October / November 2015

October / November 2015


Emerging market woes aren’t helping …
so let’s get on with the business at hand

IF YOU have recently become more interested in global economic trends, trying to understand how emerging markets are getting hammered and the Rand seems to continue its never-ending downward spiral, you are not alone.

But no matter how much research you do, like reading up about economic trends and developments in Business Report, the Business Times, the Economist, Moneyweb and the many other financial publications around, you will probably be none the wiser. It’s a serious quagmire and way beyond our control.

So what’s to be done about the dire financial situation? First of all, South Africa is not the only country that is struggling: quite a number of other currencies have been hit even harder. Even Brazil and Turkey, whose plastic industries have some similarities to ours, have been coming off as badly or even worse.

There’s probably nothing specific you can do besides getting on with the business at hand. If anything, let’s look for opportunities, in which respect the low Rand has got to present opportunities for export.

The time ahead is going to be tough, but let’s not get sidetracked – like rubber-necking at a freeway prang and then crashing yourself. That’s an absolute no no.


Drinking from the tap can’t be taken for granted

Drinking water directly from the tap is a luxury that many of us take for granted, but that may not be the case in the future in South Africa. That’s a deduction made from presentations at the recent SAPPMA Pipes IX conference in Midrand: besides damage to ground water caused by wide-scale coal mining and prospecting, particularly on the Highveld, an estimated half of the country’s 800-plus sewage works are apparently not working effectively. Plastic pipe offers one of the best solutions for these problems and it’s got to be hoped that government and local authorities will begin to follow through with contracts … and actually commission the work.


Tributes deserved

We unfortunately have several obituaries this issue and although this is coincidental (and not a sign of the challenging times), it does lead one to reflect on the roles played by some outstanding individuals. Professor Ron Sanderson, who virtually single-handedly put the study of polymer chemistry on the map in South Africa, passed away in September at age 72. When Sanderson commenced his studies in polymer chemistry at UCT in the 1960s, there was no actual course in the discipline. He pursued his studies in the USA and later established the Institute for Polymer Science at Stellenbosch, which is now a world-leading research centre in this area (and at the core of the materials used in our industry).

Two of the others who we unfortunately say farewell to here, Andy Sanders of Designa Plastics of Durban and Steven Bird of Hosaf, were likewise individuals who achieved notable things in their lives.

It’s impossible to quantify the full impact of any person, but the affect these people have had in terms of encouraging and enabling others to succeed is notable.


The lights seem to be back on

We don’t want to get our hopes up too soon, but after almost two months without power outages, it looks like Eskom is getting its house in order. The only clear change in our perspective is that of the change of personnel at the top: stand-in CEO Brian Molefe was wise to bring along CA Anoi Singh, who is acting CFO, and – amazingly – things are getting sorted. That’s probably because suppliers are now being paid on time.

Martin Wells, Publisher