Africa Business Agenda 2017: Changing gear

01 August 2017

A decade ago, Africa was 'the next big thing', leading many companies to throw caution to the wind in their haste to establish a foothold on the continent. Many African businesses also set out to expand their operations across the continent. While some succeeded and others came to grief, all learned that despite the vast opportunities, doing business in Africa can be risky, complicated and difficult.

The 6th edition of PwC’s Africa Business Agenda draws on the survey results of PwC’s 20th Annual Global CEO Survey of 1,379 CEOs worldwide and finds that getting the balance right between realism and optimism, as well as opportunity and risk, continues to dominate the minds of CEOs as they search for growth in Africa’s fast changing markets.

In the past year we have seen global megatrends such as demographic change, urbanisation, shifts in global economic power, and technological innovation continue to affect business dynamics. While their impact is, in many cases more nuanced, successful organisations are also showing greater adaptability and resilience.

Other key findings from the report include:

  • Despite only 30% of CEOs in Africa believing the global economy will improve in the next year, 97% are confident about their own company's growth prospects in the medium term. Among African CEOs, this is the highest level since the survey started in 2012.
  • More than two-thirds of African CEOs are concerned about inadequate basic infrastructure and a stronger focus on expanding power supply is required to solve one of the biggest challenges in the business environment.
  • Over-regulation features again on the list of concerns this year, with a quarter of African CEOs saying they are extremely concerned about it.
  • Other clouds on the business horizon include exchange rate volatility, geopolitical uncertainty, the impact of climate change and environmental damage, and the speed of technological change. For most of these factors, the level of concern among African CEOs is higher than the global average.
  • Borderless commerce is more prevalent in Africa than elsewhere and this fluid mentality extends to the rest of the planet. A quarter (24%) of African CEOs rank the UK in the top three countries most important for their growth prospects over the next 12 months.

In this context, it is reassuring that African CEOs are still looking beyond their home markets for growth, with countries in all regions of the continent featuring among the most important to their companies’ growth prospects in this year’s survey.

To download a copy of the full Agenda, please visit our website here or for further details, please contact Hilary Downes.

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