A section of the massive Absa Bank call centre in Johannesburg. South Africa’s business efficiency ranking improved significantly from 38 in 2008 to 30 this year, overtaking countries such as mainland China (37) and France (42). (Image: Chris Kirchhoff,MediaClubSouthAfrica.com. For more free photos, visit the image library.)Wilma den HartighSouth Africa has moved up five places in the IMD Business School and Productivity World Competitiveness Yearbook ranking, outperforming a number of developing as well as developed countries to be ranked at 48th place, up from last year’s position of 53.Each year the global survey sets out to rate 57 countries’ competitiveness in a range of areas, such as infrastructure, business efficiency and government policy.South Africa’s business efficiency ranking improved significantly from 38 in 2008 to 30 this year, overtaking countries such as mainland China (37) and France (42).In the economic performance category, South Africa ranked high for its trade and cost-of-living index, but lower for its unemployment rate, particularly for youth and long-term unemployment.Certain areas of government efficiency also received a good ranking. South Africa was placed at 26th place for the general extent to which government policies are conducive to competitiveness, slightly ahead of countries such as Germany the United Kingdom.It was also highly rated for effective personal income tax rates and employee’s social security contribution rate. But the country ranked low in the areas of exchange rate stability and equal opportunity legislation that encourages economic development.Its infrastructure ranking, which measures the extent to which basic technological, scientific and human resources meet the needs of business, improved from 55 in 2008 to 54 in 2009. South Africa was also ahead of India in this category, which came in at 57th position.Sello Mosai, executive manager of knowledge management and research at Productivity South Africa, said infrastructure investment is positive for any country, especially during an economic downturn. “It is the foundation of a growing economy and when an economy is in a slump, the only way to save a country is to give it an infrastructure investment injection,” Mosai said. Infrastructure investment also creates more jobs.He said South Africa’s infrastructure investment for the 2010 Fifa World Cup gave it a competitive edge over India. “We’ve seen massive developments in many areas such roads, airports and ports.”In comparison, he pointed out that India’s physical infrastructure such as roads and railways is struggling to keep up with the country’s growth – congestion on roads is still a familiar sight. India’s improvements have been mainly in telecommunications, information technology, research and development and its capacity to generate products.South Africa could fare even better on its infrastructure ranking in the future if it were to provide faster and cheaper broadband internet access, Mosai said. “Investment is starting to flow in for this. The latest technology is becoming more of a possibility.”Dr Azar Jammine, chief economist at Econometrix, said South Africa’s good economic performance ranking in the cost of living area is hardly surprising. “The cost of living in South Africa is fairly low and this encourages foreigners to relocate here,” Jammine said.He added that those who move here for jobs are mostly skilled professionals, and that the country is considered to have attractive working conditions, he said. Even though crime is a concern, the South African lifestyle remains pleasant.Jammine pointed out that the lower cost of living also has the important function of dissuading South Africans from leaving the country. “This could have a positive effect of keeping skills here.”The services sector in South Africa has also contributed to the country’s growth, Jammine said. “It is quite possible that this is where some of the biggest growth in the economy has occurred.” The country is particularly well known for its good medical and education facilities, he said. Medical tourism, where foreigners come to South Africa for medical procedures while simultaneously taking a holiday, is becoming increasingly popular.The 2009 World Competitiveness Yearbook also listed the problems South Africa must overcome: protecting the poor, building capacity for long-term growth by accelerating investment spending, sustaining employment growth and expanding training opportunities, addressing sectoral barriers to growth and investment, and maintaining a sustainable debt level.Jammine agreed that employment is a major issue to overcome. Although the growth in the services sector is beneficial for the country, he said it doesn’t create many lower-skilled jobs, where the greatest need is. “But this type of growth is still positive for South Africa.”He added that foreign asset managers continue showing interest in investing in South Africa. “South Africa is still seen in a positive light,” he said.Related articlesSA hosts World Economic Forum Top marks for SA auditing South Africa upbeat on economy SA leads continent in prosperity SA’s competitiveness steady Doing business easier in SA Useful linksIMD World Competitiveness Centre Productivity South Africa
The Baker Boys, a slapstick comedy act. Instructor Lizo James has been with thecircus for 14 years.A juggling performance in support ofWorld Aids Day. (Images: Zip Zap Circus School)MEDIA CONTACTS • Zip Zap Circus School+27 21 421 8622RELATED ARTICLES• Transforming lives through sport• SA children taught the game of life• School campaign helps change lives• Kids swap suburbs for townshipApril McAlisterWork and fun combine in the visionary concept of the Cape Town-based Zip Zap Circus School.Founded by MD Laurence Estève and artistic director Brent van Rensburg, the Zip Zap school of circus arts uses innovative methods to inspire and empower young people, equipping them with skills they can take with them into any life situation.Originally called Dare to Dream, the current name aptly originated from the mouths of children.Youngsters from all walks of life are encouraged to join the school where they learn invaluable life skills such as teamwork, trust and dedication, with the important element of fun as the foundation of all courses. Around 60 children are enrolled at any one time, and they have to learn to treat each other with tolerance and respect.Through professional training coupled with entertainment and fun, children are given an opportunity to become good citizens, to experience the world and receive recognition from audiences in other countries, thereby building their self-esteem. This allows them to fulfil their potential while they become young leaders and ambassadors for the school and for their country.There is no charge for studying at Zip Zap, thanks to assistance and sponsorship from the National Lottery Board, the Grandwest Cape Culture and Heritage Foundation, the National Arts Council, Cirque du Soleil, and others.Proceeds from the school’s performances, including corporate events, also help to fund its operations but, said Van Rensburg, they are always happy to bring more sponsors on board.A daring combinationCape Town-born Van Rensburg learned his daring aerial skills at a circus school in the suburb of Observatory between 1973 and 1978. For the next 15 years he travelled internationally, appearing under the big top and working as an instructor in France, Norway, Monte Carlo, Italy, the Netherlands, England, Denmark and the US.During December and January 1986 he worked as the late Patrick Swayze’s stunt double on the film Steel Dawn, shot in Swakopmund, Namibia.However, a back injury meant he could no longer perform and he decided to become an acrobatic instructor, completing a two-year course at the Clown College in Florida, US. After graduation he spent the next few years giving circus workshops at Club Med holiday resorts, and it was at one of these that he met his future wife.French-born Estève studied physical education after school and acquired a handful of teaching diplomas in various sports disciplines. In 1988 she completed her Masters in Science and Technology of Economy and Administration of Sports Institutions at the University de Paris IX.She learned her circus skills from Van Rensburg – they later performed as a duo trapeze act known as The Flying Classics in the Circus Gruss in France in 1991.In 1992 they returned to South Africa to pursue their dream of establishing a circus school for the Cape Town youngsters who spent most of their time on the streets.Backed by Van Rensburg’s 30 years of experience and passion for the circus, it wasn’t long before young participants were juggling, flying and tumbling, and two years later they debuted at the annual National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.Positive goalsThe school has a number of stated objectives – these are to “enhance the lives of young people who would otherwise never be exposed to the magic of the performing arts”, while entertaining audiences of all ages and from all cultures. It also aims to equip the children with the skills to live sustainably, and foster the priceless qualities of self-esteem, confidence, self-expression and mutual respect.In doing so Zip Zap works to break down cultural differences and to facilitate coexistence between all South Africans. Also, it aims to nurture talent and, using the language of the circus, develop literacy and communication.Finally, Zip Zap’s children act as ambassadors for Cape Town and South Africa.A circus way of lifeVarious courses are offered, from on-demand training at beginner level to a full-time adult course. Children begin their training at age seven, continuing through to adulthood where they may become independent performers or stay with the Zip Zap Circus School and help out in all areas pertaining to the running of the shows.Initially, young children are taught as and when they wish, with no set schedule for lessons. Here trust, teamwork and confidence using music and dance are introduced.Older children keep to a more rigid lesson schedule, which teaches them the paramount importance of teamwork and discipline in the circus environment. They may choose circus acts and receive specialised training in those areas.A full-time program is offered for adults, which teaches all the skills needed to run a circus. These include financial management; communication; healthy living, sound and video editing; sewing; choreography; rigging; circus instruction and direction; and travel planning.Zip Zap also holds an annual Trainers of Trainers short course, where instructors from Canada’s renowned Cirque du Soleil, and their colleagues from Africa and elsewhere in the world, come together to share circus teaching skills as well as knowledge and methodology.Hope for the future:The Cirque du Soleil has an outreach program, Cirque du Monde, which is active throughout the world. Zip Zap is a Cirque du Monde partner in South Africa.Cirque du Monde sponsors Zip Zap’s annual Trainers of Trainers course as well as their Ibhongolwethu project, which operates in the semi-informal township of Khayelitsha on the outskirts of Cape Town.With the help of Médecins Sans Frontières, Zip Zap staff run a programme twice a week for HIV-positive children on antiretroviral treatment. This provides children who have dealt with hardship and illness most of their lives with a sense of worth, belonging and a positive outlook for the future. The community in turn learns awareness, acceptance and understanding about HIV/Aids.The programme culminates in an annual performance at a local community centre.Local and international performancesThanks to the experience of its founders, Zip Zap’s performances are on par with international standards, and are professionally executed and highly entertaining. The team has been invited for the fourth time in as many years to perform in Paris in October, with a month-long tour of France to follow.South African fans can catch their next show at the Spier Estate in Stellenbosch, Western Cape province, on 30 October 2010.
22 August 2016South Africa’s current triangular electrical plug/socket standard is set to be replaced over the next 10 to 50 years with a more effective and safer hexagonal plug, according to the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS).SouthAfrica’s new proposed ZA Plug socket standard explained. (Infographic: MyBroadband https://t.co/W1qL8Jw9HZ) pic.twitter.com/NZvyXpItX7— CDAnderson (@bizarrojerri) August 18,2016Called the SANS 164–2 or ZA Plug, the new standard looks similar to the commonly used two-point Europlug standard, used on most cell phone chargers and small appliances. The ZA Plug incorporates an additional third ‘earth’ pin in the design. The new design’s socket will be able to accommodate the two-point Europlug.While the adoption of the ZA Plug is relatively new, the standard is more than a decade old, having been developed as a global plug and socket standard by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) since 1986. However, South Africa and Brazil are currently the only countries intent on adopting this new standard.The new design has been adopted by the SABS as “preferred configuration for new installations” since 2013. As more commercial manufacturers begin to embrace the new design into their products, an awareness campaign to highlight the conversion to ZA Plug has now been intensified.In 2014, following the first details of the new standard, South African consumers expressed concern that replacing existing power supply points and appliances plugs would happen immediately and would be costly.However, according to a statement released by SABS recently, the roll-out of the new standard would be gradual and South Africans would be free to still use the old standard, stating that the implementation of a new standard could take “[up to] 50 years”.The statement also reiterated that the ZA Plug will be safer and more cost- effective as it continues towards full integration.The Electrical Contractors’ Association of South Africa (ECASA) say the conversion may eventually lead to the demise of multi-format plug adaptors and therefore make appliances more stable and safer. The organisation has stated that amendments to its Wiring Code will include that “all socket outlets (will) incorporate at least one socket complying to the dimensions of SANS 164–2, effective from March 2018”.Four reasons why the ZA Plug is better than the standard plug system, according to My Broadband website.Compatibility. Cell phone chargers and devices using Europlugs will be able to fit the ZA Plug socket, more directly to the power source, without the need for an adaptor.Expansive. Current triangular three-prong wall sockets can only securely accommodate two plug outlets. The smaller ZA Plug format can safely have up to four outlets per wall mounted socket, doing away with the need for multi-plug adaptor strips.Safer. The ZA Plug socket uses smaller holes, so no fingers or small objects can be inserted.Smaller. The ZA Plug is smaller and less bulky than the standard triangular three-prong plug, taking up less space and weight in transporting appliances.Source: My BroadbandWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website?See: Using SouthAfrica.info material