by Gregory Simpson

Editor's Note

Off to a fresh start

Greg.jpg

Welcome to another edition of South Africa’s favourite maritime annual. It has certainly been a busy time since we last touched base, with a new president and bustling port development in key areas.

Port and harbour development has pleasingly stepped up to its full potential, as the once near dormant Port Elizabeth harbour finally shows signs of an uptick in the grossly undervalued Eastern Cape. It should serve as the number two in Southern Africa for trade with the east, given the prime geography and access to skills and infrastructure.

So too has mega port Coega seen a slow and steady uptick over the last five years, with government making every effort to divert as much heavy duty mining traffic through its doors.

Tourism is also up in the Eastern Cape, and we are seeing major cruise liners starting to make stops in Nelson Mandela Bay. This provides an incredible cash injection into the area. Just look at Cape Town, which boasts a different major cruise liner almost every week in summer, bringing in millions of dollars in foreign investment.

Meanwhile, with the recent change in political leadership are we gearing up for an economic upswing in 2018 to boost traffic on the high seas? If anybody can lead us into greater prosperity and lessen the frightening unemployment rates it’s Cyril Rhamaphosa, with his vast business acumen.

However, South Africa is facing down a budget deficit that is pushing R100 billion if nothing is done in the coming years to stop the rot. I remember clearly, under the astute guidance of former Finance Minister, Trevor Manuel, when every effort was made to keep the deficit down to zero. Somewhere along the line that thrifty outlook was abandoned for a more laissez-faire approach to spending and human resource management.

What is more positive about the happenings is that they have proved that South Africa still has a strong democracy and our legal system is healthy. There are a few examples of peaceful, non-violent changes of power in Africa, so the country as a whole and the ANC should receive credit for that.

What the election of our new president has shown is that most South Africans just want to get on with life, get a job and live in relative harmony with each other if they are given the opportunity. A lot of the hatred between different groups of people is fuelled by political agendas and the media. Sadly, bad news sells better than good news. But the good news is that hope is in the air for a brighter, transparent future for all South Africans to enjoy, which can only be good for a maritime industry just waiting to bloom under fertile circumstances.

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