Want to keep learning?

This content is taken from the University of Stellenbosch Business School Executive Development's online course, Futurism and Business: Dealing with Complexity. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds This example of a scenario exercise must be seen as being very generic. By rights, one shouldn’t really look at Africa as a region, such a vast region with so many countries. But just for the sake again of illustration, let’s take Africa. And the question being asked here is, what will Africa’s future be like in the year 2030? So imagine, once again, having gone through the prior steps– driving forces, key certainties, key uncertainties– and then coming up with two key uncertainties. Namely, something to do with rent-seeking behaviour. And secondly, something to do with having a more diversified economy. Now before we carry on, what’s this funny word “rent-seeking behaviour?”

Skip to 0 minutes and 53 seconds In short, it’s the word used to describe behaviour of seedier politicians and all businesspeople who will get all the benefits or most the benefits of economic activity for themselves without necessarily sharing in the joys with the rest of society. So it’s a very polite word, if you’d like, for corruption and mismanagement. So what are the two key uncertainties or the two key questions? The first one we can say is, to what extent will African countries– let’s have a look at what we’re talking about here– to what extent will African countries either still be guilty of rent-seeking behaviour? Or might they become more accountable in terms of governance? So there’s our vertical axis.

Skip to 1 minute and 42 seconds On the horizontal axis, we’re looking at the potential nature of the economy, ranging from either still relying very heavily on natural resources or becoming more diversified. And so once again, we find four possible scenarios. Not predictions. Four possible outcomes for a chosen African country. I would imagine for most people first prize would be the top right hand corner. We have the best of both worlds. Economies are more diversified. No longer over-reliant on natural resources. And at the same time, good governance means that these two feed into each other in a positive way. You could perhaps call that African Renaissance. Bottom left hand corner is the worst of both worlds. Country’s still relying very heavily on natural resources.

Skip to 2 minutes and 33 seconds And they’re guilty of rent-seeking behaviour. You could perhaps call that the resource curse. Top left hand corner could be plausible. That’s where a country is very reliant on natural resources. But it does have better governance. On the bottom right hand corner is where you have a more diversified economy. But unfortunately, you still have rent-seeking behaviour. So each one of these could indeed be plausible. And then one could use this, choose a country in Africa, decide where it is now, and then figure out what it needs to do to go from where it is to a better place. Perhaps just to give an example of how one can use a narrative here, I’ve just taken two of these scenarios.

Skip to 3 minutes and 17 seconds The top right hand corner– remember, that’s the African Renaissance. That would probably be where you have in a country proper protection of property rights. A more diverse skills base in the economy. Better co-operation between labor and management. A healthier labor force. A stable environment. Many entrepreneurs. True land ownership. And probably also a mindset change. As opposed to the bottom left hand corner. The resource curse. We have things such as rent-seeking behaviour. Property rights hardly even given a second glance. Unhealthy labor force. Under skilled labor force. Insufficient investment in infrastructure. And overall stagnation.

Africa's role in the future

Let’s learn more about these two key issues in Africa:

  • Eliminating rent-seeking behavior

  • Development of a diversified economy, based on extensive natural resources

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

Futurism and Business: Dealing with Complexity

University of Stellenbosch Business School Executive Development