Editor's Note

Development of infrastructure vital for growth


The fluid operation of South Africa’s (SA) various transport arteries is vital to maintaining the southern tip of Africa as a preferred gateway in and out of Sub-Saharan Africa, with competition from Kenya, Mozambique and Angola mounting.

The Richard’s Bay Coal Terminal is a prime example of the SA economy in motion, which handles much of the country’s coal exports to key Asian markets like China, who are normally on the lookout for raw materials to power their manufacturing-heavy economy.

Infrastructure upgrades to many of SA’s key ports and secondary harbours have given a boost to the shipbuilding, repair and maintenance sectors through to the oil and gas industry in Saldanha Bay, for example, which is also a centre for the LNG market. With its close proximity to Cape Town and the West Coast oil fields to the north, it enjoys a key trade position for markets across the Atlantic; as the Saldanha IDZ continues to evolve. Speaking of delivering, I’ve been impressed by the leadership of President Cyril Ramaphosa, who has visited two of the biggest vehicle manufacturers in the country, Mercedes-Benz in East London and Volvo Trucks in Durban. Both large multi-nationals have pumped millions into these plants respectively and have done wonders for the areas’ local economies while increasing skills development. Without the Mercedes-Benz production line, East London stops.

Meanwhile, the recent military and naval exercise in the pristine False Bay in Cape Town, which had many Capetonians fuming, was a terrible idea on so many levels. Firstly, firing of live ammunition into a sensitive ecosystem, which is home to many thousands of different species of sea life, is crazy. No thought was given to the environment, or the hearing of residents that had to live through three days of mock war.

It also shows how weak and disinterested the Departments of Environmental Affairs and Fisheries are if they allow the bombing of a key food source, potentially erasing some of Cape Town’s food security. If the Defence Force wants to go on a recruitment drive there are far more meaningful ways. Other rumours surfaced that the military exercise was also used to get rid of expiring ammunitions.

Job losses remain a hot talking point. It is common knowledge that SA has a bloated public sector, which is in dire need of a healthy diet. South Africans shouldn’t hold onto a sense of entitlement in the workplace, but rather acknowledge that if SA is to re-appear as a global force and reduce rocketing debt, that tough decisions need to be made.

If job losses are inevitable then all stakeholders should rather focus their attention on making sure that workers are re-skilled to fill positions in other areas of the economy, including the maritime sector. The explosion of more AI will also place strain on the job market and long term planning for some occupations and foresight is needed to stay ahead of the curve.

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This edition

Issue 2020