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Global upheavals a threat to SA businesses - economist Dr Iraj Abedian

May 8, 2017
Global upheavals a threat to SA businesses -  economist Dr Iraj Abedian

Business leaders urged to consider the strategic risks and opportunities

BREXIT, a surprise US election and other global socio-economic and political upheavals are having direct effects on local and national businesses, which companies simply cannot afford to take lightly. 

This is the warning from leading analyst and former Standard Bank Group chief economist Dr Iraj Abedian, who describes the current national and international conditions as “unprecedented” on a global scale.

Abedian is meeting with business leaders in Port Elizabeth this week (May 10) as part of the NMMU Business School’s Strategic Conversations series of dialogues, during which he will address the impact of prevailing global geopolitical conditions with local business leaders.

He is an honorary professor of economics and visiting lecturer in the NMMU Business School’s MBA programme in addition to his role as founder and chief executive officer of Pan-African Capital Holdings.

“The current instability is unprecedented not only in terms of the pace of change but also in the rate at which the known institutions of governance are decaying. The rising level of popular discontent is also at its highest pitch ever,” said Abedian.

He described it as a “systemic problem” characterised by the twin traits of unsustainability and volatility, which, he added, business leaders should ignore at their peril.

“No country, no business sector and no firm will be immune to any system disruption. As such, wherever we are, local businesses need to take a keen interest in such matters.”

While he acknowledged the risks created by such global disruption, Abedian said there was also a positive aspect, which created opportunities for forward-thinking African business leaders.

On the home front, he said businesses also needed to start thinking proactively about the issue of radical economic transformation, a phrase that has risen to prominence in the South African political discourse in recent weeks.

“Whilst this term is thrown into the melting pot of the ANC succession planning, it has both opportunistic and substantive elements to it,” said Abedian, who has been extensively involved in policy development in South Africa, including the 1995 White Paper on the Reconstruction and Development Plan and a stint on the President’s economic advisory panel between 2006 and 2009.

He said the opportunistic side “injected ill-defined and open-ended risks into the business milieu”, while the substantive element required “systemic attention by the business sector insofar as business is the central player in any economic transformation.”

WATCH: Dr Abedian was recently interviewed on Carte Blanche regarding SA’s junk status downgrade: https://carteblanche.dstv.com/iraj-abedian-junk-status/

Image: AFRICAN ECONOMIST:Renowned economist Dr Iraj Abedian will be speaking on the risks and opportunities for Africa in the prevailing global political economy at the NMMU Business School on May 10. (Image: Supplied)