Daily Archives: April 27, 2018

SOUTH AFRICA INTRODUCES NEW REGULATIONS TO CONTROL DATA COSTSG

JOHANNESBURG– The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has announced new regulations to eliminate the punitive nature of data costs in the country.

The regulator announced here Thursday that the new regulations would reduce the cost of communication without prescribing lower prices for now.

Icasa councillors say consumers are being treated unfairly by network providers by charging them exorbitant out-of-bundle rates, without prior consent, when their data limit has been exceeded. The councillors also argue that consumers lose unused data at the end of the month.

Under the new regulations, network providers are required to notify users when their data has reached 50 per cent, 80 per cent and 100 per cent depletion levels.

The networks providers are also required to allow consumers an option to rollover unused data to the following month. Consumers should be allowed to transfer data quotas to other people who are on the same network.

People should also not be charged out-of-bundle rates without their prior consent.

The new regulations will be published in the Government Gazette next week and will come into effect at the beginning of June.

Icasa said that thereafter, it would begin the process of examining data prices with the view to bringing them down.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

SOUTH AFRICAN POWER UTILITY ADDRESS CHALLENGES FROM SHORTAGES OF COAL, DISMISSES LOAD-SHEDDING FEARS

JOHANNESBURG– South African power utility Eskom says it has put in place measures to address its current challenges resulting from coal stock shortages but dismisses fears of load-shedding.

It said in a statement here Wednesday that the challenge of coal stock levels being below the required target of 20 days at seven of its power stations was not ideal given that the country is heading into the (Southern Hemisphere) winter period which will see higher electricity usage.

Eskom has, however, put measures in place to address the current coal shortages. Eskom is highly cognizant of the significant impact insufficient coal supply would have on its operations and the entire country.

Eskom is currently facing imbalances where several coal-fired power stations, particularly those in the Mpumalanga Province, are affected. However, it is also important to note that at this stage, the level of coal stock days in more than half of the 15 coal-fired power stations in the Eskom generation fleet is maintained above the grid code target of 20, it added.

Coal stock levels are below the required target of 20 days at the Arnot, Tutuka, Majuba, Hendrina, Camden, Kriel and Komati power stations. Although the total current coal stock day levels of 35 days (excluding Medupi and Kusile Power Stations) are within an acceptable range, it is necessary to have all stations at the required stock day levels, Eskom said.

A number of factors, including the historical underinvestment at cost-plus mines due to capital constraints and the undersupply on both coal quality and quantity by the Tegeta mines which are under business rescue, have negatively impacted stock levels and production. Eskom has informed Nersa [National Energy Regulator of South Africa] of the current coal supply challenges and planned remedial actions as per regulatory requirements, said the utility.

Eskom’s recovery plan includes securing additional coal supplies for the affected stations and a further redirection of coal stock is underway to address the imbalance.

Eskom’s interim Group Chief Executive Officer, Phakamani Hadebe, also dismissed media reports of impending load shedding as unfounded. The recent media reports on impending load shedding due to a shortage of coal are unfounded. Eskom has contracted 84% of the coal it requires over the next five years. A recovery plan is in place to address the short-term imbalance of coal and to improve the stock days at the seven stations below minimum. Eskom is working on ways to expedite the coal procurement process at these mines, said Hadebe.

He added that the situation cannot be compared to 2008 when South Africans experienced load shedding. During that period coal production and delivery were severely affected with wet coal being at the centre of the various challenges experienced at that time.

It remains standard practice at Eskom to increase vigilance on all critical processes particularly during the traditionally higher demand winter period in order to manage for the unexpected and to ensure that the lights stay on.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

Escalation of fighting in South Sudan puts thousands of civilians at risk and compromises peace process

A surge in violent clashes in Unity, Jonglei and Central Equatorias is having a devastating impact on thousands of civilians and on humanitarian agencies trying to provide desperately needed assistance to vulnerable people. The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is deeply concerned at the intensification of fighting in areas such as Nhialdiu, Mayendit, Rupchai, Thaker, and Mirinyal, in the vicinity of Leer and Bentiu in the Unity region, as well as around Motot and Akobo in Jonglei.

Innocent civilians are being caught in the crossfire, including many women, children and elderly people,rdquo; said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, David Shearer. Our teams on the ground are reporting incidents of killing, sexual violence, homes being burnt to the ground, cattle raiding, and the looting of hospitals and schools.rdquo;

There has been gunfire overnight near UNMISS’ temporary operating base at Leer and Ghanaian peacekeepers are on high alert to protect an influx of 600 internally displaced people who have sought sanctuary from the violence in recent days. This brings the total number of IDPs at the Leer base to around 1100. A small number of displaced people have also arrived at the UN protection site at Bentiu and more are expected.

More than 30 humanitarian workers have been relocated over the past two weeks because it is too dangerous for them to operate in the midst of the escalating conflict. Thousands of people have fled into swamp and bush areas without access to much-needed aid, including food, clean water and medical care.

This surge in violence is causing immense suffering and harm to civilians and the ability to provide humanitarian support,rdquo; said David Shearer. It is at odds with the cessation of hostilities agreement that was signed just a few months ago. We urge the warring parties to lay down their guns, put the interests of the people first, and work together to build lasting peace.rdquo;

The success of the upcoming round of peace talks at the High Level Revitalization Forum is dependent on all parties committing to stop the fighting and to come together in good faith. Political leaders must demonstrate they are willing to compromise and resolve this conflict which is causing terrible harm to their people,rdquo; he said.

Source: United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS)