News in South Africa 20th September:

1. Rand nears 2020 lows:

The rand dipped early on Tuesday, trading near its weakest against the dollar since 2020, as financial markets braced for this week’s US Federal Reserve meeting where an aggressive interest rate hike is expected.

Rand nears 2020 lows
Image taken by: Pixabay

At 0555 GMT, the rand traded at R17.69 against the dollar, around 0.1% weaker than its previous close.

The actions of the US central bank are driving market sentiment globally ahead of its latest policy announcement on Wednesday.

The South African Reserve Bank (Sarb) is also expected to raise rates in a decision announced on Thursday, but for now all eyes are on the Fed.

Around 0700 GMT on Tuesday the SARB will release a leading business cycle indicator that gauges the outlook for Africa’s most industrialised economy.

Struggling utility Eskom is implementing lengthy rotational power cuts which have dampened this year’s growth prospects, fuelled public frustration and prompted President Cyril Ramaphosa to cut short an overseas trip to travel back to South Africa.

2. JHB – low water pressure:

Johannesburg Water has cautioned customers of the risk of low pressure in some areas since the introduction of lengthier power outages under stage 6 load-shedding.

The water utility informed residents on Monday afternoon pump stations which supply various towers in parts of the city are “isolated” during load-shedding.

“Johannesburg Water is monitoring affected infrastructure and will ensure that water supply is restored as soon as possible to customers,” said spokesperson Puleng Mopeli.

The entity appealed to customers to reduce consumption during this time.

These are the affected towers: 

  • Northcliff Tower: Areas supplied include Northcliff, Greymont, Valeriedene and Waterval Estate;
  • Aeroton Tower: Areas supplied include Aeroton, Ormonde, Baragwanath Ext 1 and Ormonde View;  
  • Florida North: Areas supplied include Florida View, Florida North, Florida Glen, Florida, Florida Hills, Maraisburg and Delarey;
  • Waterval Tower: Areas supplied include Bergbron and parts of Northcliff;
  • Constantia Tower: Area supplied includes: Constantia Kloof, Florida Park, Floracliffe, Selwyn and parts of Florida Hills;
  • Helderkruin Tower: Areas supplied include Helderkruin, Princess, Horison View, Wilropark, Roodekrans,  Witpoortjie,  Westgate and Technikon;
  • Horison Tower: Areas supplied include Helderkruin, Carenvale, Discovery, Florida Park, Kloofendal,  Horison Park, Horison, Honey Hill, Ontdekkers Park and Horison View;
  • Witpoortjie Tower: Areas supplied include Groblerpark, parts of Princess and parts of Witpoortjie;
  • Ilovo Tower: Areas supplied include Hyde Park, Dunkeld West, Inanda, Sandown,   Sandhurst, Illovo and Wierda Valley;
  • Bryanston Tower: Areas supplied include Daniel Brinkpark, Bryanston, Cramerview, Lyme Park, Vandia Grove, Hurlingham and Kensington B;
  • Grand Central Tower: Areas supplied include Randjespark, Grand Central, Halfway House, Allendale, Glen Austin and Erand AH;
  • President Park Tower: Areas supplied include President Park, Ebony Park, Kaalfontein, Rabie Ridge and Austin View;
  • Rabie Ridge Tower: Areas supplied include Rabie Ridge and Commercia;
  • Erand Tower: Areas supplied include Halfway Gardens, Midridge Park, Noordwyk, Erand Gardens, Sagewood and Carlswald; and
  • Corporate Park Tower: Areas supplied include Headway Hill and Randjespark.

3. New plans for energy supply:

Eskom has launched three power purchase programs to boost South Africa’s energy supply, but they are not immediate.

In a media statement on Monday (19 September), the national power utility announced that its new procurement programs would focus on generators capable of supplying more than one megawatt to the grid.

Eskom added that, over time, smaller producers would also be able to participate in providing energy capacity to the state-owned entity.

“The combined impact of the programs predicted to exceed 1,000MW will make an important contribution towards reducing the load shedding burden on consumers.”

The initial power supply agreement is set to be signed this week, with power to flow through the grid as soon as possible.

The programs include:

  • Standard Offer Program: to procure power from companies with existing generation capacity for three years.
  • Emergency Generation Program: to procure more expensive power during periods when the grid is significantly constrained. The program allows independent generators to provide energy daily to compete with the Eskom generators in the internal market.
  • Bilateral Power Import Program: to secure imports of power to the country from neighbouring countries. Several countries have expressed an interest in selling additional surplus power to South Africa – this program will allow for such opportunities.

Despite these planned programmes, Eskom’s CEO Andre de Ruyter, on Sunday (17 September), said that not all of the power would be available as soon as possible.

“Not all of that is immediately available. Some of that relies on suppliers having to replenish their coal bunkers or secure additional gas supply.”

“But in the case of IPPs (independent power producers), we have a very high degree of confidence that we can urgently procure more megawatts,” he added.

4. Bar and restaurant recovery:

South Africa’s bars and restaurants are filling up.

This is according to Stats SA’s food and beverages survey for July 2022, which found that total income generated by the food and beverages industry increased 55.8% when compared with July 2021.

When broken into income types, the largest annual growth rate was for overall bar sales, which was up 81.6% to R380.3 million. There was also an impressive 54.2% rise to R5.23 billion in overall food sales.

The main contributor to the 55.8% year-on-year increase, when looking at specific food and beverages services, were restaurants and coffee shops, which rose 82.6% and contributed 3 percentage points to the overall growth.

There was also an increase in takeaway and fast-food outlets’ income, which was up 32% for the period. While catering services saw a 52.3% increase to R817 million.

Though the growth for the period is impressive, it does not tell the whole story.

The R5.74 billion in income generated overall during the period is still down 9.2% from the R6.32 billion it made in July 2019, a year before the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns shut the industry down.

5. Unions attempting protests:

Several unions will take another shot at mobilising workers to down tools despite a low turn out a previous shutdowns this year.

Police union Popcru and public service union, Saftu, will take to the streets on Tuesday morning over a number of worker issues.

Popcru wants better working conditions for police and prison wardens, including better measures for safety, while Saftu will rally for higher wages.

All eyes will be on the unions on Tuesday morning, as members from different unions protest for better working conditions.

The headline marches will take place in parts of Gauteng, with Popcru set to march to the Union Buildings with a memorandum detailing close to 20 demands.

On the other hand, Saftu says it will take its grievances over wages to the offices of the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council in Centurion.

Saftu will likely be joined by at least four other affiliated unions.

While the issues all the unions plan to raise intersect, parallel marches remain the order of the day.

All information sourced from articles posted by: Moneyweb, TimesLive, BusinessTech, Business Insider, and EWN.

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