to do all that we are willing to do.”In his State of the Nation Address last Tuesday, President Jacob Zuma identified the current low level of investment by the private sector as a key factor holding back the growth of the economy.“We are determined to work with the private sector to remove obstacles to investment,” Zuma said, adding: “We would like to see the private sector showing as much confidence in the economy as the public sector.”Ramaphosa said that what the President was saying was that “there has been an assertion that the private sector, at some stage, has gone on strike as far as investing further in our economy.“What he was essentially doing was making a call on the private sector, that we as government are showing enormous confidence in the economy of our country. We would like you to do likewise and invest in the economy.”Overcoming the ‘trust deficit’The Deputy President said it was important for the government and business to sit around one table on a regular basis in order to eliminate the “trust deficit” that had grown between the two.Last week, Zuma said he would soon convene the next meeting of the Presidential Business Working Group, adding that after the first meeting, held last year, “six work streams were established, and these have been discussing solutions to various obstacles to doing business in South Africa.”The issues had also been raised by company CEOs during three working sessions he had hosted in November and December, Zuma said.Ramaphosa said these meetings needed to continue, as one could never have enough engagements. “Relationships between people, organisations and countries are by their very nature fluid. They are not static, they are never written in stone.“So people need to meet continuously to renew their relationships, to look at agreements that they have arrived at to see whether those are still relevant, given the changing environment in which we live.“When the President says he wants to have a further meeting, we should not pour cold water on that initiative. We should see it as continued progress, because what it means is that people are engaging.”Source: SAnews.gov.zalast_img read more

South Africa needs to get on the technology trajectory

first_imgThe opportunities of the digital age could be the engine of growth for South Africa, delegates heard at the Vision 2030 Summit. It needed more investment in skills and infrastructure, but it could use technology to push local innovation.The digital age offers South Africa the opportunity to change the face of our economy. (Image: Strike a pose photography)Sulaiman PhilipInvestment in information and communications technology infrastructure today will bear fruit before the National Development Plan (NDP) ends in 2030. Embracing the opportunities of the digital age could be the engine of growth in South Africa. This was the view of speakers at the Vision 2030 Summit held in Johannesburg between 21 and 22 June.As Limpopo Premier Chupu Mathabatha pointed out in his keynote address, to work towards a possible future we need to be able to visualise it. The NDP is that vision. “The people of South Africa, united in their diversity, have all embraced this future as visualised in the NDP. The challenge for all of us is to put shoulder to the wheel and work in unity towards this shared future.”The South African contextBrand South Africa’s head of research, Dr Petrus de Kock, set the context upon which South Africa needs to build. South Africa, despite its many challenges, remains a magnet for investment. For South Africans, it still offers the best opportunity for personal development. “We talk about vision but to transform our world we need imagination.”The world, De Kock pointed out, was still recovering from the economic meltdown of 2008. In some countries, especially Western economies, that had led to more aggressive inward-looking policies. South Africa had escaped the worst and as future growth would be driven by the Asian/African axis, we could grow if we were ready.“We talk about vision but to transform our world we need imagination,” Dr de Kock speaking at the Vision 2030 Summit. (Image: Strike a Pose Photography)The country and its people remained open and welcoming he said, and pointed to our tolerance as a society. “We exist in a unique context. We are unique in our constitutional acceptance of difference, religious tolerance for example. This is the identity of who we are.”The future can be in ICTPost and Telecommunications Deputy Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams — like the speakers who spoke after her — championed the benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. She has been a strong advocate for the benefits that that will accrue to South Africa if we embrace the digital world.“We need to integrate digital goals into our day to day lives. We need to become comfortable with the changes and benefits that will come. Most importantly, we need to be more than just consumers of the internet.”Ndabeni-Abrahams said South Africans needed to embrace the 21st century. The digital age, she said, would allow the country to show off the innovation of which we were capable. The deputy minister acknowledged that South Africa faced infrastructure challenges, but added that innovative solutions would help to make the best use of the infrastructure we had.“We have launched the Internet for All with a pilot project in the OR Tambo municipality. The idea is that no matter where you are, you will have access. We can find solutions that have South African characteristics.”Beyond infrastructure, South Africa’s shortage of skills in digital industries had hamstrung the growth of the sector. In response to this dearth, she pointed to the public-private programme with Google, which had undertaken to train 5 million coders over five years, as the way forward.“We need to work together to breach the skills gap. We need to find these innovative ways forward, solutions that show that not only are we spending, but that we’re gaining on more digitally advanced nations.”InfrastructureOne of the important benefits of the digital age highlighted by the deputy minister would be the lower cost of communication. Working towards lowering costs while still innovating was Siemens’ history in South Africa since it started doing business in the country in 1860.Sabine Dall’Omo, Siemens South Africa chief executive, highlighted the company’s relevance in South Africa. Its operations contributed R6.8-billion to gross domestic product (GDP) and its technology lay at the heart of 31 mega projects. From the first telegraph built, the company had been “driving innovation and now driving digitisation”.A benefit of the digital age often overlooked was the way technology was making it easier and cheaper to transfer technology to developing nations. This benefit had allowed Siemens to use innovations developed in more mature economies to benefit South Africa.It did so in the automotive industry, for example: “One hundred and twenty thousand cars — or 50% — of cars produced in South Africa are built using Siemens technology.”Siemens’ Sabine Dall’omo and Dr Petrus de Kock being interviewed after their presentations. (Image: Strike a Pose Photography)eCommerceTo highlight the importance of the internet to economic growth, the Chinese TELE company Huawei monitored sales on one day — 18 June 2017. The study highlighted the power and opportunity presented by e-commerce.Huawei studied the buying habits of people on T-Mall, the Chinese online shopping service.It found:In a five-minute spell 200 tons of milk powder were bought onlineIn a seven-minute period 200 million nappies were boughtIn a 26-minute spell 10 million lipsticks were boughtThe fastest time between order and delivery was 13 minutes85% of all orders that day were made on a mobile deviceThis, in the words of Leonard Chang, Huawei’s managing director of corporate industry development and marketing, showed the power e-commerce had to create economic miracles. If South Africa was to meet the growth requirements of the NDP it needed to embrace digitisation. “Connectivity is not only a human right but an economic growth right.”Digitisation could be the engine for growth. While South Africa had among the strongest ICT policy frameworks, investment from the government and the public sector had lagged. The company’s research had shown that for every additional dollar (about R12) invested in ICT infrastructure there could be a $5 benefit to GDP growth by 2025.In the recently released Huawei 2017 Global Connectivity Index, it was reported that South Africa led Africa in terms of connectivity but lagged behind the rest of the world. “If we go at the same pace as we do today, we may never catch up with the frontrunners. At the same time, we must realise there is no shortcut in climbing the ladder of digital transformation.”The NDP was a start, but the vision was never enough, Chang warned. The country needed to move faster to close the digital divide. South Africa needed a strong action plan with achievable targets. One area that needed improvement was building ICT talent.Building skillsMymoena Ismail, the CEO of the National Electronic Media Institute of South Africa (Nemisa), believes South Africa was closing in on the Mobile Moment – when there was at least one mobile smartphone per citizen.She explained that the world was close to a new kind of future. “We are going to see a convergence of a new kind of tech, one that seamlessly merges physical, digital and biological spheres. If we do not take advantage and adapt, we will not benefit.”Her organisation focused on developing e-skill capacity in South Africa by offering training courses across the country. “We are part of the solution to ensure South Africa has the necessary skills to be leaders in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”In his address, Mathabatha said the NDP identified a stronger and better educational system and a more equal society as the keys to unlock economic growth. “The NDP envisions a South Africa where everyone feels free yet bound to others; where everyone embraces their full potential, a country where opportunity is determined not by birth, but by ability, education and hard work.“This is a vision embraced by all South Africans. The challenge, as I have said, is about navigating the routes towards such a future.”Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa materiallast_img read more

Saving Sustainably: Installing Trim and Siding

first_imgEditor’s note: This is one in a series of blogs detailing the construction of a net-zero energy house in Point Roberts, Washington, by an owner-builder with relatively little building experience. A list of Matt Bath’s GBA articles can be found at the bottom of this page. You’ll find Matt Bath’s full blog, Saving Sustainably, here. If you want to follow project costs, you can keep an eye on a budget worksheet here.   With a break in the weather, it was high time to install the siding. The Tyvek water-resistant barrier (WRB) I’m using should be protected by siding; it will break down if it’s left uncovered for too long.RELATED ARTICLESFiber CementAll About RainscreensHow to Vent a RainscreenThe New Forest of Man-Made Trim The fiber-cement siding I will be attaching serves the dual purposes of protecting the WRB and giving a clean, finished look to the exterior of the house. Fiber cement is one of the best products on the market when it comes to siding due to its durability and high resistance to heat, fire, insects, and water. The siding will be attached to vertical 1×4 furring strips I installed a few months ago. It is very important for the ends of every piece of siding to fall on one of these furring strips. For this reason, I added some extra furring strips around the doors and windows so both the trim and the siding would land on something solid. Adding extra furring around the doors and windows allowed both siding and trim to land on a solid backing. The furring strips were attached to the sheathing over the studs, providing  solid anchoring for the siding. But there were no studs for the additional furring strips I wanted to add. The polyiso foam and sheathing alone were not enough to support them. So I added additional 1×4s on the interior of the house so that the screws that attach the furring strips will have another 3/4 inch of wood to screw into. I attached the additional 1×4s on the interior with finish nails just to hold them in place, and then used 3-inch #8 wood screws to attach the outside furring strips through the foam and sheathing and into the interior 1x4s. I used QuickFlash products for the minisplit heat pump lines. The QuickFlash products are very handy when it comes to ensuring a nice weathertight seal. I cut a slit in the Tyvek, slid the seal over the stubout, and then slipped the top 2 inches underneath the WRB. I followed that with flashing tape, first on the sides, then over the top, and finished with a counter flashing of WRB tape (see the photo below). This QuickFlash port will allow the connection of the heat pump’s outdoor condenser with indoor heads. The last thing I did in preparation for installing the siding was to attach insect screens at the bottom of the wall between the furring strips (see the photo below). This will prevent any bugs from crawling or flying into the rainscreen between the siding and the WRB. I used a few pieces of scrap wood to bend some mesh screen into a box shape and wedged them in between the furring strips. Screen at the bottom of the vented rainscreen will keep insects out. Trim serves more than one purpose Trim is used primarily for visual purposes, but it’s also a great tool for weatherproofing the corners of the house. I wanted the corners to form a good seal, and it is much easier to match up a few pieces of vertical trim in a corner than it is to match up 30 to 40 individual courses of siding. Siding is not waterproof, and it must be installed in tandem with a water-resistant barrier and a moisture management plan. I designed the house to have trim not only at the corners, but also around the windows and along the rim joists to give the house a little curb appeal. The manufacturer of the trim I am using (James Hardie) recommended using stainless-steel finish nails to attach it to the furring strips, but my electric finish nailer simply wasn’t powerful enough to fire through the fiber cement. I was left with the decision to either buy a new finish nailer or attach the siding with trim screws. I really wasn’t happy with either choice but I decided to use the screws because I would have had to buy not only a new nailer, but also an air compressor, since my other nailers are all electric as well. Using the trim screws was very frustrating, however, as they used a #1 square drive which kept stripping, and the stainless screws were quite expensive. Start with the window trim I started on the window trim. For each window, I first installed the side pieces, cut to the same height as the window, but with a 10º bevel on the bottom. This bevel will match up with the sill so that it gently slopes away from the wall, helping to direct water away from the window. The next piece to go on was the head trim. I cut it 3 inches long on each side, ripped it in half on the table saw, and then cut one of the pieces down an additional 3 inches. This allowed me to give each layer an overhang of 1 1/2 inches on each side (see the photo below). I furred out the second layer of head trim with some 1/2-inch plywood to give it some depth, and then added one more piece on top with 45º miters on the ends. I furred this last piece out with 1×4 so it extended just slightly out from the piece under it The windows are capped with a triple layer of trim at the head. For the sill, I ripped a piece of trim in half and then beveled it 10º. I also cut a groove in the bottom along the front edge to help water drip away from the house. Below the sill I cut one last piece with a 10º bevel to match the sill. I painted all cut ends with high-quality exterior paint before installing. This is specified by the manufacturer to protect the siding. I finished each window  with a galvanized drip cap. This will prevent water from pooling on the flat part of the trim. Trimming the corners is next With the window trim completed, it was time to move on to the corner trim boards. I purchased two different sizes so that I could attach them together at a right angle but still have both sides extend the same distance from the corner. I used Gorilla glue and clamps to hold the two pieces together and let the glue cure for 24 hours before installing the corners. I needed more than one piece of trim to span the entire distance from foundation to eave. Where two boards met, I beveled the ends to prevent water from becoming trapped in the joint. Wherever possible, you should avoid having any horizontal surfaces because it gives water a chance to pool. I used the same stainless-steel trim screws as I used on the window trim to attach the corner trim to the furring strips. The last pieces to go on formed a horizontal band at the the rim joist. I added trim here simply to spice up the siding, which otherwise would have extended uninterrupted from the bottom of the house to the top. Just like the windows, this trim was crowned with a drip cap to prevent water from collecting on the horizontal top surface. Although it isn’t necessary, I decided at the last minute before applying siding to use trim boxes for the exterior lights. Lights are often attached directly to the siding but the trim boxes give the installation a neat look and, more importantly, do a better job of ensuring proper water drainage. First, I used a QuickFlash electrical flashing to fill the gap between the Tyvek and siding, and then I screwed a SturdiMount flashing to the furring strips. The SturdiMount comes with a built in drip cap and looks really sharp, and both flashings together are under $15. Light fixtures are often mounted directly to the siding, but using these trim boxes will make for a neater appearance and better water drainage. Using pre-painted siding brings immediate rewards One of the great things about using pre-painted siding is the feeling you get when you finish installing a couple of courses and stand back to admire your work. You immediately get to see the finished exterior come to life. I was a little worried about the color because there are four other blue houses in my small neighborhood, but the color looks much different than all the others. I was extremely pleased with the selection. Lap siding is a cinch to install. The first step is to rip a few pieces into 1 1/4-inch strips. These are used at the base of the wall to angle the first row outward. Each of the following rows are angled by the row below. There are really only three difficult parts to the installation of the siding, the first of which is getting the bottom layer straight. I used my transit to ensure it was straight and level all the way across each wall. Once the preliminaries were out of the way, installing the lapped siding proved straightforward. One hiccup was cutting the siding to conform with window and door trim details. Once this first course is complete, the rest becomes a cinch with the aid of Gecko siding gauges. These cheap tools perform dual functions of holding the siding while you screw it in and ensuring that each row is installed an equal distance from the previous one. I used # 8 x 1-1/4-inch fiber cement board screws to attach the siding to the furring strips. I was a bit leery of the Phillips drive, but found that the screws  hardly ever stripped, which was a welcome change from the trim screws. The screws are driven until the head is flush with the surface. The 12-foot-long boards are butted together tightly, without gaps. I slipped a square of blue flashing behind each butt joint to direct water in front of the row underneath. I paid the price for my elaborate window trim as it was extremely difficult to cut the siding so it matched the profile. Luckily I had a little room for error because all of the gaps between the siding and trim will receive a bead of color-matched caulk. The last difficult part comes when you have to start using a ladder. The siding isn’t that heavy, so I was able to wrap my arms around the ladder and hold the board as I climbed up, using my elbows to grip the rails. Once I screwed it in I had to go down the ladder, move the ladder, and back up to screw in the ends.   Other blogs by Matt Bath: An Introduction Foundation Formwork Designing and Installing a Septic System Pouring the Slab Framing the First Floor Framing the Second Floor Framing the Roof Shingling the Roof Wall Sheathing Installing Drains and Vents Plumbing Rough-In Completing the Dry-In Electrical Rough-In Installing the Ventilation Systemlast_img read more

In A Decade On The Road, I’ve Learned Tech Can’t Fix Everything

first_imgWhy Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Tags:#air travel#business travel#online travel#travel#Trip Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Related Posts center_img Matt Asay ReadWriteTrip is a series that chronicles the modern challenges of tech-savvy business travelers.For the past 10 years I’ve traveled a minimum of 125,000 miles each year, staying over 75 nights each year in a hotel room. While it would be inaccurate to suggest that business travel has become delightful, in some key ways it has become better.For example, international travel is faster thanks to Global Entry. Security is easier to navigate thanks to TSA Pre. And while luggage sizes have remained constant, far more fits into them than before.Technology, not surprisingly, is cause for both celebration and frustration in all of these changes.Staying Connected At 30,000 FeetEven five years ago, it was hard to stay productive on long-haul flights, both because laptop battery life was minimal and in-flight Wi-Fi didn’t exist. This had upsides and downsides. On the one hand, once my laptop battery died I was free to read. But on the other, it meant that every flight was effectively a productivity dead zone.No more.See also: Wi-Fi Above 10,000 Feet: Which Airlines Provide The Best Connection?Today Wi-Fi is becoming standard on air travel. While coverage varies from airline to airline, the network on my preferred airline, Delta, is exceptional. I no longer have an excuse not to be online while I fly. Alas.Now that you can stay connected on a long flight, we now expect that laptop batteries will last, too. But even if you’re still lugging around an old-model Dell that can’t go more than two hours without topping up on power, airlines have also added in-flight power outlets. Again, availability varies from airline to airline and even plane to plane. Figuring that out used to be maddening, until tech came to the rescue again: You can figure out where to get power on SeatGuru, which uses comments from travelers like me as well as its own research to maintain up-to-date information about seat layouts.Airline And Hotel Monogamy Pays Off … Sort OfOften your choice in airline and hotel will be made for you, through your location or employer or both. If you live in a United hub city like San Francisco, you’re likely stuck flying United. (I’m truly sorry.) But you do want to centralize your flights on one carrier, or one airline alliance if you’re flying internationally. Ditto for hotels.Why? Because it’s your only hope of being treated like a human being. I get upgraded on 90% of my domestic flights (Delta) and 100% of my hotel stays (Marriott). And many airlines and hotels have added perks that relate directly to your trips, like a waiver of fees for checked bags or hotel Wi-Fi.Upgrades, not points, should be your motivator. The points are nice, mind you. I’ve paid for five honeymoons for my wife’s five sisters using points, as well as several personal vacations. But it’s getting harder and harder to actually use points.This is the one big problem with loyalty programs: It has become so easy to earn points through things other than flying (e.g., branded credit cards) that loyalty points are far less valuable today than they used to be 10 years ago. The consolidation of airlines, and along with them their loyalty programs, hasn’t helped: More fliers are now competing for awards and status.If this is new to you, check out The Points Guy’s beginner’s guide—and consolidate, consolidate, consolidate.The More Things ChangeWhich brings me to the things that have gotten worse or stayed the same over the years.International voice and data roaming remain incredibly expensive. I pay $60 per month for 300 megabytes of global data and another $60 each month to be able to text freely while abroad (up to 600 SMS messages). This on top of my domestic data/voice plans. One Google Maps session while walking through London can chew up a significant chunk of that data limit so I tend to use cellular data only as a last resort while traveling abroad.This is slowly changing: T-Mobile now has an “unlimited” international text-and-data plan, though you have to read the fine print: Only 1 gigabyte of data is included at full speed. I’ve been reluctant to switch carriers, though.First-class service on all U.S. airlines has depreciated significantly in the last 10 years. Back in the early days of Pan Am, first class was truly first class. Now it’s simply enhanced coach. Yes, we have lay-flat seats on international or transcontinental flights, but the overall experience—especially on domestic routes—is weak.Even things like TSA Pre, which lets travelers go back to the halcyon days of not having to remove shoes from feet or laptops from bags at airport security, are quickly getting worse. While initially reserved only for serious frequent fliers or those in the Global Entry program, the TSA has opened it up to many others, making TSA Pre lines as slow as other lines. You’d think technology could be deployed to better screen passengers, but that doesn’t seem to be happening.If I had to sum it up, I’d say that the things you can control about business travel—what you pack and how much it weighs—have gotten better. The things you can’t control, like airline loyalty programs or airport security, have gotten both better and worse.The only thing you can truly control is the gear you put in your bag, so optimize for that. Look for more tips on that in an upcoming installment of ReadWriteTrip.Photo by Dan Paluska 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more