Jobs Crisis Tops List of Risks for Africa’s Businesses

03 Sep 2019

Oliver Cann, Public Engagement, Tel.: +41 79 799 34 05; Email:

  • Unemployment remains the top concern for doing business according to the Sub-Saharan Africa Risks Landscape
  • Governance is the second greatest concern for Africa’s business leaders, followed by energy, infrastructure and fiscal challenges
  • Climate change and health-related risks represent a potential blind spot for business, and these issues could exacerbate existing economic risks
  • The Sub-Saharan Africa Risks Landscape was launched today at the World Economic Forum in Africa 2019. Read about the white paper here

Cape Town, South Africa, 3 September 2019 – Executives in sub-Saharan Africa rate unemployment and underemployment as top risks for doing business in the region, followed by challenges related to governance, energy prices, infrastructure and debt. That is the finding of a new analysis of regional risks by the World Economic Forum published today.

The Sub-Saharan Africa Risks Landscape comes at a time of modest economic growth across the region. This is set against a backdrop of rapid population and labour-force growth that is outstripping job creation.

As the number two risk facing Africa’s business leaders, governance comes into focus at a time when Africa appears to be consolidating recent progress towards stability. The region has experienced 27 leadership changes since 2015, highlighting a continent-wide push for greater accountability and democracy. The report also notes that the region experienced 15 elections in 2018 and will see a further 20 in 2019.

The focus on jobs and governance is preventing business leaders from being able to tackle longer term challenges such as climate change and health. This could be a potential blind spot in terms of long-term planning.

It has been estimated that as much as 48% of the region’s GDP will be vulnerable to extreme climate patterns by 2023.

The analysis draws on data from the Forum’s Global Risks Perception Survey 2018-2019 that polled 916 experts and decision-makers around the world. It also uses responses from the Forum’s Executive Opinion Survey 2018, which polled 12,548 business leaders across the globe, including those in 34 sub-Saharan countries.

“Sub-Saharan Africa is seeing social and economic growth; however it is clear that job creation needs to accelerate in order to absorb the rising labour market. Failure to tackle this will jeopardize the substantial political and societal progress that has been made in the region”, said Emilio Granados Franco, Head of Global Risks and Geopolitical Agenda at the World Economic Forum. “Climate change and health-related risks represent a potential blind spot for business. These issues could significantly exacerbate traditional economic risks.”

The Sub-Saharan Africa Risks Landscape is published in partnership with Marsh & McLennan Companies and Zurich Insurance Group. The analysis is released as global and regional leaders gather in Cape Town, South Africa for the 28th World Economic Forum on Africa, 4-6 September. The meeting will tackle many of the issues addressed in the analysis by focusing on how to scale up the transformation of regional architecture related to investment, industry and innovation.

Executives from the following countries participated in the Executive Opinion Survey: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Eswatini, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Read the full risk analysis here

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All opinions expressed are those of the author. The World Economic Forum Blog is an independent and neutral platform dedicated to generating debate around the key topics that shape global, regional and industry agendas.

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