Failure shows SA Companies should reconsider African strategy

An edited version of this article appeared in the daily weekday ed of Business Day (South Africa) on 18/10/2021:

https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/opinion/2021-10-17-george-philipas-failures-show-sa-companies-should-reconsider-african-strategy/

There has been a flurry of activity by South African companies on the continent recently.  From Vodacom’s successful bid as minority partner for the Ethiopian telecommunications license to the Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) between South African Airlines (SAA) and Kenyan Airways (KQ) that is intended to sow the seed for a pan-African airline.   In fact, South African companies have made great inroads into Africa over the last two decades or so and seem to dominate the African business space.  According to a 2018 report by the Boston Consulting Group, South African companies make up 32 out of the 75 African multinationals active on the continent.  And according to a recent 2021 fDi Intelligence report, a leading research agency and a division of the Financial Times, South Africa is the second biggest investor on the continent from Africa or the Middle East, behind only the UAE. 

But there is another side to this unquestionable success, one punctuated by regular missteps and blunders that have been repeated to the great detriment of a significant number of South African companies in Africa. 

Continue reading “Failure shows SA Companies should reconsider African strategy”

At the forefront of Greece’s new foreign policy drive: First-hand accounts from the Greek community in Libya

An edited version of this article appeared in my regular column in the Sept/Oct 2021 ed of Greek Business File Magazine

In November 2019, Greece was spurred into its biggest foreign policy shift in a generation.  Borne out of the signing of the now-infamous Memorandum of Understanding between Libya and Turkey on delimiting maritime jurisdictions that encroached on Greece’s internationally-recognised maritime boundaries,  Greece quickly scrambled to re-discover diplomatic and economic ties that had been allowed to decaypretty much since Greece turned its focus towards Europe in the 80s.  Now after two years, it’s hyperactive foreign policy drive casts a wide net that encompasses vaccine diplomacy in countries as far afield as Rwanda, Kenya and Iran to joining the French-led peacekeeping mission in the Sahel.  But the epicentre of this renewed push is still very much where it all began in Libya.

Continue reading “At the forefront of Greece’s new foreign policy drive: First-hand accounts from the Greek community in Libya”

The labour shortage conundrum: What economists are missing in their hunt to explain the record number of job vacancies

The stay-at-home rate amongst the 18-34 year old age group – those who have moved back or never left the parental home – may well be a crucial missing link in explaining the record number of job vacancies and labour shortages in the developed world.

And the long-run consequences could be dire that could lead to far more persistent labour shortages than many realise, especially at the lower end, and by extension lead to higher levels of inflation for longer.
And with more angry, young people with no hope and a bleak future comes increased unrest and civil strife.

Continue reading “The labour shortage conundrum: What economists are missing in their hunt to explain the record number of job vacancies”

SA must clean up its act in Africa – Its future depends on it

This article appeared in Sunday Times Daily (South Africa) in the Opinion and Analysis section on 31/08/2021:

https://www.timeslive.co.za/sunday-times-daily/opinion-and-analysis/2021-08-31-george-philipas–sa-must-clean-up-its-act-in-africa-its-future-depends-on-it/

It has certainly been an active 18 months or so for President Cyril Ramaphosa and his foreign policy pivot to Africa.  As Chairperson of the African Union (A.U) last year and at the G20 summit in November, he championed decisive measures to counteract the impact of the pandemic on Africa as a whole.  Seeking debt relief, increased vaccine procurement and waivers on vaccine patents to encourage domestic African production.

And just last month, South Africa deployed 1500 South African troops making up the bulk of the multinational force under SADC command to counter the growing threat of an Islamic insurgency in northern Mozambique.  

Continue reading “SA must clean up its act in Africa – Its future depends on it”

A New Chapter in Greek-African relations or just a flash in the pan?

An edited version of this article appeared in Greek Business File (July/August 2021 issue):

A new chapter in Greek-African relations or a flash in the pan?

When Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikos Dendias heralded a new chapter in relations between Africa and Greece to a gathered host of African ambassadors for Africa Day to mark the establishment of the African Union late last month, it hardly made waves.  Statements of good intention towards the oft-neglected continent are nothing new.  But a flurry of recent diplomatic activity, including a new diplomatic mission in Dakar, Senegal and the announcement that Greece will contribute to the French-led peacekeeping mission in the Sahel, would suggest that Dendias’s assertion might this time actually be backed by action.

Continue reading “A New Chapter in Greek-African relations or just a flash in the pan?”

The source of inflation that nearly no-one is focused on and everyone needs to worry about…

The great inflation debate that begun in earnest following the current U.S administration’s US$1.9tn coronavirus relief package in early Spring 2021 has morphed into something more serious than the jovial sideshow that is was before.   Recent monthly U.S consumer price inflation (the percentage increase in prices across a range of representative goods and services) continues to overstep forecasts.  In June in the U.S it came in at a whopping 5.4% – the highest jump since the early 80s.  If this persists, at stake is the end of cheap money upon which advanced economies have come to rely so heavily upon – that is, if increases in interest rates are deployed to combat the problem and one that has not reared its ugly head in a generation.

Continue reading “The source of inflation that nearly no-one is focused on and everyone needs to worry about…”

Why worries about inflation are missing the point…It’s the debt (and low productivity) stupid… We are in the last days of the post-1945 economic miracle

From a repeat of the Roaring 20s to the Boring 20s to “That ‘70s Show”, describing the decade ahead by diving deep into the past for comparisons has become a bit of a fad. 

It’s certainly a fun thought experiment for those who care about these things.

But there is a serious unspoken truth to it all. 

Continue reading “Why worries about inflation are missing the point…It’s the debt (and low productivity) stupid… We are in the last days of the post-1945 economic miracle”

A sense of continuity for the South African Cypriot diaspora

This article was published in the Sunday Cyprus Mail on 20th June 2021

In an affluent suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa, where ex-colonial houses sit comfortably next to shiny new shopping centres, is the unassuming building that has housed the Cyprus Brotherhood of South Africa since 1952.

Continue reading “A sense of continuity for the South African Cypriot diaspora”

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Why the eternal struggle may not be so eternal for much longer.

While many commentators are raising their proverbial arms in the air and decrying the intractability of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the current violence may have exposed a path to an end game – for better or for worse – between the two sides. 

As familiar as the eternal and depressing rocket exchange between Hamas and the IDF is, causing predictable and well-trodden consequences and damage, it seems that this this time the confrontation feels different in scope.

Continue reading “Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Why the eternal struggle may not be so eternal for much longer.”

Where have all the Greeks gone? The story of Greeks in Africa

A shorter version of this article appeared in the Sunday Cyprus Mail on 4th April 2021 and was re-published in Economia – the Greek business and finance media group on 27th April 2021

https://cyprus-mail.com/2021/04/04/where-have-all-the-greeks-gone-the-story-of-greeks-in-africa/

Today there remain only a few Greeks in Africa, mainly in the metropoles of South Africa. These last remnants only hint at a rich past that tied generations of Greeks to the vast African continent. There are some who still remember this prosperous past. Minis Papapetrou, a retired engineer who grew up in Sudan and now resides in Athens describes how he and around 200 members of the ‘Greek Community of Sudan’ still meet periodically in the Greek capital. Before covid disrupted life, they regularly gathered for Christmas and Easter, even though most, including Mr Papapetrou himself, left Africa almost 50 years ago. So powerful is the memory of the place that bonds them. “When we get together, or go to the club, our conversations are all about when we were back in Sudan,” he sighs. “Do you remember that? Do you remember when we went there? It’s a nice feeling to remember the country you were born.” Mr Papapetrou represents the last in a line of three generations of Greeks whose fortunes ebbed and flowed with those of the continent.

Continue reading “Where have all the Greeks gone? The story of Greeks in Africa”