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Economy

Infrastructure spending in Africa is at a crossroads

An edited version of this article appeared in the Opinions and Analysis section of Business Day (South Africa) on 23/12/2021: https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/opinion/2021-12-23-george-philipas-infrastructure-spending-in-africa-is-at-a-crossroads/

The pandemic has certainly not been kind to investment prospects in Africa.  Lead by a slowdown in infrastructure investment from China, foreign direct investment (FDI), already heading south before the onset of the pandemic, fell by 18% in 2020.  More ominously, greenfield investment, investment in new projects, fell precipitously by 63% according to the Global Investment Trends Monitor released by UNCTAD in Jan 2021, the largest regional fall on the globe last year.  The proverbial onslaught culminated with the announcement earlier this month at the recent Forum of China-Africa Cooperation conference (FOCAC) in Dakar, Senegal that plots Sino-African relations for the next three years, of a vertical drop in investment from China from US$ 60 billion to US$40 billion. 

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The labour shortage conundrum: What economists are missing in their hunt to explain the record number of job vacancies
Why the stay-at-home rate amongst the 20-34 year old age group may be the missing link in explaining the record number of job vacancies and labour shortages in the developed world – especially in Anglo-Saxon countries.   And the long-run consequences could be dire:  Both in economic terms – Labour shortages may be far more…
SA must clean up its act in Africa – Its future depends on it
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The source of inflation that nearly no-one is focused on and everyone needs to worry about…
The spotlight on inflation, and whether or not it is just a passing phase as economies re-open, is missing the bigger picture. Long-term changes to “just-in-time” supply chains that were already underway before the pandemic and super-charged by it will ultimately lead to persistently higher inflation in advanced economies. And especially if…
Smart Cities in Africa. The Smart Move or another White Elephant that brings crushing debt

A shorter version of this article appeared in Business Day, South Africa on 23rd March 2020

https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/opinion/2020-03-23-sas-smart-city-drive-may-not-be-such-a-clever-move/

Last month President Ramaphosa in his SONA heralded the forthcoming construction of a new 5G-ready smart city around Lanseria Airport in the next decade.  With it, South Africa was belatedly thrust to the front of a Continent-wide rush to establish so-called smart and eco-friendly cities, seen as a means of jump-starting the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution powered by digital technology.

The Covid-19 Medical Emergency is an Unprecedented Crisis, but it is the economic fallout that should truly petrify us all

I’ve had a few heated debates in the past few days about how I appear to care more about the economic fallout of Covid-19 than the mounting death toll from the virus itself.

Of course I care, and especially about the looming global health system crises too. But looking to the bigger picture, I also know that in the long-run, for better or for worse, this virus will be under control in a about a year’s time. Whereas the economic fallout, and by extension the social and political fallout could last decades.

Comments on Francis Fukuyama’s two seminal books: ‘The End of History & The Last Man’ and ‘Identity’


I recently finished reading Fukuyama's two seminal books. They are essential reading for anyone wishing to get a deeper understanding of the advent and spread of democracy and the modern industrial economy globally. Not to mention the subsequent rise of identity politics and the likes of Trump and Brexit.