A South African renaissance?

After a period of prolonged volatility, the world economy appears to be entering a more stable phase – that’s if the opinion of 1 300 CEOs surveyed by PwC is anything to go by.

As reported by Fortune, PwC’s Davos-released survey results showed that 57% of CEOs predicted improved growth for the global economy this year; nearly double the percentage from the same time
last year (https://tinyurl.com/y9n3vcbe). Even more intriguing is a recent report by the New York Times stating that “a decade after the world descended into a devastating economic crisis, a key marker of revival has finally been achieved. Every major economy on earth is expanding at once, a synchronous wave of growth that is creating jobs, lifting fortunes and tempering fears of popular discontent” (https://tinyurl.com/y89dub6a).

So what does this mean for the South African outlook? In the wake of SONA 2018, which finally took place on 16 February, and Cyril Ramaphosa’s taking up the reigns of the Presidency, ratings agencies like Moody’s and Fitch are cautiously upbeat; the South African currency is trading skittish jabs at the US dollar (advance, retreat, repeat) and both business and consumer confidence are up. The Goldman Sachs pronouncement on South Africa being the next boom economy has probably sent out the biggest ripples of all. Here’s Goldman Sachs MD (sub-Saharan Africa) and Top 500 Awards VIP Speaker Colin Coleman, on the “new dawn”: https://tinyurl.com/y7x7tqvj.

Analysts are interested in the parallels between South Africa and other nations predicted to surge in the next five years. Among these are Ethiopia; Uzbekistan; Nepal; India; Laos; Cambodia and the Philippines (World Bank: Global Economic Prospects). Like South Africa, they are all emerging economies with little to stunt their growth bar high levels of public debt.

Last year’s big success story was, of course, Brazil – with whom South Africa has a host of similarities. Both countries have colonial and post-colonial trajectories, multi-ethnic demographic patterns, advanced constitutions and a plethora of natural resources. Crucially, both are also transitioning from a time of constant allegations of corruption in government, into an era of renewed hope and optimism on the back of a new, cleaner slate.

Politics left to the politicians (with our fervent hopes that they’ll Do The Right Thing), Top 500 Companies & its media partners will be sure to grill the leaders of South Africa’s top 10 companies on their own personal opinions, when the Top 500 Awards takes to the stage on 10 May and the ‘Best Managed’ organisations are named in a host of industry sectors – retail, finance, basic industries and more. Collectively, their outlook and their investment decisions will be powerful factors for the year ahead.

In Chinese astrology, 2018 is the Year of the Dog. Let’s just hope it’s a greyhound rather than a dachshund. Gareth Pike