African business leaders optimistic about potential to unlock more growth: report

Source: Xinhua| 2019-09-04 23:47:46|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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CAPE TOWN, Sept. 4 (Xinhua) -- Despite the current economic climate and other challenges, there is notable optimism among African business leaders about the potential to unlock more growth on the continent, according to a report released on Wednesday.

Over 90 percent of African CEOs are "somewhat confident" or "very confident" about their organizations' prospects for revenue growth over the next three years, higher than the global average of 85 percent, said the Africa Business Agenda 2019 report, launched at the biannual World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa in Cape Town.

The report was compiled by London-based PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), a multinational professional services network, which surveyed 83 CEOs across 19 African countries. The results are benchmarked against the findings of PwC's 22nd Annual Global CEO survey of more than 1,300 CEOs, conducted during the 4th quarter of 2018.

The report provides an in-depth analysis and insights into how businesses are adapting to meet the challenges of operating in Africa.

African CEOs identified operational efficiencies, organic growth and the launch of a new product and service as their primary drivers of revenue growth, said the report.

Faced with uncertainty around current markets, African CEOs are turning inward to drive revenue growth, the report said.

While the United States, China and the United Kingdom continue to be the most dominant traditional markets for growth opportunities, it is notable that 20 percent of African CEOs "don't know" where else to look for growth and five percent say there is "no other country' they would look to."

Only 36 percent of African CEOs said they would enter a new market in pursuit of revenue growth.

The report also found that trade conflicts and protectionism do not make the top 10 list of concerns in Africa.

In fact, there are a few countries in Africa that stand to benefit from trade tensions elsewhere.

While some of these issues present barriers to business and trade, there are also fresh prospects for revenue growth because of new trade arrangements, according to the report.

As the rest of the world is embroiled in trade conflicts, African countries are looking at opening their markets to trade, with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement as the center of this activity, the report said.

The agreement establishes the Continent Free Trade Area -- the largest in the world in terms of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organization in 1992.

In general, African countries don't trade much with each other. Currently, trade in Africa forms less than three percent of global trade.

The low trade figure is due to several issues, namely poor infrastructure on the continent, high tariff rates on imports, bureaucracy and red tape, and problems at border posts, the report said.

"To boost economic growth on the continent, it is vital that African countries improve trading with each other and invest in infrastructure to drive trade," said Dion Shango, CEO for PwC Africa.

As social, political and economic events shift the boardroom, African CEOs need to step forward to make a meaningful contribution and rebuild confidence for the long term, Shango said.

"Business has an essential role to play in building and fostering trust in society and CEOs should embrace the responsibilities and trust this brings," he added.