3 000 KZN TAXIS TO BE FITTED WITH SMART CARD TECH, ON-BOARD CAMERAS – About 3 000 Kwazulu-Natal taxis are set to be equipped with electronic fare collection technology. JSE-listed DigiCore Holdings, owner of Ctrack, has announced that it has concluded an agreement with Translog Management, which will see the roll-out of its Tap-I-Fare electronic fare collection solution into these taxis over the next two years. The project, which kicked off on July 2, will initially target all taxis and commuters within the Grange & Westgate, Ridge Park, Buffer, KwaNyamazane, Alexandra Road Extension, Richmond Crest, Pelham, France and Napierville areas. Once the system has been refined, it will be rolled-out across the District of uMgungundlovu. The uMgungundlovu Regional Taxi Council, with its 40 taxi associations, collectively owns 3 700 taxis, and transports more than 500 000 people a day. The council’s system is currently cash based, with the result that checks and balances regarding vehicle condition, driver behaviour and passenger safety have been difficult to manage, monitor and enforce – this is according to taxi owners. “The time has come for our commuters and citizens to see our taxis as a safe, affordable, convenient and eco-friendly means of commuting,” says council regional chairperson Boy Zondi. [Add pic of taxis]
R827BN TAX COLLECTION TARGET SET – Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has stated that South Africa’s tax base, which comprised citizens and business engaging in taxable activities, such as excise tax, personal income tax, value-added tax (VAT) and corporate tax, is not wide enough. Speaking at the official opening of the 2012 tax season, in Pretoria, he said that to ensure sustainable economic growth, larger revenues were required; however, the only way to ensure increased revenue is to grow the economy and create tax-paying-level jobs. South Africa also requires the establishment of more businesses, particularly with an increased commercial base, and an increased production base, especially in manufacturing. The South African Revenue Service (Sars) is expecting to collect over R827-billion in revenues from the entire South African tax base in the 2012 tax season and R927-billion in 2013. Total revenue collection grew from R114-billion during the 1994/95 tax season, to over R742.7-billion in 2011. Of this, 12-million South African individual taxpayers, last year, accounted for R251.6-billion, or 33.8% of all revenue collection. Business activities, excise tax, corporate tax, VAT, capital gains and dividends, besides others, contributed the remainder. Gordhan says the country aims to invest in significant infrastructure projects and other activities to stimulate growth, with R845-billion earmarked for energy, transport, water and telecommunications infrastructure over the coming three years. “If there is no growth plan accompanying a fiscal [plan], then economies will not be able to work their way out of economic difficulties,” he notes. The Finance Minister also says that the relationship between government and taxpayers is important for South Africa to host a viable and meaningful democracy. Every citizen is a part of growing South Africa and ensures that the country maintains the financial strength and stability to absorb the “formidable” impact of the financial crisis of 2009. [Add pic of Pravin Gordhan]
Africa & the world
NEW LOW-COST AFRICAN AIRLINE TO CARRY FIRST PASSENGERS IN OCTOBER – Diversified investment holding company Lonrho says that its African airline division FastJet has chosen the Airbus A319 aircraft to launch its new low-cost carrier across Africa, with the first aircraft expected to carry passengers by October. The Aim-listed company, which listed the division into Rubicon Diversified Investments on July 2, will operate under a brand licence agreement with easyGroup Holdings and low-cost airline easyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou. Rubicon CE Ed Winter says the decision to launch FastJet with the Airbus A319 enabled the company to expand rapidly with each 156-seater aircraft potentially carrying around 250 000 passengers a year. Rubicon expects passenger numbers to double from current levels within six months of the introduction of the A319 fleet. “We plan to add at least five leased Airbus A319 aircraft to the fleet within six months of launch and up to 15 within a year,” he adds. Meanwhile, Airbus chief commercial customers officer John Leahy said the airplane manufacturer was pleased that FastJet had chosen the A319 as the basis for its fleet. “FastJet will open up low-cost travel to the African market, and the Airbus A319 will bring new levels of comfort to air passengers across Africa. It is a great combination,” he adds. The first aircraft will be leased from investment bank Nomura Babcock Brown (BBAM) and is scheduled for delivery in September or October. BBAM is the world’s third largest aircraft lessor, managing a portfolio of over 450 aircraft. Negotiations are under way for further aircraft deliveries later in the year. Rubicon announced the successful completion of its deal with Lonrho Aviation and its airline Fly540, providing the merged group with existing aviation platforms in Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Angola. Lonrho owns 74.9% of the London-listed aviation business and easyGroup will own 5%.
KIM PLEDGES TO HELP POOR AS HE TAKES WORLD BANK REINS – Korean-American physician Jim Yong Kim took the reins of the poverty-fighting World Bank on July 2 and pledged to protect developing countries at a pivotal moment for a world economy that appears to be losing steam rapidly. Kim, former head of Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, takes the presidency at a time the eurozone debt crisis is beginning to exact a wider global toll. Growth is slowing in emerging economies from China to India to Brazil, with developing countries feeling the effects of tighter bank lending and a drop in trade financing – problems Kim will have to address as the head of the world's top development lender. "I am both humbled and inspired to take over today as president," Kim told reporters before he entered the World Bank's headquarters just blocks away from the White House. Kim's nomination for the job by the Obama administration was challenged by candidates from developing countries. It was the first time in the World Bank's history that the US hold on the job was challenged by nations who want an opportunity to lead the institution. Unlike previous heads of the World Bank, Kim is not a politician, banker or career diplomat. Instead, his life work has focused on bringing healthcare to the poor, whether fighting tuberculosis in Haiti and Peru or tackling HIV/AIDS in Russian prisons. [Add pic of Jim Yong Kim]
ANGOLA PLANS OIL BIDDING ROUND NEXT YEAR – FT – Angola is planning to launch a bidding round for onshore oil exploration rights next year in a bid to double production by the end of the decade, the Financial Times reports. The plan follows the signing in December of oil exploration deals between Angola's state oil firm Sonangol and seven oil majors including France's Total, Britain's BP and US firm Cobalt. Africa's second largest oil producer after Nigeria will offer exploration rights in the onshore part of the Kwanza Basin, which mirrors one off Brazil where major volumes of high-quality light oil have been discovered in recent years, a senior minister told the newspaper. "I would not advance figures but the only thing I would say it's very, very lucrative, more than we expected," Manuel Vicente was quoted by the FT as saying. Cobalt in February announced results from tests at a deep sea oil well in the Kwanza Basin had exceeded expectations. Analysts predicted reserve potential at the Cameia well could exceed two-billion barrels and be worth up to $2.6-billion. Angola wants to boost output to 3.5-million barrels per day from 1.8-million by 2020, Vicente said. Angola depends on crude output for 95% of its export revenues, making its economy vulnerable to the swings of the global oil market. [Add pic of oil refinery]