This is particularly true of Africa, which closed 2017 with new leadership in Zimbabwe, Angola, South Africa, Ethiopia and Liberia. These political movements have ushered in new economic and social opportunities and talk of a ‘new dawn’ for the continent.
But Africa does not have a monopoly on this good news feeling, as Simon Finch and Craig Farley point out in their contribution to this edition of Global Perspectives. This buoyant outlook certainly extends to the dynamic markets of China and India, and we take a closer look at the fortunes of both these markets.
Of course, given the leadership change in South Africa early this year, a new optimism around the potential for investment here has emerged. Murray Anderson speaks of the attraction for foreign investors in his article, but also points out that how we manage our economy in the future will be of paramount importance. In spite of the upswing in sentiment, investors should continue to look for opportunities that will achieve a balanced mixture of offshore diversification and exposure alongside a pro-South Africa and emerging markets stance.
In a similar vein, and using an Africa lens, Nkareng Mpobane invites us to look beyond our own backyards when it comes to investing and shares compelling data on the diversification achieved by investing in Africa ex-SA equities, not just for developed world investors but also for those investors based out of South Africa.
Africa, of course, continues to be of particular interest given the shifts in accountability and perception, as well as the political shifts during the course of 2017. Paul Clark provides an eminently readable article which looks at developments in a post-Dos Santos Angola and a post-Mugabe Zimbabwe. While this upbeat view of Africa’s growing political maturity is encouraging, it is important to note that more needs to be done to entrench democracy across the continent.
Given the significant impact of Cyril Ramaphosa taking over as South African President in February 2018, much of the ‘new dawn’ feeling at the tip of Africa has to do with the promise of this new administration. Mark Appleton takes us through the ingredients needed to unlock South Africa’s potential and provides a realistic assessment of growth potential in the near future, while Rahima Cassim urges South Africa to look outwards, to the rest of Africa, in an effort to forge its own economic destiny. In keeping with this theme, Corneleo Keevy considers these current political changes in the context of credit downgrades – which seriously derailed South Africa’s investment standing in 2017. For now, and provided the likes of Appleton’s advice finds traction, South Africa has been given a stay of execution.
If one word seems to encapsulate the feeling of 2018, it’s mindfulness. We saw this playing out at the World Economic Forum in Davos at the start of the year and, with the growing focus on the emerging knowledge economy and fostering inclusivity in the global economic structure, we certainly seem to be stepping towards a world in which politicians are being held to account, societies are drawing a line in terms of gender discrimination and cultural bias, and where investing considers its impact as well as the bottom line.
Yes, a new dawn is upon us. It behoves us as an industry to be forward-thinking – to be mindful - in our approach, to measure opportunity with responsibility and to create platforms for investing which offer diversification, global options and solid fundamentals.