Quietly, while the rest of the country’s economy seems to be gasping for breath and while infrastructure crumbles before our eyes, the motor industry is helping remind us that South Africa has the potential to be great.
Global carmakers have bet their money on us as a manufacturing base, not only for the local market, but for export. To help them, the government has set up a number of special economic zones around the country.
The one in Tshwane has seen global players Ford in Silverton, as well as BMW and Nissan, both in Rosslyn, north of Pretoria, invest huge amounts of money in plants geared to exports. Nissan has just seen its first Navara bakkie roll off the production line.
The plant has been designated as Nissan’s light commercial vehicle hub for the entire African continent.
And the local Nissan experts are sharing their knowledge and skill in training engineers and technicians from Ghana and assisting in setting up a similar plant in that country.
If a global player like Nissan has confidence in SA– and in Africa – it is an optimistic sign for the future.
However, the government must be warned: do not kill the goose which lays the golden eggs through socialist bureaucracy.