The Cape 1000 is Africa’s answer to the Mille Miglia

This article appeared in the U.K travel site Detour on 31st March 2022 – https://detour-roadtrips.com/home/the-cape-1000-is-africas-answer-to-the-mille-miglia

Inspired by Italy’s most epic rally, the Cape 1000 is four days of petrolhead perfection in beautiful wine country.

At the foot of the iconic flat-top Table Mountain overlooking Cape Town, a group of excited, mainly male, sports and vintage car enthusiasts from all over South Africa gather at the V&A Waterfront Hotel.  The expansive dockside development is the scene for the inauguration of the Cape 1000, a first-of-its-kind vintage car rally inspired by Italy’s Mille Miglia, voyaging deep into Cape Town’s scenic hinterland.

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For its own good, SA must take the regional lead against Russia

This article appeared in the Opinion and Analysis section of the Sunday Times Daily (SA) on 27/02/2022

In the cacophony of diplomatic noise that followed the Russian invasion of Ukraine, SA’s swift statement released by the department of international relations and cooperation (Dirco) hours after the start of the invasion and calling out Russia directly went largely unnoticed.

Unique among Brics, its underlying tone was notably different in its directness. The change in tone was even noticed by the Russian embassy which, in its usual cold, curt and cutting fashion, responded on social media with the simple sentence: “Kindly refrain from interfering.”

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Russian-Ukrainian war may be the boon SA has been waiting for

The article appeared in the Opinion and Analysis section of Business Day (SA) on 27/02/22

The biggest crisis in Europe since World War 2 has sent financial markets on another dizzying roller-coaster ride over the past week. The conflagration in Ukraine has had economists ripping up their forecasts and sent them back to the drawing board.  Predictions were already battered by the uncertainties brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent supply-chain bottlenecks. 

The dominant consensus that is emerging is one of doom and gloom for Africa, with rising prices of crude oil and food staples, especially wheat, feeding into existing instability. This is ominous given the number of military coups already witnessed recently in and around the Sahel region. One need not look too far back in history — just a decade, to 2011-2012 — for a period when a spike in prices caused civil unrest from Nigeria to North Africa and stoked the Arab Spring.

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A conversation on Greece’s recent diplomatic foray into Africa on Pantelis Savvidis’s (ERT3) Greek web channel “Anixneusis”

Speaking yesterday (Sunday 16th January 2022) with esteemed colleagues, Pantelis Savvidis, Retired General Ilias Leontaris, Nikos D Kanellos, and journalist Sakis Moumtzis on the weekly Sunday morning podcast “Anixneusis” – the free-to-air Greek web tv channel, administrated by Pantelis Savvidis – previously on ERT3.

We spoke about the validity of Greece’s new diplomatic push into Africa. The historic ties between the continent and the Greek people and ultimately whether it was cause for optimism and a true renewal in relations or just another false dawn.

https://youtu.be/iN4goCTmSns

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A conversation with Shuaibu Idris, a development economist from Nigeria, about the future of infrastructure spending in Africa

On the 16th December 2021, I had a fascinating chat with Shuaibu Idris, a Nigerian development economist and MD of Time-Line Consult, a Lagos-based financial consultancy and management firm, about the state of infrastructure spending and general investment levels on the continent for an article for the weekday South African media outlet, Business Day ( https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/opinion/2021-12-23-george-philipas-infrastructure-spending-in-africa-is-at-a-crossroads/ )… Thought I would share his insightful extended comments.

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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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Failure shows SA Companies should reconsider African strategy

An edited version of this article appeared in the daily weekday ed of Business Day (South Africa) on 18/10/2021:

https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/opinion/2021-10-17-george-philipas-failures-show-sa-companies-should-reconsider-african-strategy/

There has been a flurry of activity by South African companies on the continent recently.  From Vodacom’s successful bid as minority partner for the Ethiopian telecommunications license to the Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) between South African Airlines (SAA) and Kenyan Airways (KQ) that is intended to sow the seed for a pan-African airline.   In fact, South African companies have made great inroads into Africa over the last two decades or so and seem to dominate the African business space.  According to a 2018 report by the Boston Consulting Group, South African companies make up 32 out of the 75 African multinationals active on the continent.  And according to a recent 2021 fDi Intelligence report, a leading research agency and a division of the Financial Times, South Africa is the second biggest investor on the continent from Africa or the Middle East, behind only the UAE. 

But there is another side to this unquestionable success, one punctuated by regular missteps and blunders that have been repeated to the great detriment of a significant number of South African companies in Africa. 

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At the forefront of Greece’s new foreign policy drive: First-hand accounts from the Greek community in Libya

An edited version of this article appeared in my regular column in the Sept/Oct 2021 ed of Greek Business File Magazinehttps://www.economia.gr/en/first-hand-accounts-from-the-greek-community-in-libya/

In November 2019, Greece was spurred into its biggest foreign policy shift in a generation.  Borne out of the signing of the now-infamous Memorandum of Understanding between Libya and Turkey on delimiting maritime jurisdictions that encroached on Greece’s internationally-recognised maritime boundaries,  Greece quickly scrambled to re-discover diplomatic and economic ties that had been allowed to decaypretty much since Greece turned its focus towards Europe in the 80s.  Now after two years, it’s hyperactive foreign policy drive casts a wide net that encompasses vaccine diplomacy in countries as far afield as Rwanda, Kenya and Iran to joining the French-led peacekeeping mission in the Sahel.  But the epicentre of this renewed push is still very much where it all began in Libya.

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The labour shortage conundrum: What economists are missing in their hunt to explain the record number of job vacancies

The stay-at-home rate amongst the 18-34 year old age group – those who have moved back or never left the parental home – may well be a crucial missing link in explaining the record number of job vacancies and labour shortages in the developed world.

And the long-run consequences could be dire that could lead to far more persistent labour shortages than many realise, especially at the lower end, and by extension lead to higher levels of inflation for longer.
And with more angry, young people with no hope and a bleak future comes increased unrest and civil strife.

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