SOUTH Africa can't afford to sell itself short - it really is a global player in the eyes of those who count.
On Wednesday, business banking group Sasfin entertained a number of clients and the odd pleb journalist to a presentation by Nick Anstee, Lord Mayor of the City of London.
Put simply, it was an absolutely bizarre public relations exercise which came across as London begging South African firms of all shapes and sizes to please do business with them.
I know the English depend on us to provide them with decent cricketers to keep their national pride up there, but we can't be expected to keep their economy afloat as well!
There was very little talk about how the two countries could work together; it was literally a verbal press release imploring the room to consider doing business with the UK.
The two most interesting statistics to emerge from the presentation was that London is the sixth-biggest global manufacturing destination in the world - a figure which needs further exploring - and that Anstee's law firm employs around 1 000 people, of which he reckons 20% are South African.
When David Shapiro from Sasfin kicked off the question and answer session about the regulation of the financial services and banking sector, there was a brief uncomfortable shuffle as Anstee had to come up with an answer.
Drop the inferiority complex
There was a certain delicious irony in seeing London representatives coming through with the begging bowl. OK, that is an exaggeration of sorts - but the principle is the same.
With South Africa being inundated by a deluge of bad news and continued concerns around crime, Eskom, dodgy politicians and media freedom, it felt good to be on the right side of the fence and take some positive news from a presentation.
Last week I interviewed William Green, global CEO of consulting firm Accenture. The question I put to him was: "You have representation in 120 countries across the globe. Which of these are the most exciting?"
His answer to me: South Africa, Mexico and South Korea.
High praise indeed!
Green had accolades for the South African Revenue Service and the SA customs authorities, which he believed had been big contributors to the improved business climate.
His only suggestion was that the country needs to sell itself better to the international community, and get over its inferiority complex.
Short and sweet: for all the negativity portrayed in local media, South Africa really is highly respected by global players. We can either wallow in our own misery, or recognise that our country is now on the map and doing big things on the international scene.