It is imperative for business leaders in Africa to reinvent their business models in the interest of corporate longevity, according to PwC, which says its latest report – Africa Business Agenda: Thriving in an age of continuous reinvention 2024 – indicates that 40% of Africa’s CEOs (up from 25% last year) doubt that their company’s current path will keep them economically viable a decade from now.

Therefore, PwC adds, it is casting a closer eye on how Africa’s business leaders feel about the impact and benefits of tech on their businesses.

The accelerated development and widespread implementation of cutting-edge technologies are driving a profound shift across the world. Generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) is poised to reshape industries, redefine work processes, and offer unprecedented opportunities to enhance competitiveness and unlock new value. Cloud computing, through its scalability and flexibility, continues to empower organisations to streamline operations, foster innovation, and deliver exceptional customer experiences.

In the face of navigating this brave new world of existing and emerging tech, it is imperative for business leaders to understand the implications of these technological advancements and strategically position their organisations to thrive amidst these changes. In Africa, businesses are capitalising on opportunities presented by technological progress to drive profitability, efficiency, and innovation – the uptake of which is proving to have a material impact on profit margins.

“CEOs in sub-Saharan Africa reported an impressive 15% revenue growth in the most recent fiscal year, surpassing their global peers who reported an average of 12% revenue growth during the same period,” says Dion Shango, CEO of PwC Africa. “The past year’s performance has boosted forward-looking sentiments, with 52% of Africa’s CEOs reporting growth prospects in their territories over the next 12 months. Our analysis also highlights that adopting new technologies to enhance capabilities is significantly impacting how CEOs in Sub-Saharan Africa are capturing tangible value – with an associated positive impact on profit margin of 1,4%.

Shango says that PwC’s newly-launched Africa Business Agenda: Tech-enabled digital transformation report shows that 52% of Africa’s CEOs – more than the global average of 46% – anticipate that technology will have a large impact on how they create, deliver, and capture value. Compounded by changes in customer preferences, climate change and regulatory shifts, the impetus to reinvent is only intensifying. CEOs in Africa expect more pressure in the next three years from technological change, climate, and other megatrends – and to adapt at the pace required, Africa’s leaders must take an outcomes-focused approach, leveraging technology as a strategic enabler to enhance human capabilities and drive sustainable growth.

PwC’s latest reports are based on the insights of 380 CEOs in Sub-Saharan Africa who participated in the company’s Annual Global CEO Survey. In them, it says it takes a closer look at how GenAI is transforming industries and creating value for organisations, navigating the risks and challenges of AI to remain ethical, the role AI plays in the future of work, how cloud transformation can empower innovation and operational efficiency, and the importance of safeguarding your digital assets.

“As more organisations in Africa begin to recognise the transformative potential of GenAI, it is crucial for leaders to approach its adoption with a strategic mindset – focusing not only on short-term gains, but also on building the necessary skills, infrastructure, and governance frameworks to ensure long-term success,” says Femi Madariola, PwC Nigeria technology consulting partner.

In Africa, the adoption of GenAI across companies remains in its early stages with only 27% of CEOs reporting organisation-wide implementation, compared to 32% globally. However, this is expected to increase as 51% of Africa’s CEOs anticipate that GenAI will enhance the quality of their companies’ products and services – slightly lower than the global average of 58% – over the next 12 months.

“While GenAI does present immense opportunities for value creation and business transformation in Africa, it is also crucial for organisations to be cognisant of the capabilities, limitations, and risks associated with this emerging technology,” says Christiaan Nel, PwC Africa AI leader. “Understanding and mitigating these risks will be essential to ensure the responsible and sustainable deployment of AI solutions.”

The current limitations of GenAI, such as hallucinations, biassed outputs, and lack of consistent logical reasoning underscore the need for a careful and considered approach to adoption. In Africa, 48% of CEOs agree that AI may increase legal liabilities and reputational risk – compared to 46% globally – therefore, companies must establish clear policies and procedures to mitigate potential legal risks and protect their brand reputation, Nel adds.

On a workforce front, the increasing adoption of AI technologies is undoubtedly reshaping job roles, altering skill requirements, and creating new opportunities for workforce development. Businesses need to adapt to the changing nature of jobs and this potential impact on employment.

“Twenty-one percent of Africa’s CEOs told us that they anticipate headcount reductions due to GenAI, compared to 25% globally,” says Dr Dayalan Govender, PwC Africa People and Organisation leader. “Here, a human-centric approach to AI implementation, involving employees in the design and deployment of solutions, will foster the trust, transparency, and collaboration needed to deploy these technologies in the workplace. Doing so effectively will likely unlock new opportunities for innovation and create a more resilient and adaptive workforce.”

The convergence of technological advancements, shifting consumer expectations and pressing societal challenges presents both opportunities and imperatives for reinvention. GenAI, cloud computing and other emerging technologies offer immense potential to drive growth, efficiency and innovation. But, success is not just about adopting the latest tools – it’s about leveraging them strategically to enhance human capabilities and solve real-world problems. It’s about putting people at the centre of digital transformation, investing in skills development, and fostering a culture of continuous learning and adaptability.

“As business leaders in Africa navigate this exciting and challenging landscape, they must do so with a sense of purpose and responsibility,” says Mark Allderman, PwC Africa Cloud and Digital leader. “It’s an invitation to be bold, experiment, and learn. In the face of unprecedented change the most successful businesses will be those that adapt, innovate, and lead with purpose. The journey of reinvention is not a solo endeavour.

“By working together, sharing knowledge, and driving collective action we can unlock the full potential of technology to create value, solve complex challenges, and build a better tomorrow,” Allderman adds.