African business leaders have been really hurting because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but they see recovery in the horizon

95 percent of African companies say that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on their revenues in 2020.

However, despite the headwinds, African business leaders are exhibiting a relatively high degree of confidence:

38 percent of them see a rapid recovery on the horizon for their businesses in the first quarter of 2021, according to the Africa CEO Forum.

These business leaders are increasingly confident about the continent’s long-term economic growth (80 percent of those surveyed in 2020 compared to 73 percent in 2019), while also acknowledging that the slowdown in global economic growth will have a negative impact on their domestic operations.

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Witht the take-off of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) postponed until next year, African business leaders are enthusiastic about the single continental market initiative, a significant driver in accelerating the pace of growth.

They share the belief that the unification process cannot be supported exclusively by public authorities.

African business leaders also agree that inclusion and gender diversity in the boardroom are key components in the development of the continent’s private sector.

Although it is clear there is a direct correlation between good corporate performance and gender diversity on boards of directors, African companies still have considerable room for improvement in this area.

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Out of the 74 percent of companies surveyed, women make up less than 25 percent of board of directors’ members and less than 10 percent of the board at 54 percent of companies surveyed, which is down from last year (when women made up less than 25 percent of the board at 73 percent of companies, and women made up less than 10 percent of the board at 45 percent of companies).

Initially perceived as a short-term solution to ensuring business continuity during the crisis, the acceleration of digitalisation is now establishing itself as an essential component of companies’ recovery strategy, according to 95 percent of business leaders surveyed.

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The focus now is on developing business digitalisation, public services and the structure of the innovation ecosystem to encourage the advent of new champions.

85 percent of business leaders think that COVID-19 will have a major impact on innovation in the coming years.

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