African CEOs very confident about prospects for revenue growth – PwC global CEO survey

Nearly half (48%) of the 1258 CEOs polled worldwide believe the global economy will decline even further in the next 12 months, according to PwC’s 15th Annual Global CEO Survey. Just 15% said the global economy will improve during 2012.

However, it is interesting to note that 57% of Africa CEOs are very confident over the next 12 months -- the highest percentage in any region, and the only region to register a percentage increase in 'very confident' responses from last year.

By comparison, global confidence is down y-o-y: 40% of global CEOs are very confident of revenue growth over the next 12 months, compared to 47% last year

60% of Africa CEOs are very confident over the next 3 years, compared to 47% of CEOs globally. Again, Africa registers the highest percentage anywhere.

A higher percentage of CEOs in Africa expect their strategy to change in fundamental ways than anywhere else (globally, CEOs are moving away from fundamental changes)

60% of CEOs in Africa cited 'regulatory changes' as influencing strategy change, a higher percentage than anywhere else.

Talent is a major theme throughout the 15th survey. Consistent with last year's report, it is still a major issue for Africa CEOs. More than half of CEOs worldwide expect to increase headcount in the next 12 months, although the picture changes from sector to sector with hiring much more likely in entertainment and media than elsewhere.

Unsurprisingly, the biggest decline in confidence was in Western Europe. Beset by the sovereign debt crisis, just a quarter of European CEOs said they were very confident of revenue growth, down sharply from nearly 40% last year. Short term confidence also fell among CEOs in Asia Pacific, where confidence among CEOs fell to 42% from 54% last year. China saw the biggest decline in confidence in the Asia Pacific region, with 51% of CEOs feeling ‘very confident’, down from 72% last year.

There was also a marked decline in confidence in India with only 55% of Indian CEOs very confident of revenue growth down from 88% last year. In the US, 41% of CEOs said they were very confident of short term growth, down from 45% last year.

The survey results, based on interviews with 1258 CEOs, were released at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos.
Looking at what is worrying CEOs, 80% of CEOs had some concern about uncertain economic growth, 64% about instability in the capital markets, 66% about government responses to fiscal deficits and debt burden, 58% about exchange rate volatility and 56% about over regulation. And while 56% of CEOs said their company had been financially affected by the sovereign debt crisis in Europe; 45% said they had taken steps to respond.

"CEO confidence is decidedly down as they deal with the aftershocks to the recession. CEOs are disappointed with the course of the global economy and the pace of recovery. The optimism that had been building cautiously since 2008 has begun to recede," said Ken Igbokwe, Managing Partner, PwC Nigeria.

"The ongoing debt crisis in the European Union, along with other lingering economic uncertainties, have deflated confidence in business growth around the world. Even the fast growing economies of Asia and Latin America are not immune to the realities of continued economic stagnation, belying the notion that the global economy has decoupled. CEOs all around the world are concerned about the health of the global economy.

"The good news is that the long cycle of the slowdown has taught CEOs how to manage their businesses with ever greater efficiencies," Mr. Igbokwe added. "CEOs now say they are better prepared to deal with an economy defined by volatility in global markets, weak demand in developed economies, and uncertainty in the emerging markets. African CEOs in particular are confident they can deliver revenue growth despite the difficult conditions."