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Finweek - English

Finweek - English 11/5/2020

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Finweek is South Africa’s leading financial weekly magazine focusing on investment. With its brisk, creative and authoritative analysis of business and investment issues, it’s an essential business tool in the daily battle for competitive advantage. Today's business decision-makers have to cope with increased pressure on their time and are expected, more than ever before, to succeed in the face of stiffer competition. Finweek provides relevant information in quick bytes, along with award-winning investment advice.

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South Africa
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25 Issues

in this issue

2 min.
from the editor

on 21 October, the Orlando electricity substation in Johannesburg went down, causing a widespread power outage in the city that affected several areas. The cause wasn’t clear. As it seems to be the best source of updates when it comes to municipal problems, residents scoured the City of Joburg’s Twitter feed for news on the cause and the estimated time of repair. Power was eventually restored approximately six hours later. By power outage standards, this is a walk in the park compared to durations of over 24 hours – which also happened during that week in other suburbs of Johannesburg. These severe power outages (not related to load shedding) have become an unacceptably regular occurrence in Joburg, and the ripple effect this has is immense. One being that residents were also left without…

5 min.
what sport can tell us about inequality

sport is often a microcosm of broader patterns in society. Sport can also say something about the economic incentives in society. Take the relationship between a country’s inequality and its economic performance. Most of us would argue that inequality hurts growth; that a highly unequal society inhibits the productive potential of those at the bottom of the income distribution. Some, though, would say that inequality, even severe inequality, is a necessary condition of economic freedom: those with the best ideas or best talents must rise to the top and be rewarded for their skills and their appetite for risk – the incentive effect. Identifying just which of these two effects are most important, though, is a precarious exercise, full of knotty measurement issues. However, what we can measure quite accurately is…

3 min.
in brief

“FOR ONCE, WE CAN TALK ABOUT AN SOE WITHOUT TALKING ABOUT BAILOUTS.” —Public enterprises minister, Pravin Gordhan, applauded Transnet for posting “excellent results”. Transnet reported a 1.3% increase in revenue to R75.1bn and a net profit of R3.9bn for its financial year to the end of March 2020. This was marginally below the revenue growth of 1.6% it posted for the previous financial year, but it came largely from tariff increases for port and rail users, which averaged 2.9% for its latest reporting period. The company’s auditors gave Transnet a qualified audit opinion. “Do we just unilaterally stand down and not choose to use the same tools that Republicans did in the majority?” —Chris Murphy, a Democratic senator representing Connecticut, following the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett as justice of the US Supreme…

1 min.
double take

THE GOOD Cabinet approved measures to support the domestic ferrochrome industry, including through an export tax on chrome ore. Jackson Mthembu, minister in the presidency, said interventions also include the usage of energy-efficiency technologies in smelters, and the adoption of cogeneration and self-generation technologies. Last year, South Africa supplied 12.5m tonnes of chrome ore to China, which accounts for 83% of China’s total chrome imports, according to Reuters. Companies that mine and process chrome in SA include Glencore, Merafe Resources, Samancor Chrome, Tharisa, and Jubilee Metals (also see p.12). THE BAD SA’s consolidated fiscal deficit is set to widen further than projected in June’s emergency Covid-19 budget as a third-quarter rebound in economic growth will not boost tax receipts enough, a Reuters poll found. A median of 21 economists, polled between 15 and…

6 min.
mastering the real world, virtually

virtual reality (VR) technology has given us the ability to design and simulate environments in two or three dimensions (2D or 3D) that are interactive and can be explored in real time. VR headsets allow us to be completely isolated from outside stimuli and become immersed in a virtual world. It can also place us in situations we would otherwise be fearful of in real life – which is where AxioVR comes in. “We found that VR is the perfect platform to stimulate patients and subjects to elicit fear or a response from them,” says Gideon Burger, co-founder of AxioVR about how they create safe virtual environments wherein subjects are exposed to their fears, such as heights or even public speaking. AxioVR is a spin-off of Axiology Labs, a company started by…

3 min.
outdated notions of beneficiation won’t cut it

one proposal that might bail out South Africa’s ferroalloys industry is that Eskom agrees to a long-term power purchase framework in which there is tariff relief in return for smelters reducing consumption during peak demand periods. Ferrochrome and ferromanganese production consume base load power ‘when people are sleeping’, but it will vanish at the current rate of inflation. According to the Minerals Council of SA, electricity tariff hikes have culminated to about 500% over the last decade. In the meantime, the government has papered the cracks with an export tariff that would charge mainly Chinese buyers more for chrome ore – the stuff ferrochrome producers put in a furnace to make the higher-value ferrochrome, used in the fabrication of stainless steel. China buys about 85% of its chrome ore requirements for smelting in…