VUCA and Government Relations in Sub-Saharan Africa: Getting Ahead and Staying Ahead

VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) in Sub-Saharan Africa presents challenges to doing business that are distinct and unique to each market in the region; Such issues as political and economic risk which affect business decisions and hamper business growth in some climes, language barriers and cultural distinctions which affect communication and understanding in trade and currency value disparities all create opportunities for solutions through strategic government relations.

Forbes®, in defining the meaning of the acronym, explains that ‘Volatility’ refers to rate of change at a market or global scale. The more volatile the market is, the higher its chances of change.

‘Uncertainty’ deals with the level of confidence with which the future can be predicted. Where the market situation is uncertain, there is greater difficulty to predict and anticipate a market shift. ‘Complexity’, which refers to the number of factors that need to be considered in developing a strategy, also complicates the act of decision making in key markets and economies across the world.

‘Ambiguity’ focuses on the clarity or vagueness of issues and the ease in understanding these issues. This means that where there exists some ambiguity, there would be a greater difficulty in fully understanding the ‘full picture’.

GOVERNMENT RELATIONS MANAGEMENT IN A VUCA ENVIRONMENT

Regulatory agencies and officials, policies and legislations, political and economic interests are some of the intricate hurdles that Government Relations helps businesses to overcome, by leveraging on in-depth knowledge of each market and key stakeholders within these markets, to guide clients through these challenges.

There are instances where businesses, through the support of GR teams, were able to secure tax waivers, regulatory compliance requirements , gained insights on legislations and policies that could adversely affect their respective sectors amongst other benefits that could mean the difference between a thriving business and a failed investment move.

GR teams advice businesses on potential volatile situations and effects on business in the long and short term; whilst offering recommendations based on research and experience. Also, uncertain and complex market situations are assessed to properly ascertain the best course of action to take; all complexities and ambiguities associated with understanding diverse state regulations, laws and policies are also simplified by the GR team, allowing for a more directed approach to doing business in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created even more uncertainty for investors, with an increased inclination to hold on to cash and withhold any action until some semblance of ‘normalcy’ and certainty is restored. This is largely caused by the increased difficulty in accessing key information and insights to aid decision-making, due to restrictions in movement and lockdowns across the world.

A business, armed with the strategic support of a government relations adviser can leverage the resources provided by this support to remain ahead of the competition, gaining access to key insights and even strong and maintaining even stronger leadership position in focus markets.

Marcus Flynn Nigeria, a Legal and Business Advisory firm offers strategic support to businesses who require excellent government relations support. The Firm leverages its access to key decision makers and thought leaders to provide its clients with the much-needed intelligence reports and analysis that advise decisions to the clients’ benefit, whilst also providing the leadership required to deliver on project, end-to-end.

As Africa moves closer to the achievement of a one-region market through the introduction of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), and even more businesses seek to make in-roads to new markets and opportunities that the new frontier provides. The support of a strategic partner to provide market insights on regulatory compliance, business policy and government investment interests and consumer preferences, as well as facilitating direct partnerships with key public sector stakeholders, is even more important than ever before.

Ikechukwu Ibeawuchi is Practice and Innovations Lead at Marcus Flynn, a Legal and Business Advisory Firm in Nigeria, specialized in providing legal, government relations, regulatory and compliance support, and solutions to businesses across Africa. He can be reached on i.ibeawuchi@marcusflynn.org.

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