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News for the business week ending, 2021 / 02 / 19



Business news headlines


Eskom set to increase electricity prices by 15,63% on 1 April – South Africa’s electricity tariff will see an increase starting on 1 April 2021. The North Gauteng High Court’s Justice Joseph Raulinga ruled that R10 billion was to be added to Eskom’s allowable revenue in the same financial year. Raulinga also ordered a 5.44c/kWh increase, which will see Eskom customers pay 134.30c/kWh as the standard tariff.

Promising collection signs alleviate pressure for tax increases – There are positive signs that it might not be necessary to increase tax rates this year and that there may even be room to give taxpayers full fiscal drag relief again (this is when tax brackets are shifted to take inflation into account rather than allowing inflation to move taxpayers into higher tax brackets). Finance Minister Tito Mboweni will deliver his budget next Wednesday in an environment where there was a significant improvement in revenue collections in the fourth quarter last year, as well as an improved revenue outlook for the coming tax year.

How KZN will rollout Covid-19 vaccine programme – As healthcare workers in KwaZulu-Natal became the first in the province to receive the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine, the provincial government outlined its plan to vaccinate the rest of the population. With an estimated 11.3 million people residing in KZN, the provincial government said it had devised an inoculation plan to reach the majority of its citizens based on guidelines set by the World Health Organisation, and National Department of Health.


As J&J vaccine rollout gains pace, researchers stress importance of SA testing – South Africa has taken a big step in the fight against COVID-19 with a vaccination plan conceived weeks ago delivering the first inoculations at the Khayelitsha District Hospital in the Western Cape. The rollout will gain momentum after the initial batch of 80,000 Johnson & Johnson doses are delivered to all provinces. When government’s AstraZeneca vaccination programme did not go according to plan, medical researchers involved in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine trial stepped in and offered an alternative.


Afreximbank, AAAM sign MoU on Africa auto industry financing – The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the African Association of Automotive Manufacturers (AAAM) have entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the financing and promotion of the automotive industry in Africa. The two organisations plan to undertake studies to map potential regional automotive value chains on the continent in regional economic clusters, in order to enable the manufacture of automotive components for supply to hub assemblers.

SA ready to make hydrogen fuel cells as alternative energy source – President Cyril Ramaphosa said that South Africa was ready to start manufacturing hydrogen fuel cells to be used as an alternative source of energy. Ramaphosa made the announcement on Thursday in his reply to parties’ debate on his State of the Nation Address. He said that the move followed more than a decade of work by the government and partners in the private sector and academia to develop the technology for both hydrogen fuel cells and lithium battery storage.

Payouts start for SAA cabin crew and ground staff as government helps with cash – Cabin crew and ground staff employees who took voluntary severance packages at SAA last year have begun receiving their pay outs.

The payment follows the receipt of R5bn from the department of public enterprises. Since last week,  the BRPs have received a total of R7.8bn in funding from the department to implement the commitments of the business rescue plan. These remuneration elements will include one week’s remuneration for each completed year of service, VSP top-up if applicable and VSP incentive if applicable.


Discovery Health Medical Scheme contributions remain unchanged until July 1 2021 – The contributions to all Discovery Heath Medical Scheme plans did not increase on January 1 2021, and will remain at the 2020 rate for the first six months of 2021. This means that your health plan contributions will increase only from July 1 2021. The contribution increase to be announced in May 2021 will not be higher than 5.9%. A delayed contribution increase further supports all our members through the first half of 2021, after a challenging 2020.


City unveils recovery plan to ‘breathe life back’ into Cape Town tourism – The City of Cape Town has finally unveiled its bounce-back strategy aimed at recovery in the battered tourism sector and in turn supporting the frail economy. The strategy boasts supporting the tourism industry by unlocking immediate relief measures to address the severe cash flow crisis many tourism businesses are currently facing and also speaks to continuing lobbying for extended UIF-Ters relief from national government among other urgently planned measures.


Fuel retailers say outlook is bleak – The future of fuel retailing is bleak if the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy does not take drastic and immediate action to curb illegal fuel trading from wholesalers, the Fuel Retailers Association of Southern Africa (FRA) said. FRA chief executive Reggie Sibiya said in an interview that the alarming growth in illegal trading and conditional selling was a major concern, as wholesalers that were trading illegally were taking away volumes from fuel retailers.


Alliance calls for sugar tax increase to pay for vaccines – An alliance of non-governmental organisations has called on the government to increase the health promotion levy to 20 percent to help South Africa pay for Covid-19 vaccines. The Healthy Living Alliance (Heala) said yesterday that hiking the levy from the current 11 percent could raise billions of rand for Covid-19 in the short-term, and also reduce non-communicable diseases over time.


Pfizer says South African variant could significantly reduce vaccine protection – A laboratory study suggests that the South African variant of the coronavirus may reduce antibody protection from the Pfizer Inc/BioNTech SE vaccine by two-thirds, and it is not clear if the shot will be effective against the mutation.


Global headlines resonating in South Africa


Facebook news blackout over media law sparks Australia backlash – Australians were unable to post links to news articles or view the Facebook pages of local and international news outlets. Australia has slammed Facebook as “heavy-handed” and “wrong” to impose a news blackout over a law that would force it to pay for content, warning the ban showed the immense power of internet giants. Facebook and other tech firms have pushed back hard against Australia’s world-first legislation, fearing it could create a global precedent and hit their business model.


Power outages leave millions shivering in deadly US cold snap – Millions of Americans are struggling without electricity since last week, as a result of a deadly winter storm system. The Arctic weather system, which has seen temperatures plummet to record-setting lows in places ill-prepared for such conditions, has overwhelmed local utility companies. In Texas, power companies have implemented rolling blackouts to avoid grids being overloaded as residents cranked up electric heaters.


Hong Kong to ease social distancing measures – Hong Kong is expected to relax its stringent social distancing laws. Hong Kong has come through its fourth wave of the coronavirus, and for residents and companies who have endured months of constraints, the relaxing of social distancing measures is a welcome move.

As of last week Thursday, gyms, beauty salons, massage parlours, amusement parks, movie theatres and indoor and outdoor sporting venues will reopen.


Norway wealth fund wants companies to put more women on their boards – Norway’s $1.3 trillion (R18.76 trillion) sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, wants the companies it invests in globally to boost the number of women on their boards and to consider setting targets if fewer than 30 percent of their directors are female, top fund officials told Reuters. Boards where either gender has less than 30 percent representation should consider setting targets for gender diversity and report on progress, the fund said in a position paper shared with Reuters ahead of its publication later on Monday.


Apple could soar 66% in bull-case scenario as it searches for a ‘golden’ partnership to build electric vehicles – Apple’s ambitions in the electric-vehicle space are heating up, as recent reports have suggested that the iPhone-maker has held talks with Hyundai and Nissan on a partnership to develop an Apple car. The Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives expects Apple to strike a formal partnership with an auto manufacturer sometime in 2021, which could lead to a bull-case scenario in which shares of Apple surge 66%, to $225.


Communicator News


Facebook opens journalist registrations in SA – Facebook has announced that South African journalists can now voluntarily register for its new security feature that is specifically tailored to protect Facebook and linked Instagram profiles from harassment, hacking and generally from online abuse and harm.


Primedia Broadcasting welcomes Muhammad Cajee – Primedia Broadcasting, home to audio brands 947, 702, Kfm 94.5, CapeTalk and Eyewitness News, has announced that Muhammad Cajee, a strategist with experience operationalising a range of digital initiatives for broadcast organisations globally, will be joining the group as chief digital officer. The appointment is effective as of Monday, 1 March.


BBC streaming service BritBox to launch in SA – BBC Studios and ITV’s joint streaming venture BritBox will launch in South Africa in the second half of 2021, expanding into its fifth worldwide territory, following successful launches in the US and Canada, the UK and, most recently, Australia. Operating as a 50/50 venture between BBC Studios and ITV, the South Africa service will use the teams and technology behind the successful launches of BritBox in its existing territories.


ABC’s show an 8% increase in local papers Q4 denoting a positive trajectory – Q4 2020 ABC release shows an overall 10% recovery in newspaper circulations since Q3 2020. However, a year-on-year analysis still shows newspapers have decreased by 24.4% since Q4 2019. Weekend newspaper circulations have dropped to 621,820 copies and the category has seen a year-on-year decrease of 36.1%. Daily newspaper circulations have decreased a further 38.1% since Q4 2019 which places the category at just over 500,000 copies. South Africa’s largest circulating daily newspaper is the Daily Sun which has seen a 42% decrease from Q4 2019 to Q4 2020, now circulating 57,459 copies.


2021 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals increased trust in business – The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals that South Africans now trust business more than any other institution, and are looking to CEOs to solve societal challenges that have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 crisis.


Competitor Environment

South Africa to get its first Tesla, but you can’t buy it – South Africa is set to get its first Tesla electric car in the coming week, but there is still no word on when or whether the cars will officially go on sale in the country. A company called Rubicon Energy & Automation, which sells Tesla powerwalls in the country, announced on its website this week that it will be bringing a Tesla Model X to South Africa.

SA launch of Nissan Navara delayed again due to pandemic – The South African launch of the next-generation Nissan Navara, the PRO V4, which will be produced at Nissan’s plant in Rosslyn in Pretoria following a R3 billion investment, has been further delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Nissan South Africa Marketing Director Stefan Haasbroek confirmed that sales of the new Navara single and double cab variants will now commence in June 2021, in both the domestic market and 42 pan-African countries.


Diesel power! BMW SA quietly adds 118d to local 1 Series range – BMW South Africa has added a new 118d derivative to its local 1 Series range, introducing diesel power to the F40-generation hatchback line-up. The oil-burning 1 Series draws its power from a 2,0-litre, four-cylinder turbodiesel engine, delivering 110 kW and 350 N.m to the front axle via an eight-speed automatic transmission.


BMW SA introduces new base (diesel-powered) X6 xDrive30d – BMW South Africa has expanded its X6 range, slotting a new xDrive30d derivative at the foot of the local line-up. Now the xDrive30d has been added to the mix, taking the range’s entry price down ever-so-slightly to R1 518 872. With the M Sport box, this figure increases to R1 577 772. Options for the X6 xDrive30d include BMW’s “off-road” package.


New Mitsubishi Outlander revealed with Nissan platform – Mitsubishi has revealed its new Outlander which is now built on a Nissan platform and will rival the Ford Everest. Power comes from a “newly developed” 2,5-litre petrol engine linked to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) featuring eight virtual steps. Top-spec models will feature a 12,3-inch digital driver display with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality. A windshield-projected 10,8-inch head-up display and wireless phone charging function have also been added.


So long, Hardbody: Nissan South Africa to axe NP300 later in 2021… Nissan South Africa has confirmed the NP300 Hardbody will go out of production later in 2021 as the Rosslyn factory ramps up for the facelifted D23-generation Navara to compete against Ford’s Ranger. Production of the half-tonne NP200, meanwhile, looks set to continue. Back in late-2018, the NP300 Hardbody scored zero stars for safety in its Global NCAP crash test, leading to calls for either “remedial action” or for the ageing bakkie to be pulled from the market.


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