Monthly Archives: March 2016

28 MW Genius Tracker™ Ordered from GameChange Solar for ...

NEW YORK, March 30, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — GameChange Solar announced that it has received an order from a leading nationwide developer/installer for a 28 MW Genius Tracker™ single axis tracker system to be installed in the southeastern United States in the second quarter.

Lizzy Aldridge, Director of Business Development for GameChange Solar, stated: “Power density and fast installation are helping Genius Tracker™ win large utility scale orders. We expect to see accelerated demand worldwide as customers learn about the unparalleled value and installation speed of Genius Tracker™.”

Genius Tracker(TM) in Western USA.

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Changing The Game for Single Axis Solar Trackers

Breakthrough Technology Enables Lowest Cost and Highest Reliability Tracker with Fastest Install and Lowest O&M Cost

Black & Veatch Technical Assessment, CPP Wind Tunnel Tested and Rated 150mph, ETL/UL 2703 Testing Completed April 2016

Highest Power Density of Any Single Axis Tracker, 99.3% Panel Density on Rows Vs. 94.0% Best Competitor

GameChange Solar logo.

Robust Linear Actuator Drive System Has 40 Year Operating Life and is IP 66 Rated for Operation in Harsh Environmental Conditions

Every Drive Actuator Has its Own Battery Backup and Wirelessly Linked Controllers, Eliminating All Trenching, Tru3D-Gimbal™ Bearings Account for Pile Installation Being Out of Plumb, Out of Azimuth and Out of Vertical & East-West Alignment

Self-Powered Rows Eliminate Central Drive, Allow for Uninterrupted Grass Cutting and Panel Washing

10 Person Crew Installs 1.70 MW Trackers and Panels Per Week

About GameChange Solar

GameChange Solar LLC manufactures fixed tilt and tracker solar racking systems. GameChange systems are able to combine fast installation, bankable quality and unbeatable value through superior engineering, innovative design and high volume manufacturing.

GameChange Solar LLC

South Africa: I Am Being Investigated By Hawks – Madonsela

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela revealed on Thursday that she was being investigated by the Hawks.

“I would celebrate if the NPA [National Prosecuting Authority] and the Hawks at least by tonight would send a report that says they will stop investigating me,” she told reporters in Pretoria.

“You do know I am being investigated with a potential of prosecution for holding this view that my powers are binding.”

Madonsela was briefing the media following the Constitutional Court’s ruling earlier on Thursday that Zuma had acted inconsistently with the Constitution when he failed to comply with the Public Protector’s remedial action on the upgrades to his Nkandla homestead. It also found that Madonsela’s remedial action was binding. Zuma had to personally pay back the money for some of the upgrades, following a determination by the National Treasury.

The Constitutional Court also found that the National Assembly had acted incorrectly when it set aside Madonsela’s report.

Madonsela said on Thursday that she was hoping to get a final answer from the Hawks on the investigation.

“They have put a very senior team from the Hawks, which is supposed to investigate organised crime, to investigate what I said. If this will trigger them giving me a report that says I’m not a criminal, I’m a public protector, I will be happy.”

Source: News24


KAMPALA, March 31 — Uganda’s Transport and Works Ministry has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with its South African transport counterparts to provide for the sharing of knowledge and experiences between the two sides to build better road and air and water infrastructure networks in the two countries.

The MoU signed here Wednesday will also facilitate Ugandan civil construction companies entering into joint ventures with South African companies to improve the transport networks in the two countries.

Speaking at the signing ceremony at the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Kampala, Works Minister John Byabagambi said: “This MoU is very special. We shall have working committees (from the two countries) sitting bi-annually to discuss how best we can solve the challenges of traffic to create better transport systems.

“There is a lot Uganda can learn from South Africa, for instance from their electronic tolling system. And, there is a lot they can learn from us, like our solar-powered bus innovation,” he said.

“We have to explore the idea (of electronic tolling system) because we want good quality transport infrastructure. And good quality transport infrastructure is expensive. So, we would want our citizens to contribute, not only the governments,” said South African Transport Minister Dipuo Peters.

“We need to find a solution to traffic congestion. Because the longer we stay stuck in traffic queues the more our vehicles continue to emit these (toxic) gases into the air.”

The signing of the MoU came after bilateral talks between the two countries which discussed an array of issues affecting their transport systems


BMW Group And United Nations Alliance Of Civilizations (UNAOC) ...

NEW YORK and MUNICH, March 30, 2016 /PRNewswire/– Ten projects have been named finalists by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and BMW Group for the Intercultural Innovation Award. The selection process was highly competitive, with close to 1000 applications received from 120 countries.

Selected projects come from all over the world, representing countries across five continents and underlining the importance of the Intercultural Innovation Award and its commitment to the worldwide promotion of intercultural diversity and understanding.

Finalists this year include (in alphabetical order): The Blessing Basket Project (USA), The Coexist Initiative (Kenya), Give Something Back to Berlin e.V. (Germany), International Council for Cultural Centers (Bulgaria), On Our Radar (UK), Red Dot Foundation (India), Routes 2 Roots (India), Shine a Light (Brazil/USA), SINGA (France) and Unistream (Israel).

By supporting sustainable and innovative intercultural grassroots projects with the potential for expansion and replication, the Intercultural Innovation Award aims to contribute to peace, cultural diversity and more inclusive societies.  Launched in 2011, the Intercultural Innovation Award is the result of a unique public-private partnership between UNAOC and the BMW Group. This model of collaboration between the United Nations and the private sector creates deeper impact, as both partners provide their respective expertise to ensure the sustainable growth of each project.

Final rankings will be announced during the 7th Global Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations to be held in Baku, Azerbaijan, April 25-27, 2016. The official award ceremony will take place on 26 April and will be chaired by H.E. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, and Bill McAndrews, Vice President BMW Group Communications Strategy, Corporate and Market Communications, in the presence of a number of officials from the host Government and the United Nations.

In case of enquiries please contact:

Milena Pighi, BMW Group, Spokesperson BMW Group Corporate Social Responsibility
Telephone: +49-89-382-66563, Fax: +49-89-382-24418,

Alessandro Girola, UNAOC, Programming Coordinator
Telephone: +1- 929-274-6217, Fax: +1-929-274-6233,


IS ‘Cyrillic Jihadists’ Create Their Own Community in ...

Over 5,000 jihadists from the Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan are fighting in the ranks of the so-called Islamic State militant group in the Middle East. These Russian-speaking Muslims not only play a major role within the IS leadership, but also have built a community of their own in the areas controlled by the extremist group. In fact, they are now raising their children to be a second generation of jihadists, sources say.

Russian-speaking Jihadists are the second largest group of foreigners fighting for IS. The number of jihadists from Central Asia and Russia joining IS has increased by as much as 300 percent since June 2014, according to a report by the New York City-based Soufan Group.

While their rituals, customs, race, and ethnic background may vary, members of this group have at least one thing in common that distinguishes them from other jihadists: they can read and write fluently in Cyrillic script, given that the now-independent countries of their birth were for decades dominated by the Soviet Union, which used Russian as its lingua franca.

Most of these so-called “Cyrillic Jihadists” have settled near the Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto IS capital, and their areas have developed into real communities with certain habits and rituals. Residents can hear Friday prayers in Russian at the Abubakr Dagestani mosque. Adults can attend at the Abu Muslim Islamic school to study Arabic and Quranic thought. Children study math and the Quran at a Russian-language school run by the foreign fighter brigade headed by Abu Hanif Jamaat, a native of Dagestan in Russia’s North Caucasus region. Homesick wives of the jihadists can shop for products from their home countries at the “Univermag” Russian store.

“The Russian-speaking jihadists formed a community of their own within IS,” said Salem al-Hammoud, a civic activist from the IS-controlled Syrian city of Deir Ezzor who is currently based in Turkey. IS has fighters from all over the world, including North Africa and Europe, “but there’s a significant percentage that comes from the former Soviet republics,” he said.

“These fighters are very different from others in terms of discipline and military training comparing to their Arab and African counterparts,” Al-Hammoud said, adding that the IS leadership appoints them to important posts “because they are tough and they do not sympathize with locals.” Since they do not mingle with other jihadists, he said, IS leaders view them as “a very reliable, resilient force.”

Fighters from the Caucasus region, Central Asia and Russia are linked by their knowledge of Russian. “There is evidence that the Russian-speaking fighters train together,” said Edward Lemon, a researcher at the University of Exeter in Britain. “Russian-speaking fighters, most notably the late Abu Omar al-Shishani, have risen to the top of the ranks of IS. Given their combat experience, fighters from the North Caucasus are regarded as particularly strong fighters.”

Abu Omar al-Shishani, born Tarkhan Batirashvili, was an ethnic Chechen from Georgia who served in the Georgian Army during its brief war against Russia in 2008 before becoming a top IS commander in Syria. He died from wounds sustained in a U.S. airstrike conducted in Syria in early March.

Not mercenaries

Contrary to the common belief that these fighters joined IS to make money, many of them see IS-controlled territory in Syria as their home and do not consider themselves mercenaries.

Babajon Karabayev, a former IS fighter who returned to Tajikistan, said that these fighters call the Islamic State home. Karabayev was looking for a job in Russia due to the bad economy in his home country. Frustrated with the Russian job market, he fell into the IS recruiting network. “Many fight for money, but most are there for their ideology,” he said. He received some money, but left the group because he was not as steadfast in his convictions as others.

A tax-free income stream is an incentive to join IS, but not enough to keep someone in its ranks over the longer term. “IS propaganda stresses the positives of living in the Caliphate – brotherhood among fellow Muslims and the idea of building a pure Islamic State,” said Lemon. “There is limited evidence that money is a driver for recruitment, but it certainly plays some role.”

IS recruiters exploit the lack of social support for Central Asian immigrants in Russia. “Many are recruited from migrant worker communities in Russia, as the lack of a supportive community there opens the door to recruitment,” says Catherine Putz, a U.S.-based journalist and researcher. “There are also economic factors involved, as extremist groups often tempt recruits with promises of money.”

Identity crisis

The fact that people like Abu Omar al-Shishani and Gulmurod Halimov, a U.S.-trained police colonel in Tajikistan who went to the Middle East and joined Islamic State, have become top IS members has created a sense of belonging for Russian-speaking Muslims, who suffered an identity crisis in their home countries. According to the Soufan Group, a majority of the “Cyrillic Jihadists” come the North Caucasus – particularly Chechnya and Dagestan, areas with long histories of Islamic extremism.

Rashot Kamalov, the imam of the Al-Sarahsiy Mosque in Kyrgyzstan who encouraged his followers to join IS in Syria, was sentenced to a five-year jail term for “inciting religious hatred” and “possessing extremist materials” in February 2015.

But Kamalov remains popular with some young Kyrgyz Muslims.

“Not only Kyrgyz but other youngsters with Islamic tendencies from Chechnya, Dagestan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan have been exposed to this idea and have embraced it as a form of self-expression,” says Noah Tucker, managing director of, a website the focuses on Central Asia, the Caucasus, and South Asia. “They come to believe that the Islamic State is the Islamic utopia they were chasing for years. Most of the recruiting material from ISIS aimed at Central Asians in Russia actually focuses almost exclusively on identity – ‘You are Muslims, and your problems are caused by those who oppress Muslims’ – and offers it both as an explanation for what potential recruits have suffered in life and as a solution , presenting ISIS as the ‘Muslim counterforce’ to this oppression.”

Islamic utopia, Russian style

Although Russia has clearly sided with President Bashar al-Assad in what it calls “the fight against terrorists in Syria,” some observers claim that Russian authorities have encouraged local jihadists to depart for Syria. Nadir Medetov, a 32-year-old Dagestani Salafist who was arrested by the Russian security services in October 2014 on charges of illegally possessing illegal firearms turned up in Syria four months later. Some experts believe that Medetov was able to escape to Syria not due to a lapse in security, but because of a deliberate Kremlin strategy to send the most troublesome members of society to hotspots abroad.

“There are reports arguing that the Russian government took a very active role in helping jihadists and potential militants leave the Caucasus to go fight in Syria – where, as it turned out, the Russian air force was able to bomb them with a level of impunity they cannot implement in the Caucasus anymore,” said’s Noah Tucker. Russian Defense Sergei Shoigu recently claimed that his forces killed more than 2,000 Russian jihadists in Syria.

Future cannon fodder

The Russian-speaking jihadists see IS as a lifestyle choice and even a long-term plan for the future, which is why they try to raise their children to be the next generation of jihadists. In the Russian-language schools in IS-controlled territory, the children of the Russian-speaking jihadists are subjected to brainwashing and discipline by uncompromising Muslim scholars. Some Muslim families in Central Asian countries send their children to IS territory in the Middle East for what they think will be a better life. According to a recent report by Kyrgyzstan’s internal affairs ministry, 85 children under the age of 10 and 36 teenagers left Kyrgyzstan for Syria during the last few months.

Source: Voice of America

South Africa and the United Arab Emirates take trade and economic ...

President Jacob Zuma’s Working Visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has taken trade and economic relations between South Africa and the UAE to a higher level, said the President on his return to South Africa.

The President arrived back in Pretoria this afternoon, 29 March 2016.

His Working Visit has further cemented the strong bond of friendship and strategic bilateral relations between South Africa and the UAE, which is characterized by the exchange of several high-level visits, a high level of trade and economic interaction, multiple daily flights between the UAE and three South African cities as well as a large number of South Africans including nurses, construction workers and others live and work in the UAE.

The State Visit by President Zuma in November 2011 culminated in the establishment of SA-UAE Joint Commission and further accelerated total trade momentum between the two countries from R13 billion in 2011 to R27 billion in 2015. By 2015, a total of 14 FDI projects from the UAE were recorded representing almost R3 billion.

The Inaugural Session of the Joint Commission was held in Abu Dhabi on 30-31 August 2015, co-chaired by the Minister of State of the United Arab Emirates, Ms Reem Ebrahim Al-Hashimi and the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.

Later this year, South Africa will host the second SA-UAE Joint Commission aimed at measuring progress in targeted sectors of the bilateral relationship and to manage and direct the implementation of mutually agreed upon bilateral programmes.

“We are particularly pleased that this Working Visit has further enhanced political and economic relations between our two countries, in particular in the commercial, trade and investment sectors, as well as people-to- people and cultural interaction, including the promotion of South Africa as a top tourism destination for visitors from the Gulf region,” said President Zuma.

President Zuma held official talks with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

“South Africa and the UAE have maintained a strong bilateral relationship since formal diplomatic ties were first established in 1994. Our relationship has a strong economic focus, and the UAE has become our main importing partner within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Many South African companies are benefitting from opportunities in the UAE in a variety of sectors,” added President Zuma.

The meeting afforded the President an opportunity to outline the state of the South African economy, with a focus on the promotion of South Africa’s infrastructure development priorities in accordance with the National Development Plan (NDP) and UAE involvement in this respect.

The official talks also presented an opportunity to exchange views on recent political developments in the Middle East, the Middle East Peace Process, as well as the threat of global terrorism and extremism.

Both leaders agreed that bilateral relations between the two countries had grown tremendously since President Zuma’s last visit in 2011 and renewed their commitment towards the consolidation and elevation of bilateral relations, particularly in the trade, investment and economic fields into a comprehensive strategic partnership.

South Africa and the UAE agreed to work towards considering South Africa as a strategic partner on the African continent and a preferred investment destination and primary trade partner.

They will further expand cooperation to take advantage of opportunities of the Ocean Economy, promote the export of South African agricultural products, agro-processed, manufactured products and particularly defence procurement and partnerships.

The visit will also promote South African infrastructure building capacity regarding opportunities for South African companies at EXPO 2020 in Dubai, as well as cooperation in the field of peace, security and stability.

Whilst in Dubai, the President addressed a meeting of a business delegation where he emphasised the importance of creating a platform to enhance Business-to Business cooperation in order to increase South African exports to the UAE market and attract UAE investors to South Africa.

President Zuma stated that: “There are a number of South African companies that are investing in Dubai and are performing very well. UAE companies are also interested in investing more in South Africa. We therefore agreed that South African and UAE companies should increase their interaction and activities. South African companies indicated that they are keen to invest in areas in the UAE, particularly in Dubai, where we believe they could contribute to the growth of these sectors.”

“We encouraged UAE business and investors in South Africa to play a more prominent role in investing in major renewable energy projects; agriculture; mineral beneficiation; and the ocean economy,” said the President.

President Zuma was accompanied in his Working Visit by Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation; Mr David Mahlobo, Minister of State Security; Dr Rob Davies, Minister of Trade and Industry; Mr Malusi Gigaba, Minister of Home Affairs and Mr Nathi Nhleko, Minister of Police.

Enquiries: Bongani Majola on 082 339 1993 or

Issued by: The Presidency


Source: Republic of South Africa The Presidency


JOHANNESBURG, March 29 — South African power utility Eskom says it is ready to face the Organization Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA), a consumer activist group, in court after OUTA threatened to seek an urgent interdict in the High Court in Pretoria to stop a 9.4 per cent electricity tariff hike.

The increase, which has been approved by the Energy Regulator, is due to come into effect on April 1.

Eskom Spokesman Khulu Phasiwe said here Monday that OUTA had the right to express their views.

“OUTA like everyone else have the right to go to the court to express their views but all we know is that OUTA was part of the organizations and individuals that have made their deliberations at the NERSA (National Energy Regulator of South Africa) hearings here in Johannesburg and NERSA took most of the comments made by the observers and presenters there,” said Phasiwe.

“When they made their decision they’ve actually taken into account all of those comments, but if OUTA wants to take this matter further, maybe to the court, I suppose we will meet there.”

Source: SABC

South Africa: Cops Watching Alex Pikitup Drama Closely

By Jeff Wicks, News24

Police are monitoring Alexandra following attacks on temporary Pikitup workers as they tried to clean up rubbish in the township on Sunday night.

Officers had been deployed to strategic locations, police spokesperson Major Mack Mngomezulu said on Monday.

“We are monitoring the situation closely, and after we made some arrests last night the people seemed to calm down. We believe that some of the people who attacked the temporary staff are permanently employed by Pikitup,” he said.

Several refuse trucks were attacked and one worker was stabbed while collecting rubbish. One truck suffered damage estimated at R15 000.

The City of Johannesburg said on its Twitter page that nine of its trucks were attacked while collecting refuse in the township, and two people were arrested.

Pikitup spokespeople could not immediately be reached for comment.

About 3000 Pikitup workers affiliated to the SA Municipal Workers Union had been striking illegally for two weeks. They wanted inconsistencies in salary grades addressed and the company’s managing director Amanda Nair to resign.

Source: News24