African business leaders remain confident about the continent’s prospects for growth despite believing the world economy is likely to remain stagnant economically.
This was one of several key findings in PwC Africa’s 2016 Africa Business Agenda, which surveyed 153 African CEOs.
Nine out of 10 African CEOs believe they can deliver growth in the next three years, while 78% are confident there are opportunities for growth over the next 12 months.
Sharing many of the same concerns with their peers globally, respondents’ top three concerns included exchange rate volatility (92%), government response to fiscal deficit and debt burden (90%) and social instability (80%).
African CEOs rank technological advances (75%), demographic shifts (52%) and a shift in global economic power (58%) as the top three defining trends likely to transform their businesses over the next five years.
The top priorities among the business leaders who were canvassed were diversification and innovation, addressing greater stakeholder expectations and leveraging growth catalysts such as technology, innovation and talent.
When it came to responding to wider stakeholder expectations, 62% of African CEOs cited additional costs to doing business as the main obstacle. This was compared to 45% in a comparable PwC survey of global CEOs.
Unclear or inconsistent standards or regulations (45%), and customers’ unwillingness to pay (35%) were also cited as important factors.
When asked about which of these statements best described their organisation in terms of wider stakeholder expectations, 58% of African CEOs said “corporate responsibility is core to everything we do”, compared to 64% of global business leaders.
Almost two-thirds of African CEOs are somewhat or extremely concerned about the lack of trust in business (compared to 55% worldwide). Almost nine in 10 respondents were concerned about corruption.
When asked which technologies generated most returns on investment in terms of connecting with stakeholders, the most popular was customer relationship management systems (69%) followed by data and analytics to interpret customer needs (56%).
Looking at investment prospects, Kenya (22%), the UK (16%) and the US (17%) remain the countries African CEOs view as most important for growth in the next 12 months.