It was reported that Mobutu Seso Seko president of then Zaire chartered the Concorde to visit his dentist in Paris. He built a runway long enough to land the Concorde in the rain forests near his home town of Gbadolite on the border the Central African Republic in the far North of the country which remains one of Africa’s longest runways. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a country of 2.3m square kilometres which straddles the Equator and borders nine other central African countries and is ideally positioned to be an air traffic hub between Europe and Southern Africa. Air travel in Africa follows a ‘hub-spoke’ pattern with international long-haul and regional carriers flying to major centres from where passengers and cargo are dispatched to their destination on regional or domestic flights. If it is to achieve hub status the DRC aviation industry requires a significant raising of safety standards as 50% of all African air crashes, or 22 per annum, occur in the DRC. All DRC registered airlines are blacklisted by the European Union and in their attempt to more rigorously impose air control legislation the DRC’s Air Transportation Board revoked the licenses of 13 local airlines in the first quarter of this year. The DRC has 54 airports of which 26 have paved runways. The French company Alpha Airport is currently erecting a temporary terminal at the N’Djili-Kinshasa International Airport and a feasibility study is being conducted to build a new terminal at a cost of R6bn. An R190m upgrade of the runway and control tower at the Lubumbashi_Luano International airport was completed last year. African airports handled 164 million passengers in 2012 of which 63 million where carried by African airlines and the balance by foreign international carriers. International carriers servicing the DRC include Air Canada, KLM, Air Mali, Delta, Lufthansa, Turkish airlines, South African Airways and South African Express. The DRC is endowed, or perhaps cursed, with abundant natural resources such as copper, iron, gold, diamonds, tin, tungsten, tantalum and oil and has been brutalised by colonialists and successive African ‘strong-men’ which is why it remains one of the poorest countries in the world. While it was a Belgium colony the practice of cutting off hands of workers for not meeting production targets in the rubber plantations was introduced by Leopold II and Mobutu’s rise to power and the consequent murder of inspirational leader Patrice Lumumba was orchestrated by the CIA for which they should hang their heads in shame. In 2013 the DRC experienced its eleventh consecutive year of economic growth achieving an 8.2% rise in GDP in that year and the IMF predicts average growth of 8.6% for the years 2013 to 2017. Boeing forecasts an annual growth in air traffic on the continent of 6% for the next 16 years and in countries like the DRC, where road and rail infrastructure is poor, air travel is the most reliable mode for both passenger and freight. The inexorable economic rise of the African continent creates many spaces to be filled not least of which is dire need for new and replacement infrastructure. • McGregor is MD of Who Owns Whom
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2014 sees in 20 years of South African democracy, and the 34th edition of Who Owns Whom. An advantage of the printed book is that it provides an historical snapshot of South African business at the moment the pages roll off the press, so as a matter of curiosity I browsed the four editions that marked the end of the last four decades. The 2010 edition celebrates our glorious year of hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. There was a soccer ball in place of the first ‘o’ in the title and I recall having to be so careful not to infringe copyright by using an image which might look like that of the official FIFA soccer ball. 2010 was not long ago, but there have been so many changes: Freeworld Coatings, previously Barloworld Coatings, and Massmart were South African-owned and have since been bought by Kansai Paints (Japan) and Walmart (USA) respectively; while Independent Newspapers has been returned to local ownership by a Sekunjalo-led consortium. Advertising revenue for Who Owns Whom has never again reached that achieved in the 2000 millennium edition. This edition carries a full page advert for Arthur Andersen and the SAS Institute (remember them?) and features listed companies called Y2KTEC Ltd and Y3K Group Ltd. 2000 was also the year of the great capital exodus with the offshore listings of Anglo American, Old Mutual and South African Breweries, now SABMiller, and the listing of Gary Porritt’s infamous Shawcell Telecommunications. Its failure has to this day left thousands of investors not knowing what happened to their funds. The late Frederick van Zyl Slabbert was on the boards of Adcorp, Caxton, CTP, Investec and Wooltru and Anglo’s Michael King, although down from the heady days in 1990 when he sat on 33 boards, held 16 directorships and was second only to Leslie Boyd with his 18 directorships. 1990 marked the end of the politically dark ‘80s and the beginning of South Africa’s decade of social enlightenment. It was also a period when the South African business environment went through the largest restructuring since the discovery of diamonds. If you spent money in 1990 the chances are you were spending it with Anglo American. Its economic footprint extended to every one of the 28 major business sectors defined by the Who Owns Whom South African sector database, with the exception of Social and personal services, Renting of machinery and equipment and the Manufacture of television, radios, measuring equipment and clocks. This ownership web is re-published in the 2009 edition, which was a tribute to my late father. Equally diversified were Old Mutual with its controlling stakes in Rand Mines, Barlows and Safmarine, Sanlam with its industrial arm Sankorp and mining holding company Gencor, now BHP Billiton. It is a walk down memory lane looking at the names of some of the great stock-broking firms of the open outcry floor era: Anderson Wilson, Davis Borkhum Hare, Frankel Kruger, Ivor Jones, Martin & Co, Max Pollak & Freemantle, Simpson McKie and Frankels trading as Stockshare Nominees and Martins Sharestock Nominees. The first edition of Who Owns Whom published in 1980 lists two generations of Oppenheimers on the Anglo board, Harry and Nicky as well as Harry’s cousin Philip,