As consulting futurists and strategists, part of our job involves making predictions about trends that we see coming. We track societal trends, especially looking at technology, demographics, institutions and value shifts in the world. But, we also touch on politics, economics, geography and more. Its pretty dangerous to make predictions, of course – especially about the future. I think it was Alvin Toffler who said that most good futurists are correct about the content of their predictions, but most are very badly off with regards to the timing. So, its nice to get some right every now and again – and, like most futurists, I am happy to celebrate these. Here is a selection of predictions we made more than a year ago, and can now see the results:

  • Cyril Rhamaposa has said that he will try for the leadership of the ANC, and by implication for the presidency of the country in 2009. I suppose I cannot claim this as a “prediction”, but rather more of a hope and prayer. Either way, its fantastic news that he’s doing this. In most other countries, news like this would have caused stockmarkets to rally and the currency to strengthen – because its brilliant news.
  • We predicted that the Doha global trade talks round would collapse, mainly because the EU (France, in particular) and the USA would refuse to remove their agricultural subsidies.
  • About 6 years ago, we predicted that AIDS would not have the devastating effect on the economy that many were predicting. We said it was already discounted into company share prices. And we felt that due to high unemployment and a large potential labour pool, many casualties of AIDS would be replaced in the work environment. A recent survey now confirms this, estimating the impact of AIDS on the South African economy would be about 0.4% decrease in GDP per annum.

Now, just to be fair, here is what we’re predicting for the next little while that we are still watching. Timeline – end of 2006:

  • Oil will drop to $ 60 a barrel or less. Right now the high price has got more to do with futures trading and spot positions, than with global demand and supply or international volatlity and instability. Some corrections should take place by year end, assuming no major catastrophies have taken place.
  • The Rand will be at $ 6.50. This may take into next year, but the move out of emereging markets in the last few weeks will be corrected over the next year or so.
  • South Africa’s growth rate will hit 5% per annum. I still firmly believe that it is being under reported right now (even without including all informal sector trading).
TomorrowToday Global