Need for Government to Develop ‘Smart Communication’ to Sell SA

By Lynda Loxton

Published in Business Day, Johannesburg on February 26, 2002

Government was yesterday urged to develop “smart communications strategies” to get its message across that South Africa was a sound economic and investment prospect.

The call came fromĀ Jon Huggett, vice president of Bain & Company, a leading global management consulting firm, in response to appeals by President Thabo Mbeki and members of his International Investment Council at the weekend that not enough was being done to make the international community aware of the positive economic news coming out of South Africa and efforts being made to deal with problems areas such as poverty, HIV/Aids and Zimbabwe.

Hugget said his company often touted South Africa as “one of the world’s best investment destinations”. He said that, while most investors were generally wary about developing countries after September 11 and the crisis in Argentina, South Africa did not face any liquidity crisis, had a strong financial sector and a financially well-managed government.

“Now is a great time for international companies to consider opportunities in South Africa and government can attract them through smart communications strategies,” Hugget said.

“It calls for a fairly sharp bit of thinking.”

The positives in favour of investment in South Africa included the weak rand, the fact that South Africa was different from other developing countries and that it offered lots of opportunities for savvy investors who could sort out the winners from the losers.

What was needed was targeted communications strategies rather than advertisements in newspapers and magazines aimed at changing the perceptions of influential people.

Mbeki said on Sunday that after meeting his international advisers he was considering several strategies with which to sell the good news about South Africa to the rest of the world.