111114 (R) Dion Shango PwC Energy and Mining Assurance Partner and Andries Rossouw PwC Assurance Partner presenting the PwC mining report in Melrose Arch North of Johannesburg.photo by Simphiwe Mbokazi 7
JOHANNESBURG - The PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) annual chief executive survey released yesterday found that South Africa’s chief executives are cautiously optimistic about their companies’ prospects for growth this year on the back of the sluggish economy.

Dion Shango, the chief executive of PwC Southern Africa, said chief executives in South Africa were less confident than their global counterparts regarding their growth prospects in 2018.

“Chief executives’ optimism in South Africa is more tempered than that of the developed economies, especially regarding their own organisations’ prospects for revenue growth.

“The state of the economy, unemployment, and political uncertainty, among other issues, are casting a shadow over business expectations,” Shango said.

The PwC survey found that only 22percent of chief executives (in South Africa) were “very confident” of their company’s own growth in the next 12 months - 20points below the global average of 42percent.

However, 37percent of them - compared with 45percent globally - were slightly more confident about their own company’s prospects for revenue growth over the next three years. In addition, 37percent of South African chief executives expect global economic growth to improve in the next 12 months - 20 points below the global average.

The PwC global survey results, based on interviews with almost 1300 chief executives from 85 countries were released at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos yesterday. In South Africa, 41 chief executives from a broad spectrum of listed and privately owned companies participated in the survey.

John Ashbourne, an Africa economist at Capital Economics, said investor sentiment towards South Africa improved in December, following the election of Cyril Ramaphosa, as head of the ruling party.

“The selection of Cyril Ramaphosa as head of the ruling ANC caused the rand to appreciate sharply against the US dollar. Business confidence in the country also increased,” Ashbourne said.

Audit firm Deloitte Global released its report, The Fourth Industrial Revolution is here - are you ready? on the sidelines of the WEF yesterday.

The study found that South Africa, India, and China may face “social upheavals and increased income inequality” in the future due to increasing adoption of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence.

The report also found that although executives conceptually understand the changes the fourth industrial revolution will bring, they are less certain how they should act to benefit from those changes.

All these countries recently underwent major economic or political changes that, in some cases, resulted in high growth, but also introduced previously unknown “social fissures” and “this may contribute to their higher sensitivity about weathering additional social issues in the future”.