Neil on Africa: South Africa is at major crossways on all fronts
May I take the opportunity from the outset to thank all of my readers for the massive support, continued interactions and messages based on the 36 African focus articles of 2019.
I truly look forward in 2020 to a larger response and even larger suggestions on matters that concern and interest you about Africa.
The year starts well for South Africa, as it is in the seat, chairing the African Union (AU) in 2020. Many would argue that, domestically, South Africa is at major crossways on all fronts and indeed matters of leadership, economy and investors confidence, are on the minds of all interested parties.
On a global front, many in the African business sphere, are keeping a very close focus on specifically three countries’ actions and influences on the African continent.
The US, China and Britain, no doubt have huge investment and trade stake holdings in Africa. The US is interesting, as the continued embattled Trump administration needs to declare what 2020 holds for them on their trade policies to African nations.
China, no doubt for the past decade, has been a major player in Africa, in specific funding and construction. With the global economy going through ups and downs and a so-called imminent cease-fire in the US-China trade wars, the rising superpower might wish to advance its expansion into Africa in 2020.
Last, but not least, is the UK, with all eyes focused on the intended Brexit date tomorrow. No doubt with Brexit still pending, the UK will seek more openings in other markets, and it seems there is now a new view on capturing the old markets and trade of the Commonwealth areas. This would make sense, but it is imperative that should a shift be on the cards to renew the old partnership between the UK and Africa, Africa fights for a better deal. Anything less would be a revival of the past colonial era.
One of the greatest challenges facing Africa remains the lack of infrastructure and planning of such projects on the continent. Several countries have major national development plans in progress, but the bankability of these projects is severely lacking.
The AU should be the focus on a master infrastructure plan to connect Africa. Hopefully 2020 will bring a revival to all of the 55 nations in Africa, as they strive for a united Africa.
Neil De Beer is the president of Invest Fund Africa (IFA) and chairperson of Nedebe Group. He has and currently advises several African states and leaderships on economic development. You can reach him for comments on [email protected] and www.ifa.africa