Making a plan
South Africa can’t necessarily claim to have more certified geniuses per head
of population than anyone else. But at times this country seems to have an
impact on the way the world works that’s out of proportion to our size – or
at least the size of our economy.
It’s a point that two readers make quite forcefully on our letters pages. The first
proudly lists the achievements of our armaments and defence industry. Now, love
it or hate it (an acquaintance of mine recently blamed an attack of conscience for
turning down a position with a serious industry player),... show More there’s no denying the
impact of the arms business.
Another of our correspondents lustily adds his voice to the chorus, though largely as the build-up to a complaint. We’re smart enough to be able to come up with tech that can blow things to bits and track objects at a distance, he grumbles,but we can’t seem to come up with something as seemingly simple as a homegrown car. We’ve tried, of course, but somehow things stalled. Perhaps it’s because right now we’re saving our best efforts for aerospace. Just a few weeks ago, South Africa had plenty of reason to be interested in the first flight of the world’s newest jetliner, the Airbus A350-1000. The Airbus I’m talking about is the one with wings by Aerosud of Centurion, and satellite communications equipment by Cobham of Westlake in Cape Town. There’s that defence-industry connection again.
And that’s just the stuff we can talk about. Another acquaintance of mine who can’t
be named shuttles in and out of the country keeping airborne clients (who also can’t
be named) happy by designing bespoke in-flight entertainment systems. If you want to know how bespoke, you can’t afford them. The thing is, South Africans continue to contribute in many meaningful ways to the global technology co-operative. In the recent past, Popular Mechanics has covered homegrown technological leaps as diverse as radical new antennas and the world-first in marine propulsion system that you can read about in this issue.
Whether it’s at the extreme high end or spread across the mass market, smart South Africans are turning their ideas into reality. From apps to armoured cars, we’re making a plan. That’s why next month, when we turn our attention to smart homes, one of our focus areas will be innovative ways that people have found of keeping the lights on – these days, the water running, too. We talk to people so far off the grid, they’re practically invisible.
Because whether preparing for the zombie apocalypse or finding an easier way to pull out a plug (see this month’s Do It Your Way), we make a plan. It’s what South Africans do.
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