Where has the demand been in the last twelve months across the various sectors in Africa, and how have our functional specialists continued to deliver on sometimes highly specialist Searches? Analysis of successful hires made by the EiA team over the last twelve months shows that 29% of these were into FMCG organisations, a further 14% into Agribusinesses and 12% into Financial Services. Are these representative of the growth areas for the next 12 months?
In the past two decades, the services sector growth outpaced that of agriculture and industry. With widespread mobile phone use, which is now supported by rapidly expanding internet penetration, related service sectors are continuing to develop quickly often in tandem with ICT uptake.
Executives in Africa have been privileged to be part of some exciting technology start-up stories including providing the key operational leader in Africa for Andela, the Lagos-based company that provides technical leadership advancement and training for software developers. This innovative company has recently announced it is closing a $24 million Series B round with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI). Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan are certainly betting on Africa as the next hotbed of technological talent.
Financial services have also been developing, often based on innovative business models that make full use of the increased penetration of communication technology including mobile financial transactions and/or mobile banking. Our team are actively working with PE and VC firms who believe there is huge growth potential in diversified consumer financial services products and are focusing investments in these areas. The key to success of these investments and delivering growth is critically focused on finding the right leaders who can apply knowledge gained from developed markets and adapt this to suit the unique consumer landscape and operating environment in Africa.
The retail sector also shows promising potential. Africa has a fast-growing middle class across the continent, which accounts for much of economic growth through its spending, and African consumer spending is predicted to almost double in the next decade. FMCG remained a strong sector with a number of multinational brands choosing EiA to support key leadership hiring to drive their expansion in Africa, in spite of significant currency devaluations, most notably in Nigeria.
Large supermarket chains are expanding into new markets across Africa, and local investors are also backing the potential in the retail sector with home-grown newly created retail brands. One successful hire was a new CEO, sourced from Tesco in Eastern Europe, for a new West African grocery brand with the first store recently opened in Lagos.
The other sector representing a significant proportion of our successful hires last year was Agribusiness. Most of SSA’s population works in agriculture with around 60% of its jobs being related to agriculture. The growth of the agricultural sector is vital, because, according to the World Bank, ‘in Sub-Saharan Africa, growth in agriculture and services is more effective at reducing poverty than growth in industry’.
We are already seeing how farmers are using mobile technology to gain access to vital information about weather and about prices of crops before they travel long distances to markets. Further innovation will impact expansion of agro-processing and the modernisation of agricultural production with wide ranging applications such as the use of crop monitoring with drones.
According to IMF and World Bank forecasts, SSA will remain one of the fastest growing regions in the world, even if it suffers negative impacts from dropping commodity prices and less favourable global financial conditions. With wide-ranging, practical experience gained from diverse industry sectors, the Executives in Africa team will continue to apply our unique project-managed Search Process, and two stage Evidential Assessment, to advise and deliver bespoke Executive Search solutions to meet each of client’s individual needs, whatever the sector.
By Sarah Fitzgerald, Managing Director