How to not panic in SA

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I ended 2014 seriously pessimistic about SA’s economy for 2015. It felt as though we were going into a serious recession driven by rising interest rates and a weakening Rand.

I was scrambling to make sure all hatches were battened down and we were ready to weather the storm.

And then oil prices fell 50%. Suddenly SA’s economy looked brighter than ever… We were saved! Luckily I didn’t completely panic otherwise I’d feel like a fool today.

And yet here we are again. I find myself a tad worried. Xenophobic attacks, Rhodes statues, load-shedding.

Its enough to make you wonder, “Is this it? Game over, insert coin?”

I wish we didn’t have these distractions from the big jobs at hand like education and creating employment, but we do and if we want to remain sane we need to figure out a way to retain perspective and not panic.

This is what I do:

1. Stay away from the news. Watching & reading the news doesn’t make you more informed. It makes you more skewed. Unless you’re also reading stories where things are going well, you’ll subconciously start believing we have no good news and you’ll panic.

2. Remember some comforting economic facts:

  • 31% increase in estimated GDP growth for 2015 (in spite of the hampering effect of Eskom).
  • Record low oil prices mean a massive transfer of wealth from oil-exporters (Russia, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia) to oil-importers (South Africa).
  • Crisis equals opportunity. The renewed impetus on energy infrastructure means huge opportunities for financial institutions to fund projects. For example, the new coal-powered power stations require over R15billion in funding and will support thousands of jobs in supporting sectors such as coal mines.

Every crisis represents an opportunity. If you’re panicking you’ll miss the opportunity.

3. The Internet is coming. SA has less than 25% fixed broadband penetration. We still have 400million people to connect. Imagine what an awesome country we’ll live in once we’ve bridged the digital divide? Education, jobs, healthcare, access to information, you name it, we’ll all benefit.

And in case you worry we’ll never connect everyone to the Web, stop worrying. Its going to happen, no one can stop the Internet.

Sometimes you just have to close your eyes and believe everything will be ok.

If you spend your life worrying about worst case scenarios it becomes a self-fulfulling prophecy. I’m lucky enough to travel a lot and it helps me remember that every country has its problems, and that for all of our challenges we’re still one of the best places in the world to live.

Why else would there be so many Germans living here?

Weather, opportunity, freedom, smiling people, scenery, family, there are a thousand reasons why there’s no place like home.

And there are a thousand problems to fix.

Which means we have a thousand opportunities on our doorstep.