2016 was a good year for Africa’s consulting market, with the continent’s 19 largest markets collectively growing 6.3 per cent to reach a total value of $2.19billion. This performance was achieved despite growth in GDP slowing in many African nations as economies continue to suffer because of low commodities prices and political uncertainty.

These figures are published in a new report today (31st October 2017) by Source Global Research, the leading research and strategy firm for the global management consulting industry. The report says that two factors also helped growth–an increasing tolerance amongst clients for uncertainty (in Africa as elsewhere) and gains in client maturity.

Digitisation is still at a relatively early stage in Africa, but clients are increasingly interested in how digital solutions can help them to become more efficient and connect with the expanding middle class. The report says that a lack of legacy infrastructure means there are opportunities across Africa to “leapfrog” straight to the latest and greatest new technologies (including a surprisingly strong demand for robotics), and a recent uptick in data & analytics work further suggests a maturing digital landscape.

Edward Haigh, Director at Source Global Research said:
“The growing interest in digitisation is changing how firms operate in Africa. Offering the full scope of capabilities digital requires means bringing together skills and expertise from different silos within firms and/or forming wider ecosystems that allow firms to access resources they don't have in-house. Even so, finding the skills needed to serve the market can be tough.”

Jean-Michel Huet, a Partner at BearingPoint, added:
“We're seeing a lot of digital transformation projects, and that's really new. Just two years ago, nobody was talking about it.”

Africa by region

Using the biggest and most sophisticated model of the global consulting industry, the Source report reveals more detailed performance across 19 of the largest consulting markets in Africa, divided by region:

- Southern Africa, the continent’s biggest consulting buyer–experienced low growth in 2016 due to South Africa’s beleaguered economy and fraught political landscape, despite solid growth elsewhere in the region.

- Eastern Africa, which has been growing rapidly for many years–continued the trend in 2016 with consulting revenues increasing about 20 per cent.

- Western Africa was the continent’s second fastest growing consulting market in 2016–due to strong activity in the region’s francophone countries.

- Northern Africa saw solid, moderate consulting market growth in 2016–thanks in large part to a mature client base that is able and willing to make use of consulting whether times are good (as in Morocco) or trying (as in Egypt).

The Source report says that in many ways Africa’s consulting landscape mirrors the global landscape, with the major multinational accounting, strategy, and technology firms taking the lion’s share of the work, while some regional players do very well on the back of their local knowledge and high levels of expertise. The mid-market, meanwhile, is increasingly squeezed, and the prevalence of freelancers contributes to build intense price pressure.

Consultants are optimistic about Africa’s prospects through 2018. Most say this will remain a challenging market, but it is set to enjoy improvements in growth rates as clients grow in confidence and maturity and become even more enthusiastic about digital solutions.

For more information on Source reports contact alice.noyelle@sourceforconsulting.com or telephone +44 (0)20 3178 6443 or visit www.sourceforconsulting.com.
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