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‘68% of CEOs sees growth improvement’

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By Chikodi Okereocha

Sixty eight per cent of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) in Africa say they believe that the global economy will improve in 2021, findings by the “Africa Business Agenda 2021” report by multinational professional services provider PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) have shown.

The analysis, which drew on the results of PwC’s 24th Annual Global CEO survey of 1,779 interviews in 100 countries, including 50 CEOs from 14 African countries, however, said CEOs in Africa are more cautious about their own prospects, with 30% saying they are very confident about their organisation’s prospects for revenue growth over the next year.

The report released on Thursday and obtained by The Nation said for CEOs running businesses in Africa, having the conviction that they can overcome the challenges they face and believing that things will get better, has sustained them through past and present difficulties, and will no doubt give them strength in the future.

The 8th edition of PwC’s “Africa Business Agenda 2021: A Leadership Agenda to Take on Tomorrow” therefore, said “Despite the uncertainties, we believe now is the time for business leaders in Africa to drive growth from new possibilities, to take action, transform and move forward by adopting a leadership agenda to take on tomorrow.”

The report authored by Regional Senior Partner for PwC in West Africa Uyi Akpata and four other senior partners said this includes a focus on organic growth and operational efficiencies, but also increased investment in digital transformation, cyber security, leadership and talent development.

The global economic downturn resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic is having a disproportionate economic impact on low-income and emerging economies, including those in Africa.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said, for instance, that sub-Saharan Africa experienced its first economic recession in 25 years in 2020, with the economy declining by 2.0 per cent.

Growth in the region is forecast to rise between 2.3 per cent and 3.4 per cent in 2021 (compared with expected global Gross Domestic Product {GDP} growth of six per cent).

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows, a critical source of financing for emerging and developing economies, fell by 42% in 2020, and expectations are that FDI will remain week due to pandemic-related uncertainties.

PwC, however, said despite the challenges, many business leaders have found the pandemic has also unleashed extraordinary energy, creativity and resourcefulness within their organisations.

“The pandemic’s dual role as accelerator of transformation and amplifier of disruptive forces is the thread that runs through our 24th Annual Global CEO Survey. Most of the CEOs in Africa responding to the survey are bullish about a global economic rebound,” PwC said.

It added that the rebound will be enabled by a continuation of companies’ pandemic-induced digital acceleration, which promises productivity and other business benefits, but also increases the threat of cyber-attacks and the spread of misinformation.

The report said although, CEOs’ confidence in their own company’s revenue prospects have rebounded, they are anxious, too about policy uncertainty, tax policy uncertainty, cyber threats and over regulation.

“When we look at the survey in this light, we see an opportunity emerge-a moment for business leaders to take a step back and ask: how can we do things better? Answering this question is an imperative that will tough nearly every aspect of their operating model, enabled by a significantly greater focus on trust and transparency,” PwC said.



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