At the beginning of 2008, almost as soon as most South Africans returned to their everyday lives, having enjoyed a relaxing summer holiday, the perfect storm erupted. In quick succession there has been the unanimous unseating of the countryβs President as leader of the ANC in December 2007, followed by a nationwide power crisis with regular βload sheddingβ which started in January 2008 and which we are told this will continue until after 2010. In addition South Africans are dealing with the perceived high level of crime (perception is reality), increasingly high levels of inflation (9.4% in February 2008), petrol at the highest levels ever and according to the popular media and dinner talk, more people than ever are considering immigrating to greener pastures.
I believe that part of the reason South Africa is going through such a great deal of mass negativity at present is because South Africans are constantly bombarded with bad news. I believe that if everyone in South Africa keeps reading, talking, thinking, and worrying about the bad stuff all the time, it will end up happening because everyone is attracting it.
After the last few months one may ask βIs there any good news about South Africa?β Yes!! After digging around on the internet, I have found plenty of good news about South Africa, which I would like to share with you to help put the constant bad news in perspective:
Although the price of petrol in South Africa has increased dramatically it is still amongst the cheapest in the world. The highest price in South Africa is the Gauteng (inland) price for 95 octane unleaded petrol which as at 2 April 2008 is R8.91 per litre. In contrast according to a survey of 9 700 petrol stations in the UK, for unleaded petrol, the minimum price in the UK is Β£1.03, the average price is Β£1.07 and the highest price Β£1.19 per litre. Using an exchange rate of Β£1=R15, this means that the average price per litre in the UK is over R16 per litre, nearly double South Africaβs price.
Housing in South Africa is still amongst the cheapest in the world. According to the April ABSA housing index the average price for middle segment housing (Residential houses nationwide between 80m2 and 400m2 ) is just R929 000. In contrast according to the BBC News Survey of UK house prices (which fell 3.6% in the last year) as at February 2008 the nationwide average is currently (Rand figures are conservatively calculated at Β£1=R15):
*Detached (A house not joined to any other) Β£342 800 (R5 142 000)
*Semi-Detached (A house which is joined to another house on one side) Β£200 037 (R3 000 555)
*Terraced (Streets of houses joined together in long rows) Β£176 732 (R2 650 980)
*Flat (A flat is part of a bigger building where all the flats share a front door) Β£200 967 (R3 014 505)
According to Statistics South Africa the unemployment rate fell fractionally to 23% in September 2007βthe lowest since records began in 2001. The governmentβs target is to cut the rate to 14% by 2014
Winning the War on Crime
The United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute have conducted research on the victims of crime which shows the picture of South African crime as more typical of a developing country. These statistics show that South Africa has lower rates of violent crime than many African and South American countries.
According to the South African Police Service Statistics, the incidence of most types of crime has reduced since 2001. Their latest report for the 6 month period April to September each year since 2001 reveals the following rates of incidence per 100 000 of the population:
*The incidence of murder, although still unacceptably high is clearly decreasing 2001=22.7, 2002=22.9, 2003=21.0, 2004=19.7, 2005=19.6, 2006=20.0, 2007=18.7
*The incidence of rape, is also still unacceptably high but has clearly decreased in the past 2 years 2001=55.1, 2002=52.3, 2003=51.1, 2004=53.7, 2005=55.6, 2006=49.6, 2007=47.8
*The incidence of common assault has decreased dramatically in the past few years 2001=260.1, 2002=275.2, 2003=279.1, 2004=269.4, 2005=229.5, 2006=201.6, 2007=191.4
Stock Exchange Growth
*South Africaβs stock exchange (the JSE Limited), ranks 18th in the world in terms of total market capitalisation
*South Africaβs stock exchange ALSI (All Share Index) has risen from 7510.4 on 30 April 2003 to over 30 000 in April 2008, an increase of nearly 400% in 5 years
*South Africa are the Rugby World Cup champions
*South Africa is the number 1 ranked rugby team according to the IRB as at 31 March 2008
*South Africa is the number 1 ranked cricket team according to the ICC for One Day Internationals as at 22 March 2008
*South Africa are hosts of 2010 world cup
*South Africa has 2 golfers ranked in the top 10 in the world according to the Official World Golf Ranking for Week 13 – March 30th β 2008
*South Africa ranked 44th out of 131 countries in the World Economic Forumβs Global Competitiveness Report 2007/8
*South Africa has been ranked 28th among 108 countries measured for responsible competitiveness, according to the global think tank AccountAbility.
*South Africa ranks 52nd out of 157 countries in the world in terms of economic freedom, ahead of Italy (60th), Brazil (70th), the United Arab Emirates (74th), Greece (94th), India (104th) and China (119th), according to the Index of Economic Freedom 2007 (The 2008 Index of Economic Freedom covers 162 countries across 10 specific freedoms such as trade freedom, business freedom, investment freedom, and property rights)
Rich in Resources
*South Africa is one of the world leaders in mining and minerals, with a significant share of the worldβs reserves and production.
*South Africa has, according to the SA Department of Minerals and Energy, nearly 90% of the worldβs platinum, 80% of the worldβs manganese, 73% of the worldβs chrome, 45% of the worldβs vanadium and 41% of the worldβs gold.
*South Africa still has huge potential for the discovery of other world-class deposits in areas yet to be exhaustively explored.
Since 1994, the South African government has channelled substantial resources into social programs and services, with varying degrees of success.
*Households with access to clean water: 85% in 2001, 80% in 1996
*Households using electricity for lighting: 69.7% in 2001, 57.6% in 1996
*Households in formal housing: 63.8% in 2001, 57.5% in 1996
*Households with chemical or flush toilets: 51.9% in 2001, 50.5% in 1996
*Pupil-teacher ratio: 38:1 in 2003, 43:1 in 1994
*People who have completed grade 12 schooling: 20.4% in 2001, 16.3% in 1996
*People with access to electricity: 70% in 2003, 32% in 1994
Lower Cost of Living
Despite recent inflation and price increases, South Africa still has one of the lowest cost of living levels in the world. According to the latest Xpatulator (website address below) cost of living survey of 228 global locations covering every country in the world, Johannesburg is the 71st, Pretoria is 58th, Cape Town is 51st, and Durban is the 36th cheapest place in the world to live. This means that 192 of the 228 global locations are more expensive places to live compared to Durban, while 157 locations are more expensive than Johannesburg. A detailed cost of living comparison of Johannesburg and London reveals that overall London is 74.5% more expensive than Johannesburg:
*Alcohol & Tobacco (alcoholic beverages and tobacco products) is 56.7% more expensive in London
*Clothing (clothing and footwear products) is 85.3% more expensive in London
*Communication (fixed line, internet, and mobile) is 16.18% less expensive in London
*Education (school & tertiary) is 55.6% more expensive in London
*Furniture (furniture, household equipment and household appliances ) is 51.8% more expensive in London
*Groceries (food, non-alcoholic beverages and cleaning material) is 46.7% more expensive in London
*Healthcare (general healthcare, medical and medical insurance) is 92.9% more expensive in London
*Household (housing, water, electricity, household gas, household fuels, local rates and residential taxes) is 104.3% more expensive in London
*Miscellaneous (stationary, linen and general goods and services) is 180.7% more expensive in London
*Personal (personal care products and services) is 145.2% more expensive in London
*Recreation & Culture is 4.8% more expensive in London
*Restaurants Meals Out and Hotels is 219.26% more expensive in London
*Transport (public transport, vehicle costs, vehicle fuel, vehicle insurance and vehicle maintenance) is 89.80% more expensive in London
Higher Purchasing Power
The lower cost of living in South African means that your salary goes much further in Johannesburg compared to London and most other places. Using the cost of living difference, hardship difference, and exchange rate, Xpatulator calculates that if you earn R500 000 Rand in South Africa, you would need to earn Β£54 182 in London in order to have a similar standard of living, much more than the Β£33 333 the (Β£1=R15) exchange rate indicates. The good news is that if you move the other way (i.e. from London to Johannesburg) and you earn Β£60 000 currently, you would not have to find a job paying R900 000 the (Β£1=R15) that exchange rate indicates. Taking into account the vastly lower cost of living in Johannesburg, you would in fact only require a salary of R552 302 to have the same buying power as Β£60 000 in London.
In conclusion, yes 2008 will mostly be a tough year, given the short term difficulties, but the power problems and current high inflation are short term issues which will eventually be in the past.
The main reason so many people are negative is because bad news sells newspapers and attracts more listeners and viewers. Good news does not often make the front page!!