Strategy execution in Africa

The key success factors for effective execution have been researched in developed markets, but what about Africa? The full article from which this abstract is drawn details the seven success factors for execution in Africa and examines two overarching, driving factors: the creation of a formalized strategy execution capability and elevating the HR function to manage culture and talent early on in the strategy process.

Over the course of three years of targeted research by EY, supporting multiple clients expanding into Africa and including EY’s own experience in expanding the organization’s footprint across 33 countries in Africa, the findings and insights have been distilled into seven interconnected success factors for effective strategy execution:

  1. Purpose: knowing why an organization wants to expand into Africa in the first place, and the objective it wants to achieve in doing so.
  2. Planning: making well-informed choices about which markets to enter, when and via which model is critical. Striking the right balance between sticking to the plan and adapting to the different needs and challenges the organization is presented with.
  3. Portfolio: balancing risk across a number of different markets is important, particularly in Africa, where the levels of immaturity and risk vary, as well as the current lack of scale in many individual markets. A sizable African portfolio provides diversification of risks.
  4. People: strategies are not self-executing, and a firm’s success will depend on its ability to put human resource development (globally and locally) at the heart of strategy execution, especially for management and technical skills.
  5. Partnerships: strong local business partnerships are often critical to success, particularly when it comes to doing business in Africa. An effective local partner can help a new entrant penetrate the local market by providing insights and contacts with relevant stakeholders to smooth the process and navigate the challenges.
  6. Perspective: to succeed in doing business in Africa, one must adopt a positive mindset. Findings from EY’s research show that organizations that have been successful in Africa have tended to look for the opportunities first, and only then factored in risks.
  7. Patience: organizations that wish to succeed in Africa need to understand that there are no short cuts to quick and high returns. It generally takes time and investment to generate any kind of meaningful returns from African operations. Successful organizations have made it in Africa because of their commitment and tenacity over many years.

The complete article was written by:

  • Craig Lister
    Strategy Execution Specialist, Advisory Services, EY, South Africa
  • Nyain Swe
    Assistant Manager, Strategy, Advisory Services, EY, South Africa

Read the full articlepdf1.03 MB

EY refers to one or more of the member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited (EYG), a UK private company limited by guarantee. EYG is the principal governance entity of the global EY organization and does not provide any service to clients. Services are provided by EYG member firms. Each of EYG and its member firms is a separate legal entity and has no liability for another such entity's acts or omissions. Certain content on this site may have been prepared by one or more EYG member firms