The 20th Century brought mankind many great discoveries including the motor car, nuclear power, jet planes, and the transistor. The 20th century also brought the 2 Great Wars. We expected that man would have learned that going to war is not the answer to resolving conflict.
With almost 20 years into the 21st century, the new Millennium has been marred with great social and economic turmoil. We have witnessed the high level of instability in the Middle East with the Iraq-Iran War, ISIS, The Invasions of Afghanistan, Syrian and the challenges in Palestine. From the Biblical events of Kane and Abel, man has not stopped with his murderous behavior.
The human race has been aging and growing richer with the years especially in the emerging economies. Families in the more established economies have been opting to become smaller to contain costs limiting the growth of future workforce whilst certain parts of the emerging economies the population growth has been steadily increasing placing a major strain on infrastructure and reliance on the state for support.
Low fertility rates coupled with a continuous increase in longevity leads of course to an increase in the old-age dependency ratio. In Europe, the impact of this trend on the ratio of workers to pensioners has so far been partially neutralized by the increase in the labor force participation rate. With an aging workforce and slower birth rates, future workforce numbers are not looking very positive.
Emerging markets especially the likes of Africa is seeing the growth in birth rates which should result in a productive workforce in the future. However, Africa’s historic trends toward political instability still need to be addressed. This has resulted in a steady increase in the gap between the rich and poor. Poverty is still rampant in many of the emerging markets, which is placing immense strain in pubic funds, this, unfortunately, will continue into 2020 as the challenge is no small mountain to climb over.
The rapid interest in the interest for electric vehicles by motor manufacturers and others in recent times will continue into 2020. Debates around the affordability of these new ‘status’ symbols continue unabated. Designed for the more established economies due to the need for charging infrastructure, Africa and most of the emerging economies will still continue on their path of being fossil fuel burners. Questions are being raised on the true net effect on the environment of these e-vehicles considering that it takes fossil-fuel-powered electrical sources to provide the recharging capability.
This links closely to the ongoing debates and challenges around climate change and how our environment has rapidly been deteriorating due to the negligence of man.
Despite substantial growth rates in Sub-Saharan Africa, the GDP per capita (on average) will remain low.
There is a widespread consensus that in the last two decades the growing performance of emerging market economies has been accompanied by an expansion of the middle class, whereas in developed economies ‘rising inequality’ or hollowing out of the middle class has been a growing concern (see EPRS’ Global Trends, 2017). Income distribution thus appears to evolve in different ways in emerging and developed economies (see chapter 6 about inequality in advanced economies).
The middle class is indeed expanding in emerging economies, as a large share of people gets out of poverty. This does not necessarily mean that inequality is falling in these countries. Economic growth also pushes part of the population above the ‘middle class’ threshold and if part of the gains is concentrated in the hands of few, also inequality increased.
The rise of African nationalism has begun and continued. The Xenophobic attacks seen in South African in the recent past are just the tip of the iceberg. Easing the movement of persons across borders in Africa especially into the economic powerhouse of South Africa, the most industrialized nation in Africa, cannot be sustainable. The drive to unite countries in Africa into one continent followed by one currency is ambition, considering the vast differences in cultures, tribal beliefs and practices, and the historic trends of power ownership in the hands of the few at the expense of the masses. The likes of the EFF leadership under Julius Malema spells out their drive for a unified Africa, one nation, one currency, one economic region. Such rhetoric can only bring about greater polarization and political instability with the largely uneducated masses who do not fully comprehend the long-term repercussions of such a move.
The future for Africa will see the growth of its economies with the involvement of the Superpowers of China and the new arrival of India. A new form of colonization through economic slavery that traps the African continent for decades to come. The question for Africans is where will the real wealth be realized, in whose hands?
The instability of many African countries will persist. Efforts by leaders in Turkey, Pakistan, Egypt and South Africa towards pursuing the ‘silencing the guns’ and driving to peace and better stability and governance across Africa and the Middle East. Cross continental trade in Africa will increase. Global trade will see major shifts with the outcomes of the Trade Wars between the US and China.
The landslide victory of the Tories over Labour in the Dec 2019 UK General Elections took many by surprise. UK politics is still in turmoil. Brexit has its challenges. Many believe that it is the wrong decision and not good for global trade and business. The status quo was working, why change it if it ain’t broken???
Boris Johnson, often referred to as Bojo, may think that the election victory was a clear indication of the support of the British people, the question is where did the Torrie support really come from? Historically, both British and European politics more broadly have been heavily determined by class divisions. Left-wing parties like Labor-dominated among the industrial working class, while right-wing parties like the Tories did well among society’s upper crust. This historical pattern has become unglues in recent decades. Educated urban professionals have drifted left and the working classes have tiled right, a shift that many social scientists attribute to the rising importance of immigration and identity issues in European politics.
In Britain, Brexit supercharged this long-running process, as highly educated city dwellers tended to oppose Brexit (making them more likely to vote Labour) while rural and less educated voters tended to support it (making them more likely to vote Conservative).
The resounding Conservative victory was driven by a dramatic swing of working-class support away from Labour,” as the Financial Times put it in a post-election data analysis. With the win by the Conservatives and their concerted decision to ensure Brexit happens, the Pound is taking a hammering. A clear indication that the World View on Brexit is not positive.
Scotland has never supported the idea to leave the EU, independence from the UK post-Brexit…This will certainly change the political, historical and economic landscape of the UK forever.
The world continuous demand for energy is not being challenged by the environmentalists who are certainly not in favor of the conventional coal-burning polluting fossil-fuelled power stations that have become a familiar sight for many countries.
The option of going nuclear is certainly not going to fly with the history of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster of March 2011 still fresh in the minds of many. Although seen as a form of clean energy with long term cost benefits, the risks associated with the safety of nuclear technology, used nuclear fuels pose a complete array of challenges that many countries want to stay clear of. Alternate energy through wind, Solar, Thermal are proving better routes to follow. The drive to being carbon neural for many countries and corporates will continue to gain momentum as Earth is the only home we have. We must continue with our fight to save the planet including the drive to reduce plastic usage and waste.
With the 4th Industrial Revolution or 4IR in full swing, the dynamics of the workplace and live in general is undergoing a dynamic metamorphosis that has triggered evolution and in some spheres the revolution of work occupations, education curriculums, fear of the future of human survival and the rise of robots taking over. The growth of data at exponential levels alongside the use of Artificial Intelligence or AI has opened up a completely new avenue for intelligence use of information that has aided governments, intelligence agencies, and businesses in enhancing their security needs and customer requirements. The year 2020 will be no different, AI, big data, interconnected intelligent systems, man and machine, across hybrid ecosystems will continue unabated. Drone technology will continue advancing as will as self-driving technology. Emerging markets are not untouched. South Africa has already embraced this revolution, so it has parts of the Middle East. China and India have been advancing in leaps and bounds. Either you are on the bus or under it – is a common expression in the world of 4IR.
With 20 decades of the new Millennium almost behind us, we are witnessing –
- A richer and older human race,
- A more vulnerable process of globalization, with an uncertain leadership,
- A transformative industrial and technological revolution,
- A growing nexus of climate change, energy, and competition for resources,
- Changing power, interdependence and fragile multilateralism.
- The 4th Industrial Revolution with the merging of multiple technologies, faster access speeds, big data with greater intelligence that ever seen before
- New job evolving and older job rapidly disappearing and a disruption of the workplace in ways man has never witnessed before
- The rise of machines and the perceived threat of robots taking over
- A pressing need for the overhaul of the current education system to meet the threats presented by the 4IR and need for upskilling
The question one needs to ask is…
Are you ready for the Challenge…Never fear change nor fear the unknown..for these bring opportunity..The opportunity itself has resulted in high levels of success. Remember of the works of Martin Luther King…I have a Dream…….Dream on …..The action it and Success is yours….
May the year 2020 be a prosperous, healthy and peaceful year to you…