Public Works Minister Nathi Nhleko on Wednesday ordered officials in his department to urgently resolve all complaints of non-payment of contractors as the failure to do so “undermines the country’s development objectives”.
The instruction follows Minister Nhleko’s engagement with officials and contractors in the KwaZulu-Natal region that kick-started the Minister’s regional visits aimed at mobilising stakeholders towards a shared goal and conscientiousness to develop South African society.
On Monday Nhleko met in Durban with contractors, public works officials, construction industry development board, council for the built environment and independent development trust officials.
“We will be perpetuating poverty and instability if we do not take deliberate steps to grow and develop contractors from historically marginalised groups. There is a relation between the pace of development and sustenance of society. The have-nots will rise against the haves if we are not deliberate about transformation,” warned Nhleko.
The minister said that the country has to mobilise and coordinate resources towards meeting its overall objective to eradicate poverty, inequality and underdevelopment while also being conscious about the need to remove impediments for small medium and micro enterprises to grow.
KZN Contractors Forum Chairperson Sanisani Mkhize said public servants needed to improve their work ethic and become more efficient.
“Contractors can no longer afford to wait for payments for over two years. The set-asides for historically marginalised contractors give us hope that real empowerment which has evaded us and benefitted big business is about to happen,” said Mkhize. (via African News Agency)
Research Reveals The Biggest Barriers To Internet Access In 4 African Countries
Mozilla-backed research carried out by Research ICT Africa finds that significant barriers to internet access remains in four African countries – Rwanda, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. The research aims to understand, from a comparative perspective, how the citizens use the internet when data is subsidised and when it is not.
Knowing that affordability is one of the primary barriers to Internet access and particular optimal use, the main objective of the focus groups was to obtain qualitative information that reflects the perceptions of female and male Internet users, new users, and non-Internet users from urban and rural locations about how people use the Internet.
A 2016 International Telecommunications Union report estimates that only about 25 percent of the population of Africa has access to the internet. Results of the research included the following findings:
- In all the countries, across demographics, access to subsidised data did not result significantly in new users going online.
- Use of subsidised data is just one of many strategies employed by users to manage costs in these four African countries.
- Uptake of zero rating varied across the four countries. Awareness was low and scepticism of free services was high in Nigeria, whereas in Rwanda bundles with unlimited WhatsApp and Facebook were very popular. In Kenya and South Africa, the zero-rated services were welcomed for their cost-reducing nature.
- There was substantial interest and uptake in Equal Rating-compliant, partially subsidized data bundles that provide access to the entire internet not just some parts of it (e.g., Cell C’s offering of 250MB between 1 am and 7 am for R6 in South Africa or an MTN bundle in Rwanda for Rwf 800 (USD 0.96) that provide 24 hours unlimited data).
- Poor network quality and coverage limited the consumption of subsidised data since some respondents, especially in rural areas of Kenya, Rwanda and South Africa, reported that telcos with those offerings did not have coverage in their area. Indeed, many of these users only have access via the most expensive operator in that country.
- Women face additional barriers to internet use, including concern of being exposed to inappropriate content online and its consequences in their intimate relationships and family responsibilities.
“Our research reveals that a significant urban-rural divide remains in opportunities to access the internet,” said Dr Alison Gillwald, Executive Director of Research ICT Africa. “Too often the debate over zero rating glosses over the fact that many people in rural communities don’t even have access to the best subsidized offerings and have to spend largely disproportionate amounts of their already low income on mobile access, and that’s assuming they can even find electricity to charge their devices.”
Albany Launches R350mln Revamped Bellville Bakery
Albany Bakeries on Wednesday launched a R350 million investment into a new bakery in Bellville in the Western Cape, which includes the building of a brand-new plant and an upgrade of interiors of the existing plant.
The new building occupies 6,884 square metres, compared to an area of 3,766 square metres in the old bakery. The bakery operates 24 hours, seven days a week, and trucks leave the yard from 3am to 6am each day.
Albany managing director, Matshela Seshibe, said the two Tweedy high-speed dough mixers, backed by British technology, would add to the output capacity, from 6,000 litres per hour, to 12,000 litres per hour, effectively doubling the bakery’s outputs.
There are also new bread coolers and ovens that are more energy efficient and perfect the baking process.
“Our revamped high-tech bagging system is another aspect that adds to the overall efficiency,” Seshibe said.
“For the upgrade, we took the environment into account and have increased our emissions efficiency by reducing the factory’s energy consumption and also placed emphasis on improving safety measures.”
Albany Bakeries Bellville currently services 5,000 outlets, mainly in the Cape Metro area, which would be doubled over the next five years in a bid to contribute to small enterprises locally.
As a result of increased capacity, Albany is now planning to increase the number of outlets to reach previously unserved parts of the Western Cape. These range from large supermarket chains to independent retailers and spaza shops. (via African News Agency)