Overview: the Gauteng Stakeholder Workshop

first_imgThe Gauteng Stakeholder Workshop featured vibrant discussion about the existence of a country’s brand, the pros and cons of having one, and the best way to build a nation brand. It was widely agreed that all provinces should align with the overall nation brand message. From left to right, Sipho Mhlongo, from the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency, Brand South Africa chief executive Kingsley Makhubela, and Joburg Mayor Parks Tau address stakeholders at the Gauteng Stakeholder Workshop on 19 August 2015. (Image: CD Anderson)• Brand South Africa salutes Cowen High School for winning the Umhlobo Wenene FM debate competition • Brand South Africa invites stakeholders to contribute to insights on the South African Nation Brand • Young South Africans plan to stay at home • People and complexity: the missing ingredients in celebrity activism for Africa • Brilliant young minds at the CSIR Priya PitamberSouth Africans should concentrate on the positive: “We should be defined by what we are doing.” This was the message from newly appointed chief executive Kingsley Makhubela at Brand South Africa’s Gauteng Stakeholder Workshop, held in Sandton on 19 August.Sipho Mhlongo, group executive for trade, investment and regulatory enablement at the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency welcomed everyone to the discussion, held at the Gauteng Investment Centre. He said there are many great things happening in South Africa.One strong message about positivityMakhubela spoke about the importance of the provinces and the country aligning the overall brand message. “It’s important that provinces align [brand] messages and in the process of aligning it, not shoot ourselves in the foot.”He brought up instances in which South Africa had performed well – surviving the 2008 economic downturn and not having to bail out any banks; the rapid growth of the corporate sector since the mid-90s; and the good performance of the country’s academic institutions. He pointed out that six South African universities featured in the Top 10 list of the Times Higher Education (THE) Africa University Ranking.Makhubela recounted an anecdote: he got an opportunity to study overseas but one of his lecturers at a South African university advised him it was important to study in Africa, because that way the knowledge was able to remain on the continent.But South Africa also faced huge problems, he admitted, bringing up the issue of the local drug cocktail, nyaope. “We are going to lose a generation [to drugs],” he warned. “These sorts of social issues need to be addressed.” And one way to do this was to grow the economy.Big city lifeJoburg Mayor Parks Tau noted the importance of cities in identifying problems and finding solutions. The South African Cities Network, which represents most of the country’s main cities, acknowledges the large role big cities played in a country.It publishes a State of the City report about the work done. “Cities have become important pointers of development,” Tau stressed. “Cities have a role to play in finding solutions and resolving complex issues.”Joburg, the largest city not close to a river or sea, was a city of migrants and their ability to make it grow resulted in its success. “Forty percent of the people in Joburg now, are born outside of Joburg.”While it had made strides in investing in infrastructure, problems still existed, such as traffic congestion. The solution did not exist in building more roads, the mayor said. “We have to create alternatives because we cannot build our way out of problems… It’s about changing our mind-set.”He encouraged the audience to take advantage of the upcoming #EcoMobility campaign in October, aimed at getting people out of cars and using other modes of transport.South African Competitiveness Forum Dr Petrus de Kock, Brand South Africa’s general manager for research, spoke about the need to find a way to position the brand of the country. (Image: Priya Pitamber)The first session of the day, by Dr Petrus de Kock, the general manager for research at Brand South Africa, was about the South African Competitiveness Forum (SACF). The inaugural SACF took place back in 2013, born of a need to identify the work of positioning the brand of the country.In his presentation, De Kock described the SACF as a call “on all South Africans to play their part and engage in collaborative efforts to build a strong national reputation based on a globally competitive economy”.“As Brand South Africa, we have to understand the range and strengths of the nation to market it to the world and locally. Getting input from provinces can help with the messaging sent out,” he added.There was also opportunity to learn from where the country had succeeded and apply those lessons to challenges.A few discussion points emerged from the session, too, including the recent xenophobic incidents in the country and the response to them. De Kock said there was a lot of messaging in that period from the government and officials. Brand South Africa also studied the social response. “It doesn’t matter how small a group is, damage can be caused to the reputation,” De Kock observed.Other topics of discussion were whether it was possible to tackle negative perceptions of the country; whether it was a risk to build a nation brand; how the media could help in building a positive image of the country; the funding of small and medium enterprises; and how South Africa’s sense of pride was defined.“National pride is linked to inner emotions; it’s more than tourism and sport,” a speaker said.Nation Brand Master Class Brand South Africa acting chief marketing officer Sithembile Ntombela gave a Master Class on the Nation Brand. (Image: Priya Pitamber)Sithembile Ntombela, Brand South Africa’s acting chief marketing officer, conducted the Nation Brand Master Class. She said it was important build the nation, to find a nice narrative of South Africa. “We are selling our country,” she said.“The master class is about building a nation brand that at its core is unified through its diversity,” she noted in her presentation. “Building anything requires taking many pieces that work and fit together to make the bigger picture complete.”Provinces should align their messages with that of the country, Ntombela added, which would require a lot of planning. “We must relay true and relevant messages,” she said. “And promote a common sense of identity and pride.”A puzzle approach would work best because it could be used to “educate and guide key stakeholders in the intricacies of handling a nation brand, we created work that literally shows that everyone has a part to play in making our country a complete and competing nation”.Brazil, she said by way of example, was automatically associated with flair, the samba, and carnival; history was attached to Egypt, India and Peru; so too could South Africa create its unique stamp to sell to the rest of the world.Feedback on researchDe Kock shared the outcomes from the extensive research conducted by Brand South Africa, and it showed good news.“You can’t sell the brand of a country, without inside buy-in,” he reasoned. So the research started in the domestic arena, to find out what issues were on the minds of South Africans. It made use of a diverse national sample of 2 524 people.The Domestic Perceptions Research showed that while there were concerns among South Africans relating to crime, corruption and a lack of job opportunities, it also found that “citizens want to focus on solutions. And South Africans are willing to take action, rather than wait for someone else to do so.”Findings also showed that the majority of the population was under 35 and lived in urban areas; there was an increase in the middle class after 1994; 92% of the sample interviewed had a “good” or “strong” sense of pride; and many South Africans were aspirant that their children would live a better life than what they did.Country Messaging Framework Manusha Pillai, the Brand South Africa general manager of communications, talked about the Country Messaging Framework. (Image: Priya Pitamber)Brand South Africa’s Manusha Pillai, the general manager of communications, spoke about the National Development Plan (NDP) and how it could be tied into the country’s messaging framework.Pillars of the Country Messaging Framework mirrored the NDP and included tourism, culture and heritage, policy, people, brands, and investment and recruitment, all to be used to market South Africa.“Brand South Africa has been working with a various stakeholders from government, business and civil society to compile this Country Messaging Framework,” she said in her presentation, in which she described South Africans as having an energy and great problem-solving skills.last_img read more

Adityanath cracks whip on latecomers

first_imgFollowing reports of Noida Authority staff allegedly not reaching office on time, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Monday sought the employee details of both Noida and Greater Noida Authorities.Mr. Adityanath also ordered that 73 employees of the Noida Authority, who had not been marking themselves present on biometric machine, be marked absent for the corresponding days. He also ordered that their salaries be deducted.Noida and Greater Noida Authority CEO Deepak Agarwal confirmed this. “The Chief Minister has asked for details such as the employees’ income, assets, ranks, tenure, departments, etc. While 40% of the staff members in the Greater Noida Authority have submitted their details, employees of the Noida Authority are yet to file the same,” said Mr. Agarwal.Plugging corruptionSoon after assuming office on March 19, Mr. Adityanath had directed Ministers and top officials to provide details of their income and assets within 15 days. He had said rooting out corruption in government offices was his main agenda. However, a majority of the officials failed to adhere to the deadline of April 7.Mr. Agarwal further said that to improve work culture in the authorities, he had asked the employees to mark their attendance on biometric machines. Failure to comply with the order would amount to strict action, he added.The Noida Authority had on March 23 installed biometric machines to crack down on employees who would reach office late. The Noida Authority’s offices are located in sectors 6, 5, 19 and 39. According to rules, the employees must reach office by 9:30 a.m. and not leave before 5 p.m. The two authorities work for five days a week. ‘30% staff absent’“During an inspection, I found that around 30% of the staff was absent. Whoever reaches office after 9:30 a.m. will be marked absent,” said Mr. Agarwal.Earlier, every employee had to sign on an attendance sheet. However, many would sign the sheet in the month-end. With the introduction of biometric attendance, the flaw was exposed. Explanation sought“We have also sought an explanation from those who were not present at 9:30 a.m.,” the CEO said.“If they will fail to furnish a satisfactory reply, we will take action against them. If absent employees are repeatedly absent, we will take departmental action against them,” he added.last_img read more

Chief Parliamentary Counsel Working on Amendments to Road Traffic Act

first_img The Minister was responding to comments from Opposition Spokesman on Transport, Mikael Phillips, during his contribution to the debate on the Road Traffic (Temporary Ticket Amnesty) Bill in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (July 11). Minister of Transport and Mining, Hon. Mike Henry, says the Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel is still working on changes to the Road Traffic Act, and assures that the legislation will be before the Lower House in short order. Story Highlightscenter_img Minister of Transport and Mining, Hon. Mike Henry, says the Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel is still working on changes to the Road Traffic Act, and assures that the legislation will be before the Lower House in short order.“The Chief Parliamentary Counsel department is still not finished (working) on the Bill… some 345 changes (are)… being implemented. I did say we intend to hasten that position, and I am advised that we should be getting (the Bill) not very long from now,” he said.The Minister was responding to comments from Opposition Spokesman on Transport, Mikael Phillips, during his contribution to the debate on the Road Traffic (Temporary Ticket Amnesty) Bill in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (July 11).Mr. Phillips had raised concern that the legislation was still not passed, despite debate on the Bill having started more than five months ago.The updated law will repeal and replace the existing 1938 Act, and will establish new offences as well as provide increased penalties for current wrongdoings.Under the Road Traffic (Temporary Ticket Amnesty) Bill, which was passed, delinquent motorists have been granted an opportunity to pay fines on outstanding traffic tickets, without incurring a penalty or interest, through an amnesty scheduled to run from August 2 to October 31.The amnesty will affect tickets issued from September 1, 2010 to July 31, 2017.last_img read more

Rice building Texas fastest academic supercomputer

first_imgAddThis ShareDACONTACT: Jade BoydPHONE:(713) 348-6778EMAIL: jadeboyd@rice.eduRICE BUILDING TEXAS’ FASTEST ACADEMICSUPERCOMPUTERRice Terascale Cluster Among the World’s Fastest UniversityComputersRice University hassecured grant funding from the National Science Foundation and Intel Corporationto build a supercomputer that will rank among the world’s fastest.When fully operationalnext year, the Rice Terascale Cluster (RTC) will be approximately three timesfaster than any university computer in Texas. The RTC will consist of at least70 interconnected servers containing the powerful new Intel” Itanium” 2processor.Housed at Rice’sComputer and Information Technology Institute (CITI), RTC will be the firstuniversity computer in Texas with a peak performance of 1 teraflop, or 1trillion floating-point operations per second (FLOPs), the standard measure ofsupercomputer performance. The total cost for RTC is undetermined. Fundingincludes $1.15 million from the NSF.Were it operationaltoday, RTC would rank among the 10 fastest academic supercomputers in thecountry and the top 25 university computers worldwide, according to www.top500.org, a semi-annual ranking of theworld’s top supercomputers that is compiled by researchers at the University ofTennessee and Germany’s University of Mannheim.The fastestsupercomputer in Texas, according to the list, is the University of Texas atAustin’s IBM Regatta-HPC Cluster, which has a peak performance of one-third of ateraflop.Scientists need fastercomputers to tackle increasingly complex mathematical problems that wouldrequire weeks or months to compute on existing machines. For example, toprecisely map the movements of every atom in a large molecule, researchers needto develop a complex mathematical model that contains thousands of variables.Such models are useful for drug designers and biomedical researchers, and awhole new scientific discipline known as bioinformatics has been created tosolve this and other complex biological computations. Increasingly, researchacross academic disciplines requires a similar level of complex computation, andit also requires a new generation of distributed software.“Rice faculty fromdisciplines as diverse as biochemistry, earth science, economics, neuroscience,computer science and political science will use RTC in their research,” saidMoshe Vardi, RTC principal investigator and CITI director. “It will also be avital tool for basic computational research aimed at better designing softwarethan can run on hundreds or even thousands of processorssimultaneously.”Rice’s proposal for NSFfunding for RTC faced stiff competition in a process that saw awards for justone-in-three applicants. Rice won based on independent evaluations by reviewerswho praised CITI’s expertise in high-performance computing, theinterdisciplinary nature of CITI research, and the caliber of the facultyinvolved.Complex research alreadyslated for RTC includes simulations of biomolecular interactions, the physics ofheavy ion collisions, simulations of Internet-based computer applicationsrunning on hundreds of computers, and simulations that aim to better understandand predict international conflicts.RTC is slated to beginoperation in early 2003. Tentative plans call for the cluster to include 70interconnected HP servers, each containing four 900-megahertz, Itanium 2processors. The cluster will have more than 500 gigabytes of RAM, and it will belinked to a 1 terabyte array of dedicated hard drives.According towww.top500.org, most of the fastest supercomputers, including the world’sfastest — the 35.9-teraflop NEC Earth Simulator in Japan — and the UnitedStates’ fastest — the 7.2-teraflop ASCI White-Pacific at Lawrence LivermoreNational Laboratory in California — are operated by private or government-runresearch laboratories. See for the Top 500 list of supercomputers.last_img read more