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Cablegate: South Africa Environment, Science, and Technology News,

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RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSA #0269/01 0391441
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 081441Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3414
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
INFO RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN 5299
RUEHDU/AMCONSUL DURBAN 9564
RUEHJO/AMCONSUL JOHANNESBURG 7876

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 PRETORIA 000269

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DEPT FOR OES/PCI, OES/ENV, AND AF/S
DEPT PASS EPA/OIA,

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV SOCI ETRD SF
SUBJECT: SOUTH AFRICA ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE, AND TECHNOLOGY NEWS,
JANUARY 2008


PRETORIA 00000269 001.2 OF 003


1. (U) Summary: This is the South African Environment, Science and
Technology Monthly Newsletter, January 2008, Volume 3, Issue 1,
prepared by the U.S. Embassy Pretoria, South Africa.

Topics of the newsletter:
-- HI-TECH PRAWN FACILITY OPENED IN SA
-- SA TO ROLL-OUT GREEN TRAFFIC LIGHTS
-- POWER CUTS CREATE CHANCE TO GREEN HOMES

-- FLAMES WIPE OUT CAPE FYNBOS

-- DIRECTOR GENERAL'S TIES WITH DEAT TO END

-- SA PREPARES FOR INSITE 2008

-- UNSANITARY BUCKET SYSTEM PHASE-OUT UNDERWAY

End Summary.

HI-TECH PRAWN FACILITY OPENED IN SA
-----------------------------------


2. (U) Sea Ark Afrika, a subsidiary of the Bosasa Group of
Companies, has established a pilot project prawn farm at the Coega
Industrial Zone in Port Elizabeth. Prawn farming is usually
conducted in open-air ponds, which makes the prawns susceptible to
diseases and population loss. The new prawn farm, regarded as a
first of its kind, is a bio-secured, closed-up facility with
regularly-provided, high-quality diets. Water is filtered, which
means diseases can be eliminated or minimized. The project was
started in 2005 and is expected to be completed in six years at a
R9.2 billion (US $ 1.3 billion) cost. A Sea Ark Afrika official
noted that research and development on the project has been
conducted both in the U.S. and SA at a cost of $40 million (US $ 5.7
million). Sea Ark Afrika President David Wills described the
facility as a "sustaining, job-creating and technologically
innovating project". Wills said the shrimp farm is expected to
create 11,800 jobs directly and over 88,000 indirectly, with 1,000
jobs slots created specifically for women.
SA TO ROLL-OUT GREEN TRAFFIC LIGHTS
-----------------------------------

3. (U) Central Energy Fund (CEF) announced in January that it had
committed over $5.8 million (US $ .8 million) to erect several
solar-powered traffic lights at the major intersections in South
Africa's cities. CEF CEO Mputumi Damane said CEF's effort will help
mitigate the recent series of power cuts and load-shedding, which
have created traffic jams as well as avoidable accidents. Cape Town
City municipality erected a solar-powered traffic light pilot
project in September 2007, which has proved to be a success. Damane
stated that CEF has already identified over 2,000 critical
intersections around Johannesburg alone, while other installations
are aimed for the cities of Tshwane (Pretoria), Ethekwini (Durban)
Port Elizabeth and Nelspruit.

4. (U) Damane advised that the first batch of the imported
installation components had already been delivered to South Africa,
while the rest of the consignment will arrive at a later date. CEF
expects the investment in green traffic lights to exceed $14.3
million and they are soliciting funds from private investors.
Investors in the project could claim up to 150 percent of their
invested amount when they submit their next tax returns, according
to the CEF CEO.

POWER CUTS CREATE CHANCE TO GREEN HOMES
---------------------------------------
5. (U) Ecocentric Official Jutta Berns-Mumbi advised that the recent
series of power cuts has created an opportunity for people to start
investing in the greening of their homes and businesses.
Ecocentric, a sustainable and energy efficiency consulting firm,
defined a green home as one that is energy and water efficient.
Berns-Mumbi said South Africans must diversify their energy sources
QBerns-Mumbi said South Africans must diversify their energy sources
and consider alternative means to supply power to their homes. She
noted that alternative energy is no longer a concern only for
environmentally conscious people, but for all individuals and
businesses, out of necessity and urgency.
6. (U) Berns-Mumbi advised people to rethink their energy demands,
and to begin their greening activities with small steps such as
switching off all non-essential appliances when not in use and
fitting low-energy bulbs. She added that long-term solutions should
include deep energy retrofitting of existing homes and office
buildings and remodeling for energy efficiency. Sustainable Energy
Africa official Megan Anderson notes that water heating accounts for
about 60 percent of total home energy use. Anderson said that a
solar water heater is a crucial intervention which could cut

PRETORIA 00000269 002.2 OF 003


electricity consumption bills by up to 30 percent per month. Each
costs between US $428 and US $2,857, depending on the size and
quality.
7. (U) South African developer Swish Property Group is spearheading
what will be South Africa's first green mixed-use development.
Swish, together with developers Madison and Redefine Income Fund, is
building the 50,000 m2 project in the city of Cape Town. It will
consist of residential studios, loft apartments, office space, as
well as shops. Swish says energy will be conserved in the Upper
East Side project through the central air conditioning system.
Wasted energy from the air conditioning system produces hot air,
which is then captured and piped into a central hot water cylinder
that heats water to a certain temperature. This means only a small
amount of separate energy will be required to ensure the water from
the building's taps is hot. In conventional buildings, this hot air
goes to waste. Swish CEO Giancarlo Lanfranchi said, "We need to
ensure that we don't place more pressure on [electrical and sewer]
systems, so we tackle the problem at the source by creating tools
within the building to deal with alternative uses for waste and
conservation of electricity."

FLAMES WIPE OUT CAPE FYNBOS
----------------------------
8. (U) Table Mountain National Parks fire manager Phillip Prins
stated that 11 homes were completely destroyed and almost 1,300
hectors of seven-year-old fynbos had been destroyed by three fires
in the Western Cape Peninsula in late January. Two fire fighters
suffered very serious burns. Prins said the three fires had been
reported soon after they had started, however they later blazed out
of control due to strong south-easterly winds. The fire manager is
concerned that the fynbos may take too long to recover because it
was too young when burned. Fynbos normally takes 12 to 15 years to
recover. Prins and his colleagues suspect arson, and have asked the
local police to investigate. He said it was the fourth Friday in a
row that someone had reported a fire, and the reports were only 10
minutes apart. Another fire official added that it takes very dry
grass to burn spontaneously and that the grass had not been dry
enough to do that in January.
DIRECTOR GENERAL'S TIES WITH DEAT TO END
-----------------------------------------
9. (U) Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT)
Marthinus Van Schalkwyk announced in January that DEAT Director
General Pam Yako will not extend her contract with DEAT at the end
of her tenure in April 2008. She has instead brought her departure
date forward to February 29, 2008. Ms. Yako joined DEAT over six
ago and had worked in DEAT in different capacities prior to being
appointed Director General in 2005. The Minister credited Yako with
the successful implementation of the Tourism Growth Strategy. He
also stated that Yako had built a strong team of senior managers,
strengthened biodiversity and conservation policies, and made the
Marine Living Resources Fund much more effective. The Minister also
cited other achievements, including addressing challenges faced by
small-scale fisheries. The Minister expressed his appreciation for
the Yako's integrity, dedication and loyalty to the DEAT. The
process to appoint Yako's successor is underway, and the appointee
could be named soon.
SA PREPARES FOR INSITE 2008
---------------------------
Q
10. (U) The Department of Science and Technology (DST) has begun
preparations for Africa's premier science exhibition, the 3rd
International Science, Innovation and Technology Exhibition
(INSITE). INSITE is an international marketplace for innovation,
science and technology (IST) where ideas, products, services and
solutions in the context of long-term sustainability are exhibited.
INSITE showcases solutions and demonstrates practical applications
of science and technology. Institutions, governments and companies
from around the world are invited. DST launched the first INSITE in
2004 and staged the second in 2006, drawing 5,889 and 6,298 visitors
respectively. INSITE 2008 will be staged alongside the 25th
International Association of Science Parks at the Sandton Convention
Center, September 14 - 25, 2008.

UNSANITARY BUCKET SYSTEM PHASE-OUT UNDERWAY
-------------------------------------------

11. (U) Provincial and Local Governments Deputy Director General
Yusuf Patel told the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) that only
81 percent of the 252,254 unsanitary buckets used throughout South
Africa were eradicated by the end of December 2007. The bucket
system is still the most prevalent sanitation system in the Eastern
Cape, Free State and North West provinces. The government had
allocated over R1.8 billion (US $ 260 million) in 2005/6 and 2006/7
to eradicate the bucket system and replace it with formal toilet
structures. Patel said 62 percent of the toilet structures have
been completed, although there were still some problems with running

PRETORIA 00000269 003.2 OF 003


water. Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry Lindiwe Hendricks
clarified that the bucket system eradication program was aimed at
the formal townships only and not informal settlements.

BOST

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