South Africa: Sunrise or Sunset?

I watched the brilliant red orb of the sun set in the distance from my
22nd floor hotel room in Johannesburg, South Africa. The next morning
the sun rose but was obscured by light air pollution.

Which of these sights best represents the future of South Africa?

The sunset argument centers around an incompetent government beset by
internal strife, corruption, and bad policies. The ruling ANC party has
fallen greatly from the glory years after the ending of apartheid.

The truly great moral authority of Nelson Mandela controlled tribal
rivalries and allowed all sectors of society to grow and receive many of
the fruits of the hard won freedom. His moral authority stopped the
vicious authoritarianism that has ruined Zimbabwe. He is perhaps the
greatest moral authority of any leader in the post WWII era.

But stepping down from power has allowed the sectarianism that underlies
much of South Africa to burgeon again.

Politics in SA is both about policy and tribal rivalry.

One of the key problems in SA is that there is a strong strain of
Communism in running the country. One of the three most powerful forces
in the country is Cosuto which is an avowed communist organization.
Their influence stabs the forces of progress and freedom in the back on
a daily basis.

The sunrise argument has some strong support as well.

One main argument centers around the unbelievable natural resources of
the country. We all hear about precious metals mining but the country
has many other resource such as natural gas and oil that could be
released through fracking and an abundant agricutural sector.

I heard Robert Kiyosaki speak at the National Achievers Congress in
Johannesburg where I was also a speaker. He half jokingly said that SA
was the richest country in the world. Why else did the white man come
down and steal all the natural resources? (Unfortunately, he doesn’t
realize that the whites were in SA first, not the current tribes of blacks!)

There is also a tremendous well of human capital waiting to be unlocked.
Good government policies would help further this development.
Unfortunately there is little going on here.

Finally, the monetary policies of the central bank have been pretty
good, better than most other countries. That has produced the best
monetary background of any African country.

In sum, the country can go either way. As long as it does not break down
into sectarian or tribal violence, I think that SA will continue to be
the best country in Africa.

While I was in SA, I met with two true South African insiders. One was
in business and the other a powerful, well connected finance executive.
Unfortunately, this description doesn’t really give the extent of his
power. I spoke to a local South African and he said that there are 4000
people in a queue waiting to see him and I jumped to the head of the queue.

They were working on projects to unleash the human capital and improve
education. I have high faith in these gentlemen to succeed. This will
have an important impact on the future of SA.

I was told about a woman who was a high level consultant. She decided to
move to SA when she could have gone anywhere. She was asked why she
chose SA. She said that it was a country where she could actually see
real progress caused by her consulting whereas the same consultation
would be a drop in the water if done in developed countries.

I was also struck with the incredible opportunities available for people
to make money in SA. There is a rising middle class and a very good
financial infrastructure.

I personally plan to set up a company in the next couple of months to
take advantage of many of these opportunities.

I have spoken highly of the opportunities in Indonesia in the past. The
opportunities are probably less than in Indonesia but still very high.
This would be a great place for a young person to really make their
mark. It is also a great place to invest for a more mature person who
has some skills to really maximize the value of those skills. It is far
possible to dominate an industry in SA than in the developed world.

This entry was posted in Investing General and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to South Africa: Sunrise or Sunset?

  1. robert roy says:

    wath do you tkink about investing in Irak. It’s now more peacefull, Citibank is there,not for nothing, and i heard that a big reevaluation of the dinar is coming soon
    Robert Roy

  2. Courtney: Thank you for sharing this birds-eye view of SA. You have really captured the essence of SA today. You POVcoincides closely with my own from 4 visits there in 2010. SA is like a teenage boy whose feet are too big for its body. It balances precariously on its own huge potential. I love your invitation to go down and be a part of it. It is an exciting place where you can gain access to people with strong economic position who are eager to have US influx, influence and support because there are not have all the echelons between start-ups and the very successful we have in the States. You can get to people. You can make things happen quickly. You can also get ripped off with false promises and lack of genuine wherewithal. The one thing you didn’t mention is living is way cheaper, service is terrific everywhere, and JoBurg has tons of fantastic restaurants at less than half US prices! I ate like there was no tomorrow! And is SA we’re still not sure if there will be!

  3. Greg de Barry says:

    Hi Courtney

    I was at the Orlando FTI Seminar in June. Fantastic, I learnt a great deal there. Thank you. I am a born South Africa now living in Canada for the last 8 years. I moved due to the opportunities CA has to offer.

    It’s great to hear that you are taking an interest in South Africa. It must have been very enlightening to speak to some very high profile people. It’s sad that the government’s policies, including Black Empowerment, self greed and of course crime seem to be crippling the country. There definitely potential for growth if the ANC focuses on the betterment of the country.

    Not sure if the statement ” (Unfortunately, he doesn’t realize that the whites were in SA first, not the current tribes of blacks!)” was a miss print or not. The Blacks are aboriginal to South Africa and Africa on the whole. The whites first settled in SA in the mid 1600’s and did a excellent job building the country until they felt that they were God’s chosen race, hence apartheid.

    I really do hope that there is a swing to the positive side in SA.

    Thanks for sharing.



  4. Makoba Ramanaledi says:

    Mr Smith, thank you for your presentation at the NAC at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg. You make complicated things so easy to understand. Please come back next year!

  5. Elisa Chen says:

    Hi Courtney:

    I am a big fan of yours and have been following you since my FTI in Jan 2012. However, I have to speak up when you propose fracking as a good thing for South Africa. Fracking is short sighted and deterimental to the land and the people on it. Pumping chemicals into the land to release natural gas contaminates the water of the surrounding communities and increases the release of greenhouse emissions into our environment. Instead of fracking, we would be better served developing and investing in clean energy sources. Please watch the excellent documentary, Gasland II, on this subject.

    I have to also second Greg in calling into question that the white man was in South Africa before the black tribes. Jan van Riebeeck landed at the Cape of Good Hope in 1652, surely the people he found there where aboriginal blacks and not whites.

    Thank you for letting me share my thoughts.

    • courtneyds says:

      What is the alternative to tracking?
      There were pygmies in SA which are long gone. None of the current black tribes are from SA.

  6. Hi Courtney – great insight on SA. I’d be keen to hear what you think on Botswana (I’ve just moved to Gaborone so it’s a topic that’s literally ‘close to home’!). Being only 4 hours from Joburg, it’s heavily influenced by SA. It seems to have a relatively stable government that’s heavily focused on national growth and development. But they’re placing so much dependence on diamond mining, you can’t help but wonder if it’s a bubble that could burst. What do you think? Growing or dreaming?

  7. This blog was… how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I’ve found something that helped me.
    Thanks a lot!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *