Majority of chief executives in eight African countries are eyeing favourable local economic outlook and higher levels of intra-regional trade in the next 12 months, the 2019 Business Barometer: Africa CEO Survey has said.
From Morocco, Nigeria, Egypt, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Algeria, Kenya and Djibouti, the executives, per the survey, are confident that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) would contribute to the realisation of their expectation.
The deal, signed between 49 African Union member states, in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21, 2018, aims to establish a single continental market for goods and services, and ease the free movement of business people and investment.
The survey, the second conducted by the Oxford Business Group (OBG), a global survey research and consultancy firm on the African economy, sampled the views of 787 C-suite executives in the aforementioned countries, on a wide-ranging series of issues aimed at gauging business sentiments.
“More than 84 per cent of executives said they felt positive or very positive about local business conditions in the year ahead, with 78 per cent telling OBG that they expected their company to make a significant investment in the months ahead, up from 74 per cent in the 2018 survey.
“A similar number (72 per cent) of interviewees were confident that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) would have a positive or very positive impact on intra-regional trade levels,” a statement issued by Marc-André de Blois
Director of PR and Video Content of the firm, this week, said
It disclosed that the executives were, however, not oblivious of key external events that could weigh on African markets in the short to medium term, including instability,
For majority of executives in oil-producing nations such as Nigeria, Algeria, Ghana and Kenya, a rise in oil prices as the event most likely to impact their economy, with accounting for most of these respondents.
More than one-third (36 per cent ) of executives interviewed identified leadership as the skill in greatest need, with research and development, and engineering both selected by 14 per cent of respondents.
“Job creation is a key target of the AfCFTA and all the more pressing, given that 10m-12m young people enter the regional job market every year,” the statement said.
Mzali, OBG’s Regional Editor for Africa, according to the statement, said the reasons for optimism among business leaders were multiple, ranging from rising interest in the continent from China and beyond, and the investments that have ensued to the rollout of public investment programmes for infrastructure.
The AfCFTA, she added, while far from challenge-free, had the potential to significantly boost trade volumes.
“As it stands, Africa lags behind other regional blocs when it comes to trade, accounting for a mere 16 per cent of intra-continental trade volumes, compared to over 50 per cent in Asia and over 60 per cent in Europe,” she said.
BY TIMES REPORTER