The GCC is fast emerging as one of the fastest growing markets for consultancy business worldwide, according to Strategy&, a global management consulting firm created after the PwC’s acquisition of Booz & Company.
“What we are seeing in the GCC today is a recognition by the GCC governments that the world is changing that there are demographic challenges and there are shifts in economic powers, energy markets globally is changing there needs to be a lot of investments and lot of change in employment and in creating opportunities for GCC people,” said Hani Ashkar, PwC Middle East Senior Partner.
To meet these challenges on an urgent basis, many governments are seeking the help of global management consultants. “There are a number of surveys done on the size of GCC’s consultancy market. The ones we think that is pretty accurate are around $2.4 to $2.5 billion. It is probably one of the fastest growing consulting markets in the world. It is growing at the rate of about 20 to 25 per cent,” said Ashkar.
It is true that the GCC has a much larger spending capacity than many other countries in the region. But in reality the potential demand for consulting business could be much larger in many other larger countries in the region that are facing much larger challenges in finding strategic solutions such as employment, education, public health and infrastructure development, to name a few.
Strategy& is active across many of the Middle East countries. In all these markets there are great ambitions to develop fast and there are great opportunities to do so.
In the context of the political and economic challenges in the wider Middle East region, particularly the Arab Spring nations, there is a growing recognition to get external consultants involved in meeting some of the challenges.
“In the Arab Spring nations they typically have new governments in place. These governments need to set out their visions and they require assistance and support to articulate these visions,” said Ashkar.
Beyond just setting that vision, many of these countries require a long stream of projects planning, implementation and execution. “I would say in the Arab Spring countries the opportunities for consulting firms are quiet significant. The challenges around, whether the administrations have the resources (financial) to support these initiatives and the courage and the ability to take out a cheque book and make things happen is a challenge,” said Ashkar.
Of course, the consultants in the region will have to weigh those opportunities in relation to opportunities in the GCC which is more accessible and certain in terms of what is happening and where they want to go.
Countries like Iraq and Libya have massive requirements to rebuild and are in need of big consulting engagement. But the security situation is such that the consultancy service is not the top priority of the government at the moment.
But in countries like Egypt which has a new government and law and order is not big concern any longer, Strategy& sees huge opportunity to work with both government and private sector. “I think Egypt has strong support from the GCC and the country has a better track record in law and order. This is encouraging for consultants wanting to work there,” said Per-Ola Karlsson, Senior Partner, Strategy&.