Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category

South Africa on the move

October 5, 2013

You hear lots of stories about the lack of personal safety in many parts of Africa. So we asked Kym Fuller (former Chair of RDA Western NSW and now director of Cerful Travel, a tour operator based in Victor Harbor, South Australia) for a frank report of his tour of South Africa. It was a pleasant surprise. Below is Kym’s report.

Yes, I am currently taking tour groups, and South Africa was great – the difference between now and 15 years ago on my first visit was chalk and cheese. At no time did we feel uncomfortable – the white population is under 10%, but as one ex South African Broadcasting executive mentioned “the fire is out of the eyes” which was certainly noticeable everywhere we went.

The road infrastructure is amazing and the number of new cars on the road is impressive. The retail side of things looks to be booming. There were a number of new shopping centres we saw that were very busy. One of the most impressive pieces of infrastructure is the new Kingshaka airport in Durban. When it opened they completed the move from the old airport in one night so they closed the old airport after the last flight, and the first flight landed at the new airport the next morning. Apparently the Brits were using it as a case study for their airport dilemmas.

With the favourable exchange rate, travelling over there is a breeze. The food is fantastic as is the local wine. We stayed in 4.5 – 5 star accommodation, which was very affordable. We also traveled up to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, where they have totally abandoned their local currency in favour of USD. All of the workers are paid in USD and they seem to be really happy, everyone we came in contact with were friendly and very welcoming. We arrived at the tail end of the World Trade Organisation conference which was a big deal for Zimbabwe and Zambia – the airport was being upgraded and the roads had been fixed up.

The airfares are pretty competitive (as low as $1500 return from Perth/Sydney) and given the increasingly strong linkages to South Africa, WA folk in particular should be making a point of seeing this fascinating country.

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The power of music (BEST PRACTICE)

September 9, 2010

The Cockatoo Network has numerous members in Canada, and one of them is Barry Critchley, Canada’s leading journo on the corporate sector, bond issues and stuff that makes your head hurt.

Well Barry has forwarded an inspirational video based around a collaborative performance from musicians in New Orleans, Santa Monica, the Netherlands, South Africa and other places. It also sums up a lot of the work that the Cockatoo Network does!

The video is especially significant in that New Orleans used to have a worldwide reputation in jazz, and Cockatoo members (notably Paquita Lamacraft) were heavily involved in the creative arts clusters there.

Since the Cockatoo Network is currently linking clusters across the world as a means of generating trade and investment opportunities, anyone in the creative arts space should be talking to our man in Louisiana, David Dodd at dodddavid4@gmail.com. In any case, tell your mates about his video clip! http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=2539741

Addendum – Russ Fletcher (Montana) wrote: Here’s the full story of this great video and what’s it’s fostered in the years since it was filmed.http://www.playingforchange.com/

South Africa’s design ‘learnerships’

March 18, 2008

Thekwini Further Education and Training College in Durban, the commercial and cultural hub of Kwa Zulu Natal Province, offers artistic community and diploma level craft and design programs.

They target existing artists, and focus on entrepreneurship, marketing development, and product improvement. Beginners can enroll in “Learnerships,” a holistic approach leading to National Qualification Certificates at various levels.  

The college also works on community projects. The Thekwini Cato Manor skills development centre is partnering with Sukuma, a local community organization, on various cultural industry initiatives, including arts & crafts.

At diploma level, they have design programs in Arts, Fashion & Industry. 

Source: CraftNet – an international network of community colleges devising innovative ways through partnerships to develop artisan-based strengths. Projects integrate design, production, technology, marketing, collaboration, and business management skills.

Go to www.rtsinc.org/craftnet/index.html 

Rise in R&D tax breaks, says OECD

November 11, 2007

More OECD governments are giving companies tax breaks to drive innovation and cut their direct spending on R&D, while also encouraging public research organisations to commercialise their inventions, according to a new OECD report.

The key findings of the OECD Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard 2007 are:
·          two thirds of OECD members offer businesses tax subsidies – up from 12 a decade ago.
·          Spain, China, Mexico and Portugal provide the largest tax subsidies.
·          Canada and the Netherlands continue to be more generous to small firms.
·          Emerging economies – Brazil, India, Singapore, South Africa – also offer a generous tax environment for businesses investing in R&D.
·          Sharp rise in globalisation of innovation e.g. international co-authorship of scientific publications.
·          Foreign ownership of domestic patents up 50% between early 1990s and early 2000s.
·          EU countries interact most with each other – less globalised than USA (interesting!).
·          Total gross expenditure on R&D grew 4.6% p.a. in real terms between 1995-2001, but slowed to 2.2% p.a. between 2001-2005.
·          In the USA, 4/5 of researchers work in business sector – in Japan it’s 2/3, and 1/2 in EU.
·          No. of business researchers grew rapidly in smaller OECD countries – NZ, Portugal, Spain, Iceland and Greece (10% p.a. in past decade). In China, 15% p.a.
·          USA has the most biotech firms (2,200), followed by Japan and France (800 each). But biotech patents has been falling – due to more restrictive criteria applied by patent offices, and end of the wave of patenting that followed the decoding of the human genome.
·          80% of Korean households have high-speed broadband access – also has highest surplus in ICT goods trade balance, followed by Finland, Hungary and Japan.

Contact us at apd@orac.net.au for more information.

Collaborator profile – Nigel Gwynne-Evans (Cape Town)

October 15, 2007

 Who and where are you? – I am a born and bred Cape Townian, currently sitting in an office overlooking Greenmarket Square, a pulsing tourism market in the heart of the City!  Apart from a 5 year “OS” stint (isn’t that what you call it in Aus) in the UK, working for a research institute, and doing a post-grad degree,  have been working in CT, first for our investment promotion agency, and for the last 8 years in the trenches with our provincial Department of Economic Development.  

What’s your job? – I’m the provincial director for sector development, and manage a team of about 25 staff divided into 4 sector units (the usual – Creative, Manufacturing, Services and Resource-based – who in turn manage some 15 “special purpose sector vehicles”), as well as an Innovation and Workforce Development Unit thrown in.  So my job entails dealing with the daily 100 e-mails, sorting out HR and finance issues, and trying to keep positions filled. In between that I have some exciting project-related meetings.  

What’s exciting you at present? – Our offshore marine engineering sector is going ballistic at present, with the West African Oilfields becoming increasingly significant globally. Our call centre initiative has attracted some significant international operations and is growing at some 25% a year. Our ICT sector has just completed a major benchmarking that has revealed some fascinating results. We are also looking at establishing a heavy-hitting mega-project unit within our IPA to fast-track the big ideas.  We have also been awarded the international TCI conference on clusters and innovation for 2008, so hope to see some of you over here!  Also trying to squeeze in time to get a PhD around cluster measurement airborne.  Oh yes, and 2010 Soccer World Cup!   

What are your top 3 tips on how to collaborate? 1. Appoint sector-focused network brokers, who know industry, have A-type personalities and lots of energy.
2. Throw in some funding from government to cover above salary or two plus operating costs.
3. Allow to brew for 3-5 years! 

What collaborative projects would interest Cockatoo readers? – How to manage a cluster program from a regional level, and how to tweak and optimise it – we’re really trying to refine what works best – and how to get our cluster managers to collaborate and share working practices.  

ngwynne@pgwc.gov.za

Sonoma County, California (BEST PRACTICE)

October 15, 2007

This website – www.sonoma-county.org/edb – is a beauty. And we have been tracking these folks for a couple of years – Santa Rosa is their HQ, about 50km north of the Golden Gate Bridge. So we contacted Ben Stone to see if it’s OK for Cockatoo members to drop in and have a yarn.

Here is his reply. ‘Oh yes, would LOVE that! We have a coterie of Aussie and Kiwi winemakers, along with some Brits believe or not … and a few South Africans (don’t know what the nickname is for them)…so, happy to meet them!  

Ben Stone, Director, Sonoma County Economic Development Board, 401 College Avenue, Suite D, Santa Rosa, CA. Phone 707-565-7170 bstone@sonoma-county.org    

Wine supply chains: Australia-South Africa-Canada?

February 17, 2006

Philippe Roy (Ottawa) writes ‘We continue to enjoy Australian wines in Canada, both reds and whites, all of a uniformly high quality, full bodied and lots of diversity in characteristics and flavours.

Can you do an article on Australian wine clusters, and invite other countries and regions to respond with wine cluster study reports? I can see Australia, NZ, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, USA, South Africa, Chile, Argentina, all over a longer period of time. Winemaking is a multi-billion dollar industry globally.’ Cheers! Philippe Roy, Cluster Pathfinders, Ottawa, Canada. 

Professor Ian Marsh (Australian National University) replies
 
Australian wine industry has achieved spectacular success internationally – in just over a decade. While a number of environmental and external factors helped, the progressive development of a cluster structure introduced the critical element.

This is the central finding of a study Brendan Shaw and I conducted for the Australian Business Foundation. (See www.abfoundation.com.au).

The process began with the formation of a strategic plan for the industry (Strategy 2020). It  demonstrated the scale of the business development opportunities, particularly growth from exporting, the requirements for realising these opportunities, and why collaboration held the key. The opportunities exceeded what any producer could achieve by solo action. This report provided the grounds for ‘buy-in’ and collective ownership by producers.

The areas where collaboration and commitments were required from producers, researchers and marketeers were clearly specified. Industry leaders championed these proposals at industry conferences and forums.

Research and marketing agendas were established – and crucially, the agencies needed to drive collaboration were established. Where they already existed, the institutions adapted their programs to the new strategies. Over the course of a few years, 8 agencies were established or reformed to manage implementation. The most critical were the Australian Winemakers Federation (overall strategy), the Wine & Brandy Marketing Corporation (international market development) and the Grape & Wine Research Board (R&D).

In its appraisal of the industry, the respected Dutch assessor, Rabobank, scored the Australian effort against a variety of indicators e.g. natural advantages, economic context and the industry’s self-made capabilities. The Australian industry scored best in this latter category, clearly affirming the contribution of clustering to its ongoing success.   

Nigel Gwynne-Evans reports from South AfricaThe Wine Industry Plan is hot off the press. It is a commitment by the South African wine industry to deal with the legacy of a highly regulated economic environment and the challenges of increasing global competitiveness and discrimination along racial and gender lines. Aims to establish a “vibrant, united, non-racial and prosperous SA wine industry”.The South African Wine & Brandy Company is the key body, with 5 offices involved – Social & Economic Development; Human Resources Development & Training; Technology Innovation & Transfer (Winetech network); Generic Market Development & Promotion via Wines of South Africa (WOSA) and SA Brandy Foundation; Knowledge & Information Systems through SAWIS.  An interesting notion is a Wine Industry Scorecard (WIS) – to manage the process and create synergies. Each signatory will implement transformation strategies to be monitored by the SAWB.   Black economic empowerment will be attended to within all of these indicators.  A proposed checklist of indicators and benchmarks will be developed in the 10 categories:– Human resources development
–  Social upliftment & rural development
–  Business development, service providers & input suppliers
– Ownership & equity schemes
–  Governance systems & participation
– 
Quality & integrity
– Technology, innovation & transfer
– Market development & promotion
– Environmentally sustainable production practices
– Economic performance, efficiency & competitiveness.
 
The plan is available from South African Wine & Brandy Company – johan@sawb.co.za (Is there a window for technology transfer and supply chain initiatives between South Africa and Western Australia? Any interest, readers? – Editor).  

Pietermaritzburg cluster of theology

June 17, 2005

Silverhawk, our resident analyst, has discovered a celestial cluster, established in 1990.

 Pietermaritzburg (South Africa) has long been a thriving centre for theological study.

It is home to St Joseph’s Theological Institute, School of Theology of University of Natal, Evangelical Seminary of Southern Africa, and Federal Theological Seminary – all independent institutions and operating in isolation from each other. 

The Pietermaritzburg Cluster of Theological Institutions was launched in 1990. The Declaration of Intention stipulates that each participating institution is autonomous and has its own credo, its own denominational and ecumenical links, its own ethos and style. However, each institution commits to providing a contextual theological education in a changing South Africa.

The Cluster seeks to enhance the richness and the diversity, which each institution brings to it. The Cluster has made it possible for students of one institution, through means of cross registration, to follow courses in another. A computerized system links the various libraries.

A publishing venture, Cluster Publications was launched in 1991 and has since become a very professional enterprise. In order to cement the bond and facilitate interaction between the various institutions annual Cluster events bring together staff and students. These include Cluster Worship, a Cluster Celebration, a Cluster Staff Day and a Cluster Sports and Fellowship Day. 

Information Technology – the Cape Town experience

November 4, 2003

A major report by Infonomics South Africa was released in 2003. It charts the history of the Cape Town IT Initiative (CITI), a cluster development agency in the Western Cape province of South Africa.

The report provides learning material for future initiatives and to assist in future planning. It also includes lessons for cluster practitioners. Some that struck a cord with us are:

§          Cluster development relies heavily on the personal energy of individual champions.
§          The networking role of the CEO is vital.
§          Networks are based on people –clusters developers must provide opportunities for interaction.
§          Flagship projects are a useful rallying point.
§          Cluster developers need secure, sustainable operational funding. 

The report contains a SWOT analysis, which raised numerous issues. Interesting parts include:          

§          Strengths – the mix of funding sources (helped maintain appearance of neutrality); base-line funding from government; web presence – important branding tool; early recognition of the need to understand/analyse the ICT industry and cluster.
§          Weaknesses – seeking funds has been costly; lack of quantitative data about the cluster; lobbying and input into ICT policy development has not been consistent.
§          Opportunities – creation of a credible platform for international trade promotion (export of IT); closer linkages with research community; market Cape Town as a creative city.
§          Threats – cluster members will lose vision and passion; lack of funding over long-term; balancing  need for a formal operational system with maintenance of innovative and entrepreneurial culture. 

Contact Nigel or the Editor.

Information Technology – the Cape Town experience

June 25, 2003

A major report by Infonomics South Africa was released in 2003, and kindly forwarded to us by Nigel Gwynne-Evans.

It charts the history of the Cape Town IT Initiative (CITI), a cluster development agency in the Western Cape province of South Africa. The report provides learning material for future initiatives and to assist in future planning. It also includes lessons for cluster practitioners.

Some that struck a cord with us at Clusters Asia Pacific are:

§          Cluster development relies heavily on the personal energy of individual champions.

§          The networking role of the CEO is vital.

§          Networks are based on people –cluster developers must provide opportunities for interaction.

§          Flagship projects are a useful rallying point.

§          Cluster developers need secure, sustainable operational funding. The report contains a SWOT analysis, which raised numerous issues. Interesting parts include:

§          Strengths – the mix of funding sources (helped maintain appearance of neutrality); base-line funding from government; web presence – important branding tool; early recognition of the need to understand/analyse the ICT industry and cluster.

§          Weaknesses – seeking funds has been costly; lack of quantitative data about the cluster; lobbying and input into ICT policy development has not been consistent.

§          Opportunities – creation of a credible platform for international trade promotion (export of IT); closer linkages with research community; market Cape Town as a creative city.

§          Threats – cluster members will lose vision and passion; lack of funding over long-term; balancing  need for a formal operational system with maintenance of innovative and entrepreneurial culture.