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Mar 12, 2009

Real Economy Report

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From Creamer Media in Johannesburg, this is the Real Economy Report. Our top stories this week: the Gautrain mega-project skills spin off; a R25-million wind atlas project for South Africa; and South Africa is driving forward with its MeerKAT radio telescope project.

Shannon O'Donnell:
The Gautrain project calls up the image of a blue and gold train running between Johannesburg and Tshwane. But project leader Jack van der Merwe says it's about much more than this. Irma Venter spoke to him at the project's Midrand depot.

Irma Venter:
Gautrain Management Agency CEO Jack van der Merwe's involvement in the rapid-rail link goes back to 1997. More than eleven years on, this civil engineer by training, says he has learned a few valuable lessons - one of them being that any mega-project is more about people that anything else.

Gautrain Management Agency CEO Jack van der Merwe

Irma Venter:
The R25-billion Gautrain project - which is being build by the Bombela consortium in public-private partnership, or PPP, with the Gauteng Government - has sourced its skills far and wide.

Jack van der Merwe

Irma Venter:
Van der Merwe's skills in building a PPP project have also not gone unnoticed.

Jack van der Merwe

Shannon O'Donnell:
Join us after the break to hear about South Africa's R25-billion wind project.

Mitsubishi Fuso advert

Shannon O'Donnell:
South Africa has started the process of creating a wind atlas for the country by 2010. Christy van der Merwe reports.

Christy van der Merwe:
South Africa's Department of Minerals and Energy is trying to diversify from its heavy reliance on coal-fired power and is encouraging the formation of a renewable energy industry. The potential for wind power in particular has been highlighted. The department wants to create an attractive environment for business to enter the wind energy market in South Africa.

Andre Otto, SAWEP project manager, DME

Christy van der Merwe:
A wind atlas, indicating the best sites in the country for wind farms, is vital for investors. South Africa plans to have it done in 2010, at a cost of about R25-million. The more wind at a site, the more electricity, and thus, the more income for investors.
But, creating a wind map is a BIG JOB.

Jens Carsten Hansen, Risø Windconsult Manager, Denmark Technical University

Christy van der Merwe:
After creating a "decent" wind atlas, this needs to be refined and improved to add value, making the bankability, and predictions of projects better.

Typically, sites with complex terrain, such as steep mountains, create larger uncertainties with the flow models, which calculate energy production.

Jens Carsten Hansen

Christy van der Merwe:
And importantly...

Jens Carsten Hansen

Shannon O'Donnell:
South Africa is developing a precursor instrument to the international square kilometre array radio telescope. This precursor is called MeerKAT. Keith Campbell reports on the progress so far.

Keith Campbell:
The MeerKAT radio telescope - the KAT part of the name stands for Karoo Array Telescope - will comprise up to 80 dishes. A lot of progress has been made. For example, 14 000 hectares of Karoo have been bought, to create the radio-free reserve the instrument needs. Roads and accommodation have been constructed, as has a Dish shed in which the dish antennas will be assembled on site. SKA South Africa project director Dr Bernie Fanaroff has more.

SKA South Africa project director Dr Bernie Fanaroff

Shannon O'Donnell:
And now for a sneak preview of this week's Engineering News magazine:

Read our cover story where we interview the new chief of State-owned defence industrial group Denel.

We report that South Africa's power distribution infrastructure backlog is pegged at R27-billion.

And, read about South Africa's plans to invest R80-million in the acquisition of a high-resolution transmission electron microscope

And in Mining Weekly this week:

We report that diversified mining giant Vale reaffirms its commitment to its investment programme, despite the global recession.

Read how South African diamantaires are pulling together stakeholders to devise a way of riding out the economic slowdown.

And, we report on the new CEO of Metorex's emphasis on debt reduction.

Shannon O'Donnell:
That's Creamer Media's Real Economy Report. Join us again next week for more news and insight into South Africa's real economy.

 

Edited by: Shannon de Ryhove
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Polity & Multimedia
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