Brand SA Chairperson,
Trustees of Brand SA,
The CEO and Management of Brand South Africa,
Directors-General and Heads of various Government Departments and Provinces,
Members of the Media,
Ladies and Gentlemen
Good morning to you all
To begin with, I wish to extend, on behalf of the South African government and Brand South Africa, our warmest greetings to all the guests present today.
I would like to thank the organisers, and partners involved in this important forum for inviting me to say a few words in support of how we as South Africa stand ready to contribute to inspire new ways to move our collaboration forward.
1. The Nation Brand Forum is a strategic Brand South Africa platform through which the organisation endeavours to create an open space for engagement with stakeholders in government, business and civil society. Input from stakeholders in terms of the capabilities to
profile, the challenges to address, and creative input on how the organisation can best bring the Nation Brand to life, is critical in terms of the strategy development and programme execution of the organisation. The reason for this is simple – this Nation Brand belongs to all South Africans!
As a developing nation, in a rapidly changing global economic and geopolitical context, South Africa has to, on an ongoing basis, reflect on the strategic implications these changes have for the manner in which we market, profile and position the Nation Brand. Essentially we cannot assume that existing strategies will continue to deliver results.
For this reason, the 2017 Nation Brand Forum intends to zoom in on the following objectives, being: To engage business on the development of the Nation Brand’s global marketing strategy. Essentially this forum aims to involve business in strengthening, enhancing and advancing the long term reputation and image of the Nation Brand;
2. For stakeholders to advise Brand South Africa on how best the organisation can inspire innovation, and utilise the existing business excellence in the South African context, to better market, profile, and position the Nation Brand in Emerging Markets;
Emerge with strategic insights that can inform, and provide a foundation for an integrated international marketing strategy that can serve the interests of South Africa Incorporated (in all its diverse manifestations).
We are meeting at a critical time in our country’s history when the nation is celebrating the legacy of one of the greatest sons that our struggle has ever produced, Oliver Reginald Tambo. This year, on the 27 October 2017, Oliver Tambo would have turned a 100 years old, a mere 4 years younger than the organization that nurtured his bright ideas and revolutionary consciousness, the African National Congress.
As we gather to strategize about the positioning of our Nation Brand in the context of global advancement and contestation, we must be inspired by the ideals that prompted him as an ardent Campaigner for Human Rights, Internationalist and an Activist for Peace and Prosperity among the Nations of the World. Oliver Tambo spent his entire life pursuing the dream of building solidarity between South Africa and the Global World.
It is both fitting and inspiring to recognize his role as the foremost Brand architect of our new nation and country. The Brand of the South African Liberation is an enduring mark that continues to define the essence of who we are.
We are meeting at time also when our country is working tirelessly to consolidate its identity as a new nation formed on the bedrock of bitter sacrifices suffered by many, some of whom laid their lives so that this new nation could be born. That history and heritage define the essence of our Nation Brand which our counterparts in the developing world and elsewhere should embrace and understand. In addition to everything else, our Nation Brand is in many ways influenced by our heritage and culture.
The diverse cultural experiences we display to our visitors, the music and dance, the tales we relate, the art, the crafts are all the collective ingredients of our rich culture and heritage that must never ignored if our Nation Brand is to live up to its true identity.
I am inspired by your themes this morning: “Positioning the South African Nation Brand in an Era of Emerging Market globalization” and “Country of Origin built on the foundations of Business Excellence: Crafting a value proposition and global strategy for the Nation Brand in Emerging Markets”
These themes are based on the desire that propels everyone, both in the private and public sectors to innovate and conjure up creative strategies that will help our Nation Brand to compete vigorously in the world of winning nations. Gifting the competitive nature and shifting sands of global relations, that journey will require courage, commitment and deep sacrifice from all of us.
We have to face the reality that we live in a world that is rapidly changing. The emergence of the 4th industrial revolution, global climate change, conflicts and refugee crises engulfing entire regions, present humanity with several seemingly insurmountable challenges.
During the 20th century we were led to believe that globalisation is an open-ended inevitability. However, in the past few years since the global financial crisis, we have seen exactly the opposite happen. Yesteryear’s advocates of globalisation, international trade and business interaction are increasingly closing their borders in fits of economic nationalism and isolationism.
Among many other analyses of these phenomena, Business Monitor International (BMI) indicates that with the rise of populism, right wing movements in Western political jurisdictions, and phenomena such as the Brexit vote, globalisation may have reached a plateau, and that the process may be reversed in some respects. These phenomena could have serious implications for the Nation Brand given risk factors such as:
Rising right wing nationalism (as seen in the recent German elections), isolationism, trade protectionism, and unilateralism in global geopolitical and economic policy behaviour;
A reversal of global free trade and the emergence of unilateralism in trade behaviour to the detriment of multilateralism, regional and international integration, and cooperation.
As a developing nation, South Africa needs to be aware of these winds of change blowing over Western Europe and North America. It is for this reason that analysts indicate that since 2009, data indicates a slowdown of global trade not only as a result of the fall-out of the Global Financial Crisis, but due to increasing protectionism in the so-called advanced/developed economies of the world.
The strategic issues to be interrogated through the panel and delegate input session at the 2017 Nation Brand Forum aims to address Brand South Africa’s need for a more nuanced global Nation Brand marketing strategy that considers larger patters of change on the geopolitical and global economic horizons.
This is why we call on you, our stakeholders, to assist Brand South Africa today to interrogate the manner in which the Nation Brand should explore and seek out new opportunities in Emerging Markets – seeing that they may become the drivers of global trade integration, and globalisation in the 21st century.
The BRICS nations have in a short time proven themselves to be willing, and able, to find solutions for developing nations. For example, the BRICS’s New Development Bank is an example of how developing nations are creating alternative platforms to promote and support internal development beyond Bretton Woods institutions in this post-Washington Consensus world. The Nation Brand’s marketing strategy has to keep up with these rapid developments, and this is why, once again, we ask our stakeholders to help us think through these challenges.
As the National Development Plan (NDP) clearly indicates, our nation’s fate is, for example, intricately linked to the fate of our immediate region. Therefore, it is important not only from a macro-global point of view, but also from a regional analytical approach, to ask how best can we create new linkages, with non-traditional Emerging markets to open opportunities for trade, investment, and human contact.
Unlike policies aimed at isolating economies the recently concluded BRICS Summit, hosted by China in Xiamen, the 2017 declaration emphasised the need for multilateral approaches to the many social, geopolitical, conflict, and economic challenges facing not only member states, but also the world system. According to the Xiamen Declaration the BRICS aims to, “Upholde development and multilateralism; we are working together for a more just, equitable, fair, democratic and representative international political and economic order”;
Also important is the emphasis the leaders’ declaration puts on the need to, “…embrace openness and inclusiveness, dedicated to forging an open world economy. We have furthered our cooperation with emerging markets and developing countries.”
The latter is a critical position, given the trend of economic nationalism, trade protectionism emerging from advanced/developed western economies.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Recognising the important and decisive role communication and marketing can play to advance a country’s development agenda, the National Department of Communication prioritised the National Branding Summit during the 2015/2016 fiscal Communication Budget Vote Speech.
A well marketed and globally positioned Nation Brand can contribute to attract investment, aid with market entry strategy by increasing awareness of the country in international markets, while also bringing more tourists, students, and specialised skills to the country. Country development strategies that ultimately aim to build positive nation brands should be premised approaches that can help people to adapt their views and to acquire new knowledge and skills, and spread new social messages to large audiences.
Through this forum we are therefore aiming to create an intensified exchange of ideas among all sectors of society. This is a fundamental requirement for appropriate and sustainable development for any nation.
National development cannot be achieved in isolation – the complex elements of nation's political, economic, legal and cultural environment all contribute to a nation's identity and image.
In this sense, every nation is already a brand: it already exists in the minds of others as an entity with positive or negative attributes. How can we therefore go about to increase awareness of this Nation Brand in markets, and in the minds of people around the world who may know the country exists, but who may be blissfully unaware of what it offers tourists, investors, traders, and partners from Emerging Markets.
How a country is perceived, both domestically and from abroad, from the quality of its goods and services, to the attractiveness of its culture and its tourism and investment opportunities, to its politics, economic policies and foreign policy, helps both with internal national development as well as the successful integration into the world community, on all levels.
A nation brand is built through the country’s actions and behaviours, by a range of actors and stakeholders working in concert and communicating a consistent message. An understanding and appreciation of the inter-relationship between all stakeholders and their interaction with the Nation Brand, is very important in order to build the country’s reputation and shape perceptions.
By its very nature, country branding must be initiated and developed by national governments, and through Brand South Africa (a state owned entity that is mandated to develop and implement proactive and coordinated marketing, communication and reputation management strategies for South Africa) --- we successfully hosted the inaugural Nation Brand Forum in August 2016.
In 2016, the Nation Brand Forum saw the three spheres of government, private sector and civil society under one roof with a view of identifying our strengths and benefits on which to anchor a common approach in the creation of a coherent and distinctive nation brand.
Hosted under the theme - Inspiring Innovation and Business Excellence in the Era of Emerging Markets, this year’s Nation Brand Forum aims to specifically to engage business on how to strengthen, enhance and advance the long term reputation and image of the Nation Brand. The premise is for the forum to establish collective efforts as required by the National Development Plan (NDP), in order to position the South African nation brand as a globally competitive destination.
In addition to the milestones made by the public sector since our democratic dispensation – the tremendous role of private sector in South Africa’s socio-economic growth and sustainability cannot be underestimated, both domestically and within the African continent.
The private sector not only raises South Africa’s global competitiveness by allowing us to break into new and emerging markets, but it also significantly improves the lives of millions of poor South Africans and their chance for economic participation.
South Africa’s private sector is one of the most dynamic and diversified on the African continent. Domestic companies are active across a number of sectors regionally and internationally – from mining and minerals to electronics and clean technologies.
Recognising the size and potential for growth in the South African market, and the country’s strategic position as a finance hub, several multinational companies established their offices in the country, including Google and Microsoft.
Despite the recent negative results of the World Economic Forum Global Competitive Index Report, South Africa continues to be the top foreign direct investment destination in Sub-Saharan Africa and is ranked 25th globally on the 2017 A.T. Kearney investor confidence index. Our country ranks relatively high on the international metrics for innovation and competitiveness.
This is attributable to the generally positive business environment, good intellectual property framework, and a tradition of excellence in public research institutions, a history of manufacturing, and an ICT sector that, while small, has been able to adapt some global platforms and create innovative local applications.
I believe that with any developing country and emerging economy, such as South Africa is, a plethora of challenges continue to confront our country and its developmental agenda.
Many nations, like South Africa have diverse societies. And as such, they often are accompanied by a complex set of socio-economic and cultural stratifications. The NDP succinctly outlines these challenges and at the same time, proposes suitable remedies that must be implemented.
Dubbed the long-term socio-economic development roadmap, South Africa’s NDP or Vision 2030 - identifies the key constraints to faster growth and presents a roadmap to a more inclusive economy that will address the country's socio-economic imbalances.
The plan envisions a South Africa where everyone feels free yet bounded to others; where everyone embraces their full potential, a country where opportunity is determined not by birth, but by ability, education and hard work.
To ensure that this vision becomes a reality, we are making strides through efforts such as the Nation Brand Forum to collectively, implement measures that promote the transformation of the economy and focused efforts that build the country's capabilities, thus resulting in a reputable Nation Brand that attracts investment.
As we collectively move forward with the implementation of the NDP, we as leaders know that it is without a doubt that this vision will position us in good stead to have a positive national brand narrative.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is incontestable, that there are major changes and greater emphasis on communications to be more widespread in contributing to the debate for the development of societies for improved nation brands.
The rapid advancement of globalisation means that every country, every region and every city must compete with each other for its share of the world’s consumers, tourists, investors, students, entrepreneurs, international sporting and cultural events.
Economic growth and development is crucial to the strength of a Nation Brand. If the economy grows, jobs are created, social levels improve. Foreign direct investments become a reality and the economy thrives. Therefore, it is unquestionable that socio-economic national development agendas have an incredible impact on the positive branding of the Nation Brand.
In conclusion, South Africa remains cognisant of the work that lies ahead to ensure that our country remains an attractive investment destination and competitive nation brand.
Guided by Vision 2030, we are committed to improving our global competitiveness and reputation with the view of delivering on our growth and development imperatives.
We are confident that your participation in the 2017 Nation Brand Forum will contribute positively to inspiring change through inclusive political and socio-economic reforms bound by shared-values of ensuring that South Africa’s growth and development is sustained.