Skip to main content
November 17, 2018

Davos, Solheim and an outstanding IR Effort out of Southern Africa

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (C) and White House Communications Director Hope Hicks (2nd-R) attend the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 26, 2018. /REUTERS
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (C) and White House Communications Director Hope Hicks (2nd-R) attend the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 26, 2018. /REUTERS

My Guest at Mindspeak this Saturday was Erik Solheim the executive director of UN Environment and he was coming all the way from Davos and therefore, I was nervous that he might not make it.

And in fact, he spoke of a 45-minute airport shut down so that President Trump and his entourage of billionaires could depart which cut things very fine.

Solheim is a passionate advocate for the environment and gained some big wins in Davos in particular a partnership with Rabobank and BNP Paribas.

The environment and a sustainable global economy are the big issues of the day and climate change was in fact ranked the biggest risk that the world faces by the participants at Davos.

Sixteen of the twenty most affected countries by climate change are in Africa. Davos remains the pre-eminent platform of its kind a go-to destination for world leaders and CEOs.

Klaus Schwab who founded Davos has to be commended for creating such a singular platform. Of course, Davos exists in a rarefied and elevated space and is dominated by the 1%, a 1% who Oxfam have cited as taking a disproportionate super-sized share of this 21st century economy of ours.

Therefore, Davos remains a World Cup of sorts where global leaders and CEOs seek to wow the crowds and gain 'mind-share. Mind-share is quite difficult to measure empirically but its like ''Mojo'' because you know when someone has it, intuitively.

 It was David Pilling in the Financial Times who said: ''There is a great upheaval, not to say a full-scale revolution, going on in Southern Africa.''

What was clear to me last week was that Southern Africa was leading an investor relations engagement which was resonating world-wide.

Cyril Ramaphosa was leading the charge. His interviews with Bloomberg amongst others, were assertive, spoke to an inflexion point and wowed the Financial Markets. Its been a breath-taking assertion of narrative control over the South Africa inc story and the markets have received the signal loud and clear.

The South African All Share is at a record high and the Rand is at 2.5 year highs. Ramaphosa is saying all the right things, he has reinvigorated South African institutions and he is presiding over the demise of his predecessor.

South African Assets which previously were forced to endure a Zuma haircut (a discount correlated to Zuma political risk) have yet to revert back to neutral and at this rate might even move towards a Ramaphosa premium. Investors will continue to pile in and this bump has a lot further to go.

On the December 18 I asked: ''Will it be 1994 all over again?'' and investors seem to be thinking that this is a possibility.

Ramaphosa has the big ''Mo'' [Momentum] and Pilling reckons that there is a chance he might be the one to make the state of the nation address in two weeks time. 

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, aka the Crocodile has also been in Davos pressing the case for Zimbabwe.

President Mnangagwa is set on a strategy where Zimbabwe (which is at rock bottom) manages to give the Economy a meaningful stimulus aead of an election in a few months time.

He is playing a sophisticated hand, reaching out to a Britain which is much keener at looking at the Commonwealth than ever before. President Mnangagwa might be running well ahead of his ZANU-PF Party but he appreciates his is a Call to Action and that he needs some action real quick.

Here again, credit where credit is due. Mugabe used to sleep through these big events but the Crocodile is playing a much sharper wide-awake hand.

 Finally President Lourenço, ''had been widely expected to be a dos Santos stooge.''-[FT] but has now earned the nickname of ''The Terminator'' since terminating President Dos Santos' Daughter Isabel and his son José Filomeno.

Angola which was ranked the third largest economy in sub Saharan Africa but had become a family enterprise. President Lourenço has sought to rein in the family and put the economy on a more even keel.

The Central Bank has been repricing the Angola Kwanza and normalising what was an out of kilter ''rentier'' economy.

Southern Africa popped big over the radar last week. In the niche world of high level investor relations, these three leaders really played a sophisticated and nuanced hand.

 

Poll of the day