In 1950 when the government realised that South Africa had minimal oil reserves, this led to the South African Coal Oil and Gas Corporation (Sasol).
Sasol is the world’s first — and largest — oil-from-coal refinery and it contributes 40% of the country’s fuel.
Any country with a giant coal reserve could have been first to market with an oil-from-coal refinery. But South Africa happens to be the first for the reason that it identified a need that existed, one to fulfil.
Instead of going out to buy oil, the bet was to first use resources at the country disposal to create what it did not have. That act in itself is a valuable lesson for anyone whose job is to create. Be it in society or within a business.
It’s an advantage to look into the future and think about how people might be changed tomorrow. If not by us, by someone else. Our duty is to seek opportunities that help us advance life.
History says that people who changed the course of the world pay attention to the seemingly insignificant. They are on the lookout for ways to make things better by a degree.
The point may not be about inventing something new. But rewriting the future for someone who doesn’t know what will matter to them in three years time, in a place that doesn’t yet exist.
The impact measures to life before the work’s existence and a change in life that comes thereafter.
Prior to South Africa’s innovative breakthrough, what the world saw when they looked at coal was a combustible rock. What South Africa saw was a combustible rock that can be used to produce synthetic fuels.