The Debt Dilemma in South Africa

In South Africa, increasingly burdensome debt loads brought on by personal credit cards have soared in the last decade.  South Africa’s government has recognized the dangerous this impact this is having and has begun to reach out to consumers and educate them on the proper use of revolving credit.  A very popular education tool is the credit card calculator

Credit cards have made it convenient to purchase anything at any time. Too convenient, some would say, as people are constantly getting into debt problems arising from accumulated purchases that went out of hand. Those who want to solve their financial woes must learn to exercise prudent spending and pay their credit card balances in a sensible manner. Several methods are available and owners may use an online credit card calculator to help them craft a logical plan that works for them.

A number of websites offer these calculators such as the Federal Reserve, CNN Money, Bankrate and others. They operate in much the same way with only a few variations.  Unfortunately some are limited to specific countries, however if you use a US VPN or perhaps a British proxywhich can give you a UK IP address then you should be able to access most of these irrespective of your location.  Each will ask for the following inputs:

1. Total Balance – Outstanding balance of a credit card as reflected on the latest bill. It is the sum of all purchases made using the card.

2. Interest Rate – Sometimes referred to as APR or Annual Percentage Rate. The interest rate often varies per transaction but not all of them can be considered as this would make the calculations quite cumbersome. For simplicity, the highest one should be used to make the most conservative calculation. In the United States, credit card interest rates generally range from 7% to 36%.

3. Minimum Monthly Payment – The lowest amount that will be accepted by the card issuer. Banks differ in their minimum monthly payment calculations so verify this value just to be certain. Some online credit card calculators assume a baseline amount for simplicity. Using this value, calculators can provide the number of years it will take to pay the debt in full, assuming that the owner sticks to the minimum amount the whole time and no further purchases are made using the card. Calculators will also show the total interest paid in dollars which tends to be significant.

4. Fixed Payments – The amount a credit card user is willing to pay per month to cover the debts. This is ideal if the card owner can afford to pay higher than the set minimum monthly payment. Those who choose this payment scheme will finish completing their obligations sooner and are charged a lower overall interest. The bigger the amount, the faster the completion will be as shown by the calculators’ results.

5. Debt-free Deadline – Used if the over-riding consideration is the time it would take to clear all the debts. Card owners can specify the number of years in which they plan to have everything paid off and the calculators will present them with the monthly payment value required to accomplish this plan.

There’s no denying that a credit card calculator is very useful in studying financial scenarios and creating a debt payment plan that suits one’s specific circumstances.

Unique Wine Gifts & Development

When we think of development we usually think of hospitals, schools and generally helping Africans to get ahead.  That’s a good thing, please don’t take it the wrong way.

I do think though, taking a wider view can sometimes be helpful.  The wine industry in South Africa helps to employ thousands of people, from those selling wine to those making it.  Creating unique wine gifts from African countries will be another way to create jobs and positive economic realities for Africans.  At the end of teh day, that’s what we all want right?

Some Help for African Marketers

We published a recent article on this site which is predicting that the next Internet Billionaire could come from Africa.  Of course many countries in Africa have their economic problems but there’s no doubt that there is huge untapped potential for individuals online.  However one of the problems for internet businessmen based in Africa is the barriers that are in place form them.

Let me explain if you want to sell or market products or services online there are certain tools which you’ll need access to.  An obvious example is that of a means to receive and make payments, however if you’ve ever tried setting up a Paypal account from Nigeria then you know how difficult it is.  The same goes with lots of online payment systems who have found that it is easier to block accounts from these countries due to fraud problems from a small minority.


The more you  try and do business online from the African continent, the more you’ll come across these little hurdles that put you at a disadvantage. Doing research is also difficult when agressive filtering or censorship stops you accessing sites like social media or popular networking sites.

It’s not impossible but African entrepreneurs from poorer backgrounds are already at something of a disdvantage.  They may have invested heavily in the time for research, there are of course many sites where you can learn about SEO or the latest web sites and techniques like Pinterest automation or utlising Facebook to market products.  But many tools and techniques cost money, which although they don’t seem expensive by Western standards can be prohibitively expensive to many.

But we don’t need to be too negative, there’s no doubt that there is some serious potential for Internet based businesses in Africa.  Many thousands will certainly seize the opportunity to drag themselves and their families to a better life.  Of course education is also another barrier but for those with the skills the internet offers a huge boost to many African entrepreneurs.

Currency Crises in South Africa

The currency crisis in South Africa is a crisis that attracted the attention of the whole world. Of particular interest were the currency crises that occurred in 1996, 1998 and 2001. Many scholars attributed this episode to extremely abrupt changes in the structure of the volatility of the foreign exchange market. This currency crises episode in South Africa was a wake up call to other countries to also be on the look out lest they should also find themselves in the same situation. Scholars both within and without south Africa felt that they needed to study it with keen attention to every details so that they could pick vital lessons that would be used in future or in other countries. To learn more about currency crisis and international foreign exchange rates and trading, read more here:

One of the key defining things that are thought to have contributed heavily to the currency crises in South Africa was the increase in market uncertainty. These crises are characterized by a period of unusually high levels of volatility in . Researchers have discovered that they can determine the exact dates of when the currency crisis starts and when it is expected to end. This can be done when they deliberately study volatility dynamics changes over a short-term period of time as compared to a complete focus on long-term volatility dynamics changes.

Despite the fact that the South Africa’s rand suffered other bouts of currency crises between 1994 and 2009, at this point the country was more prepared than during the previous ones. There were various measures that had been put in place to ensure that early detection of the possible volatility in the South Africa’s rand is made. Scholars had devised a formula that would help them work it out besides carrying out short-term studies on the volatility of the currency. This perhaps explains why there has been minimal currency crisis in South Africa ever since.

Art, Politics and South Africa

One of the most striking things about art in the Twentieth and Twenty-first Century has been its political voice. Dictators have been frightened of criticism through art. The Soviets imprisoned or exiled many writers. The Chinese communist party censors all forms of art. Hitler burnt many books. Movies like Cry Freedom did a lot to publicize the unfair plight of black South Africans during the apartheid era.

The thing about art is that it is not controlled by politicians. Moreover artists are always trying to challenge convention, tackle taboo subjects, satirize and speak out. Art cannot be successfully contained, especially art of real value.

It is debatable whether Brett Murray’s painting called The Spear falls into the category of great art, or ground breaking art. He has a certain post modern style and his execution is sound. Here is the picture:


Fast American proxy

The picture is being shown at The Space on Jan Smuts Avenue in Johannesburg. The important man with what looks like his penis hanging out like a gun holster is President Jacob Zuma. By the time you read this article the painting might have already been taken down and possibly destroyed. The ANC are furious that such an image of their leader could be hung publicly. They deem the painting ‘bad art’ and ‘ridicule disguised as art’.

I would like to see paintings like this of Tony Blair exposed. Perhaps standing next to George W.

To be serious again: it is interesting to note that the ANC after being outlawed and their supporters censored for so many years  immediately wish to forget such a history and seek to censor black local artists who are asking to be heard.

Africa is not always an easy place to live. There are tensions within society. Denying these tensions artistic expression will only make matters worse.

With Thanks

The First African Billionaire – Coming Soon ?

There is one thing for sure that being an entrepreneur in Africa has always been pretty tough.   It’s certainly not impossible but it has traditionally been very dififcult for the majority of people simply because the usual infrastructure of investment, financial advice and facilities is not as readily available as in many countries.  However the internet is being seen as a huge opportunity in the African nations for the development of new ideas.

Forbes magazine last year posted an article entitled – Africa could Make you an Internet Billionaire based on an original article by David Rowan of Wired.  The gist was that the internet in Africa represents an enormous global market. Internet penetration is growing all the time in Africa, it’s obviously still behind more developed nations but is currently over 130 million people who are online and potential customers.

The auction sites, directories and classified advertising sites we take for granted are not yet established in Africa.  There is potential to develop ’African’ versions of popular North American and European websites there.  Obviously what works directly in London won’t neccesarily translate exactly to Africa but the potential is certainly there.

It’s also important for the African economy, traditionally internet businesses can be set up at a fraction of a cost than a traditional bricks and mortar business.  A good idea can also be more easily financed from any location without the physical constraints of premises.  There are many thousands of very web savvy individuals in many African nations – the countries who have invested most in education are likely to be the biggest beneficiaries of course.

There are problems of course, there are lots of restrictive filtering and censorship in many African states which make doing business online more difficult.  However most internet entrepreneurs are learning to use resources and technology to bypass these.  I recently spoke to a young man in Nigeria who kept up to date with the BBC Business news by using a process he found online to access normally UK only media streams –  There are also similar methods available to allow access to online payment schemes like Paypal and Moneybookers which often are difficult to access from some African nations.