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.
March 2016 Members' Business Briefing with Thebe Ikalafeng
Chamber Members were regaled by Thebe Ikalafeng, Founder and Chairman of the Brand Leadership Group, with his creative delivery and presentation on "Africa: the Good News. Peace, Prosperity and Unity."
Going back to 1884, covering the continent's roots and the world view on Africa, Thebe spoke about media coverage and Africa's responsibility on changing the worldwide interpretation of this continent. Shifting perceptions to the vision of Africa for people outside Africa, Thebe made light of Africa being viewed as one big entity, made up of unsophisticated customs, with famine, poverty and war, despite the stark contrast in reality and bright future ahead. As Africans, Thebe emphasized we are not telling our story, our story is being told for us, and it is not being told in a positive light.
The Good News Thebe focused on was Africa's attractiveness to outside investors, war is on the decrease and productivity and growth is on the rise. South Africa's potentional to be a prosperous and competitive country in relation to overseas companies are ever expanding. Africa will need to embrace and integrate our culture and envelop outside the box thinking, to be inspired and not be embarrassed, by where we come from. Branding will need to be relevant to Africa as opposed to adopting Western ideologies and concepts, to collaborate and incorporate Africa into products and services. Africa will need to recognize our strengths and use these to our advantage as this will lead to empowerment and pride within our continent.
February 2016 Members' Business Briefing with Andy Henderson sponsored by BSi
Speaking to Chamber Members last night thanks to the sponsorship of BSi, Andy Henderson, outgoing UKTI Regional Trade Director, for Southern Africa and Board Member of the British Chamber gave a heartfelt and farewell talk. He regaled to Members tales of his time as a Diplomat and his work in South Africa over the last 5 years. From his posting in Algeria to his move to South Africa, and his previous appointments in Brazil and Saudi Arabia, Andy's light hearted banter revolved around stories of his past experiences and the history of the Southern African British Chamber.
Andy thanked Chamber Members for their ongoing support, and asked Members to continue to keep working at growing their business in order to expand and elevate the youth that are in dire need of opportunities and employment. Despite the current economic climate, Andy expressed optimism in South Africa; the potential that has yet to be explored and the bright future ahead. In closing, with this being his last posting, Andy wished Chamber Members well, and to "Keep Calm, Carry on and Prosper". Andy will be greatly missed, especially his vibrant ties.
Chamber members attend Eve of Parliament Reception
Arguably the highlight of the British High Commission's event programme for the year, the Eve of Parliament reception, hosted by British Chamber patron, High Commissioner Dame Judith Macgregor, took place in the gardens of her Bishopscourt residence. Sponsors and Chamber members British Airways and Jaguar Land Rover were to the fore and guests included Thuli Madonsela, Patricia de Lille, Christo Wiese, and of course many of our Cape Town Chamber members.
The Prime Minister's Trade Envoy to South Africa, Baroness Scotland, spoke of her close and fruitful relationship with this country and reassured guests that this would continue with her appointment as Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.
As well as celebrating UK-SA partnerships, Shakespeare was the theme in this, the 400th anniversary year of his death. There were powerful performances of verses from Shakespeare's plays and sonnets by local learners. The guest of honour, Sonny Venkatrathnam, spoke about his so-called 'Robben Island Bible' – a clandestine copy of Shakespeare's Complete Works with notes and passages highlighted by his fellow prisoners on the Island, including Nelson Mandela and Ahmed Kathrada.
Liverpool Chamber of Commerce at Northern Powerhouse Event
David Dawson, Lord Digby Jones and Andy Snell, Liverpool Chamber of Commerce at Northern Powerhouse Event
October 2015 Members' Business Briefing with Premier David Makhura Sponsored by Discovery
Chamber Members were addressed by Gauteng Premier David Makhura sponsored by Discovery, on the environment of the five developing corridors within the Gauteng Province and improving infrastructure within these divisions. Taking the opportunity to speak with British Companies regarding the strengthening of the Bilateral trade and industry relations between South Africa and the United Kingdom, Premier Makhura made reference to his upcoming visit to the United Kingdom in 2016 to further his dedication to this cause.
The viewpoint from the Premier, regarding South Africa as the gateway to Africa and Gauteng, as the commercial Business hub of South Africa, was evident in the video presentation to Chamber members. Many parallels were drawn between the United Kingdom and South Africa, particularly the comparisons between London and Gauteng being the entry way and safe haven for companies considering to expand their businesses into Europe and Africa.
With changes in place, Premier Makhura made mention of the development of the Gauteng Investment Centre as a "one stop shop" to handle all bureaucracy within a timely manner and with ease of movement on a commercial platform going forward. Businesses were encouraged to invest in education and work together with the Gauteng Province to collaborate on broadening these opportunities to the youth.
Photos courtsey of Andronica Nedzamba
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