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Sep 03, 2010

03/09/2010 (On-The-Air)

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Every Friday morning, SAfm's AMLive's radio anchor Caesar Molebatsi speaks to Martin Creamer, publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly. Reported here is this Friday's At the Coalface transcript:

Molebatsi: Now again the Russians are coming. Space agency Roscosmos is in satellite talks with South Africa. What are the Russians seeking this time?

Creamer: More coverage in the Southern Hemisphere. Now, it all stems from Jacob Zuma, our President's visit to Moscow, last month. They got talking and there are talks now between Roscosmos, which is the Russian space agency, and the South African National Space Agency, Sansa, and it is around possibly having a tracking facility in South Africa.

The Russians having a tracking facility. It is not known at this stage whether they are going to use our own Satellite Application Centre at Hartebeesthoek, west of Pretoria, or whether they will need more dishes. That is still in the draft memorandum, which is coming through.

In the meantime, South Africa is also looking for some reciprocity from the Russians and that they want in the form of training for space personnel and they also want to get help with radio astronomy, that we are also doing with our radio telescopes.

The Russians have also got a very big project on the go called Glonass, which is a constellation of satellites. They have managed to cover all of Russia and a lot of the world and they want South Africa to come into that as well, and that will mean that we need to also host a satellite laser ground station. We have one of those at the Satellite Application Centre, but the Russians have said it is inopportune for their needs.

So, it looks like we may have to look for another site for them. They have left that to us and said come to us and say where the best site would be.

Molebatsi: But all-in-all this is new technology or different technology that is actually coming into the country as a result of these international travels of our President.

Creamer: Exactly. Also, they are possibly winked towards Stellenbosch, although this is not confirmed that they may have this laser ground tracking station.

Molebatsi: Some South African cities are fired-up about bidding for the 2020 Olympic Games. Is it not to soon after World Cup hosting?

Creamer: Well, our State President Jacob Zuma said South Africa is ready to host the 2020 Olympic Games. Now this has inspired some of the cities. Of course, we've had the South African Olympic Committee, Sascoc coming out and saying look, there are four cities potentially here, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban.

Of course, you can rule out Johannesburg and Pretoria, the altitude problem. Cape Town had a go in 1997 and they bid to have the 2004 Olympics and lost out to Athens. Rome was second and Cape Town was only third. They seem a little bit lukewarm at the moment and we see some hesitancy.

Others say look, we are tempted to do it, but the more strident comment coming out of Cape Town is that they prefer smaller sporting events on a regular basis, at this stage they have got bread and butter issues they have got to deal with, the mayor says.

So the only ones coming our red-hot, Durban. They want this and they have obviously strategised ahead of time for this, because we've noticed they are already going to host the Olympic committee. The Olympic committee is going to use Durban as a venue to announce the 2018 Winter Olympics, next year. The bidding cities have to have their bids in early next year.

The preliminary bids have to be in early next year and it seems like Durban is very much in pole position. We are talking about 10 500 athletes, 300 events and 28 sports, all in one city. It is not like the World Cup, its all in one city. It can be great news for Durban, because they can obviously get guarantees out of National Treasury.

So it will be us maybe that suffer, but Durban might really benefit from this, because if you've got 10 500 athletes you've got to build houses. That becomes a housing project. When those guys move out as we ride along our Johannesburg freeway here at Alexandra township, we look left and we know that that was a village for the African Games in 1999, now people are living in it. So it can be a great benefit for the city.

Molebatsi: And it puts South Africa once again into the international spotlight, doesn't it?

Creamer: Absolutely.

Molebatsi: The port of Maputo in Mozambique is heading for an $800-million upgrade. How is this going to be funded?

Creamer: Funding is always the issue. It is interesting the flexibility that Maputo is using. We are a little bit inflexible in South Africa, its all Transnet, Transnet, Transnet. There they look for private sector involvement and you can see the port authority, which is the State giving out concessions.

One of those concessions it to South Africa's Grindrod. They are very happy with the thriving nature of that port. It's growing. They will be responsible for putting in 40 % of the $800-million envisaged, which is nearly R6-billion. So, it is quite a bit of money, but is shows you how the private sector can come in and help with that fund raising. Also, there are a lot of other sub-concessions there.

We see a lot of growth and a good model from the Maputo port, which is recognising that there is a demand for export of commodities and starting to accommodate it in an innovative way that doesn't put too much strain on the State coffers, brings in the private sector and at the same time answers the need.

So Grindrod in South Africa, quite involved now in Maputo port and getting a long-term concession there. We see that it goes to 2033 and I think it was extended with an option for a further extension. That because they are doing a new plan for the port and one of the aspects of that is that it will be immediately dredged to 11 metre depth, which means that big Panamax ships can start coming in from next year.

Molebatsi: Now, are we competing well in this regard with the Chinese and Indians, for instance, who we know are interested in coming on to the African continent?

Creamer: You know, who ever can bring infrastructure to the African continent, we need. Everytime you have roads, ports and harbours there is an economic spin-off of wealth creation and job creation and that's what we need.

Molebatsi: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly, he'll be back with us at the same time next week.



Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter
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