Africa is on the rise according to CEO's

Johannesburg - Africa's CEOs are optimistic about the prospects for growth over the next 12 months, according to the PWC Africa Business Agenda 2013.

The index, released last week, compiles survey results from 301 CEOs in Africa and includes insights from business and public sector business leaders from 22 countries.

"CEOs throughout Africa have unanimously confirmed that they see high growth potential in Africa," said PwC senior partner for Africa Suresh Kana.

He said 85% expect their operations on the continent to grow this year.

"Notwithstanding a host of challenges, Africa's CEOs are well placed to take advantage of the opportunities for growth, both in existing and new markets," said Kana.

"What we have found in 'The Agenda' is that agility in response to change, challenge and opportunity is the deciding factor between companies that thrive and those that are merely doing business in Africa."

Growing customer bases, enhancing customer services and implementing new technology are considered the top three investment priorities over the next 12 months.

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The greatest risks to confidence and growth are bribery and corruption and government not delivering on its promises. Other risks to growth prospects include inadequate infrastructure and a shortage of skills.

Infrastructure is considered an important driver of economic growth. However, 45% of CEOs in Africa do not believe governments are doing enough to improve infrastructure.

"While the importance of infrastructure as a driver of development cannot be overemphasised, African CEOs also identified financial sector stability (56%) and reducing poverty and inequality (56%) as areas in which governments should be taking more decisive action."

Another major concern is the availability of key skills.

The survey shows that nowhere is the shortage of skills more acute than in fast growing markets such as Africa, where creating and fostering a skilled workforce is seen as a top priority by the majority of CEOs (84%).

The retention of talent is an important issue across all countries surveyed.

Three-quarters of African CEOs reported that they are using traditional strategies to develop the leadership pipeline including executive development programmes.

Half of all CEOs in every country surveyed are concerned about the effect of an increasing tax burden on their businesses. In addition, over-regulation is perceived as a threat by many CEOs.

The overarching conclusion to be drawn from the 2013 Agenda, however, is that "Africa is open for business," with 74% of the global respondents with companies operating in Africa expecting to grow their operations this year.

Fin24 - Michel Pireu

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