"In order to succeed in today´s world, we have to ensure that we create companies which are inclusive."
On the second day of the Africa CEO Forum in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, speakers on various panels shared their belief that Africa has the necessary tools to develop by making use of its own resources.
The continent, they said, thus possesses the means to take back its future into its own hands.
Pierre-Antoine Balum, a Partner and Africa Advisor at PWC, while presenting the results of an opinion poll to African CEOs during the conference last week, underlined the growing importance of African consumers´ demands.
African CEOs are the best placed both in terms of awareness of and responding to these expectations.
The poll shows, moreover, that 87% of respondents believe that the success of a company is not measured only by the size of its profits. Instead, African consumers are showing a growing interest in company culture, company management, company training programmes and the impact companies have on civil society.
This belief was shared by Richard Bielle, CEO of CFAO: "We have to turn the existing logic on its head and begin with the client when inventing our products, which is something we have done in our vast study of the middle classes and their aspirations.
"In order to succeed in today´s world, we have to ensure that we create companies which are inclusive and which have a positive impact on their employees, on communities and on the environment," added Venkataramani Stritvatshsan, Olam´s regional director for Africa and the Middle East.
African consumers are, in fact, having a growing influence on companies.
Slim Othmani, CEO of NCA Rouiba, called for a "leadership of change" by way of better communication and inclusive management in order to improve governance within companies.
"It´s a crucial tool in times of crisis in order to be able to restore confidence between top management and our African collaborators," he said.
The latter thus have the possibility of gaining autonomy and sovereignty.
Africa ‘can nurture own growth'
"We are seeing a new freedom in the entrepreneurs on the continent in terms of the expression of their vision, allowing them to transmit the values which make sense in their eyes to the goods they are offering consumers," Edouard Malbois, head and founder of Enivrance, explained during the panel ‘Marketing: How to develop successful African brands'.
African entrepreneurs therefore have all the advantages at their disposal to prosper within Africa, was the general stance.
Faced with the decrease in foreign direct investments (FDI), Africa has sufficient capital to finance its own investments, as the speakers on the panel ‘How to mobilise the potential of African capital' explained.
"We have the potential to nurture our own growth", Dr Ngosi Okonio-Iweala, senior advisor at Lazard, confirmed, according to whom "macro-economic policies must be put in place as well as mechanisms which inspire confidence in order to release this potential".
Jingdong Hua, the vice president of IFC, said that "by developing the local economy, you develop resilience".
Henri-Claude Oyima, CEO of BGFI, concluded by reminding the speakers that "if we have no confidence in ourselves, we can have no confidence in others".
This fourth edition of the Africa CEO Forum, held on the African continent for the first time, attracted more than 1,400 participants hailing from 63 countries, of which 43 were African countries.