As COVID-19 restrictions continue to lift in some countries while others remain in lockdown, PwC’s latest COVID-19 CFO Pulse Survey reveals that CFOs are most concerned about the effects of a global economic downturn (Africa: 51%; Global: 60%), the possibility of a new wave of infection (Africa: 39%; Global: 58%), and the financial impact on their businesses (Africa: 59%; Global: 47%). However, they are very confident that they would be able to respond effectively to a new wave of infections.
Since March 2020, PwC has been tracking sentiment and priorities among finance leaders about the COVID-19 outbreak. For our fifth look across the globe, we surveyed 989 CFOs from 41 countries, including 41 CFOs from nine countries in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), during the weeks of 1 June and 8 June.
Dion Shango CEO of PwC Africa says:
“Since we first surveyed CFOs about their perceptions of and responses to COVID-19, we’ve observed how they’ve focused on safety, managed health, and economic and societal crisis, and adapted their business models to rapidly shifting circumstances.
“The findings of our latest survey suggest that companies are increasingly getting to grips with conducting business in this uncertain environment. Concerns over a loss of productivity due to remote working conditions have declined — from 45% in May to 27% in June among African CFOs. At the same time, opportunities to innovate are rising, with about half of respondents (Africa: 49%; Global: 50%) saying they’re finding new ways to serve customers.”
There are several other themes emerging from CFOs in the countries we surveyed. Some of them are the safety of employees and clients, the need for agile plans to navigate the current global economic downturn and re-engage customers, as well as the pursuit of new revenue streams through innovation.
It’s now been several weeks since many countries began to embark on phased reopening, slowly permitting more commerce and other economic activities. As these steps unfold, CFOs are implementing return-to-work plans, determining when and how – and to what extent – to bring employees back. It is positive to note that confidence levels among CFOs are high regarding plans to provide a safe working environment for their employees and clients.
African CFOs continue to expect a decline in revenue this year. CFOs’ expectations of revenue decreases align with their concerns about the impact of the global downturn and with key economic indicators. The World Bank predicts that the global economy will experience the deepest recession since the end of World War II, with a 5.2% contraction in global GDP in 2020. Nigeria’s economy is expected to contract by 3.2% due to the collapse of the oil price, while South Africa’s output is expected by the World Bank to contract by 7.1%, the deepest decline in a century. Across SSA economic activity is forecast to contract by 2.8% as a result of the pandemic.
Shirley Machaba, CEO for PwC Southern Africa comments:
“As they continue to find ways to coexist with, and thrive in spite of the ongoing threat of COVID-19 in the months and possibly years to come, companies and their leaders will need to prioritise agility and adapt as they navigate the repair process, rethink how their industry will look in this emerging landscape and reconfigure accordingly to remain relevant in future.”
Key findings in Africa
Senior Manager, Media Relations, PwC South Africa
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