Linda Nordling

Cape Town — South Africa is spearheading activities to collect and curate research data about the African continent in an effort to shrug off its data-poor image.

fibre opticA prototype of the World Data Centre on Biodiversity and Human Health in Africa was presented at The Committee on Data for Science and Technology’s (CODATA) international conference in Cape Town recently.

The data centre, due to be launched early next year, will join the ranks of more than 50 world data centres – most of which are located in the United States, Europe and East Asia – which collect data in subjects like astronomy, geomagnetism and solar activity. The centres are currently being integrated into an overarching World Data Service.

Data on biodiversity and health in Africa is currently scattered around the world. The new centre aims to collect all this data into a single, online, resource that could be useful for African policymakers.

It will help researchers identify gaps in existing data and find historical data to compare to new findings, said Wim Hugo, a data expert from the South African Environmental Observation Network and one of the centre’s architects.

Users will also be able to layer different sets of data on top of one another, he said. For example, researchers could be able to call up a map of climate change projections (e.g. rainfall, temperature) and then the data on mosquito populations to get an idea of where mosquitoes are likely to be affected by climate change.

South Africa is also taking the lead in other data-gathering efforts. Last month, the US NASA space agency sent more than 30 terabytes (30,000 gigabytes) of free Earth science satellite data to South African researchers to support sustainable development and environmental applications.

Source:scidev.net/en/    Image: africanincubatornetwork

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Cape Town — Massmart has received written notice from US firm Wal-Mart of its firm intention to make an all cash offer to acquire a 51 percent stake in the SA retailer.

WalMartThe board said on recently it was “unanimous” in support of the proposed deal, which would see Wal-Mart pay R148 per ordinary share, but it still needed the support of a two-thirds majority of shareholders and the South African authorities.

“The Massmart board has considered the terms of the offer and the opinion of [bankers] Morgan Stanley, the independent advisor and is unanimous in its support for the proposed transaction. The total transaction is valued at approximately R17 billion for 51 percent of Massmart,” the retailer said in a statement.

It said offers on comparable terms were being extended to the beneficiaries of the employee share trust, the Thuthukani trust and the black scarce skills trust.

“These offers will be inter-conditional with the offer to ordinary shareholders.”

The board said the offer from Wal-Mart followed a rigorous due diligence process.

“There are still a number of important conditions that need to be fulfilled before the transaction can be implemented. These include amongst others two thirds majority shareholder support (75 percent) and approval from the South African competition authorities.”

Massmart CEO Grant Pattison said the offer was a sign of confidence in the local economy and could create new jobs.

“This is a milestone in Massmart’s history and is a vote of confidence not only in Massmart and our employees, but also in the strong growth potential of South Africa and the continent.

Source: sapa.co.za/                                 Image: Jared C. Benedict

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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa could produce its first solar power from a solar park by 2012, a senior official said recently.

Africa’s largest economy is increasingly looking towards renewable energy sources to help plug a chronic power shortage and decrease its dependence on the coal-fired power stations that provide most of its electricity.

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