South Africa, which is often touted as one of Africa’s most developed nations, seems to be going through a rough patch economically. The country known for its vibrant tourism has suddenly seen a slowdown in the last year.
According to Africa.com, data released by the country’s tourism board reported that international tourist arrivals in South Africa were down by 11.65% in 2019. The decline in tourism could be because of the drought in the Western Cape province, which made news reports on a global front.
In addition, the security concerns in the country have been an issue, most notably with the recent xenophobic attacks that marred the country’s public image, as well as the rise of tourism in other African countries, such as Namibia, Senegal, Ethiopia, Botswana and even Rwanda.
With tourism on the decline, South Africa’s rand has also been deeply affected due to the country’s struggling economic performance. According to a report from Al Jazeera, the value of the rand’s decline was as low as 0.7% and it traded above 15 per dollar for the first time in a week.
There has also been a power outage crisis in the country, which has been ongoing for some time. , South Africa’s electricity public utility, recently announced a stage three load shedding that was to take place in some parts of Western Cape earlier this week. This shedding would often see certain municipalities disconnected from power for a specific period in a day.
The stage three load shedding executed by Eskom was intended to reduce the usage of open cycle gas turbines, while the load shedding at night would help restore the levels of the hydro-pumped storage, in order to prepare for the upcoming week.
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Though Eskom had advised the public that the shedding was done to avoid a national blackout, the frequent power cuts by load shedding are having an impact on businesses that would require electricity to operate.
With the pressing issues at hand affecting its economy, South Africans have taken time to address these problems and to also offer solutions that would work in the best interest of the country. In relation to tourism, the South African tourism industry has partnered with the South African Police Services (SAPS) on a safety plan.
According to Travel Weekly, the safety plan would see the government set aside a total of 40 million rand ($2.7 million) to address the issue. The tourism safety plan is to include both proactive and preventive measures that would guarantee a rapid operational response in any event of an incident concerning tourists. The tourism safety plan also vows to provide an aftercare program that would attend to tourists, who have been victims of an attack.
As for power cuts, many South Africans are seeking new possible ways of renewable energy. The president, Cyril Ramaphosa, also mentioned the country’s intention of exploring renewable energy in his recent state of the nation address. Ramaphosa believes that South Africa’s turn to renewable energy would help ease power cuts, which have gravely affected the country’s economy.
South Africa is definitely a land of opportunities and it has so much to offer, due to it being one of Africa’s biggest economic outlets on the continent. One would hope that these recent stumblings in South Africa would be temporary, as the country looks to bounce back to being the vibrant, loving and hospitable country everyone would love to visit.
Paul Olele Jnr writes from Washington DC. He is a 2019 graduate of George Washington University and currently works as graduate Media and Research Intern at the Initiative for Global Development.