"Clem Sunter and I go back a long way, to the junior dining room of Anglo-American Corporation 45 Main Street in the mid-70s to be precise. During his time as CEO of the Gold Division in the mid 80s he gave talks around the country on the "High Road – Low Road" scenarios and the choices for South Africa. Since then has become a highly respected commentator on both global and South African scenarios. Here is what he has to say in contemporary times, with a few comments from myself." — Steuart Pennington
The level of anxiety is definitely rising in South Africa. As Chantell Ilbury and I say, we cannot eliminate your anxieties; but we can structure them in a way that you can have a rational conversation about them. We still think the scenario game board we have used for the past few years, to examine different possible paths that South Africa could take, is relevant.
We have been in the Premier League since 1994 when we became a proper democracy. It consists of the 59 nations listed in the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook, which comes out in May every year. After the turn of the century, we were in the mid-to-late 30s, which is where we should at least be given that we are the 32nd largest economy in the world. However, we fell to 53 in 2008 because of international concerns over the quality of our infrastructure, especially in light of the rolling black-outs of Eskom.
In 2009 and 2010, we were promoted back to 48 and then 44 as none of our banks had to be bailed out during the financial crash. By contrast, in 2011 we were dumped back to 52 on account of policy uncertainty having an adverse impact on foreign direct investment. So we are back in the relegation zone and there are three scenarios over the next five years.
Comment: In the Global Competitiveness Report, different to the World Competitiveness Report (59 Countries) in that it measures the competitiveness of the largest 142 countries as measured by US$ GDP our position has improved this year by four places from 54th to 50th. As we said in our newsletter of 20th September. "The Global Competitiveness Index now includes the top 142 countries as measured by US$ GDP, up from 139 in last year’s index. Of these, 30 are African countries. Only 33/142 countries improved their overall ranking by four or more positions (as did SA), with Cambodia (12 positions) and Ethiopia (13 positions) leading the field."
The first is that we get our ducks in a row and move back into the 30s where we rightfully belong. We are the only African country listed in the Premier League at the moment.
Article continues on page two: the second scenario — we fail to get our ducks in a row...