October 2016 Members' Business Briefing with new Mayor of Johannesburg Herman Mashaba: Sponsored by Virgin Atlantic
For our final business briefing of the year, the Chamber had the great honour not only to celebrate with our sponsor Virgin Atlantic its 20 years of operating in South Africa, but also to have new Mayor of Johannesburg Mr. Herman Mashaba as our guest speaker. The much anticipated event took place on 20 October at the Inanda club, where Mr. Mashaba laid out his 10 point plan for the City of Johannesburg.
Reinvigorating the inner city and creating business opportunities stands out as part of the Mayor's plan to grow the Johannesburg GDP by 5% within his term of office. In light thereof, engagement with foreign investors and particularly the UK – which remains the biggest foreign investor not only to South Africa but also to the City of Johannesburg – is a key priority. Mr. Mashaba is steadfast in his belief that "if Johannesburg works, South Africa works" and his determination and practical plans to achieve his goals provided a welcome and inspiring message.
October 2016 Cape Town Members' Business Briefing on Brexit with Dame Judith MacGregor
Fresh from a trip to London, Chamber patron and British High Commissioner Dame Judith Macgregor offered an inside perspective on the UK's forthcoming exit from the EU at this business briefing. The event took place in the same week as the Conservative Party Conference. Although the title was Global Britain and South Africa: short term uncertainty, long-term opportunity there was already a little less uncertainty thanks to Prime Minister May's comments.
Dame Judith Macgregor reminded guests that the UK is still the single biggest investor in South Africa and emphasised the breadth and depth of the relationship between the two countries. The audience – which included members of the Exporters Club Western Cape – heard that the UK will certainly not want any disruption to its current trade relations with South Africa. If anything, South Africa may find there are increased opportunities for non-EU trading partners to Great Britain. A diverse range of questions followed and the lively discussion was testament to the importance of this topic for businesses in the Western Cape.
September 2016 Members' Business Briefing with Dawie Roodt from The Efficient Group : Sponsored by City & Guilds
On the 15th of September Dawie Roodt, Chief Economist at The Efficient Group, was invited to appear as speaker for the monthly event, sponsored by City & Guilds. Mr. Roodt - a well-known Economist in South Africa – addressed the assembly on the topic "The Economics of Demographics".
Mr. Roodt started off by demonstrating how economics is all about people, and how the evolution of the human race shaped the economic world we know today. Statistic from various countries around the world were compared, looking at factors like age distribution, education and amount of dependents, and how these characteristics correlate with a nations' present economic situation.
Indeed it was demonstrated how population demographics have a cyclical effect that can also serve as a fairly reliable predictor of future economic trends. Mr. Roodt's final message stressed the need to educate and develop the young females of the Southern African population - this being the key driver for economic growth, and his presentation brilliantly brought to life what the demographics are indicating in South Africa.
August 2016 Members' Business Briefing with Elliott Monama from DBSA : Sponsored by HSBC
On the 18th of August, Elliott Monama from the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) was invited to appear as speaker for the monthly event, sponsored by HSBC. Mr. Monama, presenting the topic "Project Preparation: Lessons Learnt" gave insight into project formulation and project funding, drawing from his experience not only at DBSA but also from his days as a consultant previous to joining DBSA.
DBSA can now provide funding for projects not only in South Africa, but also in countries outside of southern Africa with a particular focus on East- and West African countries.
DBSA focusses on projects that fall within two streams: Energy/Transport/ICT/Water and Health/Education. DBSA focusses on priority projects within these fields and has an impressive reputation as a well-run state-owned organization that has been making profit for the past 3 years. Some key insights that came from Mr. Monama was the importance of strong feasibility of a project being the main decider when it comes to funding decisions. DBSA is a strong promoter of enterprising projects in priority sectors and has obtained grants from both the EU and the USA to assist in funding such projects. It certainly made clear how many positive initiatives and resources are available and gave confidence in the powers backing these projects across the African region.
Members' Cape Town Business Briefing by South African writer, political scientist and historian, R. W. Johnson.
RW Johnson's 2015 book - "How Long will South Africa Survive?", with its prediction of an IMF bailout for the country within two years, was widely read and debated in business circles. Therefore the author and political scientist's appearance as guest speaker at July's Chamber Members' networking event in Cape Town was eagerly anticipated. Seeking temporary comfort in the roaring fire and red wine, some members admitted to 'bracing themselves' for a somewhat depressing outlook. Instead the former Oxford don's talk was insightful, disarming, and ultimately reassuring.
He charted a course from the ANC's beginnings to its current situation, addressing patronage networks and the shift of power to KZN along the way. He outlined four factors that will be essential to SA attracting badly needed long term investment. Simply put these are – the liberalisation of our labour laws; 'sorting out' our state-owned enterprises; the reduction of our civil service bill; and 'fixing' the education system. Referring to the local elections taking place a week later, he asserted that South African society is too urbanised and industrialised to allow the 'perversion of democracy that we have seen in Zimbabwe'. It was evident from the buzz of conversation in the room as RW Johnson's talk ended, that it had certainly provided food for thought.
July 2016 Members' Business Briefing with Dame Judith Macgregor
In the wake of the recent activity surrounding the EU referendum, Dame Judith Macgregor spoke openly to members regarding Brexit and the way forward. Making reference of the presently shifting economic status, mention was made of Theresa May, new developments and the possible outcome of all these reforms. Despite it being still too early to speculate on what changes will be implemented, encouragement was offered with the assurance that the UK fundamentals and strong policies still remaining strong. As the new government is being formed, and innovative strategies are being put in place, it will still be business as usual as careful planning and reflection would be needed, it could be several years before all these changes will be completed. Britain is still very much involved in Africa and will continue to offer resources which will continue to increase as bilateral trade grows between South Africa and Britain. Regarding agreements and activities involving the EU, Dame Judith Macgregor highlighted her confidence that arrangements will be made to safeguard processes that would benefit all organisations involved. At present there is still no available timeline, or exact date on when Article 50 will be triggered, however while the British Government is finding its feet and address the challenges and adopting new responsibilities, the viewpoint is optimistic.
June 2016 Members' Business Briefing with Roger Baxter: Sponsored by Weir Minerals Africa
Roger Baxter, the CEO of the Chamber of Mines in South Africa, sponsored by Weir Minerals, took members on a rollercoaster ride of his period in the mining industry, spanning almost a quarter of a century and covering the mine's latest progress, difficulties and what is needed for the mining sector to realize its full potential. The mining industry matters greatly to South Africa and internationally, as energy is needed for development and could make up more than half the National Development Plan for South Africa.
Roger pointed out the metals and minerals produced make up the building blocks for smart technology which not only will contribute towards bettering the mining, but is also a necessary factor for development of buildings and infrastructure throughout South Africa. Many changes are being implemented to improve the sector, most importantly a legislative and regulatory framework to provide predictable stable and competitive policies in a monitored environment. Sharing information regarding a PGM task team and Mining Charter to stimulate long term demands, speeding up the implementation of these substructures are currently a work in progress and will however provide solutions to alleviate uncertainty and contribute towards sustaining steady growth. Roger stated his vision for a completely vibrant transformation of the mining industry, and with the assistance of government, he remains cautiously optimistic and hopeful of growth going forward.
May 2016 Members' Business Briefing- Meet the Editors Sponsored by G4S
Sponsored by G4S, Members spent time with the editors of three different business publications, namely Tim Cohen: Business Day, Rob Rose: Financial Mail and Ron Derby: The Sunday Times - Business Times. Each editor took members through their journey into journalism, and what sparked their interest into this particular career, followed by their opinions on the present circumstances within South Africa focusing on the financial future and conditions of the news and media thus far.
Tim Cohen, Rob Rose and Ron Derby, with their vast experience in this line of business, understood the myriad of what's going on in the South African political climate and explained to the audience the financial model break down within the country. The editors expanded on their loss of printed readership and they all stated that more and more people are using the digital platforms to access news. Although their readership is up the sale of printed media is considerably lower. Members keenly asked questions regarding the media and publications of late especially surrounding the political climate and the impact this could have on the country's economic standing and their opinions on the future of South Africa. Overall, the event was well received and the speakers touched on areas that struck a chord amongst all members and the speakers alike, covering topics of great interest and passion.
Cape Town Members' Business Briefing on Diversity and Mobility sponsored by Relocation Africa
Cape Town members participated in a dynamic Chamber event focusing on the ever relevant topics of diversity and mobility in the workplace. Judith Haupt from CONTRACT South Africa and Dr Layo Seriki from CIELARKO Management Consulting explained that diverse teams will either perform exceptionally well, or exceptionally badly. They provided members with some insight into how diversity within teams can be a powerful strength if approached with the right attitude. Up next was a lively panel discussion on immigration and mobility, with perspectives from immigration practitioners Tracy du Plessis from Relocation Africa, Swaane Motsoenyane from Santa Fe Relocation, ENSAfrica lawyer Zahida Ebrahim and Area Head of Talent for British American Tobacco, Monique Lamberts. Audience members shared some of their own immigration challenges and our expert panelists illuminated an often confusing subject. Topics such as changes to South Africa's Immigration Act, the obstacles encountered when moving talent around the Southern Africa region, and how immigration law relates to other areas of law – labour, taxation etc, were tackled with thoroughness and candour.
April 2016 Members' Business Briefing with Nicky Newton-King sponsored by BT
Chamber Members were thoroughly impressed by Nicky Newton-King in conversation with David Dawson at the Inanda Club last night which was sponsored by BT. Nicky's candour about her background, her position at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, what drives her and what keeps her up at night fascinated a packed audience. She began by filling us in on her jump from a prestigious law career to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Then followed a hugely successful 20 years at the JSE, culminating in her current position as Chief Executive Officer.
Nicky outlined the core business of the JSE with a memorable supermarket analogy of small trolleys and bulk wholesale buys. She outlined that the JSE is an intermediary in the economy – entrepreneurs need capital to grow and the JSE is the place to help fund growth and fund people's aspirations. The JSE is ten times the size of the Nigerian exchange but ten times smaller than London, so it's all relative. There are 25 exchanges on the African continent with the JSE handling 300,000 trades per day and Rwanda handling 10 trades per month, so a very diverse range. The conversation veered to the new stock exchange licenses potentially being issued and Nicky underlined the importance of competition and how it makes everyone work better. She also spoke of the importance of partnerships, with one of the oldest being the LSE. The JSE also has a long relationship with FTSE, a deal for partnership finalised over VC from Sandton! Nicky highlighted how critical these partnerships are to ensure that you are always learning best practice from the industry.
Under Nicky's command, the 500 staff at the JSE comprise of 60% black and 52% female employees, with 70% of the executive being female. Rather than gender, Nicky spoke of diversity being the key to ensure companies are equipped to compete. Through their position, the JSE has a unique voice in society and they try to be a visible example of the transformation in society. Companies need to comply with stringent listing requirements including their company strategy and how they are acting on it.
Questions were asked about the current issues faced by JSE and they are similar to those in other industries so regulations, technology and political/socio-economic factors are the big drivers. For the JSE, change is the only constant! In a final note, Nicky spoke of the rolling mass action in society with people feeling economically marginalised and not heard. The importance of being an enlightened business, engaged with what is going on in society was underlined.
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