GMSA CUTS AVEO, SPARK LITE PRICES AS IT REORGANISES ENTRY-LEVEL OFFERING – Following the recent price reduction on the now locally manufactured Chevrolet Spark, General Motors South Africa (GMSA) has announced similar revisions to other models in its entry-level range. Both the Chevrolet Spark Lite and the Chevrolet Aveo are now the subject of price reductions, with immediate effect. “General Motors is conscious of the difficulty faced by first-time vehicle buyers to access affordable new vehicles, especially those from popular brands,” says GMSA sales and marketing VP Malcolm Gauld. “This latest realignment of prices and models in our entry-level A and B segments will significantly ease access to new vehicles with a proud brand heritage and a very high level of both safety and comfort specifications.” The Spark Lite will, from now on, only be available with a one-litre engine, with the smaller 0.8-litre-engined model discontinued. The price tag on the Spark Lite 1.0 LS is cut by 12.7%, or R12 500, to R86 200, including VAT. This is marginally above the previous asking price for the 0.8-litre model. Buyers get a small Chevrolet that includes safety items such as anti-lock brakes and dual airbags, as well as air-conditioning and electric windows. The Aveo hatch range is downsized from three variants to just one – the Chevrolet Aveo 1.6. The recommended retail price of this model is now R117 300 including VAT, which is a saving of R19 100, or 14%. The Aveo 1.6 Hatch is now the lowest-priced 1.6-litre passenger car in South Africa, says Gauld. The price includes power steering, anti-lock brakes, driver’s side airbag, air conditioning, tilt-adjustable steering wheel and transponder key immobiliser system. The Aveo sedan line-up remains unchanged with three variants, the Aveo 1.6, the Aveo 1.6 LS and the Aveo 1.6 LS A/T.
CRUNCH TIME FOR DNA DATABASE – The Secretariat for Police is set to present a DNA policy, which is going to underpin the second draft of the DNA Bill, to the Portfolio Committee for Police soon. The secretariat serves as technical advisor to the Minister of Police. This bill will allow South Africa to expand its DNA database for use as a criminal intelligence tool. One of the supporters of the bill is the nongovernmental organisation, the DNA Project, under the leadership of Vanessa Lynch. Lynch and her team have been passionate lobbyists for the South African Police Service (SAPS) to expand its DNA database. South Africa does not have a large DNA database as current legislation has kept it in check at around 130 000 profiles. Therefore, unlike the US and some 50 other countries, South Africa does not have a DNA database filled with a large pool of potential suspects that can provide the police with a clue as to who could have committed a crime. “Currently the taking of DNA samples from suspects and the inclusion of DNA profiles onto the DNA database in South Africa is limited by the fact that we have inadequate legislation to allow for the proper development and use of a DNA database as a criminal intelligence tool,” says Lynch. “The way in which the database is currently being used is to match a known suspect (arrestee) with crime scene evidence on a case-by-case basis, as a prosecutorial tool. “This is also not mandatory and so, more often than not, it is not done unless requested by a prosecutor.” In order for a DNA database to be used as a more effective criminal intelligence tool, South Africa must expand its database and make it compulsory for all suspects to have their DNA samples taken at the time of arrest. Convicted offenders will also have to contribute to the database, while all crime scene samples found at a crime scene must be analysed for DNA. All of these profiles have to then be entered into the database, notes Lynch. “In this way we can link unrelated cases where there is no suspect, we can link a known suspect to other crimes, or we can establish if a serial offender is at play. “The greater the size of the DNA database, in particular the reference index on the database – in other words, the index containing profiles of known persons, such as suspects and convicted offenders – the greater the chance of a match to a known person when an unknown DNA sample, collected from a crime scene, is entered onto the database.” Lynch says the DNA database will work in much the same way as the fingerprint database, which has recently been enlarged to include fingerprints from not only from the SAPS, but also the Department of Transport’s (DoT's) license library, as well as the Department of Home Affairs’ (DHA's) identity document library.
AEG SETS UP SOLAR EQUIPMENT FACTORY OUTSIDE CAPE TOWN – Energy technology and power electronics company AEG Power Solutions has constructed a manufacturing facility for its utility-scale solar inverters and skytron combiner boxes for its monitoring and control solutions, outside Cape Town. The 3 400-m2 factory is located in Milnerton and has the capacity to produce about 200 MW a year. AEG states that the development of the facility is in line with the South African government’s approved plans that call for the development of 18 GW of renewable energy by 2030, of which 8 400 MW are allocated for solar. Employees for the plant, which will officially be inaugurated in September, have been trained in Germany. Manufacturing of the PV.500 inverters and 1 MW TKS solar containers has already started and will be ramped up to PV.630 and PV.800 by the end of this year. AEG Power Solutions says the facility will generate further interest and international investment in the emerging African solar power segment.
Africa & the world
NIGERIA’S DANGOTE EXPANDS HIS ‘CEMENT POWERHOUSE’ – Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote (pictured) has commissioned an expansion of his Obajana cement plant that raises its capacity to 10.25-million tons a year, creating what he calls a "powerhouse of cement" in Africa and the world. The additional 5.25-million ton a year line at Obajana brings Dangote Cement, Nigeria's biggest listed company, a step closer to its official target of producing 50-million tons of cement across Africa by 2015. Dangote, ranked Africa's richest man in Forbes' 2012 list of World Billionaires, says the additional capacity at the plant in Kogi state, not far from the capital Abuja, raises his firm's total production capacity in Nigeria to 28-million tons. "We will be the powerhouse of cement in Africa," he said at a ceremony attended by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. Dangote adds that Obajana, now among the largest cement plants in the world, will receive another planned additional line, adding three-million tons, that will boost its capacity to 13.25-million tons a year. Under a plan underway to build a Pan-African cement empire stretching from Senegal to Ethiopia, the businessman says the group's increased expansion across Africa could see it achieving total capacity on the continent of 60 million tonnes by the end of 2014, beating the original target of 50-million tons. Dangote Cement makes up around a third of Nigeria's stock exchange. The company plans to list on the London stock exchange next year, although analysts say it faces big corporate governance challenges, including hiring a new board of directors, before it can be ready to do this.
INDIA OFFERS $1BN INCENTIVE FOR AFRICAN INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT – The Indian government has set aside some $1-billion, offering fertiliser companies soft loans to create logistics and infrastructure facilities in African countries like Eritrea, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ghana as a precursor to acquiring fertiliser mineral assets in these countries. “It is necessary to deepen economic cooperation leading to convergence of economic needs of two countries before mineral asset acquisitions can be successfully negotiated,” a senior official in India’s Department of Chemicals and Fertiliser said. India has identified the African countries for the acquisition of fertiliser mineral assets like potash and rock phosphate; however, Indian fertiliser companies so far have been unsuccessful in concluding any overseas acquisition of raw material sources. “It is very difficult to successfully gain access to overseas mineral assets, particularly in Africa, without long-term bilateral economic engagements. The model adopted by China has been very successful. Chinese companies invest heavily in infrastructure and logistics before gaining concessions for minerals. India needs to adopt a similar approach,” the official says. “The Indian government proposes to spend $1-billion between 2012 and 2017 through government-owned fertiliser companies to establish sovereign commitments in the African countries. Subsequently, the corpus would be increased to fund mineral asset acquisitions,” he adds. Several Indian companies operate out of South Africa, Tunisia and Morocco but have not been able to extend their footprint into other countries owing to a lack of government support. The soft lines of credit were expected to fill this gap, the official says.
SHANNON DE RYHOVE WITH REUTERS AND SAPA