FILE PHOTO: The logo of PwC is seen in front of the local offices building of the company in Luxembourg
JOHANNESBURG – Sentiment among South Africa’s chief executives has plunged on uncertain economic growth, social instability and policy uncertainty.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) annual chief executive survey released yesterday found that 35 percent of the country’s chief executives believed that global economic growth would decline over the next 12 months.

The survey gauged 55 business leaders in South Africa - 60 percent of whom run corporations with at least $100million (R1.4billion) in revenue.

It found that 68 percent pointed to uncertainties over economic growth, 65 percent cited policy uncertainty and 68 percent said socially instability worried them the most. 

Chief executive of PwC Southern Africa Dion Shango said the only 18percent registered a very confident outlook about their own company’s prospects for revenue growth over the next 12 months.

“While most (chief executives) still believe in globalisation, they appear to be less interested in expansion plans outside their home markets,” Shango said. “In South Africa, economic and policy uncertainty, among other issues, have cast doubt upon business leaders’ prospects for future growth.”

Last week the North-West University‘s Business School Policy Uncertainty Index recorded an average score of 51.1points in the last three months of 2018, down from 52.2 points in the third quarter. 

The studies said the upcoming State of the Nation address, national Budget presentation and May elections would have significant sway on policy certainty after the fourth quarter policy uncertainty index remained in negative territory.

PwC said South African executives named the US, China, the UK and Kenya as the most important countries for their organisations’ overall growth prospects this year.

The group said 90 percent of captains of industry agree that Artificial Intelligence (AI) would dramatically change their businesses over the next five years.

However, only 28percent said they had “no current plan” to pursue AI, 32.5 percent had a “very limited approach”, while 55 percent believed that AI would displace more jobs than it creates. PwC said businesses expected almost $15.7trillion in global gross domestic product gains from AI by 2030

Standard Bank chief executive Sim Tshabalala said: “My predecessors would have made a lot of decisions based on their experience and intuition. As I always say: “In God we trust; everybody else, bring data.”

BUSINESS REPORT