This is dedicated to the late Isaac Avorkliyah, my first Line Manger in the corporate world. May his soul RIP.
“You cannot afford to remain a local champion if you seek to make a global impact”
The past few days has been one of the best in my life. I have had immense exposure to the best in class with regards to my field of profession, proven winnable strategies and depth understanding of consumers and the behavioral sciences which I can leverage to become a top-notch business leader.
I also had the opportunity to build a valuable network with 120 brilliant minds across all the continents, a lifelong enabler for my career and Global impact.
I also discovered that I was that good. I was on top of issues and could engage my colleagues from other prestigious schools without a shadow of intimidation. This is the evidence that our schools in Africa are at least teaching us the right stuff.
However what broke my heart was how Africa was never top of mind among my colleagues and most especially giant business executives I had the privileged of interacting with.
I seemed to know a bit about most of the countries that were represented at the event, thanks to my love for listening to BBC, but my heart was broken when most of them seemed not to know anything about Africa, even so Ghana.
When examples of emerging economies were mentioned by the speakers, Africa was not part of it, you could easily hear of the Asian countries and Latin America, but not Africa.
I initially attributed the very little knowledge of Africa among my colleagues to sheer ignorance, but when I realized same with the top executives of Global business, it caused me to rethink!
I came to the conclusion that Africans have become local champions, basking in the rhetoric of the so called “African Rising” and yet have no global relevance!
We may be rising, but not fast enough. In my line of work, one critical factor for measuring the success of a brand is market share. So if the market is growing by 20% and you are only growing by 5%, it is still not good enough. What you want to achieve is to grow at least at the same rate as the market or even outgrow it.
My challenge to you is that it is the duty of you and I to put Africa on the radar of global competitiveness. We owe this to our posterity. We can’t be crying for level playing field when we don’t even show up on the field to play!
We can’t always rely on getting quotas and crumbs from the people we intend to compete with. We can take our destinies into our own hands, and the sooner we do that the better for us.
The past has no place in the future ahead of us. We have spent enough time crying and complaining how we were manipulated by the Europeans in the past; even so we still see same manipulation.
There is a Jewish proverb that he who pays, has the say. So as long as we run to our white friends for crumbs at the slightest provocation, we can’t still expect us to have the final say when it comes to our lives.
What saddens my heart is the fact that the monies we lose through corruption and irresponsibility far outweigh what we borrow from the developed world. In essence we throw away the loaves and beg for the crumbs.
At a point, I asked one of the CEOs, that what will it take for Africa to begin to get the world’s attention?
He mentioned the following factors:
- Political Stability – there is too much instability and as a result uncertainties for investors
- Rule of Law – Let the law work, our leaders appetite for preventing rule of law for their personal interest( especially time in office} is abhorring
- Scalability – There is too much fragmentation even with languages and artificial segmentation, which makes it difficult for African countries to benefit from the economies of scale. Try travelling to our neighboring francophone countries , and you will be amazed at the kind of reception you will receive from the immigration officers, they talk and stare at you as if you are an alien, to them you are not one of them because, ““. There is also so much of the west vs. east, north vs. south, each feeling they have little to do with each other. I keep wondering why I require a visa to travel to my neighboring African country! The least I talk about the multiplicity of the weak currencies we proudly parade the better!
- Infrastructure – our infrastructure sucks! Our snail paced infrastructure development agenda needs some adrenaline!
Can we as future leaders ensure that in the next 20 years, things would be entirely different for Africa? It is up to you and I.
From the desk of ROL
NB: All images credit to Google images