Opinion: Home Affairs Needs Attention

Various ward councillors and officials in the Randburg area held a site visit at the Randburg Department of Home Affairs on 8 April.

There they met with the management of the department to discuss the current state of the facilities.

In the past year, ward councillors worked hard to improve the parking area for visitors to the department. “There is still no proper waiting area for those who are coming to apply for their IDs, birth and marriage certificates,” said Ward 104 councillor Mike Wood.

Constituency Head Kate Lorimer said, “This particular home affairs covers a vast area of Johannesburg. We are all aware of how low the morale of the staff members are at the Randburg Home Affairs, and it tends to provide an unhappy experience for those coming to apply for various documents. There is an important project that needs to be undertaken by the government to upgrade this very busy Home Affairs.”

Wood continued, “In ward 104, I and my fellow ward 102 councillor David Potter are working hard to get this facility sorted out. Home Affairs have been in the press lately for all the wrong reasons, and this one is a prime example. The toilets and the kitchens are in a diabolical state, and the Department of Home Affairs needs to step up to the plate. The working conditions for staff leave a lot to be desired.”

Wood stated that the main aim of the visit was to see how facilities could be upgraded for both staff and visitors to make sure that the experience of coming to home affairs is a pleasant one for all.

Wood also said that there is a budget to improve both the Roodepoort and Randburg departments, but nothing has come to fruition as of yet.

“We need to start with improving the basics, for instance, waiting areas and abolition facilities. The services themselves are good, so good in fact that more and more people from the surrounding areas are making use of this home affairs and not ones closer to them,” Wood added.

During the meeting with home affairs officials, any plans to upgrade the facilities would take place during this financial year.

“Unfortunately, as ward councillors in this regard, we don’t have the power to physically handle the matter ourselves, and all we can do is push the Department of Home Affairs itself to take action.”

Member of the Provincial Legislature in Gauteng Makashule Gana added, “Another important issue to raise is the fact there are over 3 500 identity documents waiting to be collected. With huge elections just around the corner, we urge the community to collect their IDs to make sure they can vote on voting day.”

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

How to Survive a Long-haul Flight

With the development of the commercial aviation industry, non-stop flights have become longer — no one could have imagined back in the 1950s that the journey from the UK to Australia which was made of nine layovers would become a 17-hour direct flight. As an expat, you are probably travelling more often than the average person; it’s therefore important for your mental and physical well being to know how to manage discomfort during eight, ten, or seventeen hours of flying.

Reserve a seat that meets your needs

What is a good seat for you, isn’t necessary for your co-passenger. If you are the type of flyer who falls asleep before the takeoff and wakes up just before landing, definitely secure a window seat. Not only you won’t be disturbed by walking-down-the-aisle-passengers and crew members, but also you won’t make those sitting next to you feel uncomfortable for having to wake you up every time they need to use the lavatory. Exit seats offer some extra leg room, but you must be physically able and willing to perform emergency actions, as well as not accompanying children under the age of 15.

Wear comfortable clothes

Don’t make long-haul flights more tiring than what they already are by squeezing yourself in tight jeans or wearing synthetic materials which don’t let your skin breath. The ideal traveller’s outfit has layers to help you manage the changes in temperature throughout the journey, and is composed of wrinkle-resistant items. For example, wear trousers that stretch, a t-shirt, and a cardigan, and choose comfortable footwear — remember feet usually swell during air travel due to inactivity.

Pack your carry-on smartly

Unless you are travelling business or first-class, every inch of your limited space in the economy class is vital for your comfort. Thus, it’s crucial to use the space under the seat in front of you to stretch your legs rather than keep your handbag. To achieve this practicality, you should limit the amount of stuff you bring on board, and store, all except the necessary, in the overhead bin. Keep in the pocket in front of you your book, headphones, neck pillow, and a toilet kit. The rest, such as your laptop, scarf, or notebook, you can reach out for when needed — it’s a good opportunity also to stretch your legs.

Stay hydrated

The cabin air is cool and dry, and the humidity levels are between ten to 20% — lower than in the Sahara desert. However, the average human body is used to higher numbers of humidity (30 to 60%). To reduce the symptoms of dehydration and jet lag (e.g. fatigue, headaches, nausea), and to make up for the water your body loses during the flight, you should drink about a plastic airline cup of water for every flying hour. If you cannot resist the in-flight alcohol, keep in mind that alcoholic beverages don’t count towards dehydration; quite the contrary.

Be kind to cabin crew

Generally speaking, being kind to people who serve you is a principle. However, when you are at 30,000 feet altitude, you have some extra reasons to bring your best self to the plane. The more the flight attendants positively notice you, the better service you will get during the flight — yes, the extra blanket and snacks will feel like a much-needed luxury after the seventh hour of flying. So, put on your big smile, leave your stresses outside the cabin, and let the people in charge help you enjoy your flight.

Get some sleep

Sleeping is probably the best way to pass the time on a long-haul flight. However, the limited space, the noise, and often the nerves can make it difficult for you. To create a more comfortable space, recline your seat back after you have given the person behind you a heads up, slip off your shoes, and wrap yourself with the blanket to stay warm and cosy. Use your traveller’s accessories (neck pillow, sleep mask, earplugs or earphones) for extra comfort.

Move around

Getting into the habit of moving regularly during the flight is essential to help your blood flow, and prevent from the unpleasant symptoms of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is blood clots in the legs. Toilet breaks are an excellent opportunity also to stretch your legs, as long as you choose to use the most inaccessible lavatory which demands a longer walk down the aisle. Also, there are basic stretching exercises for flyers, such as pointing your toes, pulling your calves, and moving your ankles in round movements.

Expand your network

Spending many hours next to a stranger and facing the same uncomfortable conditions are good enough reasons to get to know this person. Initiating a conversation with your co-passenger can help you find out something new about your destination, or who knows? — Maybe this is the contact you have been longing to help you find accommodation or give you expat advice because they have been there done that. As an expat, you should get into the habit of expanding your social network with every given opportunity, and this is definitely a good one.

Complete a pending task

If you left your office in a hurry the day before, or you have yet to complete a freelance project whose deadline is approaching, you can use the flying hours to make some progress with your work. Make sure your laptop is fully charged, and that you can access your documents while offline if you don’t wish to pay the extra charges for in-flight Wi-Fi.

Enjoy the in-flight entertainment

In-flight entertainment is a guaranteed way to pass your time in a relaxed and fun way. Whether you decide to do a movie marathon, listen to your favourite music, or play candy storm, airlines have made sure there’s something for every taste and age. However, we strongly recommend you avoid watching the interactive map on your screen, which shows the route along with facts about your flight (e.g. altitude, outside temperature, hours left to go), as it has the opposite effect than helping the time pass by fast. The map is actually a reminder of how slow and restrictive the flying experience can be. These days, many planes have power outlets (even for economy seats), so you may even be able to power your own entertainment device, if you have something you’d rather watch than what’s on offer on the built-in screen.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: Expat.com [1], [2]. Image sources: Ashim D’Silva [1], [2].

Why Some South Africans are Moving to Mauritius, and How Much it Costs

The fast-growing and crime-free island nation of Mauritius is a good alternative for high net worth South Africans, says Brenthurst Wealth.

Speaking via the group’s ‘Strictly Business’ podcast, Gavin Butchart, a financial director at Brenthurst Wealth, said that Mauritius is good country for investors looking to diversify, particularly due to it’s attractive tax bracket with individuals and companies paying 15% – with no dividends tax, capital gains tax or estate duties.

The podcast discussed Mauritius, its advantages as an investment destination, as a place to live, and what South Africa can learn from the fastest growing African economy.

Citing a world bank report, Butchart, who lives in Mauritius, said that the country ranks highly for ease of use for doing business.

Advantages of moving to Mauritius include, economic growth, good schooling, low crime rates, and is politically stable, Butchart said, noting also that the country’s unemployment rate is below 7%.

To gain permanent residency, a person would need a minimum of $500,000 (R7 million). “That will get you permanent residency,” Butchart said.

He noted that there are additional means of entering the country – namely a retirement non-citizen permit, and a foreign investor permit.

Popular avenues of investment for foreigners looking to invest in Mauritius, and obtain residency, include:

  • Occupation Permit (OP) – a combined work and residence permit that allows foreign nationals to work and reside in Mauritius through an Initial investment of $100,000 in a business activity that should generate an annual turnover of at least MUR2 million (circa $58,000) for the first year and cumulative turnover of at least MUR10 million for the subsequent two years.
  • Residence Permit (RP) – a residence permit that allows foreign nationals to reside in Mauritius through the acquisition of a residential property under the Property Development Scheme (PDS) when he/she has invested more than $500,000 or its equivalent in any freely convertible foreign currency.
  • Permanent Residence Scheme (PRS) – foreign nationals investing more than $500,000 into the Permanent Resident Investment Fund (PRIF) for a period of 10 years are eligible for permanent residence, along with their spouse and children under 18 years of age. For children over 18, an additional deposit of $100,000 per person is required.
    Butchart said that homes prices vary depending on the island. He stressed that non residents are only able to buy into property development schemes.

According to Theo Pietersen, Seeff’s MD in Mauritius, the island country has become highly sought-after by local property buyers, some for residency purposes, but increasingly for holiday/second homes, retirement and relocation.

“Mauritius is fast becoming a second home for South Africans and with the recent changes in the Mauritian government’s property investment legislation, it is now a lot easier to invest in residential and commercial property on the island and there is an increased amount of developments available for SA buyers to invest in, both residential and commercial,” he said.

He added that the country now boasts top-class infrastructure including an excellent banking sector, strong economic growth and a favourable investment and tax climate and is regarded as one of the easiest places to do business in.

Pietersen said that property on the island is also regarded as an excellent investment and if you invest early, you can generally benefit from excellent capital growth.

However, there are limited opportunities to invest, especially in prime seafront developments, he said.

Pietersen said that finance is available from both South African banks as well as in Mauritius at interest rates of 7% to 9%, but with 40% cash deposit requirements.

He added that South Africans tend to invest between MUR 6,500,000 and MUR 20,000,000 which equates to approximately R2,628,000 to R8,100,000.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: Guillaume Baudusseau [1], [2].

Opinion: In Africa, Innovation in Early Learning Starts With Political Will and Investment

In 2015, the international community came together and committed to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) – seventeen goals for global development to be achieved by 2030. And number four on this list: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, also known as SDG4. By 2030 world leaders pledged to ensure all girls and boys would have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education.

In the months and years that followed, leader after leader proclaimed their commitment to these goals and to early education, citing not least the economic and social benefits arising from such investments. Yet the rhetoric does not match the reality.

Investing just $1 in early childhood care and education can yield a return as high as $17 for the most disadvantaged children. Yet globally, 150 million children are still denied this fundamental stage in their learning and development – the key to giving them the best start in life.

So what can we do? There are two crucial ingredients for making early childhood education a reality: political will and investment. First, governments must be sufficiently convinced that investment in early learning is a smart investment. Second, governments – and the international community supporting development – must invest. Unfortunately, the latter is far from realised.

While the cost of early learning in low-and-middle-income countries is estimated to be some $144 billion annually by 2030, countries are investing just one-quarter of the amount necessary in the youngest members of society. Even more shocking than this has been the international community’s response.

Just two years after committing to the SDGs, despite the rhetoric, a new report produced by Theirworld with the in collaboration with the Research for Equitable Access and Learning (REAL) Centre at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, Leaving the youngest behind, reveals Overseas Development Aid to pre-primary education has decreased by 27 percent between 2015 and 2017, from US$94.8 million to US$68.8 million

This occurred against a backdrop of a more general increase in aid to education: over this period total aid to education rose by 11 percent, indicating that political commitment, as measured by the share of education aid to the early years, is wavering.

The analysis reveals the shocking reality that 16 of the top 25 donors to the education sector have either given nothing or reduced their previous spending on pre-primary education since the introduction of the SDG targets.

Total international aid combined amounts to just $0.27 per child per year for early education – woefully inadequate compared to the estimated cost of approximately $400 per child per year. The numbers are even more shocking for marginalised children caught up in conflict zones, where total aid reaches a mere $0.17 per child per year. This occurs in many in locations where other sources of education finance are severely limited.

In the poorest countries, even after domestic resource mobilisation efforts are maximised, many will be left unable to fund half their education budgets, making international aid vitally important. In these countries, grant and concessional financing through funders such as UNICEF, the World Bank, the Global Partnership for Education and the Education Cannot Wait fund, are extremely important.

Yet these institutions have failed to reach the recommended 10 percent of their education budgets dedicated to early years. For instance, the World Bank, while the largest financier of pre-primary education, contributes just 1.3 percent of its total education budget to pre-primary education – just over $15 million.

This is down from 3 percent two years earlier. Despite leading the scorecard on the proportion of education aid the early learning, UNICEF still falls short of the 10 percent target. The Global Partnership for Education stands at just half the target, or 5 percent of its grant funding devoted to the early years.

Beyond grant aid, there is a larger problem in lower-middle income countries where the needs are much greater given the sheer population and size compared to low-income countries. In these countries, less than 1 percent of the $40 billion available through the multilateral development bank system is allocated to education. Within that, the funding to early education is even more scarce.

For this reason, the International Finance Facility for Education is an important innovation which could unlock more than $10 billion for SDG4 and place early learning front and centre. The Facility, now being taken forward by the World Bank, regional development banks, donor countries and United Nations System, could be operational by January 2020.

Through its innovative use of guarantees and grant financing, the scale of financing for education in lower-middle income countries could multiply by four when directed through the Facility.

The potential of this new funding instrument would be a game-changer for early learning. If its founders agree that investing in the youngest children should be a priority, by reaching the 10 percent investment target in the early years, another $1 billion could be unlocked for early education in countries around the world, financing approximately 2.5 million places for early learners.

This new facility would also help countries ranging from Pakistan and Kenya to Guatemala and Cote D’Ivoire to unleash the potential of the next generation through strong early learning programs, placing the Sustainable Development Goal in closer reach and reversing the trend where the youngest citizens of the world have been missing out.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: Feliphe Schiarolli [1], Iñaki del Olmo [2].

Accelerating ICT Development in Africa, Together

At a recent African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, African Heads of State directed their information and communication technology (ICT) Ministers to develop a common strategic framework for Africa-wide digital priorities and initiatives. In response to this request and consultations with Ministers present in Addis Ababa, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) hosted a special meeting of ICT Ministers from across Africa on 29 March at the ITU Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Ministers discussed how to boost ICT development, how to attract and encourage further ICT investment, and how to work together to facilitate new partnership opportunities so that Africa can reap the best benefits of the digital economy.

“The Ministers are at the forefront of building a new, digital Africa that leverages the tremendous potential of digital technologies to improve lives,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao.

The Ministers reviewed inputs submitted by the Ministers themselves and discussed how to build a common strategic framework and roadmap for action and coordination.

The meeting took into account proposals on key areas such as: infrastructure, investment, digital transformation (including digital platforms and services), digital skills and entrepreneurship, cybersecurity, a common digital market — and policy and regulatory imperatives that cut across all these areas.

The Ministers wished to continue the discussions in the future.

“I am very pleased with our preliminary outcomes on how to build a framework to work together across the continent,” said Mr Zhao. “I am eager to see this discussion develop, knowing that common frameworks can help overcome the hurdles to investment that can often stifle progress. Let’s work together to make this vision a reality.”

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].