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Apr 12, 2007

Podcast - April 13, 2007

© Reuse this April 13, 2007

Welcome to Creamer Media's Engineering News. In this podcast, read by Irma Venter of Creamer Media's Engineering News, we bring you the past week's top news stories from industry in South Africa and the rest of the world.

In this week's bulletin:
- Telkom chief Papi Molotsane exits unexpectedly
- Business confidence takes a beating, and
- Cement sales rise 16% on last year

SUDDEN DEPARTURE - Fixed-line telecommunications operator Telkom surprises the market with the announcement that chief executive officer Papi Molotsane has left the company, with immediate effect.

Telkom does not give reasons for Molotsane leaving, but says that chief operating officer Reuben September has been appointed as acting CEO until further notice.

Molotsane was appointed to the position in September 2005.

The announcement comes on the heels of comments by President Thabo Mbeki earlier this month, accusing Telkom of "profiteering" and deterring investment in the country with its "phenomenally" high phone-call and Internet-access prices.

Speaking in an interview with the Financial Times, Mbeki said that the government was "putting the pressure on Telkom" to reduce charges.

South Africa's telecommunications prices are among the highest in the world.

CONFIDENCE COOL-OFF - South Africa's business confidence continued to fall in March, weighed down by constraints in the economy, public sector service delivery and the political issues in Zimbabwe, the South African Chamber of Business says.

Sacob's business confidence index measures 99,5 for March.

The BCI average for the first quarter of the year was 100,5, which was lower than the 101,4 for the same period last year and the 102,1 for the fourth quarter of 2006.

But Sacob economist Richard Downing says that the BCI is still high and that there is no need for "panic buttons" yet, but says that the BCI showed that investors are starting to get worried.

The impact of imbalances in the economy and social issues around Zimbabwe are starting to influence the index.

CEMENT SALES - Cement sales for March in the Southern African Customs Union increased by 16% compared with the same period last year, the Cement & Concrete Institute's Graham Grieve tells Engineering News.

Cement sales for March 2007 increased to 1,37-million tons, from 1,18-million tons for the same period last year.

The growth is attributed to accelerated economic growth and, primarily, to infrastructure spending, which is beginning to gain pace in the country.

Cement demand in Southern Africa grew by 9,9% last year, with demand for cementitious products in South Africa rising 11%

That's a round up of this week's stories on Creamer Media's Engineering News. For more on these and other stories, visit

Also, in this week's Engineering News magazine, read our cover story on one of the so-called ‘Big Four' contractors, Group Five, and its new leader, Mike Upton. He and his predecessor, Mike Lomas, express both exuberance and caution about the current environment.

Then, on the extremely tight construction materials front, we report on two projects being pursued by South African cement producer PPC - an expansion project at its Pretoria-based Hercules plant and an update on the bigger Batsweledi project at its Dwaalboom facility.

Also, don't miss our features on telecommunications; foundries, forges and die-casting; and rail transport and infrastructure.

Edited by: Liezel Hill
© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
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