Sustainable South Africa fact file

The theme of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development was ‘People, planet, prosperity’. Here are 30 fast facts on how South Africa is giving substance to this slogan.

Did you know that …

PEOPLE

  • Education. Adult literacy is up from 87% to 92%. 23% of South Africans have passed the matric examination, compared to 14% in 1994. Unisa’s Graduate School of Business is the largest in the southern hemisphere. (Source: SA Advertising Research Foundation)
  • Electricity. 69.8% of South African households have electricity. In rural areas, electrification has increased by 218%, or 1.98 million households, in seven years. This means that over half of rural households have electricity at their disposal, compared to just 17% in 1994. (Source: SA Advertising Research Foundation)
  • Employment. South Africa’s labour legislation is among the most progressive in the world, providing for nine institutions to settle disputes and ensure fairness in the workplace.
  • Empowerment. The South African business landscape has changed rapidly over the last decade as large companies have merged with their black counterparts, formed joint ventures or sold stakes or entire companies to black consortiums. The Employment Equity Act is recognised as one of most progressive empowerment laws in the world.
  • Gender. With three out of every 10 members of Parliament, nine of 27 Cabinet ministers and eight of 14 deputy ministers being women, South Africa ranks eighth in the world for women’s representation in government. Women also occupy 20% of seats in the country’s nine provincial legislatures, and 18% of seats in local municipalities. Women account for 6.6% of directors on boards of South African companies, one of the highest in the world. (Source: Business Day)
  • Health. South Africa’s malaria control programme was recognised by the World Health Organisation as the best in the Southern African region in 2001/2002. (Source: Department of Health)
  • HIV/Aids. Dr Debbie Glencross of the University of the Witwatersrand devised a new method for testing the immunity of Aids patients. The innovation is more accurate, cuts testing costs by more than a third, and has received worldwide recognition. (Source: The Star)
  • Housing. More than 70% of South Africans live in formal housing. Home ownership has increased from 66% to 77% since 1994 – an increase of 1.5 million family homes. Home ownership in urban areas has increased from 55% to 71% in the same period. (Source: SA Advertising Research Foundation)
  • Nobel Peace Prizes. The only street in the world to house two Nobel Peace Prize winners is in Soweto, south-west of Johannesburg. Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu both have houses in Vilakazi Street, Orlando West in Soweto.
  • Water. 83.4% of South African households have access to clean water. Since the beginning of 1999, four million more South Africans have got access to clean running water, with a 62% improvement in rural households with running water available either in the house or on the plot. (Source: SA Advertising Research Foundation)

PLANET

  • Alien vegetation. South Africa’s Working for Water project is the biggest conservation endeavour on the continent, tackling the scourge of alien vegetation head-on while employing in the region of 18 000 people.
  • Biodiversity. South Africa has the third-highest level of biodiversity in the world, and is the only country to contain an entire floral kingdom. The Cape Peninsula National Park has more plant species within its 22 000 hectares than the whole British Isles or New Zealand. Some 18 000 species of vascular plant (plants with vessels for bearing sap) occur within South Africa’s boundaries, of which 80% occur nowhere else.
  • Coastal care. South Africa’s Coastal Management policy is one of the best in the world, with the country being the first outside Europe to gain Blue Flag status for its coastal management. (Source: Department of Environmental Affairs)
  • Drinking water. South Africa is one of the only 12 countries in the world to supply safe, drinkable tap water.
  • Elephant conservation. There are approximately 12 000 elephants in South Africa. Since 1994 no elephants have been culled, thanks to a new elephant management plan.
  • Kruger National Park. The Kruger National Park supports the greatest variety of wildlife species on the African continent.
  • St Lucia. St Lucia on the northern KwaZulu-Natal coast was proclaimed a World Heritage Site in 1999. It includes a remnant of a primordial forest, and has five separate ecosystems: coral reefs, coastal dunes, lake systems, swamps, and extensive reed and papyrus wetlands. The lake supports some 600 hippos and 2 000 crocodiles. Two years ago the world’s most accessible population of coelacanths – the famous ‘fossil fish’ – was found off the St Lucia coast.
  • Transfrontier parks. The Transfrontier park that spans South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe is the world’s first conservation initiative of its kind. The 38 600 square kilometre park will be bigger than the Yellowstone National Park in the US, and even bigger than Switzerland, Belgium or Taiwan. (Source: Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park)
  • Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg Park. The Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg Park is a World Heritage Site – one of just 23 sites worldwide granted this status on the basis of both natural beauty and cultural significance. The 230 000 hectare protected area contains 500 known sites of San rock art.
  • Urban forest. The trees of Johannesburg form one of the largest urban forests in the world.

PROSPERITY

 

  • Conference destination. The International Convention and Conference Association places South Africa 20th on a list of top convention countries, and rates SA as the leading conference/meeting destination in Africa. For every eight tourists, one permanent job is created for a South African. About 30% of jobs created from tourism in South Africa are derived from conferencing.
  • Exports. Japanese researchers acknowledge that South Africa’s export performance in the last four years is better and broader that that of Japan in the fifties and sixties, considered their boom years. (Source: INSIG Magazine, August 2002)
  • Fruit export. South Africa is the second largest exporter of fruit in the world. (Source: The Embassy of South Africa in Jakarta)
  • Foreign debt. South Africa today has one of the lowest ratios of gross foreign debt to GDP of any developing or semi-developed country. South Africa also has the most advanced economy of any country on the African continent. (Source: The Embassy of South Africa in Jakarta)
  • GDP per capita. The 2002 World Competitiveness Yearbook notes that South Africa has the sixth biggest increase in GDP per capita, compared to ninth place in the previous year.
  • JSE. The JSE Securities Exchange is the most traded stock exchange of any emerging country. At least nine of the 22 developed country stock exchanges are smaller than the JSE. (Source: INSIG Magazine, August 2002)
  • Productivity. In the past 15 years, South Africans have become 50% more productive. In the same period, American productivity has improved by 30%. The pace of improvement in South African labour force productivity is among the four highest improvement rates globally. (Source: INSIG Magazine, August 2002)
  • Small business. Small businesses in South Africa absorb more than half the people formally employed in the private sector and contribute about 42% of the country’s GDP. (Source: Department of Trade & Industry)
  • Vehicle manufacture. South Africa is the sole producer of Mercedes Benz Class C right hand drive vehicles, and BMW of South Africa (a subsidiary of BMW AG Germany) provides more than 70% of the leather requirements of BMW AG’s worldwide production. (Sources: Dr Roelof Botha, Gordon Institute of Business School and 2002 Initial Quality Study, JD Powers & Associates)
  • Wine. South African wines win international awards every year, and we have the longest wine route in the world. (Source: Fair Lady Magazine, April 2002)

 

Source: International Marketing Council