Despite the negative impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on companies across the globe, business leaders in Africa see a rapid recovery on the horizon in the first quarter of 2021, according to a survey by Deloitte, a multinational professional services network, and Africa CEO Forum, a platform for high-level business meetings targeting private sector investors and financiers from across Africa.
The report said African business leaders are increasingly confident about the continent’s long-term economic growth, while also acknowledging that the slowdown in global economic growth will have a negative impact on their domestic operations.
With digitalization having proven to be a short-term solution to ensuring business continuity during the crisis, African business leaders see it as a central priority going forward.
The report said the youthfulness of the population and the relative absence of technological legacies, which could create resistance to change, favor the faster adoption and diffusion of innovation than in other regions.
The adoption of mobile payment technology, with the widespread use of nano-savings and nano-credit solutions, is a perfect example.
Due to its strategic nature, innovation is increasingly developed internally by companies that identify mobile and digital technologies as development priorities for the coming year, the report said.
It said the under-utilization of data represents real potential for accelerated growth for private sector stakeholders, as innovation should enable data qualification, thus promoting their use, storage and sharing, with a view to better serving customers and communities.
While African business leaders are evidently convinced of the essential nature of the collection and use of such data, they express regret that too few initiatives are being developed in this area, the report said.
However, it said Royal Air Maroc stands out due to the fact that the development of information systems and the use of data are central concerns for the group, both contributing to improvements in the customer experience.
The report said private sector stakeholders agree there is a need to develop stronger collaboration between private and public stakeholders in innovation at the continental level to enhance Africa’s attractiveness for innovation investment.
Therefore, the business climate, regulations, infrastructure development, like electrification of rural areas and establishment of data hubs, and incubators across the entire continent must be considered, aiming for greater standardization and the creation of more favorable conditions for the development and diffusion of new technologies on the continent.
In addition to innovation, corporate social responsibility strategies and the return to local production in tandem with the overhaul of supply chains are initiatives that will continue to have positive benefits over the long term.
Seventy-three percent of leaders surveyed expect the coronavirus crisis to have a positive impact on local development initiatives and the strengthening of CSR approaches.
In parallel, 91 percent of leaders predict that changes will be made to value chains at the global level, with a move towards regionalization, which will have a major impact in terms of sourcing and logistics.
Business leaders also are better prepared to manage risk. Indeed, 41 percent of executives report they have set up a formalized risk appetite framework internally, aligned with strategy, and operationally implemented throughout the company.
“The coronavirus crisis is a reminder that there are many exogenous risks which can affect companies and come on suddenly, hence they need to be adequately prepared,” the report said.
Sixty percent of leaders think coronavirus will have a long-term, more structural impact on corporate governance that will transform them and arm them for future crises.
Leaders are now acutely aware of the importance of governance not as a regulatory obligation, but as a lever for growth and development, particularly in terms of access to financing and talent retention.
For 37 percent of business leaders surveyed, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda and Senegal are the top five most attractive countries for investment in 2020.