Towards the end of the year last year, I was invited to be a panelist at the Global Work Tech Scenarios 2050 South Africa Conference. At first, I was nervous to share my thoughts as I was not sure how they would be received, and I was not so sure about how my expertise in the field of Marketing and Communications would fit in the context of the future of science and technology. Quite often, the tendency is that we see science as a mutually exclusive subject that does not directly impact our daily lives – well at least that’s what I thought.
However, the more exposed I have been to this field,the more I realise how the different waves in science and technology have been shaping the cultural experience of society, for example, the way in which society communicates, shops and accesses information has changed because of the digital age. Attending this conference has further opened my eyes to this and as a result, has demanded that I think about the possibilities of the future and role of Marketing and Communications in this regard.
In preparation for the panel discussion, we were sent a document titled Future Work/Tech 2050 Global Scenarios. Using a future studies method, the case study thoroughly highlights potential scenarios that could emanate by 2050 as a result of global technological advancements. Additionally, the case study examines the effect these advancements will have on politics, economics and culture. Out of the three scenarios presented to us, the third one titled: If humans were free – the self-actualization economy resonated with me the most.
According to this particular future study, new technologies in the form of artificial intelligence will change the face of the job market as we know it today. By 2050, approximately 4-billion people will gravitate towards self-employment. This means, although new technologies might not necessarily support formal employment but, they may provide a conducive environment for alternative forms of employment to thrive. With this kind of economic shift, the study predicts that the percentage of people employed by corporations will decrease and there will be an increase in the number of self-employed individuals. The study also suggests that individual power will begin to increase relative to government and corporate power.
This economic shift which is a result of a technological revolution will also have a direct impact on global culture. Due to increased individual power, society will begin to embrace the concept of a self-actualized economy. Essentially, what this means is, individuals will begin to decide for themselves how to use their time, ponder on issues concerning their life purpose and find ways to express their purpose through work. As a result, a culture of self-awareness, creativity and purpose will culminate and this could also change the way in which people relate to brands. In a society where individuals are self-aware and are driven by the need to express self, one has to ask themselves how will this affect the way corporates market and communicate their brand to the public.
Corporate for many years has benefited from the existence of public relations, marketing and communications. This is because this field of study specialises in examining the behaviour of consumers or a particular target audience, understanding their needs and wants then, using various methods to mass communicate a particular service or product to a group of people for the purpose of profit.
In fact, Edward Bernays who is considered the “father of public relations” and known as nephew of Sigmund Freud,based the foundation of public relations on studying crowd psychology – which is a broad study of how an individual’s behaviour is influenced in a large crowd. Over the years, this approach has worked like a charm because the economic system of capitalism bred a societal culture of competitiveness, consumerism and the need for attaining material success in order to gain social acceptance. Therefore, corporate through public relations, marketing and communications, have been able to win over the loyalty of various publics by tapping into this.
However, if future studies are predicting a self-actualized economy by 2050, which will have us witness a decrease in corporate power and an increase in individual power. If the order of the day in society will be about exploring personal creativity, self-awareness and pursuing purpose as opposed to seeking material success for gaining social acceptance, it may mean that the field of marketing and communications may have to start finding a different approach to communicating brands to the public.
I therefore suspect that as opposed to a mass communication approach which groups people according to what they have – for example, using the living standard measuring (LSM) method to understand a particular target audience, a more personalised approach may have to be adopted. This means, brands may have to invest more time in scanning the environment of their target market, taking the time to understand what affects them, what they want, what they need, their deepest desires and fears. The changing consumer market will dictate that brands have the ability to engage as an active member of the community, and skillfully interpret their belief and value systems, and not just their physiological needs.
Previously, brands got away with simply marketing and communicating a product to push it in the market. This approach worked for years because the consumerist culture of that time was more about, what can a particular product or service do for me. However, this approach to a consumer of today seems detached. With the digital age which allows us to access information easily, there already has been a gradual increase in consumers who are more aware and have taken interest in the politics that govern how a brand operates. As a result, consumers confidently reject a brand that does not represent their beliefs or value system. This kind of consumer, unapologetic and self-aware is predicted to increase exponentially by 2050. For the brands that refuse to observe and listen, they will remain detached from the reality of their target audience and will find themselves preaching to the unconverted.
Egypt, PRL sign train engines contracts worth $466.3M
CAIRO – 16 November 2019: The Egyptian Railway Authority (ERA) signed with PRL (Progress Rail Automotives) a number of contracts worth $466.3 million after a meeting with President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi that took place last week.
The American company will supply 50 train engines over 22 months, carry out long-term maintenance for 41 engines by June 30, and upgrade 50 others within 30 months since the conclusion of the deal. The company will also provide maintenance services and spare parts for those 141 train engines for 15 years. The value of contracts will be secured through soft loans, except for $27 million that will be paid by ERA’s treasury.
In July, ERA endorsed the technical specifications of two passenger railcars to be supplied by Transmashholding in September. Those are part of a contract to supply 1,300 railcars. One of the railcars will be tested in Hungary, so it will be granted the safety certification by the European Railway Agency. The other will be tested in Egypt. Afterwards, the first batch of railcars in the contract will be delivered in accordance with the timeline set by both parties.
The contract states that 650 railcars will be supplied from Hungary, 500 will be delivered by Russia, and 150 will be manufactured by Egypt under the supervision of Transmashholding. An Egyptian locomotive factory will be established as part of a plan to localize the locomotive industry in Egypt and transfer the know-how to workers, technicians, and engineers in the sector. The factory will produce the 150 railcars and also provide maintenance services.
The representatives of ERA and Transmashholding agreed to hold further visits and meetings to study the possibility of cooperation in rail infrastructure, mobile rail, workshops, new lines, and maintenance of existing railcars.
In the same month, an official source told Egypt Today that ERA needs 12 rail test machines to detect and repair defects in railroads revealing that contracts to purchase eight of those are being finalized.
ERA will receive four rail test machines worth €8.5 million by the end of 2020 supplied by an Austrian company with which a contract was signed a few months ago. The machines will enable the authority to better diagnose defects in the railroads which would increase the safety, and inhibit derailment accidents.
France-Africa Summit secretary general praises Egypt’s experience in infrastructure
Investment Minister Sahar Nasr meets with Secretary General of France-Africa Summit 2020 Stephanie Rivoal Reminisces- press photo
CAIRO – 8 November 2019: Ambassador Stephanie Rivoal Reminisces, the Secretary General of France-Africa Summit 2020, has hailed Egypt’s experience in the infrastructure field mainly with regard to the the sustainable and smart cities as well as digitization which she said offers investment opportunities to the private sector.
During her meeting with Investment Minister Sahar Nasr, the French diplomat added that France prioritizes consolidating strategic relations with the African countries, topped by Egypt, the current president of the African Union.
The meeting is held on Friday as part of Reminisces’s current visit to Egypt to hold talks with the government on preparations for the anticipated summit, slated for June, 2020. This year’s summit will focus on the sustainable cities.
Several heads of state and government will address the summit and meetings among businessmen from all over the African continents will be held as part of the summit’s activities, Reminisces said.
About 1,000 investors representing major, small and medium sized- businesses have been invited to the summit, Reminisces added.
Meanwhile, Nasr asserted Egypt’s keenness on developing cooperation with France at economic, development and investment levels.
She hailed successes achieved through the French investments in Egypt which she said hit 5.2 billion dollars with 160 French companies operating in the country.
Egypt urges World Bank, IMF to support regional integrity in Africa
CAIRO – 18 October 2019: Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr called on the World Bank and IMF to boost their support to Egypt in achieving regional integrity and intra-trade in Africa, a press release on Friday read.
Addressing the Intergovernmental Group of 24 on International Monetary Affairs and Development in Washington, Nasr called on the WB and International Monetary Fund to expand investments in the region.
The minister said that Egypt’s vision to face the slowdown in global economic growth and trade tensions is to achieve more economic integration and continue to take the path of reform to make our economies more competitive and attractive for investment, to achieve the aspirations of the world countries in growth and development.
Nasr explained that the Egyptian government has implemented a comprehensive economic and social reform program to promote sustainable growth, alleviate poverty, create good jobs, enable the private sector to promote growth, and provide opportunities for all sectors of society to participate in the economy, especially women and young entrepreneurs.
The Minister added that President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, as the chairman of the African Union, has set the achievement of regional economic integration as a top priority.
Nasr also discussed Wednesday with the World Bank the provision of $500 million for the pollution control and solid waste management project in Egypt.
Nasr added in a statement that Egypt is also discussing with the World Bank raising the level of partnership to support the health and education sectors in Egypt.
For his part, World Bank Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa Farid Belhadj affirmed that Egypt is a very important country for the bank’s fields of work.
“Therefore the World Bank is keen to contribute effectively to the efforts exerted to achieve development in Egypt, especially in the field of infrastructure, in light of the economic and legislative reform that contributed to improving the investment climate in Egypt,”Belhadj explained.