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ANC dismisses rumours that KZN meeting was about eThekwini issues
20 July 2019, 2:32 PM

The African National Congress has dismissed assertions that the meeting between party Secretary General Ace Magashule, Nomvula Mokonyane and the KwaZulu-Natal leaders were related to the problems in the eThekwini region.

Party spokesperson Pule Mabe says they met the provincial leaders as part of their bid to understand the various ANC programmes that are being implemented by local structures.

“The Secretary General (SG) had a meeting with the officials this is part of the organizational work you know that we now have a full time capacity at head office. The SG was accompanied by Comrade Nomvula Mokonyane. We met with the officials, we had other meetings in other provinces previously. The meeting in KwaZulu-Natal was not an extraordinary visit. It is part of the work that is being done to take stock and understand various programmes of the organisation and our own structures are managing organisational programmes at their levels.”

Ramaphosa to study Mkhwebane’s report
20 July 2019, 10:00 AM

The presidency says President Cyril Ramaphosa will study Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s report and decide on any further decisions, after the report made adverse findings against him over a R500 000 campaign donation from Bosasa.

Mkhwebane on Friday announced that she has found that Ramaphosa deliberately misled Parliament about the 2017 Bosasa donation.

She says she has referred money-laundering allegations to the National Prosecuting Authority to conduct investigations on the matter.

In a statement, the presidency has described as unfortunate Mkhwebane’s findings, saying the Public Protector has failed to properly consider Ramaphosa’s submissions regarding the donation.

Presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko says Ramaphosa submitted a substantial response to Mkhwebane’s preliminary findings in late June, saying they were deficient in both fact and law.

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Kenya launches Africa’s biggest wind farm
20 July 2019, 8:54 AM

Kenya formally launched Africa’s biggest wind power plant on Friday, a mammoth project in a gusty stretch of wilderness that already provides nearly a fifth of the country’s energy needs.

The $680-million (600 million euro) scheme, a sprawling 365-turbine wind farm on the eastern shores of Lake Turkana, is delivering 310 megawatts of renewable power to the national grid of East Africa’s most dynamic economy.

The largest private investment in Kenya’s history, the Lake Turkana Wind Power project was beset with delays and took nearly a decade to rise from the arid landscape 600 kilometres (372 miles) north of Nairobi.

The turbines, scattered across Turkana’s stark lunar landscape and rocky hills, began to deliver their first electricity last September.

Their giant blades deliver 15% of Kenya’s entire installed capacity, connected to the national grid through a 428-kilometre power line.

“Today, we again raise the bar for the continent as we unveil the single largest wind farm,” said President Uhuru Kenyatta, after touring the project.

“Kenya is without a doubt on course to become a world leader in renewable energy.”

Turkana Corridor

The project lies in a natural corridor dubbed “the windiest place on earth” and promises to harness this endless power at low cost.

The nearly-50 metre turbines were engineered to handle the fierce gusts that tear through the “Turkana Corridor”, a wind tunnel that generates optimal conditions, year round.

The winds howling near constantly through the barren valley deliver double the load capacity enjoyed by similar projects in America and Europe.

“It is unprecedented. This is one of the most consistently windiest places in the world,” said Rizwan Fazal, the executive director of the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project.

A Herculean effort was needed to construct the behemoth wind farm in Kenya’s farthest extremes.

The windmills, manufactured by Danish company Vestas, had to be brought one-by-one overland from the Kenyan port of Mombasa, some 1 200 kilometres away.

Each one was customised so its different segments could be packed “like Russian dolls”, the company said

More than 2 000 trips were needed to bring all the materials from port to plant.

Some 200 kilometres of road leading to the site had to be tarred to allow trucks through.

Another 100 kilometres of internal roads linking the turbines dotting the hot, desert horizons were also constructed.

‘Incredible journey’

The project, far more ambitious in scale than rivals elsewhere on the continent, has been closely watched as a case study of investing in renewables in Africa, where demand for energy is soaring as economies grow and populations swell.

In Kenya –which relies heavily on hydropower and geothermal – power is unreliable and costly, hindering business as energy-intensive sectors such as manufacturing look to take off.

Kenyatta has previously committed to 100 percent renewable energy for Kenya by 2020 – a pledge the government has been accused of betraying with plans to build a coal-fired power plant off the coast in Lamu.

That project – deemed unnecessary by experts – has been stalled by legal challenges.

The Turkana wind farm involved years of planning and construction but the turbines went up quicker than one a day, with the last raised in March 2017, ahead of schedule.

But difficulties in financing the transmission line, being laid by state-owned power company Ketraco, and problems acquiring land, meant this landmark project didn’t connect to the grid for another 18 months – in September 2018.

“The farm was built on time. But the project can only operate if you can bring power to the client,” said Catherine Collin, East Africa head of the European Investment Bank.

The EU’s lending facility loaned $200 million for the project, which received other finance from a consortium of European and African companies

“There was a delay, there was a few difficult moments, I have to say, for everybody, but in the end we all made it,” Collin said.

Fazal said it had been “an incredible journey” but more than anything it let the world know Kenya’s untapped clean energy markets were open for business.

“It sends a very strong signal about Kenya being ripe for projects,” he said.

Death toll rises to 10 after China gas plant blast
20 July 2019, 6:39 AM

The death toll from a huge explosion that rocked a gas plant in central China rose to 10, state media said on Saturday, with five people still missing.

Friday’s blast at the Henan Coal Gas Group factory left another 19 people seriously injured and more with light injuries, said state broadcaster CCTV.

The blast shattered windows and doors of buildings in a three-kilometre (1.9-mile) radius.

It occurred in the air separation unit of Henan Coal’s factory, CCTV said, with those hurt sent to four different hospitals. All production at the plant has been stopped.

“Many windows and doors within a three-kilometre radius were shattered, and some interior doors were also blown out by the blast,” CCTV said on its Twitter-like Weibo social media account.

Local media showed amateur videos of a massive column of black smoke billowing from the factory and debris littering the roads.

Other images showed the doors and windows of homes blown out and shuttered shops with dented metal fronts.

A bloodied man was seen being helped out of a van in a video posted on social media.

AFP could not immediately verify the authenticity of the footage.

Industrial accidents

Deadly industrial accidents are common in China, where safety regulations are often poorly enforced.

In March, a blast at a chemical plant in eastern Jiangsu province killed 78 people and injured hundreds.

The powerful explosion in the eastern city of Yancheng toppled several buildings in the industrial park, blew out windows of nearby homes and even dented metal garage doors.

Authorities detained two dozen people in connection with the March 21 blast, which prompted the government to order a nationwide inspection of chemical firms.

A week after that explosion, seven died following a blast at an electronics component manufacturer in the same province.

In November, a gas leak at a plant in the northern Chinese city of Zhangjiakou, which will host the 2022 Winter Olympics, killed 24 people and injured 21 others.

Leaked chloroethylene came in contact with a fire source causing the explosion, authorities said in a February report, which also claimed the Chinese chemical firm responsible for the accident had concealed information and misled investigators.

In 2015, China suffered one of its worst industrial accidents when giant chemical blasts in the northern port city of Tianjin killed at least 165 people.

Senegal, Algeria set for rematch in Africa Cup of Nations final
19 July 2019, 5:36 AM

Sadio Mane’s Senegal and an Algeria side captained by Riyad Mahrez will attempt to secure their place in Africa Cup of Nations history in Friday’s final in Cairo.

Senegal, the 2002 runners-up, are desperate to end a long wait for a first continental title, while Algeria are looking to add to the trophy they lifted as hosts 29 years ago.

For Senegal, Africa’s top ranked side, the ride to the final has encountered its share of bumps in the road but there is little doubt the showpiece at the 75,000-capacity Cairo International Stadium will feature the tournament’s two standout teams.

A Youcef Belaili goal gave Algeria a 1-0 win when the countries met in the group stage, but this time there is no second chance with Cup of Nations immortality awaiting the victor.

“If you get to the final, the aim is obviously to win it. The game in the group stage wasn’t decisive but now it is and that’s the difference,” said Algeria boss Djamel Belmadi.

Senegal coach Aliou Cisse is on a mission for personal redemption as the skipper of the side beaten on penalties in the 2002 final, when his missed kick handed the title to Cameroon.

“Having lost that final, I still have it on my mind,” said Cisse. “What motivated me to become a coach was to be able to take Senegal to the final. My players told me they would do better than my generation.”

“Algeria are a great team and we respect them,” he added. “We’re in the final now and determined to win.”

Liverpool star Mane is hoping to fulfil his “wildest dream” as one of just a handful of Africans to win both the UEFA Champions League and Cup of Nations.

“I’m ready to even swap a Champions League for a Cup of Nations. Going to Dakar with the trophy would be extraordinary. It would be my wildest dream,” Mane told France Football ahead of the competition.

Standing in the way, however, is an Algerian outfit that has undergone a remarkable transformation since the arrival of the straight-talking Belmadi as coach a year ago.

– Senegal missing banned Koulibaly –

The Desert Foxes crashed out of the 2017 edition in the first round and flopped badly in World Cup qualifying, but former Qatar boss Belmadi has healed divisions in the squad to lead his nation to the brink of a first continental crown on foreign land.

“To the Algerian people, I want to say I’m not a politician, not a miracle worker or a wizard, but that we will fight like we have fought to this point,” Belmadi said after the 2-1 semi-final win over Nigeria.

Algeria owed that victory to a stunning last-gasp free-kick from Mahrez, who is craving further honours here after a domestic treble with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.

“We are very happy to be in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations because it is something very special,” said Mahrez.

“It was our goal to do it for the people and for our families. We know they are behind us all the way. It’s my dream to win the Cup of Nations.”

It will be the first final to feature two local coaches since 1998, when Mahmoud El Gohary’s Egypt defeated Jomo Sono and South Africa 2-0 in Ouagadougou.

Senegal had already lost first-choice goalkeeper Edouard Mendy to a broken finger and must now do without defensive rock Kalidou Koulibaly, who is suspended after two yellow cards in the knockout phase.

The occasion will also mark the climax not only of Algeria’s campaign on the field, but of their fans’ recent political campaign in the stands.

In April, long-standing president Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned after weekly Friday protests against his expected candidacy for elections, and football fans have been heavily involved in demonstrations.

Algeria will have the backing of an additional 4,800 supporters for the final. Some of them will arrive in Cairo on military planes organised by Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui, who has also been a target of the demonstrations.

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