In celebration of Africa Day I thought to share some insights into the current state of consulting on the Continent. Consultants are currently engaged and working within the continents 19 largest markets. And considering 4 of the fastest growing economies are in Africa, this makes perfect sense. Performance and opportunity vary greatly from one region to the next with consulting work slower in the South, moderate in the North and busy in the East and West.
Exciting new Projects
Traditional consulting firms have had to reassess services they offer and the ways in which they deliver these services. Nonetheless, the general mood amongst my clients is that this is an exciting problem to have and one that they are committed to capitalising on.
With Africa booming, the consulting houses sitting in South Africa have a great opportunity to take advantage of this business on their doorsteps. Most buyers of consulting services sit in the financial centres of the US, UK and Europe and whilst they own assets in region, they require work to be delivered on site.
As new oil and gas resources are discovered greater opportunities are created for employment and business development. These in turn will drive an increasing need for management consulting expertise and services.
Much of the current – and emerging – projects centre around the rising middle class with 1 out of every 3 Africans now classified as “middle class” and the changes this makes to the consumer marketplace. Opportunities include:
Business to Consumer technological enablement across industries, from Government to banking’;
New product development in the financial services sector;
Customer-facing initiatives within the retail sector; and
Digital and technological migration of businesses to capture the opportunities presented by the mass smartphone penetration on the Continent
Opportunities for consulting are broad and there is great scope to deliver projects in diverse geographies and industries. The Southern African consulting market is dominated by the huge South Africa market, with the majority of the work taking place in border.
The East African consulting market remains relatively small compared to the size of the region’s economy, however it shows big potential. Middle class expansion and a big increase in foreign investment make this a great place to work as a consultant.
Chatting to a client earlier, he mentioned that the faster developing countries like South Africa, Nigeria, Ethiopia and increasingly Rwanda and Kenya, are where the majority of projects are based. It is expected that whilst prospects for 2017 remain good, there is an expected slow-down in the Southern African market.
Though stability is increasing continental Africa remains a challenging place to work.
Travel primary challenge
Travelling remains the main obstacle for management consultants who are often shipped onto the Continent out of South Africa. Long, multi-leg journeys and longer time away make this rough for individuals, particularly those with young families. Although travel incentives are given, in addition to travel stipends, for many consultants the excitement of working in these markets peters out as the long hours and demanding schedules take their toll.
This in particular makes retaining top talent tough. And with increasing opportunities for work, many of the consulting houses are now turning to freelancers to combat their current capacity challenges and supplement a competitive skills pool. For many firms, there is now a focus on importing skills, harnessing the return of the diaspora who not only have the necessary skills and experience but who also understand the unique requirements for working on the Continent.
Partnering with our clients
As specialists in the management consulting space, TSR is proud to partner with our clients to identify talent and to help recruit (and retain) the right calibre of consultant to take advantage of the burgeoning business opportunities available on the Continent. If you’re interested in working on the Continent or are looking to recruit consultants to capacitate your projects, please connect with me.