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first_img14 November 2011South African President Jacob Zuma is in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on a state visit that will see the signing of multiple trade and economic agreements.Zuma, who is on a two-nation tour of the Gulf region, is visiting the UAE on Monday and Oman from Tuesday to Wednesday with the aim of identifying greater investment opportunities.“We are pleased that institutions such as the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority are committed to investing in South Africa,” Zuma said on his arrival on Sunday. “Our ministers have been directed to work out roadmaps for enhancing trade relations between the two nations during this visit.”Not only is the Gulf the source of more than half of South Africa’s crude oil requirements, but it has become a major market for South African products, a significant source of investment, and home to a sizeable South African expatriate community.Both Oman and the UAE are important markets for the South African defence industry.The potential for greater interaction between the two countries is enhanced through the 56 weekly flights between South Africa and the UAE.24th largest investor in South AfricaTrade and Industry Minister Rob Davies, who is accompanying Zuma on his trip, told the SA-UAE Business Forum in Dubai on Sunday that South Africa had invested R3.33-billion in the United Arab Emirates since 2003, making the country the 19th largest investor in the UAE.The UAE, for its part, was currently the 24th largest investor in South Africa, Davies said.Davies also announced that the South African government, through the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, had proposed a protocol agreement for the direct export of horses from South Africa to UAE.“Due to instances of African Horse Sickness in South Africa, horses have been exported via Europe to UAE. This is a non-tariff trade barrier and also very costly for SA exporters.“Horses have to go via Europe for quarantine, before they are allowed into the UAE, and we hope to turn around the situation once our proposed protocol has been accepted by the UAE authorities.”10 draft agreements being negotiatedThe Middle East is an important economic region as it occupies a unique geo-political position in the tri-continental hub of Europe, Asia and Africa.It is the source of 67 percent of the world’s petroleum reserves and commands two of the most strategically important waterways in the world, namely the Gulf and the Red Sea, giving access to the Asian hinterland via the Gulf of Aqaba.South Africa and the UAE have signed five bilateral agreements, which provide the framework for co-operation.There are 10 draft agreements currently being negotiated in the areas of defence, taxation, industrial development, promotion of investments, legal matters, social development and transport, as well as a joint commission on bilateral issues.In Oman, it is expected that a “Supplementary Protocol amending the Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income” will be signed.BuaNewslast_img read more


first_img7 June 2013South African state company Transnet and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) Business Foundation have launched the Africa Infrastructure Desk, a platform for linking the private and public sectors in getting infrastructure projects implemented across Africa.The “innovative research, linkage and relationship platform” will provide information on infrastructure developments, help develop investment opportunities for companies, and facilitate engagement between the public and private sector, Transnet said at the launch of the desk in Johannesburg on Tuesday.The aim is to make a meaningful impact on spatial and industrial development, as well as regional integration, in the southern African region and sub-Saharan Africa’s north-south corridor.According to Nepad, infrastructure continues to be Africa’s “missing link” when it comes to developing integrated intra-Africa regional trade. While intra-African trade falls far below the continent’s potential, infrastructure projects suffer from “lack of information, inconsistent cross-border policy, and poor project bankabilit”.“Africa’s infrastructure deficit is crippling the continent in trade and investment,” Nepad Business Foundation (NBF) CEO Lynette Chen said in a statement. “Transnet and the NBF’s partnership reflects the potential that the private and public sector could have to harness resources and skills to tackle the huge infrastructure deficit while ensuring local empowerment.”Through the Africa Infrastructure Desk, Chen said, “companies will access, collaborate and implement infrastructure project opportunities across Africa. Through Nepad, access to public and private sectors will be managed on the basis of political and regulatory certainty through strong alignment with Nepad’s Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa.”Transnet CEO Brian Molefe said the partnership envisioned “an Africa without borders, an Africa that is seamlessly linked from Cape to Cairo by efficient infrastructure.“But in order to achieve this vision, closer collaboration, partnership and coordination between all stakeholders, including government and private sector, is required to find joint solutions to implementing these large-scale infrastructure projects.”SAinfo reporterlast_img read more


first_img14 July 2014 South Africa will put forward a strong case at this week’s Brics summit in Brazil for the proposed Brics development bank to be located in Johannesburg, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said on Friday. Briefing journalists in Cape Town ahead of the summit, which takes place in Fortaleza and Brasilia from Monday to Wednesday, Davies said South Africa had indicated its readiness to offer Johannesburg as a host domicile for the bank. “We think that from a point of view of the functioning of the institution, with some of its key roles, funding infrastructure and investing in the African continent, the bank being located in South Africa is going to be a huge advantage from the point of view of the advocacy of the bank. “It is not limited to that,” Davies added. “We do of course have the connections, the facilities and the ability to run an institution that deals with places other than the African continent … But our prime motivation and our prime argument is in terms of being able to play that role in an optimal manner.” At the fifth Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit in Durban last year, the leaders of the five countries instructed their finance ministers to work on technical details around the setting up of the bank, which will spearhead infrastructure development in Brics member states and other developing nations. Earlier this week, International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said the issue of the venue for the bank was be on the summit’s agenda, adding that the five countries’ finance ministers would meet before the summit to finalise the recommendations for the leaders. Davies said on Friday that, contrary to some media reports, no decision had been taken on the location of the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) development bank. “It has been agreed by the heads of state that any decision on the location of the bank will be taken by them. Anybody who says there is a decision … is simply speculating.” On a separate note, Davies said a study that was commissioned by South Africa would be tabled at the meeting of Brics trade ministers next week. The study proposes that value-added trade investment cooperation takes place between the Brics countries. Another report on discussions that has taken place around international investment agreements will also be tabled. Davies said there was a rethink of the way in which international investment agreements were structured, and the report was informed by this. However, he would not elaborate further on either report, as he did not want to preempt discussions at next week’s meeting. Davies said the Brics Business Council, which was launched at the Durban summit, would table its own report on how the Brics governments could make it easier for Brics business people to do business with each other. The council, headed by billionaire businessman Patrice Motsepe, would also discuss trade opportunities that Brics business people can explore, he said. Source: SAnews.gov.zalast_img read more


first_imgLawmakers and climate activists in Massachusetts are urging state regulators to add a net-zero provision to statewide building codes. The Massachusetts Climate Action Network, a nonprofit advocacy group, is circulating a letter asking the state’s Board of Building Regulation and Standards to add a net-zero clause to the state’s “stretch” code. Two legislators are pitching the same idea. The stretch code is a second and more stringent tier of the state building code. While Massachusetts towns and cities aren’t required to adopt the stretch code, 262 of the state’s 351 towns and cities have opted to accept this tier of the code. It requires greater energy efficiency in new buildings than the Massachusetts base code.RELATED ARTICLES2019 Is the Year of Energy CodesA Better Way to Encourage Efficient New HomesA Certification Program for Net Zero Energy ProjectsA New Guide for Net Zero BuildersA Business Model for Net-Zero Energy Districts The Climate Action Network organized the appearance of some 40 supporters before a May 7 meeting of the building standards board to speak in favor of a net-zero requirement, Energy News Network reported. At the same time, two state legislators have filed a bill that would require the board to adopt a net-zero stretch code. New buildings would have to meet their energy needs with renewable energy sources, both on and off site. The Network’s letter doesn’t contain any details on the net-zero provision or how it would be phased in. It leaves those details for later, but the group argues that the change would clear the way for Massachusetts communities seeking more aggressive carbon reductions. Legally, communities can’t adopt energy provisions that are any more stringent than the current version of the stretch code. As a result, communities that want to require higher energy efficiency or carbon-natural buildings can’t really move ahead. “We believe that this reform will help achieve the energy efficiency goals we have as a Commonwealth, and encourage Massachusetts communities to develop better, safer, and more climate-friendly buildings,” the letter reads. Rebecca Winterich-Knox, an organizer for the Climate Action Network, said in an email that details of the net-zero requirement would be worked out during the regulatory process in conjunction with the state’s Department of Energy Resources. Not everyone thinks net-zero is a good idea Paul Eldrenkamp, whose firm Byggmeister specializes in high-performance remodels, told Energy News Network that a net-zero requirement doesn’t necessarily mean buildings will use less energy. With enough room on the roof or in the back yard, homeowners with big, inefficient houses could meet a net-zero requirement simply by adding more solar panels. “One of the unintended consequences of net-zero would be that you could build worse buildings and put more [solar] on them,” he said. “I am not a big fan of zero net energy as a building standard.” Eldrenkamp said he would prefer a building code that requires lower energy consumption, such as the Passive House standard. He also said it’s important to chose building materials carefully to reduce the amount of carbon construction adds to the environment. “If we’re investing a huge amount of carbon upfront in buildings that are going to have low operating carbon, we’re better off not building at all,” Eldrenkamp said. In a telephone call, Eldrenkamp said that over time there’s been a convergence of the base and stretch codes in Massachusetts. The International Residential Code and the International Energy Conservation Code are updated every three years, and Massachusetts has followed suit. As a result, the base code has gradually evolved while the stretch code has not been rewritten since it was first enacted as part of the Green Communities Act of 2008. The question now is what a new stretch code should look like, and a net-zero requirement as emerged as one possibility. But, Eldrenkamp said, the proposal has the effect of lumping renewable energy and building performance standards together when they should be addressed separately. “I don’t agree with that,” he said. “Intuitively it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. I want consistently good buildings, and I want the whole region working on decarbonizing the grid. I think those two efforts can best be achieved if we’re not trying to conflate or combine the two.” Winterich-Knox said the proposed legislation includes a three- to five-year phase in period for the net-zero requirement for communities that have adopted the stretch code. “But to retain Green Community status,” she said, “all municipalities would have to adopt updated versions of the stretch code.” The net-zero provision would apply to all buildings, residential and commercial. “We believe Passive House standard buildings are the easiest way to get to Net Zero and are proponents for Passive House,” she said. “However, we are focused more [on] making the overall building stock more efficient than on single-family homes.” Stretch code update is possible this year Despite the public push by the Climate Action Network, the building regulations board doesn’t actually have a formal proposal to consider, its vice chairman says. “Nobody as yet has put forward a proposal for discussion about the stretch energy code,” Kerry Dietz, an architect, said in a phone call. “Discussions that have been happening are — basically, at a public hearing, a whole bunch of people were saying to the board that we want a stretch energy code, not what’s in it. There’s no language in front of the board right now.” The board has an energy advisory committee, with representatives from across the industry, that has just completed writing state amendments to the 2018 IECC. Dietz said that group should be authoring a new stretch code for the state, but so far that’s not happening. As to the gradual convergence of the stretch and base building codes, Dietz said that as the family of ICC codes have changed on a three-year cycle, so has the stretch code. “The stretch code has always said, ‘Do better than the base code,’ so the benchmark has been moving,” she said. “What many builders are saying is, ‘Well, we can’t go any further.’ That’s the argument from the industry. We can’t get any better than what the 2018 IECC already says to do … It requires us to do so much.” When is the state likely to revise the stretch code? With any luck, by the end of the year, Dietz said. But for now, she added, “there is nothing in front of the board.”last_img read more


first_imgZhenya Mirkin is an Inventor of Entropy AI and partner at Caura & Co.. In the 2000s, he led the development of predictive text input software (called “iTAP”) that shipped on all Motorola phones worldwide. It is said that a successful product is a reflection of who we are. Usually, our unique perspective is what leads to the initial discovery. As the product acquires feedback, our keen desire to respond is what drives further innovation.We can have better UI and UX experiences using web chat and augmented conversations.Time and time again I see technology products starting on the right footing only to deteriorate as companies push them to scale.The internet now is quite mature, so this is becoming to stop using emojis finally experience. Few companies can repeat the process of innovation discovered initially has been with their successful flagship products — never mind the improvement on existing ones.Today, in the technology world I see two significant trends:1) As product companies scale, the distance between product developers and their clients’ increases.2) As consulting companies scale, the time between engagement and a kickoff conversation with a technical expert increases.Whatever the process — sales, engagement management, and business development — typically companies put very empathetic people at the frontline of client communication. As a byproduct, technical people, who are most likely to help, are moved further afar. The picture is further complicated since most mature business-facing products require consultants as well as vendors.Technology puts me in mind of the (true) physics formula contained in:time * velocity = distanceEqual increase in time and total distance => constant velocity => zero acceleration => decrease in the rate of innovation => eventual stagnation.This complex physics formula seems to be our technology conundrum.But what if there was a way to build a company that had put the whole process upside down? What if people who ultimately come up with solutions are at the front of the customer journey?On the question of “time.”As a seasoned individual contributor, I have come full circle. I used to handle many of the escalated support requests using written communication with my sense of situational awareness. It was stressful, and not something I would share as best practices. Over time, however, I’ve learned to rely on a set of products in the form of a machine helper.This  machine thinker and helper :Watches my communication.Detects problems that I, as a writer, may not be fully aware.Produces personalized insights on how to improve.In a way, I have learned to supplement my low Emotional IQ with an electronic version of a coach that in private counsels me on all matters relating to my communication. As a byproduct, I have avoided several failed pitches and significant misunderstandings with customers.What all this means is that rather than focusing on building a business that isolates technical people into a bubble, we can finally build an organization that gives them full ownership of the customer journey just by providing better insights into how they (we) communicate.On the question of “distance.”Fundamentally, I am advocating for a change to bring communication back to people, away from meaningless tools and bad user experiences. From the beginning of the internet, we’ve been developing user experiences made up of input forms and check boxes.As the functionality of the web increased, web designers learned to create “smart user flows,” such that check boxes and options are not seen on one page. Though nothing is displayed, the process works to some extent, but it is a weak solution to a communication problem.Somewhere there is a solution, and whether it is a functional webpage or an actual person, these “smart user flows” are adding distance.Wouldn’t a “Chat Box” better serve its public if the customer could explain their question, and ultimately receive a solution? Wanting to be able to define a problem and receive an answer or solution is not a novel idea. Live customer support is fully ingrained into our web.And yet, there is only a handful of firms that can program their chatbots well:* Bloomberg* American Express* maybe, a few othersAlmost everywhere else, customer support via chat is a massive-scale problem. It evokes in me the same feeling I have when I call AT&T.The reason why my experience with the above companies is different is not something easily transferable. For whatever reason, these companies can staff their customer support with very technical and empathetic people. This accomplishment from companies is remarkable given their scale.What are the solutions:Augmented Emotional IntelligenceWhen companies build Artificial Intelligence (Natural Language Understanding) into their online communication experiences, there is a potential to finally stop using emojis. Not using emojis is precisely what companies such as Upwork (eLance+oDesk) and Guy Gamzu’s Fiverr do today.There is no need to look for complexity about the future. Our language already has all the richness in it to express emotion and empathy within our written communication. So it all boils down to: how can software help people — especially technical people — convey that richness effectively.The 19th century saw the invention of Employee Stock Ownership Plan, and it allowed us to build vast empires and corporations. If only we can get this AI piece right, the 20th century will see greater individual ownership of a client relationship. It will be a century of smaller and more effective companies that truly own the outcomes of their work. China and America want the AI Prize Title: Who … Related Posts A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… AI Will Empower Leaders, Not Replace Them AI: How it’s Impacting Surveillance Data Storage Zhenya Mirkin Tags:#allenai#fiverr#guygamzu#NLP#OpenAI#upwork last_img read more

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