Businesses in Africa are facing a variety of challenges, which has led professional services firms like KPMG to constantly invest in innovative products to provide solutions for businesses.
These challenges include currency volatility, regulatory requirements, financing, political and policy uncertainty, international or cross-border movements (which can be hampered by slow border processes, long distances between towns and cities, limited border post opening hours, passport controls and some countries being landlocked), business cultures, infrastructure deficiencies and a widespread population.
“We are working to identify innovators and assist them in terms of growth and performance, [as well as] to succeed by bringing together the right experience, infrastructure, opportunities and scale to help them turn great ideas into meaningful value,” enthuses KPMG Africa high-growth markets senior manager Benson Mwesigwa.
KPMG currently has a footprint of 33 offices, servicing 54 countries in Africa, with more than 420 partners and 8 900 employees across a range of disciplines.
Mwesigwa says that research and development (R&D) plays a critical role in any business succeeding in Africa, or any other market, and that complexities spanning private consumption patterns, investment in infrastructure, a growing population, urbanisation and rising consumer spending create opportunities that can be harnessed by conducting proper R&D.
He notes that a company that does not conduct R&D or establish partnerships with research providers and their local advisers that have thorough local knowledge and market insights will not be able to compete or will be dominated by competitors or new entrants in the markets. “The challenge, however, will be how to identify a suitable and trusted partner.”
KPMG has invested in various projects to counter any shortfalls in the skilled labour forces of countries on the African continent. “A lot still remains to be achieved and we still have skilled labour resource shortages in Africa,” says Mwesigwa.
Moreover, KPMG has partnered with the United Nations on a global level, developing a series of material relating to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the ways in which this information can be interpreted to create shared value for business and society.
The SDGs were adopted in September 2015 with a view to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all. The SDGs follow the Millennium Development Goals, and articu-late a follow-up agenda for the next 15 years (to 2030), which requires input from all sectors of society across the globe.
KPMG also supports an initiative by the SDG for clean water and sanitation called Operation Hydrate. Through this project, bottled water is delivered to drought-affected areas in South Africa to meet residents’ immediate basic requirements.
“To date, we have delivered 85 000 ℓ of water through this project and KPMG staff and partners continue to passionately support this project to meet the great need for drinking water [as a result of] the low rainfall and drought conditions many parts of our country are experiencing,” Mwesigwa says.
Family for Literacy was founded in the US by Beth Veihmeyer, wife of KPMG global chairperson John Veihmeyer, and Wendy Keizer, wife of KPMG US deputy chairperson Henry R Keizer. Through this initiative, KPMG in South Africa seeks to improve the literacy rates of the youth by providing children living in disadvantaged communities with their first books. These books are donated and children get to keep some, while others are also donated to school libraries.
In addition, KPMG supports the Youth Managers Foundation by providing high school learners with leadership development support, career guidance and mentorship. This is achieved through annual career and mentorship days, annual youth leadership summits and quarterly leadership seminars for continuous development. The aim of the foundation is to empower selected young, change-driven people with leadership potential to drive positive changes in their spheres of influence.
“The KPMG Doing Business in Africa application, which is available for download on android and iOS devices, provides continuous access to the latest insights on doing business in Africa. These include African country economic snapshots and fiscal guides, profiles of various sectors, as well as KPMG practices in the different countries,” concludes Mwesigwa.