News in South Africa 22nd March:

1. Taxpayers think load-shedding is endless:

A report commissioned by BrandMapp found that 50% of South African taxpayers believed load-shedding would never end.

Taxpayers think load-shedding is endless
Photo by Jason Villanueva

The report used data from 1,496 South Africans who stayed in households that earn above R10,000 per month, meaning they are taxpayers.

72% of South Africa’s taxpayers say that blackouts have affected their work life negatively, and productivity is the biggest casualty. 

Young people are disproportionately affected by the loss of work opportunities, which is deeply concerning in the context of the country’s high youth unemployment rate. 

Almost 30% of respondents reported that staff safety and security are compromised during load shedding, and 21% note an increase in theft during blackouts.

South Africa is crime-ridden with the lights on, but the emotional heft and financial losses from crime are significantly amplified during power outages.

South Africans don’t believe that the government has the ability to stop load-shedding in the short or medium term.

The report found that just 2% of taxpayers believe load-shedding will be solved in under a year.  9% of respondents indicated that the load-shedding crisis would be resolved within 20 years. 

Sourced from DailyInvestor

The report also found that people from the Western Cape are slightly more positive about the timeline on which load-shedding can be solved.

The report attributed this to the lower levels of load-shedding experienced in the Western Cape and the “constant communication” of solutions at a local level.

Sourced from DailyInvestor

Last week, the new minister of electricity, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, refused to be drawn on providing a timeline to end load-shedding.

He said that solving load-shedding is his only focus and that it will be solved.

2. Race to roll out alternative energy plans:

South Africa’s major cities are in a race to roll out alternative energy plans to reduce and eventually eliminate load shedding, as Eskom’s well-publicised woes seem unlikely to be resolved for years to come.

It’s not just renewable energy they are after as a way to limit the impact of Eskom load shedding. Gas, solar, wind and better energy management feature strongly in these plans.

eThekwini Municipality, which includes the port city of Durban, is the latest metro in South Africa to announce a large-scale renewables project aimed at reducing the impact of load shedding.

National Treasury’s Technical Advisory Centre last week green-lighted the municipality’s plans to procure 400 megawatts (MW) of new generation capacity, comprising 100MW of solar and 300MW of gas-to-power in 2025 and 2026 respectively.

“The procurement of 400MW will restore energy security, reduce the impact of load shedding, reduce reliance on the national grid, improve economic development and create job opportunities,” said eThekwini Municipality in a statement last week.

Many smaller municipalities – among them Orania, Mossel Bay, Stellenbosch, Overstrand, Saldanha Bay, Drakenstein and Swartland – have likewise announced plans to find alternatives to Eskom power.

3. Criminals are now targeting keyless cars:

Tracking companies, insurers and other groups are sounding the alarm over a growing trend of criminals targeting and stealing keyless entry and push-start vehicles in South Africa, warning that syndicates are getting more tech-savvy, and motorists need to catch up.

Criminals can gain entry to these types of vehicles by effectively extending the range of the remote so that, once a driver is out of sight of a vehicle, someone else climbs in and drives away – all without any contact with the driver or awareness of it until they return to an empty parking spot.

The keyless access tactic involves a pair or team of criminals, one of whom could follow a newer model vehicle owner as they walk away from a locked vehicle.

Using a relay amplifier, a criminal can amplify the constantly transmitted signal received from the vehicle’s key fob to a criminal counterpart’s relay transmitter.

The criminal counterpart can then access the vehicle via the transmitter and drive away with it.

Chief executive officer of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, said that criminals typically wait for targets in parking lots carrying briefcases and backpacks and may not look like the stereotypical presumption of what a perpetrator looks like.

These criminals will follow their victim on their remote for a short distance to extend its range.

This type of crime is becoming more common, with some insurers now forcing owners of keyless and push-start vehicles to ensure they have tracking devices installed as a contingency.

Old Mutual Insure said drivers in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and smaller inland provinces are most at risk – particularly those driving high-end luxury vehicles and bakkies, which are frequently targeted.

“From our investigations, it appears that syndicates have found ways to seamlessly access vehicles with keyless entry systems. The theft rate is particularly high in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, and some of our smaller inland provinces,” the group said.

4. UK govt lifts Bain & Co. ban:

The UK government has lifted a ban against global consultancy Bain & Company from bidding for state work seven months after imposing the sanction.  

The government initially announced the ban in August 2022. This was after the Zondo Commission found that Bain’s South African branch colluded with former president Jacob Zuma and ex-SA Revenue Service (SARS) boss Tom Moyane to “capture” the tax agency. 

The UK government said on Tuesday that Bain and its affiliates outside of South Africa are no longer excluded from bidding for state work. However, Bain & Co. South Africa will remain excluded until 4 January 2025, given the findings made by commission chair Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. 

“Bain & Company have cooperated with our investigations and have provided considerable additional information on their self-cleansing actions. They have also agreed to a period of rigorous monitoring for a minimum of two years, during which their continued compliance will be assessed,” the UK government said. 

“This decision is subject to a regular and thorough period of close monitoring, for a minimum of two years, so we can be satisfied that the company continues to uphold the measures they have now put in place.”

5. ChatGPT prompts a big review of teaching:

ChatGPT is allowing for widespread plagiarism and is forcing tertiary institutions to tackle how they teach and test students.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal and Wits are introducing seminars for academics, with fears growing that students can easily outsource assignments and cheat.

Although ChatGPT’s academic referring is incredibly poor and often wrong, there are concerns that the tools to detect AI-generated text will not keep up.

All information sourced from articles posted by: DailyInvestor, Moneyweb, BusinessTech, Fin24, and BusinessDay.

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