Flash Briefing: Finally, CR takes steps to ease Eskom crisis; new SAA partner; Oxford’s Rhodes outcry

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  • South Africa’s government will allow private investors and companies to build their own power plants with up to 100 megawatts of generating capacity without a license, up from a previous limit of 1 megawatt, reports Bloomberg. The move should help ease energy shortages that have hobbled Africa’s most-industrialized economy since 2005.“There is no doubt that the prospect of a continued energy shortfall and further load-shedding presents a massive risk to our economy,” President Cyril Ramaphosa. His announcement comes amid an outcry over rolling power cuts amid higher winter demand for power.
  • While South Africa has the highest number of Covid-19 infections on the continent, it is struggling to accelerate its vaccination drive, says Bloomberg. So far just 1.52 million people in the nation of 60 million have received a vaccine dose. Of those about 480,000 are health workers that received the single dose J&J vaccine, while the rest are mostly elderly people who got the first of two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, says the news service.
  • South Africa’s government has found a strategic equity partner for state-owned carrier South African Airways, according to three people familiar with the matter, says Bloomberg. Details of the announcement are expected on Friday morning, says Bloomberg, which notes that Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan was scheduled to brief the media on the matter Thursday, before postponing to the following day. The expected announcement comes about six weeks after the airline emerged from lengthy bankruptcy proceedings, having reduced its workforce by almost 80%. The next challenge is to resume international flights, though South Africa remains cut off from much of the world due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.
  • More than 150 Oxford dons are boycotting Oriel College and refusing to teach its students in protest at its decision to keep the Cecil Rhodes statue, The Telegraph can reveal. “It is the latest incident in the culture wars engulfing British universities and comes amid a growing fallout over a decision to remove the Queen’s portrait at neighbouring Magdalen College. It comes three weeks after Oriel’s governing body ruled that the controversial statue of Rhodes will not be taken down from the college’s main facade.” Following the decision, some of the university’s geography academics published a statement saying it was a “source of shame” for Oxford that Rhodes was still “honoured” with a statue, says the newspaper. The initiation of a boycott is the most drastic action that any dons have yet taken over the issue.
  • A small group of workers will find something new in their 401(k) plan starting in July: the option to invest in cryptocurrency, reports BizNews Premium partner The Wall Street Journal. “ForUsAll Inc., a 401(k) provider, announced earlier this month a deal with the institutional arm of Coinbase Global, a leading cryptocurrency exchange, that will allow workers in plans it administers to invest up to 5% of their 401(k) contributions in bitcoin, ether, litecoin, and others.”
  • US consumer prices continued to climb strongly in May, surging 5% from a year ago to reach the highest annual inflation rate in nearly 13 years, says The Wall Street Journal. “Whether the pickup in inflation proves temporary is a key question for the US economy and financial markets. A sustained, large increase in inflation could compel the central bank to tighten its easy-money policies earlier than it had planned, or to react more aggressively later, to achieve its 2% average inflation goal.”

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