News in South Africa 4th May:

1. Economic risks of Covid resurgence:

While the Covid-19 risk has diminished in South Africa, it has not disappeared, and a resurgence of cases in recent weeks could weigh on the economy this year, say economists at Absa bank.

Economic risks of Covid resurgence
Image taken by: Nataliya Vaitkevich

“New Covid-19 cases are again on the rise, with the positive test ratio reaching 21% on 27 April, the highest level since early January,” the bank said in a research note on Tuesday (3 May).

“While we believe the government will not look to tighten lockdown restrictions, a surge in Covid-19 cases could still moderately weigh on economic activity via the confidence channel and delay the recovery in tourism-related industries.”

Internationally, the Russo-Ukrainian war and China’s ‘zero-Covid’ lockdowns will likely dampen global growth momentum and exacerbate supply chain pressures on growth domestically.

  • Absa’s baseline scenario assumes there will be bouts of Covid-19 but with no material retightening of lockdown restrictions;
  • Its upside scenario assumes any further waves of Covid-19 only have a marginal impact on the country;
  • Its downside scenario forecasts that further waves will lead to the reintroduction of social distancing lockdowns, but with significantly less economic impact than in 2020.

South Africa reported 3,785 new cases on Tuesday (3 May), representing a 17.6% positivity rate after 21,518 tests were conducted in the previous 24 hours. Most new cases reported are from Gauteng (45%), followed by KwaZulu-Natal (28%).

An increase of 68 hospital admissions was reported in the past 24 hours, with 2,232 currently admitted across public and private healthcare clinics.

In a media briefing on Friday (29 April), health minister Joe Phaahla said the government would likely need a further week of data to confirm the start of the fifth wave officially and that the recent uptick in cases is not anomalous.

2. Electrical distribution war:

Eskom and municipalities continue to oppose each other on the right to distribute power – and independent power producers wishing to step in are facing their own challenges.

The turf war over electricity distribution is intensifying, with at least one independent power producer (IPP) entering the ring and more expected to follow. This as Eskom and municipalities are already going head-to-head on the right to distribute.

Apart from determining who gets the revenue stream from electricity sales in a specific area, the matter of who the distributor is will also be crucial when it comes to the tariffs consumers will have to pay.

Greenstone Energy has applied to energy regulator Nersa for permission to distribute the electricity it generates from its gas-fired power station in Linbro Park, Johannesburg, to 18 properties managed by the Adamjee Property Company (APC).

In a presentation at a public hearing on the matter held by Nersa, Greenstone stated that residents of these properties were, in addition to load shedding, subjected to 1 594 hours without electricity in the past 12 months. That is about 66 days.

The area is currently supplied by Eskom directly and Greenstone proposes an independent distribution grid which, if approved, will see end users disconnecting from Eskom completely.

Eskom is opposing the application.

Greenstone has already registered its gas-fired generation facility with Nersa in terms of the licensing exemption granted for plants up to 100 megawatts (MW).

It is the first such facility to also apply for a distribution licence – and according to Tommy Garner, chair of the South African Independent Power Producers’ Association (Saippa), it won’t be the last.

Garner said he personally knows of at least two similar applications that are being prepared.

Greenstone indicated that Adamjee Energy, part of APC, will be the single buyer of all the energy generated at the plant. It is expected to apply to Nersa for a trading licence.

It was recently reported that Eskom has applied to Nersa for an amendment to its distribution licence for the supply of electricity to the Mooikloof Smart City, being developed by JSE-listed Balwin Properties outside Pretoria. The City of Tshwane is opposing this application, because it will deprive it of the opportunity to earn revenue of about R1.5 billion for electricity sales to end users in the development. Nersa has not yet decided the matter.

3. Cybercrime all time high:

SA is among the top 10 countries found to have experienced the most cybercrime in 2021, according to research by cybersecurity company Surfshark.

The overall numbers in SA, which ranked sixth, are significantly lower than the UK’s, which topped the overall cybercrime density list for the second year in a row.

To put it in perspective, SA had 52 victims per one million internet users, almost 92 times less than the list-leading UK (4,783 victims per one million users).

The UK was  followed by the US (1,494/1m), Canada (174/1m), Australia (102/1m) and Greece (72/1m).

The Netherlands, France, Germany and Mexico round up the top 10.

“As more of our lives become digital, the chances of falling victim to online crimes grow every year. Since 2001, the online crime victim count increased 17 times, and financial losses grew more than 400 times, from $2,000 to $788,000 losses per hour,” said Surfshark CEO Vytautas Kaziukonis.

Kaziukonis said the privacy and cybersecurity landscape will change rapidly over the next several years.

“Now is a good time to focus on personal cybersecurity hygiene to stay safer online.” 

According to Surfshark’s study, phishing continues to be the most common cybercrime for the third year in a row.

In 2021, there were 323,972 phishing victims. In other words, every second individual who fell for an online crime fell for a phishing attack.

In 2020, there 241,343 phishing victims.

Investment fraud had the highest financial impact in total on its victims and people lost about $1.5bn this way in 2021.

The 24,300 confidence or romance fraud victims lost on average $39,345 in 2021 while 93,500 online payment fraud victims lost on average $4,655.

The research showed malware  and ransomware attacks are becoming more exclusive to businesses.

They claimed around 4,500 victims in 2021. 

There were 3,700 ransomware attack victims who collectively lost $49.2m and 800,000 malware attacks where victims collectively lost $45.6m.

Compared to phishing, that is more than 70 times fewer victims.

4. Africa’s fastest growing companies:

The two fastest-growing companies in Africa are in Kenya, according to a new ranking released by the Financial Times on Tuesday, and five of the top ten are in Nigeria.

South Africa dominates the list numerically, with more entries than any other country – but the first SA company features only at number 10. And, were it not for SA’s precious metals, Nigeria would have claimed that title too.

The FT created the inaugural list with research company Statista, and it ranks companies on the continent based on their compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in revenue between 2017 and 2020.

Some companies are missing from the list, the British paper says, for reasons that include private companies refusing to make public their revenue figures. The survey required a chief executive or similar senior figure to certify revenue numbers.

Companies with less than $100,000 in revenue in 2017, and less than $1.5 million by 2020, were excluded, as were subsidiaries and branches of other companies.

Every company had to have its headquarters in an African country, and its revenue growth had to be organic.

That made for a list of 75 companies that had grown between 8,800% (Kenya’s Wasoko) and 26% (Morocco’s Hightech Payment Systems) over the three-year period.

Of the 24 South African companies, seven are in the mining business, and four of those are in platinum: Northam Platinum, Royal Bafokeng Platinum, Anglo American Platinum, and Impala Platinum. 

5. More guilty of State Capture:

The latest State Capture Report has provided a long list of people and entities that it recommends be pursued for prosecution.

Although this instalment delivered the most scathing criticism to date levelled against former president Jacob Zuma, the most high-profile politician named for potential NPA charges within it was former mineral resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane.

The report adds the names of about 30 individuals that it says should face the country’s courts. This brings the total across all four reports to 130.

Names added in the latest report include Tony Gupta, for allegedly offering bribes; several government officials; and a slew of former executives and board members from Eskom, including former CEOs Matshela Koko, Sean Maritz, and Brian Molefe. 

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

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *