CASE IN POINT // KPMG
By: Samantha Barnes
Becoming African Champions
Africa is on the rise. Yes, the continent has its share of coups, kidnappings and corruption, but it is also a continent that speaks of survival, strategy and opportunity. Speaking to decision-makers on a regular basis, they frequently comment on the talent within their organisations. Headlines can be discouraging. But some leaders have retained their optimism about South Africa and the continent’s prospects; countered by a healthy dose of realism.
Bryan Leith, chief operating officer of KPMG’s Global Africa Practice, reminds us that the choice to be positive is ours. “Perhaps the most motivating force is the knowledge that in South Africa we don’t have any other alternative. Africa is the last frontier and, we can sit on the sidelines and watch the world capitalise on what Africa has to offer, or we can get involved and be a part of the journey for Africa to capitalise on its own assets – and towards its own development.”
One of the best assets Africa has is its people. “The quality of people is equal to anywhere in the world when we put our minds to the task at hand, and by creating more access to education and skills, will make the African workforce one to contend with globally,” explains Bryan.
Facing challenges head on
Contrary to what investment guides are saying, South Africa cannot rely on its supposed status as the gateway to Africa. “The country is no longer recognised as the only or even the main gateway into Africa – and the country has increased competition from other countries, such as Zambia, Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya, which have now also been earmarked as key investment gateways,” explains Bryan. “South Africa is facing fierce competition for foreign direct investment (FDI) as investors are seeing larger returns on their investments from other African markets.”
There are other challenges: Bryan cites instability in power supply, labour instability, perception of increased corruption, and compliance with Black Economic Empowerment. It is blatantly obvious that we need to raise our game to attract investment.
Opportunities in Africa
Anyone living on the continent appreciates the wide open spaces and arable land at our disposal. Bryan confirms that with Africa holding 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable land, this presents “an incredible opportunity to meet the demand for food security, within the continent and, potentially the world.”
“Mining and oil and gas industries will continue to grow – despite the current slump being experienced in commodity prices, as in the long-term there will be continued demand for Africa’s natural resources,” says Bryan. KPMG Africa also expects rapid growth in consumer driven industries, especially in fast moving consumer goods, health care and financial services, driven by an emerging middle class. Bryan emphasises the need for private education, with parents investing in their children’s future.
Investing in High Growth Sectors
“Three key areas that we’ve invested in, as we believe they will continue to see significant growth in coming years, include Payments, Infrastructure and Deal Advisory and Market Entry,” says Bryan. KPMG has invested in getting the right person on board to champion these areas and having the right technology systems to connect all KPMG offices across Africa – and globally – to render excellent service regardless of where clients are based or where in Africa they are seeking to invest. This is an excellent prospect for growth.