Business Operating Environment Perspective 2023

Africa Business Agenda

Africa’s CEOs balance competing priorities to achieve sustained outcomes.


Balance is always difficult. Day-to-day priorities can overtake or overwhelm broader strategic transformation initiatives, and yet it is those strategic initiatives which will improve resilience and agility over time. This publication considers this balance by placing survey data in the context of the business environment in sub-Saharan Africa.

The insights from our community of 282 CEOs across Africa who participated in our 26th Annual Global CEO Survey, corroborate organisational focus on sustainability and performance, diversification of products and services, streamlining operations to focus on core competencies aligned with their purpose, collaborating to drive impact, investing in attracting and retaining talent, and prioritising good governance, ESG objectives, risk management and cybersecurity. These and other strategies help organisations to achieve balance, which can feel like a moving target. 

Key insights explored in the report include:

  • Business is a balancing act: In order for CEOs to steer their businesses through various operational challenges, they have to implement sustainable strategies.

  • Short-term solutions also require a long-term view: When businesses are facing headwinds such as inflation and challenging macroeconomic conditions, CEOs need to apply a strong view on the future, even when searching for a short-term solution. Understanding the cost-to-income ratio at a detailed level is vital as it allows a business to extract wasteful costs from areas which will not drive future growth and re-invest this in parts of the organisation which have or require differentiating capabilities.

  • Collaboration supports impact: Collaboration with third parties and other stakeholders can help businesses that are trying to achieve balance. 

  • Talent drives performance: Talent drives significant value for organisations. To successfully navigate change, organisations need to make major investments in talent and culture to support recruitment, retention and optimisation of capacity and capability. Automation strategies can also be adopted to support the redirection of key talent and capabilities to areas of deeper value.

  • ESG strategies build trust: The business operating environment is shifting in response to ESG priorities and requirements, and organisations can build resilience and ensure competitiveness by focusing on sustainability.

Despite many challenges, CEOs in Africa have the tools to grow, evolve and sustain their businesses for the long term. One of those tools is collaboration, which can enable them to contribute more to society and also deliver more value for stakeholders. Another tool is Africa’s talent pool, which is diverse and vibrant and transforming business and society for the better. 


Register to download the Africa Business Agenda: Business Operating Environment Perspective 2023 publication here

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Chantal Maritz

Chantal Maritz

Partner | Strategy& Payments Transformation, PwC South Africa

Tel: +27 (0) 11 287 0289

Emma Whalley-Hands

Emma Whalley-Hands

Partner | Value Preservation & Operational Restructuring, PwC South Africa

Tel: +27 (0) 81 871 3804

Jaco Prinsloo

Jaco Prinsloo

Partner | Value Creation, PwC South Africa

Olusegun Zaccheaus

Olusegun Zaccheaus

Partner | West Africa Strategy& Leader, PwC Nigeria

Tel: +234 (1) 271 1700

Jan Groenewald

Jan Groenewald

Africa Deals Leader, PwC South Africa