The war for talent, a key challenge for african CEOs

27 August 2014

African economies have been transformed since the 80s. Today, Africa has become the "ultimate frontier" to conquer and the growth rates seen in many countries continue to attract investors.

For historical reasons during their development, certain countries have been faced with a real shortage of middle and senior managers, particularly engineers and finance executives. This is because many Africans trained and educated abroad do not return to their native country, while the local school systems focus on training the supervisors and technicians indispensable to the everyday operation of a business.

It is hardly surprising then, that of the African CEOs interviewed for the latest addition of our annual Africa Business Agenda survey, 31%mentioned human capital among their top three investment priorities for 2014 and 75% said that a lack of key skills is a threat to growth.

Therefore, attracting and keeping the best people is not just an advantage, but an absolute necessity. Why recruit the best if you cannot keep them?

Businesses have implemented a variety of measures to do so:

  • Firstly, long-term programmes consistent with companies' growth priorities have been introduced to manage talented individuals. Managers, and particularly those with the highest potential, are offered structured career plans, strengthening the commitment of key company employees.
  • Secondly, salary levels have been aligned with the principal competitors. In addition to the typical aspects of fixed and variable salary components, the social policies of the business (private health insurance or additional advantages and benefits) are also differentiating factors.
  • Finally, initial and ongoing training programmes have been put in place. Some groups have even created their own business schools to meet the needs of their particular sector of activity while others continue to develop partnerships with prestigious institutions, in some cases financing Executive MBA programmes for their most promising managers.

The war for talent is clearly a reality on the continent; and it is a reality that has become a key issue not only for Human Resources Directors but also for CEOs. As in all wars, there will be winners and losers but we can safely say that those businesses who are successful in the war for talent will take best advantage of the fabulous opportunities offered by Africa's revival.

Edouard Messou | Territory Senior Partner, PwC Francophone Sub-Saharan Africa
Profile | Email | +225 20 31 54 12

More articles by Edouard Messou



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