And 2021 is finally behind us. It was in all ways a difficult year with the pandemic causing all sorts of untold suffering and loss. To be reading this means you are already a winner and may I take this opportunity to wish you a Happy New Year! But what lies ahead in 2022? Let us see what the tea leaves are telling us.
Just as we ended 2021, 2022 will start with concerns about what is next in the unending saga of the Covid-19 pandemic. We have already been through three variants of the virus and lost about 3.5 million people during the year. That is more deaths than malaria, HIV and tuberculosis combined were able to claim in 2020 according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). More mutations of virus are expected as we navigate the current “Omicron’ wave. Indeed it is claimed that the new kid on the block is ‘Delmicron’, a combinate of Delta and Omicron. The good news however, according to those who know these things, is that the fast mutations mean that the virus is learning to leave with its hosts and becoming less lethal. Indeed there have been far fewer deaths from Omicron and that will probably be the trend with future variants. We continue to hope for a resolution of this pandemic in 2022.
As a result of the pandemic, many countries have been going into lockdowns and all sorts of restrictions on travel and trade. That will continue in 2022. With these restrictions, the world in general has suffered severe supply chain disruptions which are likely to be inflationary. These supply chain disruptions are part of a larger global resources disruption that has affected production, business investment and labor movements. Again the world will be looking to technology to resolve this problem.
Late in 2021, The UN held a Climate Summit that was dubbed COP26. Despite the resolutions of COP26, the environment will continue to deteriorate in 2022 as the industrialized world produces more green gases. There will be more extreme weather events and risks to livelihoods in general. But the effects will be worse for developing countries which bear the brunt of climate change. The pursuit of profit will continue to harm people and planet, but hope springs eternal.
For many, especially here at home, 2022 means ‘back to business as usual’. But business and work will never be the same again. The office as we have known it in the past is going to change and remote working will become more common. Indeed some multinational firms have already allowed their staff to work from wherever they are and when they want. Digital is the new way and we will have to embrace it. Businesses that survive must learn the art of ‘platformisation’ – that is using ICT applications to deliver their services. However there is growing fatigue with remote working and we will have to strike a balance between achieving some social contact and the new order of remote working.
Apart from inflationary pressures, here at home, as a result of the anticipated opening up, we expect to see the cessation of credit relief measures (CRM) in the financial sector. The removal of the CRM regime will inevitably lead to a melt down and a real shakeup in the economy. When the pandemic struck, Bank of Uganda allowed financial institutions to give borrowers a moratorium on their loans. But that did not involve waivers of interest that continued to accumulate. Since many of the businesses that needed the relief were closed, it is difficult to see how they will be repaying their loans when we get back to ‘business as usual’. We shall have to pick up that can which we have been kicking down the road and I reckon there is going there is going to be some real heat out there.
Whatever happens in “tweeny tweeny two”, may our belief in humanity and aspirations remain steadfast.
Samuel Sejjaaka is Country Team Leader at MAT ABACUS Business School. Twitter @samuelsejjaaka