Public sector organisations need to get ‘fit for the future’

06 October 2014

In researching The Africa Business Agenda, we found that CEOs in Africa believe governments should create a business-friendly environment by improving the country’s infrastructure (68%), creating a skilled workforce (54%), ensuring financial sector stability and access to affordable capital (45%) and creating jobs for young people (30%).

Among other things, this requires public leaders to facilitate collaboration across public, private and not-for-profit organisations as well as universities to create a platform for growth, with a focus on the three key levers of skills, infrastructure and innovation:

  • Laying the foundations for the right skills in the right places: Acquiring the right skills is an essential prerequisite for citizens in getting a job and earning a decent income. According to business, developing workforce skills is a joint priority between business and government.
  • Developing investor-ready infrastructure projects: In addition to the challenge of collaboration, delivering effective, efficient and sustainable infrastructure is essential to providing the backbone from which economic success and prosperity can grow.
  • Developing an innovation ecosystem: Innovation is a competitive necessity for business and for government, and is vital to achieving meaningful growth.

Public bodies need to embrace digital technology as the tool to drive innovation, transform how they engage and interact with citizens and explore how outcomes can be better secured. In addition, public bodies need to learn from digitally-oriented companies in the private sector and explore whether more innovative business models can be developed. The world is changing faster than our ability to cope with change. Speed is one of the more powerful forces and complexity is adding pressure to the way we operate.

It’s clear that more needs to be done to build a platform for sustainable growth and competitiveness through collaboration across various sectors in order to address businesses’ top priorities for government, which include infrastructure and innovation.

Three fundamental shifts are still needed in the relationship between government and business: from a belief of ‘public good, private bad’ to an appreciation of the best of both; from forced cooperation to mutual collaboration; and from distrust to mutual recognition of responsibilities on both sides.

The commitment of individual leaders on both sides can make all the difference. They must create a culture that unleashes growth, to eliminate bureaucracies and processes that block innovation and drive a high-performance culture. Furthermore, public sector leaders can also help set the tone by taking the lead on dialogue in the two areas that are uppermost in the minds of CEOs: tax and regulation.

The 2014 Africa Business Agenda is available at

Stanley Subramoney | Strategy Leader and Government & Public Services Leader, PwC South Africa
Profile | Email | +27 (11) 797 4380

More articles by Stanley Subramoney



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