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S.Africa okays $5.4 bln in clean energy projects


Reuters Africa

October 29, 2012

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa has given the green light to an initial $5.4 billion worth of clean energy projects that will allow it to procure 1,400 MW of electricity and help reduce reliance on coal-fired plants, the energy minister said on Monday.

The government has selected 28 wind and solar projects in the first stage of the programme, with the contracts expected to be signed on November 5, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said.

“These bidders will be investing about 47 billion rand in power generation and will create a number of jobs during construction and operation of these power plants,” Peters said in a statement. The plants are due to be operational between 2014 and 2016.

Africa‘s largest economy depends on coal for 85 percent of its electricity supply of around 41,000 MW. Last year it launched a process to procure cleaner energy to reduce carbon emissions and bolster electricity supply.

A key producer of platinum, gold, iron ore and coal, South Africa has been struggling to meet fast-rising demand for power.

The process of adding more renewable power to the grid has dragged on for years and raised doubts about the government’s ability to deliver on its plans.

It has also chosen another 19 renewable energy projects worth 1,043.9 MW in the second stage of the programme, which it hopes to finalise by late March next year. A third bidding round will close on May 7.

South Africa wants to use the green energy drive to boost job creation through manufacturing and requiring energy companies to source materials locally.

While the original procurement plan was to eventually add up to 3,725 MW of green energy to the national grid by 2016, the programme has recently been expanded to source an additional 3,200 MW of renewable power by 2020.

Apart from green energy, South Africa plans to procure more than 9,000 MW of new electricity produced from coal, gas, regional hydro and co-generation at industrial plants by 2025. Other plans include a tender for 9,600 MW worth of nuclear power.

© Thomson Reuters 2012 All rights reserved

U.S. Company Linked to Refugee Abuses In Tanzania


CorpWatch

By  Pratap Chatterjee

July 10th, 2012

AgriSol, an Iowa company, has been linked to plans to evict 160,000 Burundian refugees from Katumba and Mishamo in western Tanzania, according to “Lives on Hold,” a new report by the Oakland Institute.

Kilimo Kwanza which translates as “Agriculture First” is a recent Tanzanian government initiative to promote a “greener revolution” through agricultural modernization and commercialization via public-private partnerships. The program was launched in August 2009 by Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete.

Enter Agrisol Energy LLC’s – an Iowa-based investment company that specializes in agribusiness. The company’s goal is to find “underdeveloped global locations that have attractive natural resources but lack best-in-class agricultural technology, farming techniques, equipment and management.” The company opened talks with the government to start large-scale crop cultivation, beef and poultry production, and biofuel production in three “abandoned refugee camps” – Lugufu in Kigoma province (25,000 hectares) and Katumba (80,317 hectares) and Mishamo (219,800 hectares), according to company business plans.

2011 investigation by the Oakland Institute,  a California based NGO, revealed that the refugee camps were not abandoned but very much occupied by Burundian refugees who have lived in the area for 40 years.

Agrisol does not deny this. Henry Akona, AgriSol Tanzania’s director of communications, says that the company officials were initially told that plans had been made to move the refugees from the settlements. “We were considering those areas a few years ago, but we have suspended any plans because the land is occupied,” Akona told the Daily Iowan. “We should have done better homework.”

Oakland Institute profiled Sembuli Masasa, the father of seven children, who had been farming in Katumba for 39 years who told researchers: “They are giving us $200, ask us to dismantle our own house and to move to a place we have never seen before.”

“Initially promised citizenship, the residents still await their papers, conditional on them vacating their homes and lands in order to make way for the foreign investor,” says Anuradha Mittal, executive director of the Oakland Institute. “The residents have been banned from cultivating crops including perennial crops such as cassava or building new homes and businesses, leaving them with no other option but to consider moving.”

The new report alleges human rights abuses of the refugees “which range from the burning down of houses and crops and violation of their freedom of speech to inequities in social services.”

Akona disputes charges that the company is responsible for the fate of the Burundians. “AgriSol has absolutely nothing to do with the refugees in Katumba and Mishamo,” he told the Daily Iowan.

The Oakland Institute report has created a storm in Iowa, notably for Bruce Rastetter, CEO of AgriSol Energy who worked with Iowa State University‘s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in Ames, Iowa, to get support for the deal.

Faced with growing questions, the university pulled out in February 2012

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, a community group in Des Moines, Iowa, has filed an official conflict of interest complaint against Rastetter with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, and are lobbying for Bruce Rastetter to be removed as Iowa Board of Regents President Pro Tem.

The Tanzania project is part of a new phenomenon that activists are calling “land grabbing.” GRAIN, a global agricultural think tank based in Barcelona, estimates that at least 50 million hectares of good agricultural land – enough to feed 5 million families in India – have been transferred from farmers to corporations in the last few years alone.

Economists say that governments have to be very careful about inviting corporations to manage vast swathes of land in poor countries. “If it’s done properly, and if African governments take care of their countries and their populations, this can be a big benefit,” says Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University told Dan Rather reports. “If they in effect give away these valuable resources, then what happens is these scarce resources benefit some other part of the world. And Africa is left even worse off than it was before.”

World Social Forum denounces land grabbing in Africa


Business Recorder Dakar (updated on February 8, 2011)

The leftist World Social Forum on Monday denounced land grabbing in Africa by foreign groups as a form of neo-colonialism in a day devoted to debates on the continent. Read more

South Africa’s new labour policy: an analysis


by Anthea Jeffrey, The South African Institute of Race Relations, February 8, 2011

The Cabinet used the festive season to unveil five new bills: four labour, one on land. All five supposedly aim to help the poor, but their predictable effect will be to worse unemployment and build dependence on the State. Apart from the controversial Protection of Information Bill, these five bills are the firs major legislative intervention by President Jacob Zuma’s administration. They bode ill for South Africa, as the Institute’s in-house legal expert, Dr Anthea Jeffrey, explained at a briefing in Johannesburg on February 2011…In addition, the outsourcing of cleaning and other services has become an important way of promoting the preferential procurement required by the BEE of good practice. Under the bill, however, of a major corporation outsources or sub-contracts its catering needs to a BEE firm, the corporation will be liable for unfair labour practice by the BEE entity. As the RIA warms, this could ‘create a significant disincentive to supply chain diversification and have a negative impact on small business and job creation.’ Read more

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