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Fireworks display
New Zealand, Australia enter 2019 with a bang
31 December 2018, 3:45 PM

The world’s first major city to enter 2019, Auckland in New Zealand, has said a raucous goodbye to 2018.

A massive fireworks display had revelers partying up a storm, kicking off major celebrations expected across the globe.

New Zealand follows Samoa and Kiribati, who were the first countries in the world, to welcome 2019.

Meanwhile, Australia’s largest city Sydney has been treated another spectacular New Year’s fireworks display in the world famous harbour.

At least eight tonnes of fireworks were ignited and the Opera House was lit up by a technicolor of light as the fireworks filled the sky.

The show lasted twelve minutes in recognition of the 12 months of the new year.

It was watched by well over a million people in the harbour area and over a billion on TV and streaming media around the world – including channel 404.

A thunderstorm did not dampen the spirits of revellers.

Oversupply, faltering growth to weigh on oil prices in 2019: Poll
31 December 2018, 3:33 PM

Crude oil prices look likely to trade below $70 per barrel in 2019 as surplus production, much of it from the United States, and slowing economic growth undermine OPEC-led efforts to shore up the market, a Reuters poll showed on Monday.

A survey of 32 economists and analysts forecasts the North Sea Brent crude oil benchmark will average $69.13 per barrel in 2019, more than $5 lower than last month’s projection.

Brent has averaged $71.76 in 2018.

“The first half of 2019 will be dominated by concerns about oversupply,” said Ashley Petersen of Stratas Advisors.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers including Russia, known collectively as OPEC+, agreed earlier this month to cut production by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) to try to drain global crude inventoriesand support prices.

But the cuts are not due to take place until January and prices have fallen more than 15% since the announcement.

“The market had largely priced in renewed production cuts from OPEC. As a result, we expect prices to sink if OPEC or Russia diverge from their production quotas notably,” said Cailin Birch, an analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit.

“We expect the cuts to be renewed in April, when the dealcomes up for review, as higher output from the US and weakening global demand require continued restraint.”

Oil prices have fallen more than 40% from multi-year highs reached in early October on concerns about the impact of a trade dispute between the United States and China on global economic growth and demand for oil.

Another potential headwind next year is slowing consumption.

Many analysts project demand growth of a little over 1 million bpd in 2019, compared with an increase of 1.54 million bpd in 2018, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

Meanwhile, US shale oil output growth is expected to remain robust, adding to supply.

The United States this year surpassed Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest oil producer, with overall US crude production climbing to arecord 11.7 million bpd.

“We expect US (companies) will increase shale oil production continuously over the next year,” said Adri Salmeron, economist at Caixa Bank Research.

The Reuters poll forecast US light crude would average $61.05 per barrel in 2019, versus $67.45 projected in the previous poll.

It has averaged $64.98 in 2018.

Analysts believe the end of US sanctions waivers on Iran’s oil exports will put extra pressure on oil prices.

‘Wet weather won’t dampen our party mood’
31 December 2018, 3:14 PM

South Africans in many parts of the country including Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban are hopeful that the wet weather will not dampen their New Year’s eve celebrations.

Johannesburg and Pretoria have received soaking rains with overcast weather expected to continue into Tuesday.

In Durban, the Weather Service says light showers are expected in and around parts of KwaZulu-Natal.

Forecaster, Ayanda Nsele says temperatures are expected to remain cool across many parts of the province.

“We are expecting a 30% chance of showers and thundershowers to come through on Monday afternoon. Parts of KZN, including Pietermaritzburg, Newcastle, and Ladysmith will be experiencing a 50% chance of showers. Along the KZN coastline residents can expect a 30% chance of rain. Early afternoon, evening temperatures will be peaking between 24 and 26 degrees.”

Beachgoers in Durban can expect some sunshine on the first day of 2019. Nsele says there is a 30% chance of isolated showers in parts of KwaZulu-Natal.

“Tomorrow, the weather will be fine during the day. However, in the afternoon we can expect afternoon isolated showers and thundershowers.”

Eskom logo
Eskom to cut executive jobs
23 December 2018, 5:00 PM

South Africa’s power utility Eskom has announced its decision to go forward with retrenchments at the power utility after an approval from the board.

Eskom has also unveiled its new top structure which will see a reduction of top executives from 21 to nine.

However, it says some Executives volunteered to be relieved of their responsibilities within Eskom.

Spokesperson, Khulu Phasiwe has confirmed that letters have been sent to some members.

 

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Congo fire destroys thousands of voting machines for presidential election
13 December 2018, 4:18 PM

A fire overnight at a warehouse in Congo’s capital destroyed thousands of voting machines and ballot boxes that were due to be used in the country’s long-delayed December 23 presidential election, authorities said on Thursday.

Democratic Republic of Congo’s National Electoral Commission (CENI) said in a statement the blaze had destroyed 8 000 of 10 368 voting machines due to be used in the capital Kinshasa, but said the election would go ahead as scheduled.

CENI did not say who it believed to be responsible for the fire – which broke out about 2 a.m. (0100 GMT) in the Gomberiverside area of Kinshasa that is also home to President Joseph Kabila’s residence – but the ruling coalition and a leading opposition candidate immediately traded accusations of blame.

Kabila’s Common Front for Congo (FCC), which is backing former interior minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary in the presidential race, accused opposition candidate Martin Fayulu of inciting violence earlier this month.

“Over the course of this electoral campaign, (Fayulu) called on his supporters and sympathisers to destroy electoral materials,” the FCC said in a statement.

Fayulu rejected the charge and suggested that state security forces might have been behind the blaze.

“The fire erupted in a building guarded by the Republican Guard,” Fayulu told Reuters. “You understand today that the Kabila people do not want to organise elections.”

Kabila, in power since his father’s assassination in 2001, is due to step down because of constitutional term limits.

The vote has already been delayed by two years due to what authorities said were logistical challenges but the opposition said stemmed from Kabila’s reluctance to relinquish power.

This month’s highly anticipated vote could mark Congo’s first peaceful transition of power after decades marked by authoritarian rule, coups d’etat and civil wars in which around five million people are estimated to have died.

INVESTIGATION

CENI president Corneille Nangaa told a news conference the destroyed equipment represented the materials for 19 of 24voting districts in Kinshasa.

“Without minimising the gravity of this damaging situation for the electoral process, CENI is working to pursue the process in conformity with its calendar,” Nangaa said.

Barnabe Kikaya Bin Karubi, a Kabila adviser, said police guarding the warehouse had been arrested and that forensic police had launched an investigation.

He said voting machines from elsewhere in  Congo would be recalled for use in Kinshasa, which is home to more than 15% of the Congolese population.

The introduction of the untested tablet-like voting machines for the election has been widely opposed by opposition candidates competing against Shadary.

They say the machines are more vulnerable to vote-rigging than paper and ink and could be compromised by the unreliability of Congo’s power supply.

The delay in the elections has coincided with a break down insecurity across much of the vast mineral-rich country.

Militants fight over land and resources in the east near the border with Uganda and Rwanda.

Campaigning over the past three weeks has been mostly peaceful, though deadly clashes erupted between police and opposition supporters this week in the southeast.

Weather

 

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