[Foss4g2008loc] RE: [OSGeo-Discuss] South African safety situation

Gavin Fleming GavinF at mintek.co.za
Fri May 30 05:21:43 EDT 2008

Hi all and thanks for bringing it up Paolo

Yes we are sadly going through a spate of unrest and criminal violence in poverty-stricken neighbourhoods in South Africa, mainly against foreigners from other parts of Africa. 'xenophobic attacks' as they are labelled. Believe me, we have to and will get things right - while FOSS4G is a small community, the whole world is gearing up for the 2010 World Cup in SA. 

It has not affected tourists and visitors although some are obviously scared to come at the moment, and it is abating. Of course this situation and the complexities giving rise to it are experienced in other countries, developed and developing, and are not unique to South Africa. Many of the conference topics indeed attempt to address the root causes of situations like this. 

South Africa recently overtook Brazil as the country with the highest Gini coefficient, which is nothing to be proud of. This disparity in wealth distribution despite high levels of so-called economic 'growth' is one of the root causes of dissatisfaction leading to the current situation here.  We also have by some estimates between 5 and 10 million immigrants, labourers and refugees, mainly from Zimbabwe recently but really from all over Africa on top of a local population of about 45 million.  These things coupled with our apartheid history and recent transformation are what make South Africa a fascinating destination and subject of research for people from all over the world. So we hope people will come for some of these reasons and to have a say in solving some of these challenges. 

As it affects potential FOSS4G 2008 delegates, I suggest be aware of the situation but don't let it put you off. Our tourism numbers are increasing at about 9% per year and last year was another record in terms of numbers of overseas visitors. South Africa is a top international big conference venue. Cape Town is a tourist mecca rivalling Paris, Sydney, Vancouver etc. The City of Cape Town, the conference centre and environs are safe. Whatever appeals to you as a tourist, travelling far and wide in South Africa and even neighbouring countries, be it our fantastic wildlife and scenery, backpacking, local culture, immersing yourself in township life, shark-cage diving, whale-watching, whatever, you are bound to have a great conference and memorable travels in South Africa.

FOSS4G 2008 conference chair

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.osgeo.org [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.osgeo.org] On Behalf Of Paolo Cavallini
Sent: 30 May 2008 09:27 AM
To: OSGeo Discussions
Subject: [OSGeo-Discuss] South African safety situation

Hi all.
I'm informed, both from the newspapers and from South African friends, 
that there are serious concerns about safety in South Africa. Of course 
this will not affect FOSS4G directly, but I'm sure many of us are 
planning to have some holidays before or after the conference, so not 
being able to tour around freely will detract much from the appeal of 
the conference. This could result in less participation, thus in turn in 
lower general interest.
Any news or indications from local organizers? I think this is a problem 
that should be dealt with, for the best success of the meeting.
All the best.
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