BrandArena: Africa’s CEOs look to innovation and technology to stimulate growth in uncertain global economic environment

Tuesday 10 May 2016

Africa’s CEOs look to innovation and technology to stimulate growth in uncertain global economic environment

In Africa’s boardrooms growth is on the agenda – together with addressing stakeholders’ expectations and concerns and managing the pipeline of talent. Business strategies of companies include the growing of regional operations, investing in and developing innovative and technological products and services, and strengthening of internal management structures.

These are some of the key highlights of PwC’s Africa Business Agenda, 2016 survey released at the 26th World Economic Forum on Africa in Kigali on Tuesday.

The African Business Agenda compiles results from 260 CEOs and includes insights from business and public sector leaders from 18 African countries.

Hein Boegman, CEO for PwC Africa, says: “CEOs in Africa are ramping up their efforts to innovate and find new ways to do business on the continent in a move to stimulate growth in a challenging and uncertain global business environment.

“The global financial and economic crisis has revealed Africa’s vulnerability to a number of external economic shocks. Notwithstanding a multitude of challenges, many of which are cyclical, we remain confident that Africa’s prospects remain positive.”

Anne Eriksson, Country and Regional Senior Partner for PwC in Kenya and East Africa, says: “East Africa is in a good place now in terms of demographics and relative political stability. The region is seen as a good destination to invest, whether for multinationals or venture capital or private equity funds.

‘We have seen a multitude of organisations expand significantly in East Africa – what continues to be a challenge for most of them is ensuring that they can meet demand and so achieve their shareholders’ objectives, and at the same time maintain high standards of quality.”

According to The Agenda, just over a quarter of CEOs in Africa believe global growth will improve in the next 12 months. African CEOs are less optimistic about global prospects than a year ago, with 66% of CEOs (Global: 73%) thinking the economy will not improve in the next 12 months, while 92% (Global: 73%) are ‘extremely concerned’ about exchange rate volatility. After more than a decade of urbanisation, Africa is poised for a digital revolution. Increasingly, organisations are using technology to challenge business models and disrupt competitors in markets. African CEOs that took part in the survey are cognisant of emerging technologies that can transform their businesses in the next five years.

Going forward, African CEOs indicated that they will be more actively looking for partners, while keeping an eye on costs. Partnerships and alliances feature prominently in their plans, with more than half of CEOs (56%) planning to enter into a strategic alliance over the next 12 months.

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