The challenges and opportunities facing Africa in the digital age have been tackled by experts at the first Chief Experience Officer (CXO) African Convention, organised by ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The conference boasted representatives from seven of the top ten African economies, bringing together outstanding leaders from across the continent to debate opportunities, challenges and pivotal issues that matter for Africa’s future.
The convention provided experts with a platform to deliberate on a range of themes from opportunities of Africa as the emerging digital continent, to the possibilities presented from access to the world’s youngest talent pool.
Keynote speaker Professor Oliver Saasa, Managing Consultant and Chief Executive Officer of Premier Consult Ltd, said: “There’s a new wave of optimism sweeping the continent.
“Africa’s overall Gross Domestic Product has indicated a steadily increase from 5.5 percent between 2005 and 2008. In 2009, the GDP increased by an additional 2.4percent, continuing to a 4.7 percent upturn in 2010 and reaching 5.2 percent in 2014.
“If you look deep into the African continent you will note that this performance is boosted and sustained by rising investment in infrastructure and natural resources, and solid household spending.
“Non-resource-rich countries, particularly Ethiopia, also experienced steady growth in 2013. Nigeria is expected to continue growing by between 6.7 percent and 7.3 percent in 2013 and 2014 respectively whilst Ghana’s average growth in 2013/14 is likely to exceed eight percent. Evidently, Africa is indeed blossoming.”
“2013 noted a continued rise of capital flows to numerous southern African countries, reaching an approximated 5.3 prcent of regional GDP, soundly above the developing-country average of 3.9 percent.
“Lower global food prices, prudent monetary policies and reduced inflation in certain African regions, growing 6.3 percent annual rate in 2013, compared with 10.7 percent a year ago.
“Countries such as Ghana and Malawi have noted raised inflation due to depreciating currencies.
“Remittances grew 6.2 percent to an estimated $32 billion in 2013, greater than the $30 billion mark reached in 2011. The inflows, combined with lower food prices, increased household real income and spending,” said Prof Saasa.
While Africa’s overall GDP growth rate is expected to remain stronger, a number of important risks remain.
Risks such as political uncertainty, locally volatile food prices and commodity services still negatively affect the continent.
Nenad Pacek, President of Global Success Advisors, said: “There is a great absence of procedures and parameters in African markets.
“African countries need to change their policies in order to allow foreign investors to feel at home in Africa.
Jamil Ampomah, ACCA Director Sub-Saharan Africa said: “The accountancy profession has a critical role to play in ensuring that the emerging opportunities are well managed for the sustainable development of the region.”
Africa maturing is the standpoint; collectiveness and collaboration will surely see Africa through exponential growth.
Moreover, digitalisation will expose businesses to new profitable markets with less expenditure and more out-reach.
African countries have a real opportunity to capitalise on their resource endowments and high international commodity prices, as well as on opportunities from changes in the global economy to promote economic transformation through commodity-based industrialisation and to address poverty, inequality and unemployment, the convention heard.