SADC pushes free trade, customs union

first_imgDuring the summit, a high-level expert group was appointed to look at how the customs union can be speeded up. The team is expected to report back to the SADC by December 2011. Customs union, common market The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) summit ended in Windhoek, Namibia on Tuesday with a resolution to consolidate time-lines for a free trade area and speed up preparations for establishing a customs union. Overlapping memberships Source: BuaNews Regarding the planned free trade area (FTA), which will facilitate trade via one-stop border posts, the summit adopted a comprehensive work programme with concrete actions and time-lines. 18 August 2010 A regional central bank and a common currency are expected by 2018.center_img Country membership overlaps exist among the SADC, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) and the East African Community (EAC), which presents technical challenges, as a country cannot belong to more than one customs union. However, to date, only 11 out of 15 SADC member states have joined the protocol for the creation of the FTA. The launch of the FTA, seen as an initial step towards trade integration, will move the southern African region incrementally towards establishing a customs union – originally scheduled for 2010 – a common market by 2015, and a monetary union by 2016. In a communique issued at the end of the two-day summit, attended by 14 SADC heads of state, including South African President Jacob Zuma, the leaders said they remained committed to the establishment of a customs union, saying it would help deepen regional integration. Regarding other challenges, the leaders noted the adverse socio-economic effects of the global economic crisis on the region. As a result, they resolved to hold an extra-ordinary summit on economic development. “The main mandate of this group will be to consolidate and refine technical work so far done in order to reach agreement and common understanding of parameters, benchmarks, timelines, a model customs union and its implementation modalities,” reads the communique.last_img read more

Finding South Africa’s secret beaches

first_imgSouth Africa’s 3 000 kilometres of coastline holds many treasures, unspoilt places hidden from mainstream tourists. Read more to discover the secret beaches all over the country.Noordhoek’s Long Beach is one of the secret beaches on the Cape Peninsula of South Africa. (Image: Noordhoek Tourism)Brand South Africa reporterWith a coastline of 3 000km, South Africa has enough beaches to accommodate thousands of sun lovers without ever getting crowded. The beaches near the larger coastal cities get most visitors, of course, and in high summer bathers might have to negotiate a tangle of tanned limbs to get from the sea to their towels.But there are dozens of other beaches along the country’s coastline where you can find space, privacy, soft sand and clear blue waves.Cape West CoastIf you want to avoid Cape Town’s main beaches, head up the west coast towards Namibia and you’ll find one spectacular seascape after another. The coastline has stunning wind-lashed scenery and may at times look dry and barren. But in spring the region’s world-famous wild flowers transform the area into a magic carpet of colour.The long white beaches and rocky outcrops provide some of the most private beaches, not to mention best surfing waves. Secret places to visit include Eland’s Bay, Paternoster, Lambert’s Bay and Yzerfontein.In summer you can enjoy fresh crayfish at reasonable prices in local eateries. As this side of South Africa is on the Atlantic Ocean, the water is a lot colder than in the warm Indian Ocean to the east. But that doesn’t stop swimmers from enjoying a bracing dip.Cape PeninsulaWhile the fashionable Cape Town beaches – particularly Camps Bay, Clifton and Llandudno – are overrun in summer, visitors can still find sandy solitude. Noordhoek’s Long Beach is a serene sweep of sand over 2km long, backed by beautiful fynbos- covered mountains.Sandy Bay, just next to Llandudno, is similarly isolated and lovely, as long as one doesn’t mind the nudists for which this beach is notorious.Blaauwberg offers the best views of Table Mountain and is long enough to avoid people, if that’s what you’re after. Or travel just a little way to the dune-fringed beauties of Betty’s Bay, Kleinmond and Pringle Bay.Cape East CoastEast of Cape Town, the coastline offers one sleepy seaside town after another, each with its own personality and beaches. Here the Indian Ocean laps the continent with its warm coastal currents. The further east you travel from Cape Town, the warmer the sea gets.Hermanus is a popular weekend and holiday spot, and the beaches can be crowded. But a five-minute drive out of the village takes you to the more peaceful Grotto Beach.Follow the coastline north and the gems of Gansbaai, Pearly Beach and Arniston beckon. Arniston, a restored fishing village, is particularly beautiful, and out of season is all but isolated.Eastern CapeThose allergic to crowds will want to avoid the seaside havens of Plettenberg Bay, Knysna and George in high season, but again there are beaches just out of town that offer space and scenery aplenty.Port Elizabeth and East London have places of historic interest as well as some good swimming spots. East London’s Gonubie Beach is one of the country’s prettiest, as yet unclaimed by hordes of beachgoers.Cape St Francis and Seaview Game Park, both near Port Elizabeth, are similarly untrammelled.The Wild CoastFormerly known as the Transkei, this is a breathtakingly beautiful region. It has many remote, rural locations offering unspoiled velvet-green hills and pristine beaches.Some parts are harder to access, but places with facilities include Mazeppa Bay, Coffee Bay, Hole-in-the-Wall, Trennerys, Mngazi and Presley Bay.Locals are friendly and hospitable and these are ideal holiday resorts for those wanting nothing more than a beach, a few good surfing waves and perhaps the odd fishing trip.Read more: Discover South Africa’s Wild CoastKwaZulu-NatalNestled between the Indian Ocean and the Drakensberg mountains, KwaZulu-Natal is hot, humid and subtropical. These are the best beaches for those who like to float in the sea for hours on end, and the mild temperatures in winter make it an all-year- round holiday destination.Durban’s beaches can leave one jostling for elbow room in season and nearby towns such as Southbroom and Ballito have recently exploded with holiday homes, but you don’t have to go far to avoid the crowds.On the north coast, near the Mozambique border, is the ecotourism paradise of Kosi Bay, a pristine estuary surrounded by lush marsh forest, mangrove, ferns and orchids. Take a walk between tanning sessions and you could spot a hippo, a crocodile or a loggerhead turtle.Nearby St Lucia, a protected nature reserve and one of South Africa’s seven World Heritage sites, has beautiful long beaches and lukewarm water.Other secret spots include Mtunzini, Zinkwazi and Blythedale. The south coast beaches aren’t quite as isolated, but small towns such as St Michaels, Hibberdene and Umkomaas are less inhabited, particularly in the mild winters.This is an edited version of an article first published by South African Tourism.Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.last_img read more

The 2012 National Green Building Standard is Here…

first_imgDon’t worry, I still have some complaintsI still wish the new standard required blower-door testing. The lack of a testing requirement was one of my key complaints about the 2008 standard, and I had sincerely hoped that it would have been required in the new version.I also have concerns about the rigor and quality control over the program verifiers. While I acknowledge that HERS and LEED providers don’t do a perfect job of quality assurance (QA) on their raters, there are regular on-site visual verifications that the rater’s work meets certain minimum requirements.HIRL reserves the right to inspect any verifier’s work, but there is no regular schedule or requirement for this, leaving open opportunities for less rigorous certification, and in extreme cases, the possibility that verifiers will certify buildings that should not qualify. Although it is not explicitly stated in the standard, any HVAC ducts located outside the conditioned space must be tested for leakage, per the 2009 IECC. Whole-house ventilation meeting ASHRAE 62.2 is required if a home or apartment tests out tighter than 5 air changes per hour at 50 Pascals (5 ach50), but since there is no requirement for blower-door testing, this seems to be to be a bit of a loose end in the program.As before, you can meet the energy-efficiency section requirements using either the prescriptive path (by incorporating a specific list of measures) or the performance path (by preparing a HERS rating or following an equivalent energy model). Interestingly, since testing isn’t required, you can complete the energy model using the following defaults values: envelope Specific Leakage Area (SLA) of 0.00036 and duct system efficiency 0.88 if all the ducts are in conditioned space (if they are not, they need to be tested as noted above).On the administrative side, they finally abandoned their clunky online scoring tool in favor of an Excel spreadsheet that appears to work well and be fairly easy to understand. In the past, I have been critical of the NAHB’s National Green Building Standard (NGBS), just as I have been of most other green building programs. While I don’t expect to lose my critical eye, I do believe I have mellowed a bit and developed new opinions about the certification process and each program’s role in the industry.I recently obtained a copy of the new 2012 NGBS and have reviewed it fairly thoroughly. My clarifying questions were answered very promptly by the nice folks at Home Innovation Research Labs (formerly known as the NAHB Research Center). Now I don’t know about their new acronym (HIRL?), but they were goodnatured when I commented about it on Twitter recently. Existing homes are addressed as wellUnder the new standard, there are two separate sections for certifying renovations. Chapter 11 covers whole house (or multifamily building) renovations, which applies to any existing building as long as any additions do not exceed 75% of the original above-grade finished space. If the addition exceeds the 75% threshold, then it must be certified as new construction.Projects must meet minimum energy and water efficiency levels, plus gain enough points in other areas to meet certification. A scoring checklist for existing buildings will be available soon.New in this version is the ability to certify sections of buildings such as kitchens, bathrooms, and basements. These certifications do not use any scoring system; rather, the project must meet all the applicable requirements listed in the standard for that project.This project-based approach runs the risk of having a so called “green” kitchen or bathroom in an otherwise poorly performing house, but interestingly, they have set a fairly high bar, requiring the use of a certain number of bio-based products, certified wood, and the preparation of a life-cycle analysis for a product or assembly.In some ways, this non-score based certification may be more complicated to meet than it first appears. What’s new and different?There has been a noticeable leap in energy efficiency from the 2008 version, based on the fact that the standard now requires a home be at least 15% more efficient than the 2009 IECC. Certification now requires a Manual D duct design for forced-air HVAC systems. It’s also necessary to follow a list of required air-sealing measures that appear to be lifted directly from the IECC, and to install insulation at Grade 2 or better installation quality.Vent-free fireplaces are no longer allowed, and wood-burning units must have doors and a source of outside combustion air. Radon mitigation is required in homes located in Zone 1. And a long list of flashing and exterior moisture management measures are required, although kick-out flashing is still optional. RELATED ARTICLES The ICC 700 Green Standard’s Energy Requirements Ramp UpWhat’s Happening to All the Green Building Programs?National Green Building StandardANSI Approves NAHB’s Green Building StandardGreen Rating Systems for Home BuildingIt’s 2012 — Do You Know Where Your LEED for Homes Is?Green Building Programs: Time for a Do-Over?What Is Green Certification, And How Does It Work?Talking the Green Code Talk, but Walking the Walk Slowly Pennsylvania Builder Lands NAHB Green’s First Emerald Rating Not half badEven though it doesn’t require air leakage testing and the verifier QA process could be stronger, I have come to the conclusion that there is a place for a certification program with an easier entry level, one that is broader and more inclusive than LEED and other, more rigorous options.What I find most exciting about the standard is that it is making strong inroads into the multifamily market, as are most residential programs. Market-rate developers who may not be willing to invest in more costly certifications are using the NGBS for their projects.One of my favorite things about the 2012 NGBS is that it is phasing in quickly – after May, all projects must register under the 2012 version and the 2008 version will go away. In contrast, LEED Version 4, which is expected to be released in late 2013 is planned to run parallel to the current version for as long as three years, allowing project teams to select either version for many years to come.In this case, I think HIRL made the right choice by tearing off the bandage quickly. It does seem to me that some of what I predicted in my Green Building Program Roadkill Post is coming to pass. It will be interesting to see how it all ends up.last_img read more

Facebook Hopes Third-Party Social Reader Will Help Users Avoid Sharing Too Much

first_imgAt one time, social readers – those spammy Facebook apps that broadcast everything you look at to everyone in your friend list – were a key component of the social network’s strategy to keep members in the walled garden. Only one problem: users hate auto-sharing. Now a third-party company says it may have solved Facebook’s dilemma.So significant is yesterday’s announcement by Janrain that is launching a transparent, one-click sharing app that Facebook joined the PR push. The social network’s minions shared the happy news with reporters and tech bloggers who, like me, typically cover Facebook but may not be familiar with Janrain. Social readers help keep a user on Facebook, allowing them to easily share and read content without going to a third-party site. But there has been user backlash as people ended up sharing articles they didn’t want to share with friends and family. In May, in response to the user complaints, Facebook scaled back the amount of social reader articles being shared in newsfeeds.The Janrain app, according to press materials distributed this week, still allows for seamless sharing of articles viewed in a social reader but gives users a sense that they have more control over what they share and how they share it. Users who opt in to autosharing of all content will still have a second chance to make sure they don’t share it with all of their friends.“Unfortunately, the current crop [of social readers] has seen a backlash from users who don’t always understand that they are giving a website access to post about their activity online to their Facebook wall,” Larry Drebes, CEO of Janrain, said in a press release. Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro… The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videos dave copeland A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Audit Related Posts Tags:#Facebook#web How It WorksJanrain’s one-click sharing works like most other social readers: Users can choose to share stories one by one or opt in to autosharing. The key advantage is that when they opt in to autoshare all articles, they will see a timer on their screen that counts down before sharing the link on their Facebook timeline. That gives users a chance to think about whether they really want to share “Tips to Spice Up Your Love Life After 60.”Janrain and Facebook did not release screenshots or offer a demo of the product before the release was made official at 8 am ET Thursday. But Ben Foster, Senior Vice President and Digital Strategist at PR and marketing firm Ketchum, said that if the clock is prominent, it will be a big advantage over previous social readers, which have alienated both users and their friends.“The countdown timer could be the key product innovation here,” Foster said. “It’s easy to forget that you’ve enabled auto-sharing, and if that timer is designed well and easy to use, then users can both express themselves to their friends and also consume interesting content that they don’t want their friends to see.” Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verificationlast_img read more

Win a Copy of Looks 2.0 Powerful Color Grading Suite

first_imgGive your video projects a pro color treatment with Looks 2.0! Enter to win a copy – a $399 value!UPDATE: THE CONTEST HAS NOW ENDED.  Thanks to all who entered.Please follow us on Twitter and Facebook for info on future giveaways! teamed up with Red Giant Software, to give away a copy of Magic Bullet Looks 2.0, a full featured color correction suite!ABOUT MAGIC BULLET LOOKS 2.0Give your film or video project a unique style with Looks 2.0‘s powerful color correction and grading tools.  With an improved user interface and color correction features, Looks 2.0 offers grading tools above and beyond those in your current non-linear video editing application.  Choose from  over 100 unique color looks to add instant flair to your project or create a style that’s all your own Looks’ professional color correction tools like the 3-way color corrector, contrast ‘Pop’ and Ranged HSL (to fine tune a particular color in the frame).In addition, Red Giant Looks 2.0 includes a ‘Cosmo’ a tool for smoothing out skin tones and cleaning up blemishes – a quick trick for shedding years off your on-screen talent.Whether your project is SD or 4K+, Looks can process any resolution.  External monitor preview is now supported, so you can grade on a reference display.  The Looks 2.0 effects interface integrates with the majority of professional video editing applications:Adobe After Effects & Premiere ProApple Final Cut Pro X, Final Cut Pro & MotionSony Vegas ProAvid Media ComposerWhether you’re just looking to clean up the color in a corporate interview or you’re grading an entire feature film, Looks 2.0 has got you covered.Check out Red Giant’s Plot Device, a film that uses multiple Looks 2.0 presets for color grading:ABOUT RED GIANT SOFTWAREFor the last 10 years, Red Giant has been on the forefront of effects for film, television and web video.  From broadcast design to color correction, their product line consists of over 60 professional effects prod cuts.  You’ve likely seen feature films that utilized Red Giant effects – The Social Network, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Angels & Demons, among dozens of others.  Big thanks to Red Giant for sponsoring this giveaway!last_img read more