Middle East & North Africa: a context with global challenges

By Javier Albarracín, Mena Region Director

The world is going through a new era defined by many analysts as VUCA due to its volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. Trusted legal and institutional frameworks, stable alliances, political and economic stability and reliable production and supply chains are no longer the norm. Flexibility, adaptability and resilience are the new normal. Liquid alliances and the unexpected define the new reality.

New challenges are emerging, such as the capacity of public opinion to influence markets and policies; new technologies having a transversal and comprehensive impact; protectionist policies; growing geopolitical instabilities; management of deep crisis such as the current pandemic, globalization of talent and the redefinition of the supply and production strategies. At the same time, old challenges are reinforced, such as the value of sustainability, impact of climate change, demographic changes or the need to adapt to a multicultural world led by the emerging economies.

National, regional and global challenges are making the role of decision makers more complex and transversal (or geopolitical?). CEOs have to inevitably evolve towards a sort of Chief Geopolitcal Officer that needs to incorporate many non-business variables in their corporate strategies, impacting their consolidation and expansion.

In this context, the counties of the Middle East and North Africa Region (MENA) have been badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. Governments across the region have taken strong containment measures and have spent much on their health systems to ensure they meet the urgent needs of their populations.

This situation is having a severe consequence in the MENA region: especially with the drop of the oil price due to the dramatic decrease of the global oil demand. And this double crisis is taking place in the aftermath of the social, political and economic uncertainty that erupted in the region since 2011.

Unemployment, innovation and the improvement of the quality of institutions are three of the main socio-economic challenges the region needs to address. By doing so they will increase their international attractiveness, bring back investment, tourism, trade and market stability.

To improve the international attractiveness three policies should be comprehensively strengthened and developed: diversification of the productive ecosystem, innovation and internationalization. In these three processes public institutions should work hand in hand with the private sector and their representatives.

Companies and countries in MENA that walk consistently along these paths will be more attractive and will find a positive response from the international community as well as from the main international economic and financial institutions.

Public Affairs Experts - November 24th, 2020

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