Blog: Dave LeggettLast letter from Port Elizabeth

Dave Leggett | 7 May 2004

I've just been on a trip to look at the Coega deep water port and industrial park under construction. The scale was pretty awesome and the port is said to be needed because of capacity constraints at existing facilities here. Right now the port construction itself is very, very big hole. It will eventually be flooded with seawater in operation described as 'like filling a swimming pool with a garden hose'. Pity - I rather liked the idea of something more spectacular, but the more gradual approach is kinder to marine life and is also a more controllable operation.

Yesterday's conference brought up some interesting issues for SA's auto industry. How the place can compete in a global setting with scale economies so important was a recurring theme. More volume - for the domestic market or export - is key. One point I made in my presentation was that measures of SA per capita income and car ownership suggest that there is room for car market growth in the future, but affordability is a key issue. That's a controversial issue here and there seems to be a fair bit of scepticism about the popular car type of concept applied, for example, in Brazil. The economic development issues faced here are considerable challenges for the future of course.

I must say, Port Elizabeth seems is a nice place to spend a few days. They're 'going into winter' here at this time of the year, but the sunshine is bright and the temperature during the day yesterday was around 30 degrees Celsius. I was chatting earlier to a Brit who works for a Tier 1 here. He's been here for a few years with his family and is in no hurry to return. Alas, I've a monster journey back to Blighty ahead of me. Just time for a quick lunch next to the sea.

Chicken curry and rice for £2 - about a third of what it would cost at home.


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