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African senior finance executives believe recession likely by year-end 2019

Last Updated Feb 2019

Johannesburg, 11 February 2019 – Ninety-seven percent of African senior finance executives believe their countries will be in recession no later than year-end 2019. Recession is expected in the next three quarters and real GDP growth for 2019 is estimated at less than 2%. This is according to a survey which was result of a joint effort of Duke University and the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA).

The survey is known as the Duke University/CFO Global Business Outlook and has been conducted for 91 consecutive quarters and spans the globe, making it the world’s longest-running and most comprehensive research on senior finance executives. The survey for the fourth quarter closed on 7 December 2018.

To get to the Africa numbers, the study surveyed 10 Nigerian, 18 South African, and 4 senior finance executives from other parts of Africa. The sample includes senior finance executives from both public and private companies representing a broad range of industries.

When asked to rate their level of optimism about their country’s economy on a scale from 0 to a 100 with 0 being less optimistic and 100 being more optimistic, business optimism rebounded to 50.6 from the 43.1 in the previous quarter.

The most pressing concerns for African senior finance executives are economic uncertainty, government policies, regulatory requirements, currency risk, volatility of political situation, weak demand for products/services, access to capital, inflation, employee productivity as well as employee morale.

However, it is not all bleak, with respondents expecting some growth in the next 12 months. Expected company revenue growth is at 8.65% while technology spending is expected to be at 7.92%. South African senior finance executives also expect to see significant growth in wages and salaries. Nigerian senior finance executives expect growth in the revenue and capital spending.

More about the survey

This is the 91st consecutive quarter the Duke University/CFO Global Business Outlook survey has been conducted. The survey for quarter 4, 2018 concluded on 7 December, and generated responses from more than 500 CFOs, including 226 from North America, 48 from Asia, 82 from Europe, 122 from Latin America and 32 from Africa. The African survey was conducted jointly with SAICA.

The Duke University/CFO Global Business Outlook survey polls a wide range of companies (public and private, small and large, many industries, etc.). Among the industries represented in the survey are retail/wholesale, mining/construction, manufacturing, transportation/energy, communications/media, technology, service/consulting and banking/finance/insurance.

The survey for the first quarter in 2019 will open on 5 March 2019. Senior finance executives are urged to take part. Kindly view for more information on the survey.


The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA), South Africa’s pre-eminent accountancy body, is widely recognised as one of the world’s leading accounting institutes. The Institute provides a wide range of support services to more than 46 000 members and associates who are chartered accountants [CAs(SA)], as well as AGAs(SA) and ATs(SA), who hold positions as CEOs, MDs, board directors, business owners, chief financial officers, auditors and leaders in every sphere of commerce and industry, and who play a significant role in the nation’s highly dynamic business sector and economic development.

SAICA Media Contact

Kulani Chauke
Communication Coordinator: Corporate
SAICA Brand Division
011 479 0698