Adrian Gore is one of South Africa’s top business men and has focused most of his time and effort providing health and sustainable livelihood opportunities for South Africans.
He funded Discovery Health, which is now SA’s largest medical support, which has provided healthcare for almost 2 million people. He is also the chairmen for Endeavor, a non-profit that provides entrepreneurial and business opportunities for emerging markets in economic development.
In short, he’s kind of a big deal and has made strides in supporting South Africa. I came across an Op-Ed of his from last fall that I thought was worth sharing.
In the Op-Ed he discusses the urgency for South Africa to become a leader amongst emerging markets and place its name on the map for economic and financial growth. He points to major countries such as China, Brazil, Russia, and India (CBRI) as examples of countries that have risen to become economic powerhouses, despite issues of corruption and poverty. Interestingly, he points out that what he believes to be South Africa’s biggest hindrance aren”t our fundamentals or resources, but rather our attitude…or skepticism.
He belives we are inhibitors of our own growth, allowing our insecurities and history to prevent us from believing that we are capable of growing and reaching a level of utmost success. While he does address issues in SA that one might consider to be majorly problematic, he also illustrates how the countries mentioned above face similar issues (and sometimes, worsely), but still manage to work past them.
Here are a few for thought:
•Brazil has similar levels of crime to South Africa, and shocking levels of corruption. Almost 30% of its Senate and House of Congress face criminal charges or are under investigation;
•Russia’s corruption levels are dramatically worse than ours and, owing to public health and demographic problems, the absolute size of its population is declining;
•India has serious infrastructural problems, and 45% of its massive population lives on less than $1.25 a day;
•China too has tremendous challenges. Between 45 and 50 million people a year move from rural areas to urban areas. Estimates show that China needs to build 35 000 skyscrapers and equip 175 major cities with mass transit systems by 2025 to deal with this exceptional mass of urbanisation
This isn’t meant to scare anyone, but it is the reality of the situation. So, though we’ve faced many struggles, we’ve already recently accomplished a great deal.
Here, Gore lists out some of our recent accomplishments:
To host a World Cup requires an inter-connected economy with sophistication in infrastructure, telecommunications, financial services, and more. Research after the World Cup showed that 70 – 90% of the people who visited South Africa rated us as “excellent” or “very good” across a range of measures, from accommodation to stadiums and even safety at the games. Our performance from an infrastructural perspective was even more remarkable. For the two seminal World Cups prior to ours, held in the USA in 1994 and Germany in 2006, almost no new infrastructure was required, whereas South Africa faced a staggering task. We needed to build six new stadiums, an entirely new airport (and do major upgrades on two others), the Gautrain, and other transport infrastructure. Yet we excelled, delivering more than we had committed to in the bid document. We built six stadiums simultaneously in around 30 months and at an average cost of $250 million dollars.
Compared to the Yankee Stadium, Wembley, the Allianz Arena and others, both the time scale and costs of South Africa’s projects were significantly lower. The same holds true for the building of King Shaka International Airport and the Gautrain versus similar projects internationally. Yet very few people give South Africa credit for its ability to roll out large infrastructural projects quickly and efficiently.
It’s interesting to read these two components (the good and bad) side-by-side. It’s a bit oxymoronic, but undoubtedly proves to us the successes we’ve already had, and how we can continue to use those lessons learned and examples to grow, and improve. As Gore mentioned, this effort isn’t led solely by govermnent, but by people and public services, too. With a bit of optimism and leadership, South Africa ‘can and must excel.’