Internationally Europe has three of its largest countries – namely the Netherlands, France and Germany – all going to the polls next year, and upsets to traditional voting patterns can certainly be expected here, potentially weakening the Eurozone further.

By Guy Whitcroft, CEO of Westcon-Comstor Southern Africa, believes that 2017 is going to be very interesting indeed

By contrast, I think the US might have a better year than many expect, as having a Republican president with both Houses means that legislation is far less likely to be blocked than has been the case recently. I think that Donald Trump’s electioneering statements will continue to be diluted by reality (and the two Houses) and we might well see an uptick in the US economy which will have global consequences.

Of course, there will almost certainly be an increase in US interest rates, which will lead to more general rate increases around the world, so borrowings will be more expensive for governments, companies and individuals, too. I expect we will see a continuation of the consolidation we’ve seen among vendors, distributors and resellers around the world, changing the landscape somewhat as a result.

On the local front, of course, we have a number of significant court cases involving the government/executive to be heard over the next few months – court cases that could significantly change things here, depending on their rulings.

It seems unlikely at present that we will avoid the ratings downgrade indefinitely, so money will become more expensive and the rand will likely weaken a fair bit, too.

On the plus side, agricultural output should improve and may even lead to slightly lower food prices, but public sentiment is likely to be driven primarily by the court case outcomes and the exchange rate, so the crystal ball is distinctly cloudy at the moment.

On balance, I expect things to continue to be tough as business continues to adopt its “wait and see” approach – it would be wonderful if some of that rumoured R600-billion cash pile that corporate South Africa is sitting on could be unlocked. But it will really depend on how things progress on the political and economic front overall. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a level of local consolidation, too – perhaps on the distribution front, as well as the reseller one.