Issue 64 | 26 June 2013
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The United States of America (US) continues to support South Africa’s domestic priorities and has made an effort to align its assistance programmes and projects with these priority areas. South Africa and the US face a number of common challenges such as the quest to improve public education and health, create jobs, develop skills and safety and security issues.
The US President, Barack Obama, will be in South Africa on an official working visit from 28 June – 30 June 2013.

President Jacob Zuma will receive President Obama for bilateral talks in Pretoria on 29 June 2013 to discuss the status of bilateral relations between the two countries. The talks will range from trade, health and education cooperation; development assistance; to peace, security and development cooperation in Africa.

Relations between South Africa and the US are strong and positive. The US is a major economic partner for South Africa and continues to feature high on the list of trade, investment, technology and tourism partners. It is a major export market for South African products and an important source of foreign direct investment. There are currently approximately 600 US companies trading in South Africa, which provide over 120 000 local jobs and contribute about 30% to corporate social projects.

Bilateral trade continues to grow. The US is the third-largest trading partner for South Africa, after China and Germany. Total trade in 2012 between the two countries was over R122 million. South Africa’s exports to the US in 2012 was just over R61 500 million and the total imports from the US into South Africa was R61 156 million with a trade balance in South Africa’s favour. South Africa is becoming an important investor in the US. The announcement of the investment by Sasol in Louisiana is regarded as a vital injection into the economy of the US. This investment will not only pump in much-needed revenue into the US economy, but will, through Sasol’s world-class technology, revolutionise the economy of Louisiana and surrounding states such as Texas as well as create sustainable employment opportunities.

During the visit, President Obama will:
  • preside over a Young African Leaders Initiative meeting at the University of Johannesburg, Soweto Campus
  • visit various sites in Cape Town on 30 June 2013, including Robben Island and a health facility funded by the US at the Desmond Tutu Centre in Noordhoek
  • deliver a public address at the University of Cape Town, on the 59th anniversary of a speech at the same venue by Senator Robert Kennedy.
This summit is very important for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region since it needs to accelerate its industrial and trade capacity through substantial infrastructure investment in order to expand economic growth and employment creation.

The SADC is scheduled to hold an Infrastructure Investment Summit on 27 June 2013 in Maputo, Mozambique, under the theme: “Accelerating Investment in SADC Infrastructure through Sustainable and Innovative Financing”.

In addition to representatives from the business and financial communities, the summit will also be attended by the heads of state of Angola, Mozambique, Malawi and South Africa and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission.

The main objective of the summit is to present the SADC Regional Infrastructure Master Plan (RIDMP) and its Short-Term Action Plan (STAP) to a range of potential investors, funders of infrastructure and key international cooperating partners. The summit will also be used to facilitate direct consultations between potential investors and national project promoters. The RIDMP and the STAP are focussing on the following sectors: energy; water; transport; information and communications technology/communications; tourism; and meteorology.

President Jacob Zuma will also participate in a High-Level Round Table Session during which he will focus particularly on the North-South Corridor in his capacity as Champion of the African Union-New Partnership for Africa’s Development Presidential Infrastructure Championship Initiative.

A SADC Summit was held in Maputo on 15 June 2013 with a focus on the political developments in Zimbabwe. The summit noted that credible elections would have to be held as soon as possible and under appropriate conditions.

The summit decided on the way forward as follows:

  • urging the three parties to the Global Political Agreement (GPA) to undertake immediate measures to create a conducive environment for the holding of peaceful, free, fair and credible elections
  • urging the three parties to the GPA, and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission in particular, to finalise preparations for holding the forthcoming 2013 harmonised elections
  • reiterating its call for the lifting of all forms of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.
The National Youth Chefs Training Programme (NYCTP) will ensure world-class service standards, promote South African indigenous cuisine and, at the same time, produce chefs who are able to compete with the best in the world.
The shortage of skilled young chefs in the tourism sector may soon be a thing of the past as 60 graduates from the national Department of Tourism’s NYCTP has successfully completed the second phase of the programme.

The programme is designed to provide theoretical and practical culinary training in the art of preparing world-class cuisine. Upon completing the three-year programme, the students will be awarded diplomas, qualifying them as professionals who would be able to compete with some of the best chefs in the world.

The national Department of Tourism’s National Tourism Sector Strategy has, among other things, identified a need to address skills shortages in the tourism sector by training and building the capacity of unemployed youth and graduates, particularly in critical and scarce skills in the hospitality and tourism services sector. The department has invested R39 million through government’s Expanded Public Works Programme to present a three-year training programme to 1 300 unemployed youth between the ages of 18 and 34.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Minister of Tourism, Tokozile Xasa, is leading the South African tourism trade workshops in China, South Korea and Japan. The series of trade workshops started in three of China’s provinces, namely Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, and has the largest contingent of traders participating. The workshops are a unique platform that enables South African trade to showcase their latest products, services and offerings to the Asian buyers. It facilitates communication and cooperation, and offers great business opportunities between our traders and their counterparts.

The delegation’s last stop will be Tokyo in Japan on 28 June.
"South Africa's resounding success was unsuspected, dropping a few jaws in the hall since the country was a first-time entrant."
First-time entrant, South Africa, stunned heavyweights China and the United States of America (US) at an international student supercomputing competition in Germany on 19 June 2013, scooping overall top honours with the highest scores across the board.

The HPCAC-ISC Student Cluster Challenge, hosted by the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC), features small teams that compete to demonstrate the incredible capabilities of state-of-the-art high-performance cluster hardware and software.

In a real-time challenge, teams of six undergraduate or high school students build small clusters of their own design on the ISC exhibit floor, racing to demonstrate the greatest performance across a series of benchmarks and applications.

The final, held at the 2013 ISC in Leipzig, was contested by eight teams: two each from the US and China, and one each from the United Kingdom, Germany, Costa Rica and South Africa.

The South African team scooped overall top honours, "achieving the highest aggregate points total for all the benchmarks included in the competition (Linpack and the chosen applications) and acing the interview with the judges", the Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC) said.

It said that the experience afforded by the competition would help South Africa to "grow a generation of high-performance expertise for national economic development and for large projects such as the Square Kilometre Array".

The CHPC, an initiative of the Department of Science and Technology, is implemented by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research's Meraka Institute.

Last year, a major upgrade to the CHPC's Tsessebe Sun Constellation System saw South Africa reclaim its place in the top 500 list of the world's fastest supercomputers. The CHPC's high-performance computing platforms are used to solve problems in fields such as materials science, climatology, chemistry and biomedicine, and are available to researchers across the country through the 10 gigabit-per-second South African National Research Network.
South African food service group Famous Brands is expanding into the United Kingdom with the opening of its first branch of burger franchise Steers in Clapham, southwest of London, in July.
This follows closely on the group's announcement that it would be opening five Debonairs Pizza restaurants in Mumbai in India, also in July.

This international expansion forms part of the group's plan to ramp up new restaurant openings across its entire brand portfolio, with 46 expected for the second quarter of 2013 alone. Expanding into the rest of Africa remains one of the company's top priorities.
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