Survey of the Africa CEO Forum, the barometer of African business leaders

Published on : 22/09/2020 – 09:33Modified : 22/09/2020 – 12:17

Publication this Tuesday morning September 22 of the second barometer of African business leaders. A vast study carried out by the Africa CEO Forum and the audit firm Deloitte.

This study has this interesting, this year, that it allows to understand the way in which the African bosses envisage the evolutions to come in their sectors, that is the initial objective, but especially the way in which they think that the global health crisis will influence these changes.

150 African business leaders operating in 30 countries were interviewed. At the beginning of the year first, then between April and June, precisely to take into account the health crisis.

We learn that, unsurprisingly, the optimism of African leaders for the current year has dropped from 80 to 25%, but that the level of confidence remains ” Student » « as for a return to normal by 2021 ».

For African bosses, the crisis was a “ innovation accelerator »

When you’re cornered, you have to evolve. Aziz Mebarek, co-founder of the private equity firm AfricInvest, mentions in particular “ the deployment of cost rationalization measures, digitization, review of supply chains ” or ” renegotiation of certain long-term contracts ». « We can no longer be in the pattern before “, Still judges this pioneer of financial investments on the continent.

The sudden recourse to more teleworking and digitization, necessary to continue certain activities remotely, have in particular been accelerated. African bosses also testify to the simplification of certain administrative procedures in this context.

The study by the Deloitte firm also shows enthusiasm for the economic harmonization of the continent, and in particular for the Zlecaf …

The African Continental Free Trade Area (Zlecaf) was to be officially launched in July. Because of the pandemic, this launch has been postponed to 2021. Nevertheless, this single market project is acclaimed by the African business leaders interviewed. Tahirou Barry, Managing Director of Conakry Terminal, which belongs to the Bolloré group, is delighted, for example, by “ tremendous growth potential From Zlecaf. But ” priority site », According to the conclusions of the study, must involve the private sector more, and no longer be supported by the African public authorities alone. This is, without much surprise, what emerges from the testimonies of the leaders interviewed. This free trade area ” is not yet concrete because there are still obstacles to its implementation “, Advance cautiously Ahmed Bouzguenda of PGH-Tunisia, whose activities range from poultry farming to steel processing. Business involvement ” in the negotiations surrounding the creation of the Zlecaf Is therefore a requirement of the African private sector.

For the rest, the concerns of African employers are classic concerns

In particular, on governance issues, this involves taking greater account of risk management, whether health, and therefore operational, or financial. ” Companies in Africa are currently in survival mode, says Abi Ajayi, Director for Sub-Saharan Africa at Bank of America. Lockdowns and containment measures, and the global economic slowdown have generated massive disruption. It will take time, still judge the Nigerian, to return to normal pre-Covid flows. »

The need to renew leaders on boards of directors and promote gender equality are also cited.

In terms of financing, the continent’s bosses as always want more solutions for small and medium-sized businesses which, as the study reminds us, “ represent the overwhelming majority of businesses in Africa and remain the backbone of the continent’s economic growth. »

The challenges linked to the climate and the defense of the environment have not been forgotten …

Or let’s say they are less so. The Africa-CEO-Forum-Deloitte barometer modestly reaches the conclusion that “ the environmental imperative seems progressively better taken into account by the private sector “. Here again, the health crisis plays a role: in raising the awareness of managers, but also in the changes it implies for the future, particularly in terms of supply chains. These changes will therefore have to take this environmental issue more into account.


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