Motlanthe reassures the nation

first_imgPresident Kgalema Motlanthe (Image: The Presidency of SA)Wilma den HartighThe global economic crisis and South Africa’s social grants were major priorities in President Kgalema Motlanthe’s State of the Nation Address on Friday.  He also assured South Africans that the nation is in a good state, despite the strain on the local economy and much political uncertainty.He said South Africa could not ignore the global credit crunch and its consequences for production and trade. The government’s immediate task is to devise responses that will minimise the impact of the crisis, he said, especially on the most vulnerable sectors of society.Motlanthe stressed that South Africa’s counter-cyclical budget policies had helped the country avoid the worst impact of the crisis.“We are in a period in which others are experiencing or projecting recessions. South Africa and the rest of the continent are still poised for growth, even if at a slower rate,” he said.The president announced that a task team was busy debating a number of interventions for the country. These include continued public investment projects, the value of which has increased to R690-billion for the next three years.“Where necessary, we will find creative ways to raise funds,” he said. This will include support by development finance institutions, loan finance from international agencies, partnerships with the private sector and utilisation of resources controlled by workers such as pension funds.Plans to expand employment in sectors such as health, social work, education and law-enforcement agencies will continue. The introduction of the next phase of the Expanded Public Works Programme will also be fast-tracked.  He spoke of “mitigating actions” to be undertaken within the private sector to counteract an excessive investment slowdown and unnecessary closures of production plants. For example, government will adapt industrial financing and incentive instruments to help deal with challenges in various sectors, and also encourage development finance institutions to assist firms in distress. Alternatives to layoffs will be explored, including longer holidays, extended training, short time and job-sharing.Many analysts and opposition parties welcomed the introduction of the task team, as well as the proposed intervention strategies.  “What stands out is that the president spoke about the global financial crisis. It is an indication that government is not in denial,” said Judith February, head of the political information and monitoring service at the Institute for Democracy in South Africa.She added that it was a “good steadying speech” that addressed how the economic crisis will impact on South Africans. However, she did express concern about the implementation of the initiatives.Raenette Taljaard, director of the Helen Suzman Foundation, said Motlanthe approached the implications of the global financial crisis for South Africa in a very thoughtful way.“He even made some suggestions of what can be done if we know that the credit markets are going to be closed for infrastructure,” Taljaard said.Dr Pieter Mulder, leader of the Freedom Front Plus, largely agreed.“Although the address was an election speech in a certain sense, the intervention plans are concrete and we welcome the task team discussions,” Mulder said.  Social grants also came under the spotlight in the address. Motlanthe said government has over the past 15 years done its best to attack the scourge of poverty through the social wage. Income poverty among African and Coloured communities has declined, partly as a result of higher rates of employment and access to social grants. In 1999 the number of grant beneficiaries was 2.5-million. By 2008 this had increased to 12.4-million.Research conducted by a team of academics at the University of Stellenbosch, led by Professor Servaas van der Berg, indicates that money-metric poverty declined substantially since the turn of the century. The reduction is to a large extent due to a dramatic expansion in social grants expenditure from 2002 onwards.Among households that include children (aged 17 and younger), the number of households reporting that a child went hungry declined dramatically (from just over 31% to 16%) between 2002 and 2006. Evidence of the social wage is also seen in massive improvements in access to primary health facilities.Despite these advances, Motlanthe said still more could be done.“Government is painfully aware that abject poverty is still too widespread in our society and the level of inequality is too high.”As part of the intervention plan, he said government will sustain and expand social expenditure, including progressively extending access to the child support grant to children 18 years of age and reducing the age of eligibility for old age pension to 60 years for men.Helen Zille, leader of the Democratic Alliance, was critical of this emphasis on social grants, saying poverty-stricken South Africans need more than a “few hundred rand a month” to sustain themselves. Zille said what is needed is to grow the economy and create more jobs so that people can sustain their families and earn a honourable living.Jacob Zuma, president of the ruling African National Congress, pointed out that the levels of poverty in 1994 were “beyond description” and social grants were necessary to address this situation. “It is important to begin to think how we can come out of this. We can’t have a country that depends on grants forever,” Zuma said, adding that an emphasis on education is an important tool to address this issue and lower the number of people dependent on grants.Do you have queries or comments about this article? Email Mary Alexander at read more

UK investors ‘still believe in South Africa’

first_img12 October 2012British companies based in South Africa have not been shaken by the ongoing strikes and the recent Marikana tragedy because they believe the country is a good place to invest in the long term, says UK Secretary of Business, Innovation and Skills Vince Cable.British companies make up over half the foreign direct investment (FDI) in South Africa.Cable was briefing the media in Parliament in Cape Town on Thursday following a meeting with Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.Cable said British companies based in South Africa were “not fazed” by mining sector strikes, but rather considered the long-term perspective when they considered whether or not to remain in a country.SA fundamentals ‘attractive to investors’He said South Africa had a lot of “fundamentals that are attractive to investors”.“I think the assessment of serious investors here is that South Africa is an open economy and approaches foreign investment in a positive and welcoming way,” Cable told MPs. “The regime is a good one.”Cable was accompanied by a delegation of UK small and medium-sized firms and had visited UK company Bombardier, which supplied the Gautrain, while in the country.He said he believed there might be some developments for UK investments in the area of skills and apprentice training.Although value on inward investment had slowed, the number of projects had risen, and Cable said there had been rapid growth in trade between South Africa and the UK in recent months.Although trade has been more or less balanced, South African exports to the UK have recently declined, but Cable said the aim was to achieve balanced trade between the two countries.UK firms ‘considering a number of SA projects’Minister Davies, also briefing reporters, said UK companies were considering a number of projects in South Africa, including a number in business process outsourcing (BPO), which could potentially create as many as 4 000 jobs, as well as investments in the hospitality sector and a plastics manufacturing project.He said the 2015 target of doubling trade between SA and the UK looked unlikely to be met before 2016 and 2017, adding that his department would soon promote a list of value-added products to the UK.Commenting about the bulk wine issue, Davies said there were no environmental regulations in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that made it mandatory for countries to ensure that carbon emissions were kept at the lowest possible level when goods were shipped between two countries.He said flying or shipping goods from one part of the earth to another did not necessary mean that the product necessarily had a higher carbon footprint than those manufactured locally.At times more emissions were emitted in manufacturing a product locally or when consumers had to drive many long distances to buy the product from retailers, he said.The bulk wine issue has cost South Africa about a 1 000 jobs in its bottling sector, because wine destined for the UK is now placed in plastic containers rather than bottles.Source: read more

CoRank Relaunches: Create Your Own Digg

first_imgWhen CoRank launched in March it was a social news ranking site (like Digg) that filtered news based on your sources — people whose opinion you value. Or, as CoRank founder Rogelio Bernal Andreo told us, it was “yet another boring bookmarking site.” Today, the site relaunched with a new focus: allowing users to create their own, branded social news and bookmarking site based on CoRank’s technology using a set of simple online tools.Rogelio, who is also the founder of eGrupos, one of the largest Spanish-speaking social networks on the web, said that a trial run of the new CoRank on the Spanish version revealed some demand for this type of build-your-own-digg service (Rumoreame is an example of a customized CoRank running on the Spanish language version that is getting some use). Related Posts Creating a site on CoRank is a simple 3 step process. Choose a name and subdomain, enter a description, choose a design and set up your categories. After your site is set up, you can change any of the settings you chose during sign up, or access the HTML and CSS for real customization of its look and feel. You can monetize your creation using Google Adsense. CoRank’s customization and management tools are all very easy to use (they passed the difficult “Can Josh understand them?” test).Is It Worth It?It may seem fruitless to try competing with Digg, but I think that because of CoRank’s twist, which attempts to eliminate the mob from social news voting, there is an opportunity for tighter social networking as a result. CoRank offers its users a “Like Minded” feature, which gives you statistics on the 50 users who are most like you based on voting and submission. Tags:#news#web 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hostingcenter_img A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… I think this presents an opportunity for CoRank to allow users to connect in a way that most social networks don’t offer: based on how similarly you think. CoRank’s new version will allow people to create specialized, topical versions of that concept. So, for example, I could create a movie news site that would allow people to connect with other, like minded movie geeks. Beyond just sharing a love of movies, CoRank’s tools would allow users to find people who actually share a similar outlook on the film industry.What do you think? Is there a place for branded, topical social news and bookmarking sites? josh catone 1 Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic…last_img read more

How To Get Started With Google+ Hangouts On Air

first_imgjon mitchell On the splash screen for Hangouts, there’s a new checkbox that says Enable Hangouts On Air. A pop-up will warn you that your Hangout will now be broadcast both on Google+ and on your YouTube channel. What do you do now? Well, that’s up to you! Check out some of our ReadWriteWeb Hangouts for inspiration. Here’s our broadcast from last week, in which we talk about the future of video games: Tags:#Google#web Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Google has announced today that Hangouts On Air are going worldwide. That means any Google+ user who wants to stream live video to the whole world can do so. Hangouts have always been the killer app for Google+, and this announcement makes them into a truly new broadcast medium. Here’s how to get started.Google’s announcement says that the rollout will happen “gradually, over the next few weeks,” so if you don’t have it yet, be patient. Once you’ve got Hangouts On Air, here’s how to start one.To start a Hangout On Air, click the normal Hangout button on the right sidebar.center_img When you click “Okay, got it!”, you’ll be taken to a big, long terms of service document. It’s the usual. You’re giving Google the right to display your Hangout content all over its properties. Hey, Google’s giving you the ability to broadcast your video to everyone on Earth for free. It’s the least you can do, right?After you agree to the terms, you’re in the Hangout, but it isn’t recording or broadcasting yet. This gives you time to get your participants set up and ready. Once everybody is settled, you click the “Start Broadcast” button in the top right. This will give you one last reminder that your video will be broadcast live to the public and be available on YouTube when you’re done.Once you click “Okay,” the red button starts a 10-second countdown, and then you’re live. You’ll hear a ding when the video starts. The title at the top will switch to “On Air,” and you’ll be able to see the number of live viewers along the top. You can even embed the stream on your own site. A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… At ReadWriteWeb, we’ve been testing Hangouts On Air for a few months. Things were a little bit rough at first. A glitch when began the Hangout would mess up the whole broadcast, or the saving to YouTube wouldn’t work and we’d lose the show. We understood that we were beta testers, and we were glad to do it, but it was still frustrating.Related: I Google+ Hungout With You And It Wasn’t Even CreepyBut after the Google+ redesign in April, things changed. The controls got easier. YouTube processing happened almost instantly after finishing the broadcast (on a good day). Google has worked out the bugs, and we think Hangouts On Air is ready for everyone. Related Posts 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more

Facebook Lets You Write In Whatever Gender You Want

first_imgFacebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro… Related Posts Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verification Thursday, Facebook announced the addition of a free-form field to the Gender options area in Facebook profiles. The new “custom” option space allows users to write in any description they want—whether “dog-loving master of bro-associated domains” or “cheese-eating king.” Facebook explains the change in a post on the Facebook Diversity Page, noting that if you don’t identify with available gender identities offered, you can add your own. People “can add up to ten gender terms and also have the ability to control the audience with whom you would like to share you custom gender,” the company wrote. See also: Facebook Provides 56 New Gender Identity OptionsThe post suggests the custom field joins the drop-down list of 56 different gender options Facebook introduced last year. But when we checked it out, that drop-down no longer appears, indicating it replaced the hefty list. Perhaps it’s all for the best. Who would go with a canned description when you could be a “couch-surfing artist sloth”? The move may finally please critics, particularly folks who have been clamoring for the right to describe themselves however they want. Saving FaceFacebook made its first big change to the Gender section of users’ About page after Olu George posted a complaint in the company’s help center last year: “As someone who doesn’t identify with female or male pronouns, I feel like FB is excluding people. FB needs to create another option for people who identify as genderqueer/two spirit/transgender etc.” George suggested that FB change its gender options to Male, Female and Other: Genderqueer/Two Spirit/Trans. Facebook responded with more than just an “other” option. The company crammed in dozens of possibilities, including genderqueer, intersex, pangender, trans, transsexual and two-spirit. Now, with the latest ability for write-in designations, gender identification on Facebook opens up more flexibility and maybe even a playful fluidity. Mine now reads as “I am gender: ‘pink cat baby owl blue flowers dog bowl furball’ but prefer pronoun ‘She’.” To change your gender description, log into your Facebook profile, hit the “update info” button, go to “contact and basic info” and scroll down to the gender section. Under “Male” and “Female,” there’s a new “Custom” option.You can change your gender description or preferred pronoun whenever they want—Facebook does not lock people into what they’ve chosen on any given day. Facing RealityAs great a tool as it could be for self-expression, the custom gender field could also come with some down sides. Facebook seemingly acknowledges the fluidity in the way some people identify their genders. Instead of forcing fixed labels, people can fill in whatever they want. (Though the company contradicts itself by only offering three pronouns: He, She, and They.) But the move could open up fluidity of another kind as well. On the other hand, fill-in-the-blank genders could also turn into an Internet joke or, at its worst, even a tool for prejudice. Imagine coming across a profile and seeing someone identify as a homo-bashing super-hater. The Internet is rife with trolls, some of whom will use anything they can to spread their vitriol. See also: Your Twitter Gender Is Probably Male, Even If You’re FemaleBut a bigger question remains: Can we trust Facebook to handle those issues, some of which will almost certainly crop up. And if the complexities prove too challenging to deal with, will it back-pedal once again and remove the field? Facebook has not shown the deftest of hands in dealing with complex matters. The company’s ill-advised “crackdown” on pseudonyms used by drag queens kicked up quite a fuss in the LGBTQ community, which was incensed by the so-called “real name” policy. Facebook reversed its decision, but it’s unclear if the network will know how to provide a safe place for people to express non-normative self-identifiers. [Update: I contacted Facebook to seek clarity around the real names policy. A spokesperson responded: “The policy has not been changed, but for the last six months Facebook has been working to enhance the way the policy is enforced.” Facebook now provides a third option for people who want to verify the names they use on Facebook, which includes showing two forms of ID from Option 2 (non-government ID name verification) and a government ID that includes a date of birth or photo that matches information on the profile. With this option, Facebook will not add the name or other information from the government ID to the account.]Lead photo by evan courtney; Facebook photo and screencaps by Alicia Eler for ReadWrite The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videoscenter_img A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Audit Tags:#Facebook#Gender#social networking alicia elerlast_img read more

Intel® Xeon® Processor 5600 and 7500 Series: Driving Changes for BMW Cuts Energy Use by 20%

first_imgTo meet its corporate goals, BMW Group needed to cut carbon emissions and energy use in its data center and make the applications and operations more efficient. It also wanted to develop a larger virtual environment for key applications to lower management costs.Based on its long relationship with Intel, BMW Group tested the new Intel® Xeon® processors 5600 and 7500 series. Moving away from its existing RISC-based platform to the x86 architecture enabled more efficient power usage and increased performance. Virtualization helped  BMW minimize its physical server fleet and improve system manageability.Now BMW expects to reduce energy use by 20 percent. Virtualizing the environment on Intel® architecture will let the company consolidate servers by 30:1. Plus, with better system and application performance the business and development teams can get results sooner and speed time to market.“We’re confident that with our new Intel® technology-based platform we will overachieve against the goals we have set ourselves in terms of business performance and energy efficiency,” said Axel-Knut Bethkenhagen, head of corporate license management for BMW Group.For all the details, read our new BMW Group business success story. As always, you can find this one, and many more, in the Reference Room and IT Center.last_img read more