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12.30.11

Cablegate: Microsoft’s Friends at Frost and Sullivan Bash South Africa’s Migration to Free Software

Posted in Africa, Cablegate at 1:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Cablegate

Summary: More cables from South Africa and new information that they provide

Frost and Sullivan, a familiar source of anti-FOSS, pro-Microsoft FUD, brings back memories of South Africa's interesting podcast where experts claimed that Microsoft buddies did a lot of work to derail the government’s migration to Free software. According to the following Cablegate cable, the FUD from Frost and Sullivan is bordering the ridiculous. To them, Internet speed if an impediment of Free software development. What utter crock. From the Cablegate cable: “High cost of internet access is stifling South Africa’s software development industry and thwarting the SAG’s open source procurement policy and commitment to use locally developed software. According to Linda McDonald, an analyst for Frost and Sullivan, the SAG’s plan to save million of rands yearly by cutting out annual software license fees, boost local skills and create more jobs as developers are hired to modify open source software to suit the government’s needs, is a false hope unless the cost of Internet access drops. Unless developers can spend numerous hours in online discussions at an affordable rate, they will not be able to create the necessary programs for the SAG’s software. (Business Day, September 25, 2007)”

What utter nonsense. So accessing forums is the impediment for Free software implementation and the primary cost constraint? This sounds so made up that one might consider it a hoax. A sceptic might ask, how can we know she was not sincere? Well, there is an implicit suggestion there that Free software needs a lot of querying (as though proprietary software needs none), that online forums/E-mail are bandwidth intensive, and that the country is not talented enough for the task (Microsoft used the same insulting talking points and it backfired). So if Linda McDonald was honest, she should probably be fired. But we gave examples of some other Microsoft proxies (like Computing Technology Industry Association) that did similar things to have South Africa abandon its ODF and FOSS plans. It’s like a cult assault. Here is another cable from the same nation. From ¶3: “One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is a nonprofit initiative launched by MIT Media Labs’ Nicholas Negroponte to donate low-cost and rugged notebook computers to poor children of the third world. (For details see http://laptop.org and http://wiki.laptop.org.) The resulting “XO” machine is designed for kids: smaller and lighter than regular PCs, with a waterproof keyboard sized to small fingers, and a carrying handle. Its bright colors prompt comparison to Fischer- Price toys. The XO’s screen resolution is sharp, however, and it comes loaded with an open-source operating system and software ranging from a web browser to e-book reader and puzzle games, as well as applications for word processing, drawing, and composing music. A built-in video camera and wireless modem enable video chat with other users.”

Here is another interesting cable from South Africa. The two newer ones (to us) are:



VZCZCXRO3994
RR RUEHDU RUEHJO
DE RUEHSA #3538/01 2820641
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 090641Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2184
RUCPCIM/CIMS NTDB WASHDC
RUCPDC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHJO/AMCONSUL JOHANNESBURG 7593
RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN 4938
RUEHDU/AMCONSUL DURBAN 9252

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 PRETORIA 003538 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR AF/S/RMARBURG; AF/EPS; EB/IFD/OMA 
USDOC FOR 4510/ITA/MAC/AME/OA/DIEMOND 
TREASURY FOR OAISA/RALYEA/CUSHMAN 
USTR FOR COLEMAN 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: ECON [Economic Conditions], EFIN [Financial and Monetary Affairs], EINV [Foreign Investments], 
ETRD [Foreign Trade], EMIN [Minerals and Metals], EPET [Petroleum and Natural Gas], ENRG [Energy and Power],
 BEXP [Trade Expansion and Promotion], KTDB [National Trade Data Bank], SENV [Environmental Affairs], 
PGOV [Internal Governmental Affairs], SF [South Africa] 
SUBJECT: SOUTH AFRICA ECONOMIC NEWS WEEKLY NEWSLETTER OCOTOBER 5, 
2007 ISSUE 
 
 
¶1. (U) Summary.  This is Volume 7, issue 40 of U.S. Embassy 
Pretoria's South Africa Economic News weekly newsletter. 
 
Topics of this week's newsletter are: 
- Trade Deficit Disappoints Market 
- Internet Costs Stifle SAG Open Source Policy 
- Car Sales Decline Again 
- Critic Claims Climate Consciousness Dims at Energy Summit 
- Biofuel Won't Burn Food Prices 
- SARB Transparent Despite Personal Cost 
- Completing the Supply Chain 
- AngloGold Still Optimistic About Fatality-Free Deep-Level Mining 
 
End Summary. 
 
-------------------------------- 
Trade Deficit Disappoints Market 
-------------------------------- 
¶2.  (U) South Africa's trade deficit in August totaled R9.1 billion, 
barely changed from last month and well above forecasts.  The trade 
gap suggests the current account deficit could widen further, 
putting additional pressure on the rand.  Exports rose .8% while 
imports increased .1% compared with July.  The cumulative deficit 
for the calendar year is R50.1 billion, a significant increase over 
the R41.6 billion deficit for the same period last year.  With the 
strength of the rand eroding the appeal of exports and an 
infrastructure plan boosting the need for imports of machinery and 
equipment, South Africa's international trade position "is still 
very weak," according to Efficient Research Economist Nico Kelder. 
(Business Day, October 1, 2007) 
 
----=--------------------------------------- 
Internet Costs Stifle SAG Open Source Policy 
-------------------------------------------- 
¶3. (U) High cost of internet access is stifling South Africa's 
software development industry and thwarting the SAG's open source 
procurement policy and commitment to use locally developed software. 
 According to Linda McDonald, an analyst for Frost and Sullivan, the 
SAG's plan to save million of rands yearly by cutting out annual 
software license fees, boost local skills and create more jobs as 
developers are hired to modify open source software to suit the 
government's needs, is a false hope unless the cost of Internet 
access drops.  Unless developers can spend numerous hours in online 
discussions at an affordable rate, they will not be able to create 
the necessary programs for the SAG's software.  (Business Day, 
September 25, 2007) 
 
----------------------- 
Car Sales Decline Again 
----------------------- 
¶4. (U) New vehicle sales continued their decline, plunging in August 
by 13% compared with August 2006.  This is the biggest fall in 
nearly five years and marks the sixth monthly decline in a row. 
Annual sales year-to-date are down by 3.2%.  In the year to last 
month, sales for passenger cars and commercial vehicles plunged 
14.1% and 11%, respectively.  Heavy commercial vehicles increased, 
reflecting heavy public and private sector spending on 
infrastructure.  Standard Bank Economist Danelee van Dyk estimated 
that South Africa will experience a 5-7% fall in the whole market 
this year.  Higher interest rates, stricter lending criteria and 
strikes in the motor industry have added to the pressures on demand. 
 (Business Day, October 2, 2007) 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
Critic Claims Climate Consciousness Dims at Energy Summit 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
 
¶5. (U) Johannesburg Earthlife Africa Sustainable Energy and Climate 
Change Project Coordinator Richard Worthington offered a contrarian 
view of the September 25-26 Energy Summit in a Business Day 
editorial on October 3.  The Energy Summit was organized by the SAG 
Department of Energy to engage stake-holders in a reassessment of 
the 1998 national energy policy white paper.  Worthington criticized 
the energy summit for being too focused on security of energy supply 
and set on a significant expansion of coal and nuclear power, 
including an emphasis on coal-to-liquid technology (with significant 
carbon emissions) and "new-fangled and unproven" Pebble Bed Modular 
Reactor technology.  Worthington lamented that the SAG has failed to 
implement the commitment in the 1998 energy policy "to ensure that 
an equitable level of national resources is invested in renewable 
energy technologies" - as reiterated in the Department of Energy 
 
PRETORIA 00003538  002 OF 003 
 
 
paper released at the Summit.  Worthington concluded his editorial 
by criticizing the linkage between minerals and energy. (Business 
Day, October 3, 2007) 
 
------------------------------ 
Biofuel Won't Burn Food Prices 
------------------------------ 
 
¶6. (U) Department of Energy Chief Director of Clean Energy Sandile 
Tyata said South Africa's commitment to biofuel production would not 
overly burden food prices due to increased demand for corn.  He 
stressed that biofuels would not be a "free-for-all" and there would 
be guidelines and limitations on what could be done when it was 
introduced.  Tyata was responding to cautionary statements that the 
biofuel industry would keep food prices high, and questions about 
the wisdom of using corn and sugar as sources of ethanol as a 
biofuel additive to gasoline.  South African Reserve Bank Governor 
Tito Mboweni noted the risks to food prices in comments in August. 
Tyata said the SAG was finalizing its biofuels strategy, so he could 
not comment on details of the plan.  It is expected that 1.2 billion 
of liters of bioethanol will be produced in South Africa by 2010, 
according to the President of the SA Biofuels Association Andrew 
Makenete, who asserted that the introduction of biofuels would be 
good for the food industry.  (Business Report, October 3, 2007) 
 
-------------------------------------- 
SARB Transparent Despite Personal Cost 
-------------------------------------- 
 
¶7. (U) South African Reserve Bank (SARB) Governor Tito Mboweni 
emphasized the need for SARB transparency in a recent speech in 
Pretoria.  He acknowledged, however, that transparency sometimes has 
a personal cost.  "For instance, we publish the governor's 
compensation package.  The first year we did that people complained 
I earned more than the Finance Minister and the President earned." 
Publication of the package even sparked a shareholder's revolt in 
2003, which led to the replacement of the head of SARB's 
Remuneration Committee.  However, the public outcry was not the 
worst of Mboweni's worries.  "It was particularly a problem for me 
as a divorcee," he told the audience.  "My ex-wife found out how 
much I earned and asked for more maintenance."  (Pretoria News, 
October 2, 2007) 
 
--------------------------- 
Completing the Supply Chain 
--------------------------- 
 
¶8. (U) Engineering News previously reported that last year only 9% 
of the 745 million tons per year of freight transported in South 
Africa used rail.  Some 88% of freight transport takes place on the 
country's road infrastructure, exacerbating congestion, accidents, 
and the deterioration of infrastructure.  Council for Scientific and 
Industrial Research (CSIR) supply chain analyst Emma Maspero called 
for greater coordination of the supply chain, including inter-modal 
transfer of containers between road and rail and to and from ports. 
He claimed that more freight carried by rail would generate 
significant savings to the economy.  CSIR is working on a number of 
initiatives with the Transnet National Ports Authority that address 
increasing containerization and aim at increased planning and 
efficiencies.  Current infrastructure development includes deepening 
and widening the entrance channel at the Port of Durban, designing 
and constructing a new port at Ngqura in the Eastern Cape, and 
upgrading the container terminal at the Cape Town Port. 
(Engineering News, October 1, 2007) 
 
--------------------------------------------- - 
AngloGold Still Optimistic About Fatality-Free Deep-Level Mining 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
¶9. (U) Africa's leading gold producer AngloGold Ashanti said on 
Tuesday it believed it was possible to mine at deep levels without 
suffering fatalities, after four of its workers were killed 
following seismic events at its Mponeng mine on Friday.  COO Neville 
Nicolau said it was not a solution to close down the shafts that had 
fatalities, as many people depended on these mines for jobs, a 
sentiment which was shared by labor representatives.  Instead, 
companies like AngloGold Ashanti needed to work with labor and 
government to effect a cultural change that led workers to 
thoroughly understand the reasons for safety, and not just act to 
appease their supervisors.  South Africa has some of the world's 
 
PRETORIA 00003538  003 OF 003 
 
 
deepest gold mines, and their owners have repeatedly come under fire 
from the unions and government for the high fatality rates in these 
mines.  AngloGold Ashanti owned many of these mines and has already 
suffered 23 fatalities so far this year.  (Mining Weekly, October 3, 
2007) 
 
BALL


And the second cable:


VZCZCXRO3994
RR RUEHDU RUEHJO
DE RUEHSA #3538/01 2820641
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 090641Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2184
RUCPCIM/CIMS NTDB WASHDC
RUCPDC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHJO/AMCONSUL JOHANNESBURG 7593
RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN 4938
RUEHDU/AMCONSUL DURBAN 9252

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 PRETORIA 003538 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR AF/S/RMARBURG; AF/EPS; EB/IFD/OMA 
USDOC FOR 4510/ITA/MAC/AME/OA/DIEMOND 
TREASURY FOR OAISA/RALYEA/CUSHMAN 
USTR FOR COLEMAN 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: ECON [Economic Conditions], EFIN [Financial and Monetary Affairs], EINV [Foreign Investments], 
ETRD [Foreign Trade], EMIN [Minerals and Metals], EPET [Petroleum and Natural Gas], ENRG [Energy and Power], 
BEXP [Trade Expansion and Promotion], KTDB [National Trade Data Bank], SENV [Environmental Affairs], 
PGOV [Internal Governmental Affairs], SF [South Africa] 
SUBJECT: SOUTH AFRICA ECONOMIC NEWS WEEKLY NEWSLETTER OCOTOBER 5, 
2007 ISSUE 
 
 
¶1. (U) Summary.  This is Volume 7, issue 40 of U.S. Embassy 
Pretoria's South Africa Economic News weekly newsletter. 
 
Topics of this week's newsletter are: 
- Trade Deficit Disappoints Market 
- Internet Costs Stifle SAG Open Source Policy 
- Car Sales Decline Again 
- Critic Claims Climate Consciousness Dims at Energy Summit 
- Biofuel Won't Burn Food Prices 
- SARB Transparent Despite Personal Cost 
- Completing the Supply Chain 
- AngloGold Still Optimistic About Fatality-Free Deep-Level Mining 
 
End Summary. 
 
-------------------------------- 
Trade Deficit Disappoints Market 
-------------------------------- 
¶2.  (U) South Africa's trade deficit in August totaled R9.1 billion, 
barely changed from last month and well above forecasts.  The trade 
gap suggests the current account deficit could widen further, 
putting additional pressure on the rand.  Exports rose .8% while 
imports increased .1% compared with July.  The cumulative deficit 
for the calendar year is R50.1 billion, a significant increase over 
the R41.6 billion deficit for the same period last year.  With the 
strength of the rand eroding the appeal of exports and an 
infrastructure plan boosting the need for imports of machinery and 
equipment, South Africa's international trade position "is still 
very weak," according to Efficient Research Economist Nico Kelder. 
(Business Day, October 1, 2007) 
 
----=--------------------------------------- 
Internet Costs Stifle SAG Open Source Policy 
-------------------------------------------- 
¶3. (U) High cost of internet access is stifling South Africa's 
software development industry and thwarting the SAG's open source 
procurement policy and commitment to use locally developed software. 
 According to Linda McDonald, an analyst for Frost and Sullivan, the 
SAG's plan to save million of rands yearly by cutting out annual 
software license fees, boost local skills and create more jobs as 
developers are hired to modify open source software to suit the 
government's needs, is a false hope unless the cost of Internet 
access drops.  Unless developers can spend numerous hours in online 
discussions at an affordable rate, they will not be able to create 
the necessary programs for the SAG's software.  (Business Day, 
September 25, 2007) 
 
----------------------- 
Car Sales Decline Again 
----------------------- 
¶4. (U) New vehicle sales continued their decline, plunging in August 
by 13% compared with August 2006.  This is the biggest fall in 
nearly five years and marks the sixth monthly decline in a row. 
Annual sales year-to-date are down by 3.2%.  In the year to last 
month, sales for passenger cars and commercial vehicles plunged 
14.1% and 11%, respectively.  Heavy commercial vehicles increased, 
reflecting heavy public and private sector spending on 
infrastructure.  Standard Bank Economist Danelee van Dyk estimated 
that South Africa will experience a 5-7% fall in the whole market 
this year.  Higher interest rates, stricter lending criteria and 
strikes in the motor industry have added to the pressures on demand. 
 (Business Day, October 2, 2007) 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
Critic Claims Climate Consciousness Dims at Energy Summit 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
 
¶5. (U) Johannesburg Earthlife Africa Sustainable Energy and Climate 
Change Project Coordinator Richard Worthington offered a contrarian 
view of the September 25-26 Energy Summit in a Business Day 
editorial on October 3.  The Energy Summit was organized by the SAG 
Department of Energy to engage stake-holders in a reassessment of 
the 1998 national energy policy white paper.  Worthington criticized 
the energy summit for being too focused on security of energy supply 
and set on a significant expansion of coal and nuclear power, 
including an emphasis on coal-to-liquid technology (with significant 
carbon emissions) and "new-fangled and unproven" Pebble Bed Modular 
Reactor technology.  Worthington lamented that the SAG has failed to 
implement the commitment in the 1998 energy policy "to ensure that 
an equitable level of national resources is invested in renewable 
energy technologies" - as reiterated in the Department of Energy 
 
PRETORIA 00003538  002 OF 003 
 
 
paper released at the Summit.  Worthington concluded his editorial 
by criticizing the linkage between minerals and energy. (Business 
Day, October 3, 2007) 
 
------------------------------ 
Biofuel Won't Burn Food Prices 
------------------------------ 
 
¶6. (U) Department of Energy Chief Director of Clean Energy Sandile 
Tyata said South Africa's commitment to biofuel production would not 
overly burden food prices due to increased demand for corn.  He 
stressed that biofuels would not be a "free-for-all" and there would 
be guidelines and limitations on what could be done when it was 
introduced.  Tyata was responding to cautionary statements that the 
biofuel industry would keep food prices high, and questions about 
the wisdom of using corn and sugar as sources of ethanol as a 
biofuel additive to gasoline.  South African Reserve Bank Governor 
Tito Mboweni noted the risks to food prices in comments in August. 
Tyata said the SAG was finalizing its biofuels strategy, so he could 
not comment on details of the plan.  It is expected that 1.2 billion 
of liters of bioethanol will be produced in South Africa by 2010, 
according to the President of the SA Biofuels Association Andrew 
Makenete, who asserted that the introduction of biofuels would be 
good for the food industry.  (Business Report, October 3, 2007) 
 
-------------------------------------- 
SARB Transparent Despite Personal Cost 
-------------------------------------- 
 
¶7. (U) South African Reserve Bank (SARB) Governor Tito Mboweni 
emphasized the need for SARB transparency in a recent speech in 
Pretoria.  He acknowledged, however, that transparency sometimes has 
a personal cost.  "For instance, we publish the governor's 
compensation package.  The first year we did that people complained 
I earned more than the Finance Minister and the President earned." 
Publication of the package even sparked a shareholder's revolt in 
2003, which led to the replacement of the head of SARB's 
Remuneration Committee.  However, the public outcry was not the 
worst of Mboweni's worries.  "It was particularly a problem for me 
as a divorcee," he told the audience.  "My ex-wife found out how 
much I earned and asked for more maintenance."  (Pretoria News, 
October 2, 2007) 
 
--------------------------- 
Completing the Supply Chain 
--------------------------- 
 
¶8. (U) Engineering News previously reported that last year only 9% 
of the 745 million tons per year of freight transported in South 
Africa used rail.  Some 88% of freight transport takes place on the 
country's road infrastructure, exacerbating congestion, accidents, 
and the deterioration of infrastructure.  Council for Scientific and 
Industrial Research (CSIR) supply chain analyst Emma Maspero called 
for greater coordination of the supply chain, including inter-modal 
transfer of containers between road and rail and to and from ports. 
He claimed that more freight carried by rail would generate 
significant savings to the economy.  CSIR is working on a number of 
initiatives with the Transnet National Ports Authority that address 
increasing containerization and aim at increased planning and 
efficiencies.  Current infrastructure development includes deepening 
and widening the entrance channel at the Port of Durban, designing 
and constructing a new port at Ngqura in the Eastern Cape, and 
upgrading the container terminal at the Cape Town Port. 
(Engineering News, October 1, 2007) 
 
--------------------------------------------- - 
AngloGold Still Optimistic About Fatality-Free Deep-Level Mining 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
¶9. (U) Africa's leading gold producer AngloGold Ashanti said on 
Tuesday it believed it was possible to mine at deep levels without 
suffering fatalities, after four of its workers were killed 
following seismic events at its Mponeng mine on Friday.  COO Neville 
Nicolau said it was not a solution to close down the shafts that had 
fatalities, as many people depended on these mines for jobs, a 
sentiment which was shared by labor representatives.  Instead, 
companies like AngloGold Ashanti needed to work with labor and 
government to effect a cultural change that led workers to 
thoroughly understand the reasons for safety, and not just act to 
appease their supervisors.  South Africa has some of the world's 
 
PRETORIA 00003538  003 OF 003 
 
 
deepest gold mines, and their owners have repeatedly come under fire 
from the unions and government for the high fatality rates in these 
mines.  AngloGold Ashanti owned many of these mines and has already 
suffered 23 fatalities so far this year.  (Mining Weekly, October 3, 
2007) 
 
BALL

A lot of the above is not software related but we did not omit it because we usually leave cables untampered with, for context.

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