By Doug Woolley, GM of Dell Technologies South Africa
What does it take to complete a marathon? You definitely have to get up and compete on the day. But that’s not what decides the outcome. It resulted from getting up every morning to train. It required reprioritising lives to prepare for the marathon. It was eating right and maintaining focus on the goal. It relied on support, both within and from friends and family.
We tend to look at people who do great things and tell ourselves they are talented. Yes, they are, but so are we all. The difference isn’t natural ability but the will to keep going even when it was really hard to do so. This difficulty is why nobody just decides to spontaneously run a marathon today. Success comes from many small steps.
When asked about South Africa’s future, I base my opinion on this philosophy. Don’t just look at where we want to be - look at what we’re doing right now. I believe 2019 has been significant in that respect and is setting the stage for 2020 to go even further.
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s investment drive secured R363 billion in 2019, 17% more than from 2018 and a total of R663 billion since he took office in October 2018. These are commitments from both local and foreign investors. In November, the state launched BizPortal, an online and integrated portal for inexpensive and quick business registrations. This service is not a small development: the complicated process of registering a business in South Africa has long been an issue and barrier to economic growth. This administration turned that around in a year.
The high-tech Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone broke ground in November. This enormous smart city development will massively increase our automotive industry’s revenue and employment. The President’s 4IR commission has already delivered its first report, and there is credible momentum behind assigning much-needed spectrum for digital connectivity.
We do have significant challenges as well. It’s effortless to see where South Africa falls short. We could point to slowing GDP growth or expanding unemployment. Problems are easier to spot than solutions. But there are solutions on the ground, and they are part of a greater positive trend.
There have been big changes in attitudes and actions towards SA’s problems. I won’t sugarcoat our reality. But, just as someone preparing for a long marathon, the signs of progress don’t only count in the final event. They are significant because of the hard work, focus and determination that went in beforehand.
Let’s not forget the Springboks are rugby world champions, again, and the only team to have held the trophy three times. The Springboks prove the value of resilience and playing the long-game. Dell Technologies signed up as sponsors just after their disastrous loss to the All Blacks. Back then, the team committed to winning the Rugby World Cup. They have talent, yes, but they got there with focus, dedication and continual improvement. That final match wasn’t easy, yet the Springboks crushed the English team by being focused and cohesive. Many small steps create such habits.
South Africa is delivering its own small steps. There is more decisive action and visible movement. We are a strong country that has been to the brink many times and taken blows that would have sunk other nations. Yet we still stand and, in 2020, I believe South Africa will become even stronger.