Stand against pessimism
There is a growing current of pessimism and cynicism among South African businesspeople. We mustn’t let it develop any further.
It is time for business to put greater pressure on government to get its house in order, and to stand up to reclaim our country’s future.
Society in South Africa lost its trust in the government to find solutions to our problems many years ago. Now, sadly, I get the sense that it’s losing its faith in the private sector too.
In the past, local businesses had confidence we could find solutions to the problems around us. We knew we could innovate and make a plan. Sadly, that can-do spirit has eroded, giving way to a sense of despondency under the burdens of economic and infrastructural failures.
This is not who we really are. South Africa is a resilient country, with resilient and creative people who have transformed the country in the past due to their sheer determination. We need to own and live out this identity once again.
It is also important to keep a sense of perspective and acknowledge that this year did not bring only bad news. The Rand lost value against the US Dollar but not as much towards the year’s end as economists were predicting, and not as much as other emerging countries’ currencies.
The timber treatment industry continued to do business in South Africa and other countries, despite the hardships.
Another big positive of 2022 for Dolphin Bay was our shift towards automation, which has significantly reduced our turnaround times. This means we’re able to respond much more quickly to our clients’ requests for CCA than previously, and our factory is much more productive.
We’re proud to be leading the industry in our manufacturing processes.
“We focus on how we can improve the society around us, and the environment in which our team works. This is what is within our reach to change, and this is what we’re doing.”
A long supply chain
To acknowledge the difficulties of 2022, our company, like other businesses, faced pressure on pricing, exchange rates, and the difficulties of moving stock.
The demand for our timber preservative varies widely with location. In South Africa, the demand for CCA doesn’t fluctuate too much, as the timber treatment market is mature and comparatively constant. In other African countries, demand can spike by 200% one month, only to drop by the same amount a month later. We understand this and – as far as possible – plan for it.
Navigating this unpredictability is part of doing business for us.
We have a very long supply chain. Currently, it takes about four months for us to get raw materials and manufacture our CCA, and another three months to ship the wood preservative to our clients. The current seven-month cycle will have to be completed before our overall lead times can improve again.
It’s difficult to predict how this will play out, given the myriad contributing factors.
“I believe we can be optimistic about the future and am confident that we have the resilience and the problem-solving ability to shape what lies ahead.”
Navigating the threats
Looking ahead to 2023, we remain wary of the situation at South Africa’s ports. As an import/export business, we appreciate how crucial Transnet is to our operations and the entire local economy. We also know that far too little capital is being invested in the parastatal and, as a result, the effectiveness of our ports remains low.
The latest edition of the Container Port Performance Index released by the World Bank and S&P Global Market Intelligence, ranked Cape Town at at a miserable 365th place out of 370 facilities world-wide, Durban at 364 and Gqeberha as the best local port at 312th place. These assessments are based on the time vessels need to spend in port to complete their workloads.
This must change.
The devastating Covid-19 outbreak and Russia’s war in Ukraine showed us that disastrous bolts out of the blue can strike at any time and dramatically shift how we do business. However, I am an optimist and expect next year will be a more predictable year, with current trends continuing and shifting gradually.
This year will probably provide us with more of a blueprint for 2023 than was the case in recent years.
I believe we can be optimistic about the future and am confident that we have the resilience and the problem-solving ability to shape what lies ahead.