South Africa is in an interesting period politically and economically and whilst I remain concerned, I am also optimistic about our future. The Rand is currently one of the most volatile currencies globally, but has benefited from a recent uptick in commodity prices and is now back to pre-9/12 levels. This is certainly a very positive sign as a sustained commodity bull run would be enormously beneficial for our economy and go a long way toward staving off an investment status downgrade. It is critical, however, that government maintain fiscal discipline which implies that far greater collaboration between business and government is required in order to fulfil the requirements of the NDP. With reduced state coffers it becomes imperative for government to become more efficient. Corporates generally welcome the opportunity to collaborate toward effecting social improvement, but we need our partners in government to place far greater emphasis on smarter implementation of prioritised projects.
In a society and business environment that is arguably in danger of becoming morally defunct, it is becoming increasingly important to maintain focus on business conduct that upholds high ethical standards. Woolworths have certainly set a fantastic example with their “Good Business Journey” initiative and as part of our focus on business leadership, we recently hosted a dinner with Simon Susman on creating value from values which demonstrated that the moral high-ground can be enormously profitable.
Two of our main programmes this quarter have included Digital Cape Town and our Human Capital Programme which addresses the critical issue of transformation in Cape Town. Our Digital Cape Town programme follows on from our workshop with the City of Cape Town on their Digital City Strategy, and we are now exploring opportunities from Big Data at our Thought Leadership event Data Driven Innovation Strategies: Opportunities from Big Data and Data Centres.
It is also hugely encouraging to see the level of investment in innovation in Cape Town. Johnson & Johnson have invested R300 million into refurbishing their pharmaceutical manufacturing plant, which won an internal J&J award for most-improved cost competitiveness worldwide. They also recently launched their Global Public Health Africa Operations office in Cape Town. France also launched their first African French Tech Hub in Cape Town to expand their start-up ecosystem. This supports the trend that Cape Town is continuously being recognised for our strong creative and innovative culture and well-established tech eco-system.
There is clearly much to be optimistic about in South Africa at the moment, despite lingering concerns about our political leadership. South Africans are a hardy bunch, accustomed to dealing with difficult circumstances, and I have no doubt that our future is bright. Our unity through collective action will give us strength and remind us that we are only as weak as we are divided.
As usual, please feel free to contact me directly about any of these initiatives.