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Audi Q8 2019,the new flagship SUV

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Audi Q8

It’s taken a while for Audi to join the coupe-style SUV market, but as the market for lifted vehicles grows it’s better to be late than never.

And even though the Q8’s styling won’t suit all tastes – Audi maintains the boxy arches are inspired by the ur-Quattro, skimming over the fact that they were genuinely functional on that car rather than a stylistic frippery – it’s perhaps the best interpretation of the formula we’ve seen yet.

The Q8 looks less uncomfortable than its rivals and its wider, lower silhouette is an undoubted improvement on the Audi Q7 with which it shares so much under the skin.

With five seats to the Q7’s seven it’s the less practical option, but the trade-off, according to Audi, is a more dynamic drive. Just one power unit will be available from launch – a 3-litre V6 TDI badged 50 TDI – with a 45 TDI diesel and 55 TFSI petrol (both still 3-litre and both V6s) arriving in 2019. The 50 TDI is identical to that recently seen in the A6, A7, A8 and others, producing 286PS from 3500-4000rpm and 442lb ft from 2250-3250rpm.

The standard transmission is an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic, with the option to select gears using steering wheel-mounted paddles. The behaviour of the gearbox can be adjusted with Audi’s Drive Select system and the car has the ability to coast and recuperate energy thanks to its 48v mild hybrid technology.

Power is sent through a Quattro all-wheel-drive system with a locking centre differential, with power split 40:60 in normal driving and more still sent to the rear when required. The upshot of all this is a 6.3-second 0-62mph run and a top speed of 144mph. Official fuel consumption and CO2 figures are yet to be confirmed, but a similarly-powered (but slightly lighter) Audi A8 manages 50.4mpg, so expect the taller, heavier Q8 to return a figure in the mid-40s.

There’s little here we haven’t seen before, but to review the basics, the Q8’s structure is what Audi calls its Space Frame concept, a mixture of cast aluminium and high-strength hot-formed steel. Kerb weight is 2145kg for the 3-litre TDI versions, which is still fairly hefty – Audi quotes 2060kg for the seven-seat Q7. Dynamic all-wheel steering, standard on the special Vorsprung models and optional on the S line, does help mitigate the Q8’s size and weight.

Audi’s 48v mild hybrid technology is the same here as we’ve seen previously, using a belt-driven starter/alternator to kick the engine into life, stop it when necessary, recuperate energy under deceleration, and reduce load under acceleration to improve both performance and efficiency.

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BUSINESS

African leaders boycott WEF Africa over xenophobic attacks in SA

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World Economic Forum on Africa

The presidents of Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Malawi have decided not to attend the World Economic Forum on Africa hosted by South Africa in the face of ongoing looting and burning of small businesses in that country, owned largely by African immigrants, local media reported on Wednesday.

The chairman of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat has condemned the attacks, which have seen scores of people arrested in Johannesburg and the capital Pretoria.

Reports said Zambia had also cancelled a friendly football match with South Africa’s national men’s team Bafana Bafana scheduled for March.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari instructed his foreign affairs minister to summon South Africa’s high commissioner to Nigeria over the violence.

Some South Africans say they are retaliating against crime committed by foreigners and the sale of illicit goods by foreign shop owners, but political analysts say African immigrants have become scapegoats for rising anger over joblessness and general economic woes.

In a statement on Tuesday, the African Union Commission’s Faki called for “immediate steps to protect the lives of people and their property, ensure that all perpetrators are brought to account for their acts and that justice is done to those who suffered economic and other losses.”

“The chairperson reiterates the African Union’s Commission continued commitment to support the South African government in addressing the root causes that led to these despicable acts, in order to promote peace and stability, within the framework of the African Union’s longstanding principles of continental solidarity,” his spokeswoman Ebba Kalondo said. African News Agency

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Econet goes into forex exchange. Launches bureau de change

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Ecocash Zimbabwe

ECOCASH has launched a digital mobile phone-based bureau de change in a move set to increase competition in the foreign currency exchange business.

The innovative facility, a first by a mobile money service provider, will likely revolutionise the business by providing the much-needed convenience to the platform’s 10 million registered customers.

According to the company, the new service will allow EcoCash customers to sell foreign currency in real-time and instantly have the local currency converted and credited to their wallets.

The move follows the granting of an operating licence to EcoCash by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, which has an effect of increasing access to specialised digital financial services to millions of Zimbabweans.

Speaking at the launch of the service in Harare yesterday, EcoCash chief executive officer, Ms Natalie Jabangwe, explained how the service would work.

“Before performing a currency conversion transaction, one needs to fund their EcoCash wallet,” she said, adding that a wallet could be funded in a number of ways.

“You fund your wallet by doing a cash-in of physical US dollars (or forex) into the wallet. Or you fund your wallet over the counter, at any Econet Shop. You can also fund your wallet through a direct in-wallet receipt of remittances from the diaspora into your EcoCash wallet. This could be through existing EcoCash remittance partners, which include Cassava Remit, World Remit, Mukuru, Western Union, Money Gram, Orange Botswana and MTN.”
Ms Jabangwe said an EcoCash customer could also fund their wallet via a Nostro bank-to-wallet transfer on their phone, from their respective FCA bank account linked to the EcoCash FCA wallet. She said once the wallet was funded, a customer could then proceed to dial a dedicated EcoCash Bureau de Change menu on the access code *150# to carry out their transaction.

“Customers will be able to check the rate of the day, get a quote for the amount to be sold and receive instant ‘confirmation of sale’ of foreign currency and the ZW$ conversation amount – all this happening via their mobile phone,” Ms Jabangwe said.

Cassava Smartech CEO, Mr Eddie Chibi, the parent company of EcoCash, said: “We are excited to be the first and only mobile financial service provider in Africa to offer this innovative service to our customers, empowering them with a simple, convenient, fast and real-time Bureau de Change service that they can access and use to transact anywhere, anytime.”

He said the service will help customers access competitive exchange rates quickly, convert or change their money in real-time, and transact on a secure platform that they have come to trust.

Ms Jabangwe said EcoCash Zimbabwe continued to leverage on the dynamic innovation capabilities that technology gives by building new products and services that go beyond the early services of financial inclusion.

“The advantage of having a scaled transaction platform is that you can build new services in line with a changing market environment. Accessibility of these services on the mobile phone enables us to travel the journey with our customers towards more complex but necessary financial services in the future,” she said. The Chronicle

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BUSINESS

Eskom Begins 400MW Power Supply to Zimbabwe

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Fortune Chasi

ZESA Holdings has reportedly started receiving 400 Megawatts of electricity from South Africa power utility, ESKOM.

This comes after the latter accepted Zimbabwe’s payment plan which involves payment of US$890,000 per week to settle its long-standing debt with ESKOM.

Zimbabwe is currently generating about 692 megawatts against a daily peak demand of about 1 600MW to 2000MW in winter.
All sectors were projecting fewer revenues this year as a result of the crippling load-shedding which ZESA had implemented due to the power deficit in the country.

Some companies were contemplating closing some of their branches with OK Zimbabwe, one of the biggest retailers in the country, having already closed one of its shops in Rusape.

The main power generator in the country, Kariba South Hydropower plant, has reportedly been immensely affected by the shrinking water levels at the dam whilst Hwange thermal power is underperforming due to ageing equipment.

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