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Our World after the World Cup (Aug 2010)

Posted By Chris Reay, Tuesday, 14 September 2010
Updated: Thursday, 16 September 2010

My greatest hope is that the evident, positive and extraordinary atmosphere, energy charge and positive outlook that have emerged as a result of the way we staged the World Cup will serve to enable us to believe in ourselves and our abilities to reach the best standards for SA. Every citizen, and in our case, every engineering resource, has the opportunity and an obligation do something to get a new show on the road. We simply must not fall into a state of post-party hangover or depression, or back to business as usual.

I am personally tired of observing and commenting on so much of our past failures in this leader column. How many of them are actually easily enabled to be turned around and developed for the benefit of SA citizens? If we can project manage the WC with all its first-time challenges, why can't we get the relatively straight forward function of municipal service delivery right? The root cause is clear. Get rid of lousy, incompetent, unqualified, corrupt management; fire the officials who seem incapable of delivering, and are misusing funds. No more paid suspension and jobs for pals. But let's do it. Time to get private power producers going. Time to get the Acts amended that mess our potential to exploit our minerals. Time to get effective engineering training going. Get measures agreed to radically reduce the massive unemployment level. We will go bankrupt at the rate we pay more receivers of social benefits than have jobs. Reducing unemployment is our biggest challenge. Here is a thought, though. It comes from a recent SAIEE Presidential address.

"If one is looking for modern examples of the good old fashioned engineering approach to economic development, one needs to look to the East. When President Hu of China appointed his first cabinet in 2002, every one of them was an Engineer. Perhaps this in part explains China's ongoing extraordinary economic growth and industrialization”.

So, Members, how shall we go for the world cup in transforming a system that has been taking us for a ride for too long? A very positive development has just been announced and which exemplifies the ability of a lot of adversarial parties to get together and formulate a new deal all with a common goal. This is the recent mining commitment plan which followed the Citibank International report that SA sits on the most valuable mineral wealth in the world by far, streaks ahead of Russia and Australia in second and third places. We have R18 Trillion in an un-mined prize waiting for initiative, co-operation, funding, innovation, supporting infrastructure, skills development, employment and all the other benefits of a good, long term plan. Even Malema should be excited. It noticeably seems however to have eluded the government's own planning commission, but we all know how evident that has been.

Power and energy. Big plans now in hand for private power generation, and additionally an exciting development in advanced waste coal carbon combustion technology with almost no carbon footprint. Unless co-generation gets going, then any major mining and industrial initiatives will not have the power due to Eskom's limitations.

Can we catalyse the World Cup energy into ongoing action? It is up to everyone to make it happen. Tourism just has to escalate, which means major options for the service industry. I heard countless comments from foreign visitors at Cape Town's V& A waterfront at the semi-final on a beautiful evening that it must be the best all-round place for a World Cup.

The new SAIMechE website has the functions to enable interaction and debate. Can this connectivity and our a new feeling of optimism improve our collective advance into getting Engineers into the main arena? Sceptics, step aside. Let the game begin.

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