The year a head in South Africa 2007

Information on the year ahead in South Africa – For Business traveler

The fallout from the tumultuous ANC Congress in Polokwane in late 2007 – at which Jacob Zuma defeated Thabo Mbeki for the ANC presidency – seems to indicate that the 14-year rainbow nation honeymoon is finally over.

It is relatively easy to identify the events that are going to dominate the headlines in South Africa in 2008; but much more difficult to predict the outcomes and the fallout. One thing is certain: the year ahead will be a testing one.

It will test the political maturity and the economic ingenuity of the new democracy. The prospect makes some South Africans uneasy, but not fearful. They have weathered worse storms before. But there is an unsettling realization that the country may be a very different place by the time 2009 rolls around.

Certainly it will have a new President waiting in the wings. Important Cabinet changes will be in the offing, if only to reward key members of the winning faction. The ANC will still be the ruling party, but an ANC drastically changed from within and under the control of a faction that rejects both the style and some of the substance of former ANC president, Thabo Mbeki…

Power struggle two

A power struggle of a different kind will play out in the year ahead, and for many years to come. Eskom, the country’s sole generator of electricity, started 2008 by confessing that there would be a chronic shortage of power for the next eight years, at least. It begged government to turn away any new project making large demands on power resources. And then it proceeded to introduce daily power-cuts across the nation, wreaking havoc on roads, causing factories, farms and businesses to lose millions, and domestic users to lose their equilibrium.

The timing could not have been worse.

South Africa’s prosperity hinges on attracting international capital to grow the economy. Power cuts scare investors. On top of that, the Soccer World Cup looms closer, and massive infrastructural development must be completed before then. Furthermore, the blackouts came just as the sub-prime crisis rocked bourses around the world. The cumulative effect is powerful.

From Cabinet down, emergency measures are being hatched. Some form of rationing will be imposed. South Africans have a reputation for ‘making a plan’, and patchwork solutions will almost certainly modify the crisis. But it is all devilishly inconvenient

South Africa Budget – June 2007

The Battle for Succession Continues

The month of June saw the rise of two political crises in South Africa… and their apparent dispersal. “Apparent”, because the rumbling clashes between the African National Congress leadership and its leftwing have not yet been resolved and are bound to continue for at least six months.

The first crisis, described in our May report, came when the Council of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) demanded a 12% wage increase for all public service workers, and then organised mass protests when Government responded with an offer of six-and-a-half percent. Settlement came in at a predictable seven-and-a-half percent – but only late in June, and after several weeks of emotive dispute with some some grandstanding. It led to a number of violent incidents involving illegal strikers among teachers and nurses, and to threats by union leaders of additional illegal strikes by police and emergency service union members. Senior ANC officials criticised Cosatu’s secretary-general for his demagoguery during the Public Service strikes. Some see mass militancy as an ominous card that might be used in future power plays.

National Policy Debate

The second crisis loomed when the national political power struggle over presidential succession was taken to the ANC’s mid-year policy conference. President Mbeki warned the Communist Party – strongly represented among the delegates and within the Cabinet itself – not to interfere with ANC policy. The Communist Party, in turn, is threatening to suspend any of its Ministers in the ANC Cabinet, or any communist MPs who implement government policy if it conflicts with its own. In this atmosphere, President Mbeki, as president of the ANC, offered himself as president of the ANC for a third term. (He is due to step down as President of South Africa in 2009). The Communist Party and Cosatu, who have shown signs previously of backing deputy ANC president Jacob Zuma for both posts, will publicly oppose Pres. Mbeki’s extended leadership of the ANC. Nominations for leader of the party open in September and the issue of succession will come to a head at an ANC national conference in six months time.

Power Shift Proposed

Meanwhile numbers of proposals have been adopted at this mid-year session for formal approval at the same December conference. The most significant was a unanimous resolution that aims to centralise political power at ANC headquarters – not in the President in parliament – and to strengthen the post of ANC Secretary-General. The two junior members of the government Alliance hail this move, and other actions at the mid-year conference, as “a shift to the Left”. But a majority of delegates saw it as a move away from presidential power to a wider more democratic system within the ruling party. However, some of the ANC conference’s proposals for socio-economic State intervention in the name of NDR (political-speak for ‘National Democratic Revolution’) and for centralization of police authority, may prove decidedly anti-democratic. The nation awaits the more measured and decisive national ANC meeting in December.

Economic Trends

Capital spending soared nearly 22 percent this year, according to the Reserve Bank’s quarterly bulletin released late in June. The surge pushed capital formation as a ratio of GDP above 20% for the first time in 18 years – well above the annual average of 16% during the decade 1995-2005. This trend is expected to increase productivity and thus help stem inflation (which was also held in check by the Government’s refusal to meet a demand for 12% wage and salary increases.) The bulletin states that the surge in capital formation suggests “attractive returns on fixed investment” during a period when production capacity is strained. It noted that growth in the construction industry was exceptionally strong this year, and that growth was driven mainly by the public sector investing in national infrastructure, including energy and transport. Growth in consumer spending was broad-based, with spending on most categories of goods remaining robust. Private Enterprise confidence barometre remained high.

The forecast by Nedbank in June was that Economic growth should ease further during the remainder of this year. Domestic spending should ease as growth in consumer spending moderates in response to rising inflation, higher interest rates and elevated debt burdens. Spending on roads, rail, harbours, and on major items such as sports stadiums for the Football World Cup in 2010 will continue apace.

South Africa at a Glance

South Africa at a Glance 2013-14 is the 19th edition of South Africa’s most popular pocket reference. This miniature yearbook doubles as a country profile and a source of general information about South Africa. But it also provides detailed, up-to-date information on Doing Business in South Africa, the economy, history, trade, tourism and labour. It is the ultimate business guide for the business traveller, fitting handily into your pocket or briefcase.

South Africa at a Glance has earned a reputation for credibility, relevance and utility in a very competitive market. Independent, easy to use, full of useful information presented in a well written narrative and more than a hundred graphics, it is the most up-to-date book of its kind in South Africa.

That is why South Africa’s National carrier, SA Airways distributes SA at a Glance in business class on all its international flights and the Department of Trade and Industry uses it around the world in their overseas trade offices and international trade fairs. It is also why it is widely used by embassies, trade offices and corporations resident in South Africa.

SA at a Glance is printed each year immediately after the budget presentation so that our readers get the latest official view on the state of the nation, along with the latest tax tables, economic data and other information critical to making business decisions – or simply understanding what the Rainbow Nation is all about.

There are also Mandarin and French versions of South Africa at a Glance.
PLUS new cover/ or a few covers (last year’s and this year’s)

How to Book a Gorilla Safari in Uganda and Rwanda

Gorilla trekking in Africa is among the most unique activities that you can do while holiday in Africa. Mountain gorillas are found in Virunga Volcanic Mountains in Eastern and central Africa on the borders of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, and Rwanda. The parks which hosts mountain gorillas include; Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla Park in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Rwanda. When I moved to East Africa, I realized that I had a special chance to experience something that only a handful of people get to do consistently and I wasn’t leaving the Africa until I saw some mountain gorillas!

The Logistics of Choosing a Tour
There are two things to remember when booking a gorilla tour in Rwanda and Uganda: the costs of a gorilla permit and the tour itself. All governments oblige everybody to get a gorilla permit to see the gorillas. The normal cost for a gorilla permit is about $600 USD. The gorilla permits are issued by the government of the nation where you will be booking your gorilla safari. In June 2012, Rwanda increased the gorilla permit charge to $750 USD. Uganda and Rwanda usually reduce the costs of these permits during the low season (September and October).

In looking for a safari in Africa, I decided to stay far from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) due to the complex visa process. Rwanda has no visa cost for visitors from most Western nations while Uganda charges upwards of $50 for single entry and $100 for multiple entry visas (for different nations).

Most gorilla groups are continually observed and tracked so that tourists are able to see them. Seldom are there circumstances when tourists don’t see them, even on the shorter 3 day gorilla trekking tours. On average, it is between $500 to $800 for the tour, depending on the travel company and also the size of the group. When you have a bigger group the costs go down since you are able to fill up the transportation vehicle. I used African Jungle Adventures Ltd one of the tour company in Uganda that offered me the rates below:

  • $870 for one person going alone on the trip
  • $485 per person for 2 people
  • $375 per person for 3 people
  • $340 per person for 4-6 people

I was fortunate to find a gorilla family of four gorillas and the total cost of my gorilla safari was $840, $500 for the gorilla permit and $340 for the tour. If you’re a single traveler, you may incur an extra expense of $50 for a private room. Breakfast and lunch were included in the tour.

When I first began reaching out the different tour companies, I attempted to make sure I chose a safari that had at least 4 people to keep ma costs low. I stayed in touch with a several companies that offered me the most minimal prices and in the end I found information that fit my schedule perfectly that likewise incorporated 4 people on the safari.

You can find a list of the travel agencies on the Rwanda tourism and Uganda tourism websites.
Arrived one day before my trek was booked simply in the event that something happened or there were permit issues and I needed to get anther Tour Company. However there was nothing to stress over. I paid the tour company and we were on our way.

Note: If paying in cash, make sure you bring bigger bills that were printed after the year 2000 otherwise anybody in Uganda won’t accept them.

Gorilla Trekking Safari Information

uganda-gorilla-safariGorilla Tracking safaris, the unique experience for most – it is not something that one can hurriedly assemble. There are exceptions where things become alright at last, but generally it is best to arrange your gorilla trekking trip well in advance – particularly during the peak season months of June to September and December to January.

Mountain gorillas are found in only three countries in the world, which are Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Gorilla safaris can be done peacefully only in two countries that is Uganda in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National park. Gorilla trekking in Virunga National Park in DRC per now it is impossible due to the political conflicts taking place in the forests of Virunga.

Uganda is home to over half of the total remaining population of these rare and endangered animals in the world and choosing to take a gorilla trek in either Bwindi Impenetrable Forest nor Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is the best option. The country has a good climate that favors a variety of flora and fauna – with over 364 species of mammals and 1062 species of birds. The country also offers an amazing view of the protected areas, luxurious rainforests, and the volcanic mountain make it a great place to visit.

Gorilla trekking is one of the most popular and interesting tour activities to do while you are in Uganda. On this safari you will get a memorable experience as you spend the day in the habitat of the largest primates and get the rare opportunity to watch them as close as you can get.

Before you go for gorilla trekking, you’re required to have a gorilla permit which can be acquired by either booking direct from Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) or you can contact any registered tour company in Uganda to secure for you a gorilla permit. But you have to remember that during the peak season months of June to September and December to February; gorilla permits are on high demand so you are advised to book in advance like 3 months before the trekking date.

There are also a lot of other activities that you can enjoy in order to make sure that you have a great time while you are here like the amazing chimpanzee tracking in Kibale Forest National Park, wildlife watching in different national parks in the country, white water rafting on Bujagali Falls, birding, cultural tours and city tours.

Uganda has over 10 national parks and 13 wildlife reserves that you can visit and see some of the other great wildlife that they have here. You will absolutely love a Uganda safari.

1 4 5 6