Europe will struggle with growth
Europe is experiencing structural problems and is set to struggle for a long time. Europe is one of Namibia’s main trading partners and if economic growth continues at current levels, there are obvious challenges to growth in Namibia. Diversifying away our exports to new markets should be a consideration if not already embarked upon.
Risk of unconventional monetary policy
We are entering a risk period in terms of how much central banks can do. Currency wars have become a real possibility. Central bankers are keeping interest rates low and asset prices high, and every country wants to keep its currency down in order to make exports more competitive. To respond to global economic challenges, monetary policy globally increasingly finds itself in unconventional territory.
Although we live today in a world of flat money and mostly floating rates, questions are being asked about the current level and value of the Chinese currency as well as the Japanese Yen - including the latest move by Japan to increase its inflation target from 1% to 2% - and the decision by Bank of Japan to buy $140 billion of mostly short-term government debt each month. The depreciation of the US dollar during 2012 also raised questions whether countries do keep their currencies deliberately low to improve their competitiveness.
Internet will get closer and personal
The “interest graph” – the set of things I am interested in and that my friends like – will overtake the “social graph” or the social networks. In the evolution of technology we had the Internet boom era, the second wave revolved around social networks, whilst smart phones are currently experiencing an explosion. The future of technology is personalisation – guided by people’s daily habits. The ultimate source of growth will be technological progress.
Inequality biggest risk facing the world
Poverty, unemployment, and inequality are not unique in Namibia. The reality is that across the world – for different reasons and histories – inequality and unemployment are aggravating challenges we all face.
The secrets of success and competitiveness
The overarching theme experienced at Davos this year clearly indicates that Success is really about the journey, not the destination. To be competitive, Namibia needs to focus on structural features of competiveness, on its macro-economic policy - fiscal and monetary policy - innovation, attracting FDI and on its export sector. To ensure internal stability, labour-absorbing growth is almost a no-brainer.
But to really focus on ensuring Namibia’s success, we need to get our education system on a track that is supportive of our national aspiration. To do this, we need good leaders. Good leaders lead, great leaders transform. Our generation has everything to lift Namibia out of poverty and transform it into a winning nation.
While many of these observations are known and shared in various forms across Namibia in boardrooms and in huts, I share them with you now with the assurance that we are in good company globally and our growth is their growth and their success, ours too.
Johannes holds a B.A. and a Masters of Business Leadership from the University of South Africa, an MA from the Graduate School of Business at Kingston (London) as well as the AMP from Harvard University. Editor