Facing the facts is never a popular activity when we’ve been bullsh*tting each other for decades!
Nevertheless, the bright light of facticity always brings us back to where, who and what we are. Twenty years later, despite Madiba Magic, World Cups, Rainbow Nations, the Big Five, blah blah blah … we remain an emerging African nation near the bottom of the pile, with a currency barely stronger than Mexico’s. This is not a good or a bad thing, it’s just the way it is. Cut all the cr*p, and let’s work with that shall we ?
What are the top natural and sustainable elements that give the Southern Cape the edge over let’s say the West Coast or the Winelands ?
- A mild climate with better than average rainfall for southern Africa.
- Good quality arable soil – with still plenty available for development.
- Aesthetics of the mountains, forests and seashore – this really feeds quality of life, adds to the variety of experiences for relaxation, creativity, well-being etc.
What are the top, manmade, paid-up elements that give us the edge ?
- Access to all forms of transport modes and commerce through Mossel Bay harbour, George Airport, N2 ‘road and rail networks.
- Between Knysna in the east and Still Bay in the west, we have nine towns with a total population of 300 000+, with relatively sound infrastructure and levels of service delivery.
- As a food and timber producer, we are within comfortable distance of three major metropoles namely Bloemfontein (821kms), Cape Town (385kms) and Port Elizabeth (377kms) (all distances measured from Mossel Bay).
It’s time to come in off the golf course, to leave the policy discussions at the conference venue, and to say good-bye to the tourists. Now is the time to roll up our sleeves and pay attention to the sawmills, the maintenance of the horse-and-trailers, to dredge our harbour, and to eradicate invasive and alien vegetation from our arable land and water sources. I have identified five key enterprise opportunities that could well form the foundations of five self-contained, sustainable phases on which to develop our S.C.C. These opportunities are as follows:
1. Energy incl hydro, solar and wind and support industries,
2. Logistics – all modes plus warehousing,
3. Timber incl value adding enterprises,
4. Agriculture incl processing, canning and other value adding opportunities, and
5. Engineering, Industry and Construction Opportunity incl value chain enterprises.
As far as being engines for economic growth, Golfing Events, Tourism and Conferencing have not delivered on the promises and projections ascribed to them. Far less sexy, less ‘rocket-science’, more down-to-earth, grit-and-grind opportunities are staring us in the face. To exploit these, we need to face the facts of what we have and who we are. In my next release I plan to begin a brief, non-technical overview of why I believe these five sectors are THE areas of opportunity for our proposed S.C.C. I look forward to your contributions, cautions and questions.