The business leaders in the African continent do not seem to be highly optimistic about the capacity or strength of the global economy and the ability of their companies or brands to multiply revenues in both short and medium-term than they were a year back. PricewaterhouseCoopers has been conducting research on Chief Executive Officers in the Annual Global CEO Survey since 1997 and observing and analysing the views of participants from Africa. The previous survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) witnessed a record jump in optimism regarding global growth prospects. But PwC experts observed a record augmentation in pessimism with around 29 percent of global CEOs (Africa: 25 percent) projecting a fall in global economic growth, up from a mere 5 percent last year.
PwC has recently conducted intense study and spoken to the multiple industry expects from various African countries and compiled their views in their recently published report "The Africa Business Agenda 2019". The agenda draws on the results of PwC's 22nd Annual Global CEO Survey of 1,378 interviews in 91 countries, including 83 CEOs from 19 African nations. Here, let's have a look at what Mteto Nyati, the Chief Executive, Altron revealed to PwC.
Altron was founded in 1965. It has a direct presence in South Africa, Australia, Europe and the Middle East. Altron's strategic associations with leading international technology companies endow it with right access to leading technology capabilities and products from across the planet, including North America, Asia and Europe. The primary objective of Altron is to provide innovative solutions in the fintech, healthtech, safety and security, and learning and development verticals [via its principal subsidiaries – Allied Technologies Limited (Altech) and Bytes Technology Group (Bytes)] that have a meaningful impact on society by addressing challenges facing communities in South Africa, the entire continent and beyond, while delivering shared value for all its stakeholders. Altron's Chief Executive, Mteto Nyati was questioned what he foresees his business going in the next few years after seeing an optimistic environment in 2018 and reverse in 2019.
Mteto Nyati, in reply, said to PwC that "what is happening is being driven largely by developments in the United States and Europe, and countries have started thinking more about their own issues and less about global issues, which is the same sentiment driving the Brexit movement." "This trend is an attempt to stop globalisation as people have become uncomfortable with the level of competition it has created, and which we're now seeing in trade wars between countries. This has stopped growth in global markets," he said.
Mteto Nyati was asked to share his opinion on the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and if he believes it would have a positive impact in terms of Altron's growth strategy. In reply, he said, Altron receives half of its businesses from its own IP and the company have developed its own IP instead of utilizing a service provider's IP, which makes it (Altron) different from other major companies. "We are fully aware that it is in our interest to export our IP to other countries. Therefore, a deal like the AfCFTA is important, as it will make things easier, given our export orientation as a company," Nyati cited.
Nyati was asked to share Altron's contribution in fulfilling onus to help in solving the country's socio-economic problems. In reply, he clearly stated that Altron is very much well aware how to balance its goal of making profit and playing a positive role in society in tandem. Thus, he shared that Altron has chosen some areas of corporate social investment (CSI) such as healthcare, safety and security, financial inclusion and skills development. "To us, CSI is something we live every day, hence we have embedded that thinking in the way we run our business. For instance, our subsidiary Netstar not only concentrates on the business of vehicle tracking and recovery, but also helps with dealing with safety and security issues, and coming up with innovations that help with fighting crime in the country. The goal is to create products that are in line with our business, but also talk to the real issues facing the country," he added.
Altron's chief also revealed that the company is building innovations for the market to ensure skill development, which address to its customers' training and developmental requirements. The company is able to balance the requirement to develop new innovations as a business including developing them for the market at large. The company, while understanding the shortage in skills among its customers, are venturing in partnerships with other technological companies with an endeavor to certify and train people around cloud computing.
On the other hand, Nyati also shared his and Altron's experience in dealing with the current problem of skill shortage. In reply, he said, "We are not in a developed country so we have to work with what we have. Instead of experienced professionals, we mostly have graduates that still need further development." "In other words we need to work with what we have to get to where we are going. It's critical to invest in upskilling people and create opportunities for them to gain the experience they need," he shared. There are people, he said, available and willing to work who do not have jobs as they are either not trained properly or do not have the right kind of experience, and Altron has to accept that it is the cost of doing business to invest in upskilling people.