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Smart Cities

Readers of London’s Daily Telegraph may have rated Cape Town the greatest city on earth, but the city does not rank in the world’s top 50 smart cities, where New York, London, Paris, Tokyo and Reykjavik rank in the top five. While there are multiple definitions of what makes a smart city, and technology is obviously a key factor, there does seem to be consensus on a number of contributing factors, notably the high standard of quality of life for its citizens, including safety, mobility, services and cultural and environmental factors. The Internet of Things is a critical tool for city managers. While citizen safety is ultimately the responsibility of police services, they are assisted by CCTV, drones, fingerprint access to buildings and schools and face, fingerprint and vehicle registration recognition. This information can be mapped in geographic information systems and video streamed to police stations and patrol vehicles. Passenger vehicles in city centres will in future be restricted to driverless taxis. Congestion and the need for inner city parking will be eliminated as these vehicles will park on the city’s periphery until summonsed. Flying cars will allow for multiple vertical lanes. The gathering of information is dependent on instrumentation, and the Who Owns Whom report on The Instrumentation and Control Industry including Building Management Systems states that the uptake of wireless and soft sensor instrumentation is gaining traction globally as it negates cable use. The report also refers to ‘intelligent buildings’ which centralise essential subsystems such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning, lighting, room occupancy, hydraulics, power, fire protection, access control and other security systems onto a single platform which can be remotely monitored and controlled. Energy saving is achieved by monitoring and adjusting heating or cooling according to room occupancy and the ambient temperature. Masdar City is a six square km cube in the desert in Abu Dhabi which has a 45-metre-high wind tower, similar to that in the South African Constitutional Court and modelled on traditional Arab design. It sucks air from above and pushes a cooling breeze through Masdar’s streets, keeping temperatures between 15 and 20 degrees when it is 40 degrees in the desert outside. The city has no light switches or taps as everything is controlled by sensors, which have helped reduce electricity usage by 51% and water consumption by 55%. Take note Cape Town.

Kingdom of Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) Snapshot

The new prime minister of the Kingdom of Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) has been quick to announce a raft of austerity measures and a fight against corruption in the economically-depressed country. Prime minister Ambrose Dlamini, formerly the head of MTN’s operations in the country, was appointed by King Mswati in late October, soon after September elections, where political parties are not allowed. Dlamini’s appointment was followed by the appointment of six royal family members to the House of Assembly and eight to the Senate, according to reports. Dlamini announced he is putting an end to first class air travel and allowances for senior officials, reconsidering whether these trips are necessary, ending the use of tendering for government contracts and putting a moratorium on raising electricity tariffs, among other measures. He would “implement major interim fiscal decisions to enhance financial prudence and controls so as to spend as little money as possible,” and was working on an economic recovery plan with the appointment of committees to look at government expenditure, revenue and capital expenditure policies, the development of capital projects and developing and implementing a policy of zero tolerance of corruption in government. Dlamini’s biggest challenge, commentators say, will be reining in on the king, who is responsible for much of the country’s spending. The king, who is reported to have 13 palaces and fleets of cars, recently bought his second private jet, and spent more than double its cost on upgrades. The Swaziland Solidarity Network said recently that Mswati was set to increase Tibiyo’s shares in the country’s corporations to 62% from 50%. The network said Tibiyo, Eswatini’s largest investment institution owning half of almost all major corporations, was initiated as a trust fund to empower Swazis, but “has since turned into a Royal Piggy bank”. The Kingdom of Eswatini has a tiny economy, and with its currency linked to the rand, no control over monetary policy, according to the CIA World Factbook. The World Bank said economic growth is estimated to have declined to 1.9% in 2017 from 3.2% in 2016, due to the slow recovery in agriculture and mounting fiscal challenges. GDP is expected to contract by 0.6% in 2018. The country depends on South Africa for 60% of its exports and for more than 90% of its imports, the CIA reports. Its government depends on declining customs duties from the Southern African Customs Union for almost half of revenue. The CIA reports that manufacturing has hardly grown in the last decade. Sugar and soft drink concentrate are its largest foreign exchange earners, while mining has declined in importance.

The European Union commits to fixed direct investment in South Africa

There seems to be a refreshing revival of trade relations under president Cyril Ramaphosa, who recently said at the economic summit in Brussels that the European Union (EU) was an ally in fighting poverty and inequality and growing the South African economy.

Morocco Snapshot

Morocco’s new coalition government has focused on pro-poor reforms, job creation and implementing the country’s industrialisation strategy, which aims to increase the industrial sector’s share to 23% of GDP by 2020 from 18.5% in 2016. Evidence of its aspirations and success in this regard can be found in the automotive sector, where, in 2017, it overtook South Africa as the continent’s largest producer of passenger cars. A Who Owns Whom report on the Motor Vehicle Industry indicates that South Africa accounted for 56.4% of Africa’s 2017 total vehicle production, and, with 601,178 units, produced significantly more vehicles than Morocco’s total vehicle production of 376,286. However, in the passenger car production sub-sector, Morocco, with 341,802 units in 2017, surpassed South Africa’s passenger car production of 331,311 units for the first time. Morocco, which is conveniently positioned close to the EU market, is becoming a significant supplier to EU auto factories, including Ford’s plant in Valencia, Spain, which imports car seats, interiors, wiring and other components from Morocco. The country has also attracted investment from major automotive companies, including Renault and Peugeot, to open plants in Morocco by offering significant tax exemptions. It has set an ambitious annual production target of one million vehicles. In the World Bank’s Doing Business 2019 report, Morocco jumped nine places to 60th position worldwide, second in the Middle East and North Africa region behind the United Arab Emirates, and third in Africa after Mauritius and Rwanda. The World Bank said that despite strong investments in infrastructure and manufacturing, “non-agricultural activity has failed to accelerate and job intensity of growth remains low, resulting in only small improvements in employment and social indicators”. Economic growth has been relatively muted in 2018, but Reuters reported that GDP growth has recovered from the drought-induced slowdown in 2016, and Fitch forecasts it will average 3.8% GDP growth over 2017-2019, with economic activity lifted by the rebound in agricultural production and soaring cereal crops. Agriculture remains critical for the economy, accounting for only about 14% of GDP, but employing over 40% of the country’s workers. Morocco’s GDP growth was 3.2% in the first quarter of 2018, lower than the previous year’s 3.5%. Inflation is 1.1% in October and unemployment was 9.1% in the second quarter of 2018. The 2019 draft budget forecasts a deficit of 3.3% of GDP in 2019, down from 3.8% in 2018, with GDP growth of 3.2%, government said. While the country’s automotive and phosphates exports have increased significantly (by 19.2% and 16.7% respectively), higher imports continue to weigh on its trade deficit. Morocco remains a popular tourist destination, with latest World Bank Figures showing a 15% increase in tourism receipts.