Five areas will shape the global operating environment for business this year

The fallout of Covid-19 and its impact on economies around the world is still pushing many governments to the brink. Combined with Covid’s effect on the mental state of a large part of the world’s population, it’s no surprise that many are still too afraid to put all their eggs in one basket or even consider predicting or planning for 2022

“Amid the uncertainty, where does one even start to rebuild economies? But it is exactly now that forecasting plays a bigger role than ever before,” says Theo Sibiya, Partner and Managing Director for Kearney Africa.

Negative economic implications of COVID-19 have not been evenly spread across the population in South Africa

Kearney developed their annual detailed report that reflects the impact the pandemic has had over the past two years and identified key predictions for the year ahead.

  1. Governments worldwide will mount campaigns in 2022 to address behavioural and economic scars left by the pandemic on youth. Too little, too late. We are risking a lost generation.
  2. Governments and companies alike will face mounting social and political pressure to take genuine action on ESG challenges, starting with measurable progress on climate change in the wake of the UN COP26 summit. More pressure will come.
  3. Virtual healthcare will expand to unprecedented levels, reshaping the industry.
  4. Lithium will reach an inflection point in 2022 as geopolitical, economic, and environmental forces collide.
  5. A semiconductor boom will be a positive aspect, but the Great Shortage will persist.

Last year, annual predictions cautioned about a highly uncertain year ahead, the conventional wisdom was that the introduction of promising vaccines would push humanity into a post-pandemic period marked by rapid economic growth. Unfortunately, the reality has been more tumultuous, while also pointing to some unseen benefits in the outlook.

According to a recent study by the Sage Journals – the negative economic implications of COVID-19 have not been evenly spread across the population in South Africa. In a country that registers the highest inequalities, the World Bank predicts that COVID-19 threatens to push three million South Africans into poverty.

Survey data by Randchhod & Daniels back in 2020 suggest that traditionally more vulnerable groups, such as women, black Africans, youth, and less educated groups, have been disproportionately negatively affected.

For young people in particular, the lockdown during the second quarter of 2020 left approximately 13 million students without adequate education in a country where already 80 percent of students experience learning poverty (defined by the World Bank as being unable to read and understand a straightforward text by age 10), and the high unemployment rate among this segment of the population has been further aggravated by the decline in economic activity.

The report also outlines important inflection points for technology and energy. First, virtual healthcare will gain even more momentum this year as broadband infrastructure improves. Further, innovation and investment in the semiconductor sector will propel it to new heights. And as lithium mining continues, greener solutions to the practice will emerge.

“And the lasting damage inflicted by COVID-19 will not only impact trade. Governments and businesses have the important task of not only ensuring that supply chain challenges are mitigated, but also that COVID-induced mental health challenges inflicted on the worlds youth do not leave us with a lost generation,” adds Sibiya.

Read more: WEF report shows barriers to SME technology adoption in emerging markets

Featured image by EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA/Pexels



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