2017 proved to be a difficult year for many of Africa’s consultants, who found it challenging to plan business in such an uncertain political and business environment. Overall growth in the region dropped almost two percentage points to 4.7%, largely thanks to a dismal performance in the dominant South Africa market. More than half of all consulting revenues in Africa are earned in South Africa, so that market’s contraction was felt by many. However, with both Western and Eastern Africa experiencing growth in the double digits, it is clear that success was largely dependent on where a consultant sits on the continent.
It would be near-on impossible to discuss the Africa consulting market without touching upon the state capture scandal in South Africa: Consultants point to it as the singular cause of contraction in the southern region’s consulting market, and it’s easy to see why. Numerous professional service firms were embroiled in the scandal, and consulting was among those hardest hit, with large players finding themselves in disrepute. The fallout of the Gupta scandal dealt a powerful blow to consultants trying to convince domestic clients of their worth: Client confidence is—understandably—at a low, and consulting firms are finding themselves having to prove that they are trustworthy and reliable business partners. This, combined with a struggling economy, meant an especially bad year for consultants working in South Africa.
Yet, while South Africa is the largest consulting market on the continent, it is but one of many. Elsewhere, many consultants enjoyed an excellent year, thanks to rapidly maturing, growth-minded clients eager to invest in the future. Perhaps most notably, digitization is making big waves--as it is globally--and looks set for strong future growth. Meanwhile, even South Africa’s political situation seems to be improving, creating a much rosier picture ahead. Although Africa might be a difficult market to work in, we definitely think it’s worth the trouble, and all signs indicate that Africa’s consulting leaders wholly agree.
Extracted Quotes from Source's 2018 Africa Consulting Market Report, from Dr PK Mukherji (President, Avasant, Managing Partner, APAC and Africa):
The Africa overview, Donor funding down:
"The consulting market funded by development agencies slowed down agencies slowed down in 2017, mainly due to a lack of funding for government ICT initiatives. Projects were split into smaller creative chunks and spread out over a longer period of time as upcoming elections created political uncertainty in many geographies."
The Africa overview, Seeing the potential:
"The Smart Africa initiative is a good example of growing digital and ICT demand in the African market, involving 24 countries from all over the continent. The idea is to use technology for job creation, to enable private sector growth, and to improve access for millions of Africans."
The Africa overview, A look at demand by digital solution
"There's a lot of discussion around firms moving to cloud-based architecture. However, Africa has an issue with the availability and cost of bandwidth, which limits its effectiveness. While governments are trying to improve connectivity across Africa, the speed of implementation is still restricted."
The Africa overview, A persistent talent challenge
"There needs to be more focus on the African education system to ensure that the workforce is capable of keeping up with digital transformation. Otherwise, digital advancement will be hindered by a lack of talent."