Annan Identifies Causes of Current Level of Development in Africa
By Kester Kenn Klomegah
In an insightful conversation, the President/CEO of the Institute of African Leadership (IoFAL), Dr Bennett Annan, discusses management styles of African leaders, the system of governance, diversities in political culture and the extent these affect progress and development.
He points to the lack of effective monitoring and evaluation as factors determining the current level of development in Africa. He unreservedly argues that his Institute of African Leadership (IoFAL) provides the necessary cutting-edge skills for young aspiring leaders for Africa. Here are the interview excerpts:
What prompted the recent research titled Leadership Styles of Africans: A Study Using Path-Goal Leadership Theory, something related to management styles of African leaders?
Several years ago, when I was a teenager growing up in Ghana, I watched various politicians talk about policies that they believed will help alleviate poverty, yet when they came to power nothing really good happened to their people. I wondered why?
During that same period of time, I also read in the newspapers many, many times how poor Africans were and how the leaders have mismanaged their countries’ resources. But these were intelligent people, so why?
In 2007, I conducted my first research study in America entitled West African Managers in American Businesses and set up six research sites for the project: New York, New Jersey, Atlanta, North Carolina, Colorado, and California.
I went to these locations and did interviews, both with individuals and focus groups. I realized how intelligent these West Africans were, and how they had assimilated into the American system by practising participative leadership styles, finding success as managerial leaders in many organizations in corporate America.
Then I asked myself why managerial leaders in Africa can’t do the same, because we are capable, and I believe the answer was not far-fetched. The environment in Africa needs to change, and that prompted me to delve into this research of “African Leadership Styles,” to find out the gap between our managerial styles in Africa and that of the industrialized nations, using the Path-Goal Leadership Questionnaire. I used SurveyGizmo to collect data from Africans from various countries, including Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, and others.
For several years, I’ve been wondering why someone won’t do something about this, why someone won’t figure out why we are the richest continent in the world and yet the poorest, why someone won’t sit down and figure this out. I’ve been told so many excuses and reasons why this cannot be done, but I still didn’t give up finding some solution to this problem.
Just like Albert Einstein said, we cannot do the same thing over and over and over again and expect different results. For Africans, this means we cannot keep mismanaging our resources and seeking help from industrialized nations in the form of loans we are unable to repay. We cannot ask for forgiveness again and again and think things will get better.
Based on this research, we at the Institute of African Leadership have started something little to stop the failed leadership problem, because I believe something little is better than a whole lot of nothing. That is why we delved into the research to find out what managerial leaders in Africa should do to catch up with the industrialized nations, and the answer was very simple.
The findings of my research showed that the only thing that industrialized nations do that Africans do not is to use the participative leadership style most often. Africans use this participative leadership style the least. That means all we need to do is to practice this participative leadership style of management more often. My findings also found that the participative leadership style is not new to African managerial leaders. In fact, my research shows that we practice participative leadership style more than our counterparts in the industrialized nations but do this the least – that means it does not come to us easily.
Why do you think participative leadership is unique to Africa? Do you also see the lack of effective monitoring and evaluation as factors determining the level of development in Africa?
First of all, I want to talk a little bit about what participative leadership style is, so we can be on the same page. Let’s start from the word “participative,” a derivative of the word “participate,” meaning that this leadership style requires participation.
Participative leadership style, as we know it, is when the leader actively involves team members in the decision-making process. In general, it involves all team members in finding solutions to problems. In a way, the leaders turn to the team for input, ideas, and opinions instead of making all decisions on their own. For this style to work, the leader needs to understand the team has the skills and ideas that could benefit the decision-making process, especially when the team owns the problem.
Now, let’s look at Africa for a moment. Research shows African managerial leaders use the directive/autocratic leadership style. The leader retains as much power and decision-making authority as possible. The leader does not consult employees, nor are they allowed to give any input. Employees are expected to obey orders without receiving any explanations.
Most Africans find the participative management style foreign because they are used to the directive/autocratic style of leadership, which is outdated and adds costs to the organization. The participative style is modern, reduces costs, and increases profit margins. The task at hand is to create a plan to change the African managerial leadership style from directive/autocratic to participative.
However, Africans in management positions can be successful if they make the change from a directive/autocratic to a participative leadership style at the institutional and personal levels. Though these are difficult things to do, as this study has found, they still have to do it.
There is a sense of urgency here. Africans need to embrace cultural change as a means of making themselves ready for globalization, or else they are likely to be left behind in the global economy. This may result in further reducing levels of socio-economic development and standards of living, worsening education and health, and increasing fertility and mortality rates. If nothing is done about this issue, we would be denying the African people their best hope for escaping poverty.
The other question is whether I see the lack of effective monitoring and evaluation as factors determining the level of development in Africa. Yes, of course, I do see that, but one thing about the participative leadership style is the belief that where the problem is, lies the solution. This is what I mean: If we can use this participative leadership style, it allows us to create teams to solve the problem, with inputs, ideas, and opinions coming from members of the group. They figure out ways and means to address the problem instead of relying on the people at the top of the organization for a solution. When the decisions and solutions come from the members of the team, these members tend to own and practice the solutions wholeheartedly, unlike when the solution comes from the top, in which case the team members are less likely to embrace the solutions because they did not buy into them.
Do you agree that there are diversities in political culture in African countries? What could be the best way to systematize and combine efforts in implementing policies to the benefit of the population?
Yes, I do agree that there are diversities in political culture in African countries. Let me tell you this: There are individual differences in the political culture of the African countries – talents, skills, and experiences. We are all very different, even twins because we carry different DNA, fingerprints, and so on. However, we are all human beings who are generally gregarious, being together, working together, and solving problems together.
Research has shown that Africans, by nature, are a collectivist culture. That means our culture places emphasis on cohesiveness among individuals; we prioritize the group over the self. We find common values and goals in whatever we do. In a way, this is the fundamental of a participative leadership style, where the members of the team get together to solve problems. So, we have these participative leadership style traits in us, but the leader does not use the grouping ideology in collecting inputs, ideas, and experiences in the decision-making process.
I strongly believe the best way to systematize and combine efforts in implementing policies to the benefit of the population is to fall back on this collectivist culture that we embrace amongst the African people as a first step. This is the very foundation of making the change I have been talking about from the autocratic/directive leadership style to participative leadership style.
Next is to use cognitive behavioural techniques to change the mindset – a process of “melting” the autocratic/directive leadership style and refreezing into a participative leadership style mould. This creates a new mindset that allows us to seek inputs, ideas, and experiences from members of the team in decision-making and problem-solving.
Finally, this where I come in. I have about 15 different training lessons on the African Participative Leadership Training Program. These lessons are about 1 hour each, and they are online, on-demand at our website (www.iofal.org). The good news is these lessons are free and currently under construction; they should be ready to go by May 2021.
The training program is comprised of lessons on the rationale behind the change of autocratic/directive leadership style to the participative, and it runs through lessons like changing the current mindset of the African managerial leaders and the process for how to make this change work. Then there are also lessons regarding unethical behaviours. The beauty of this training program is how the change process incorporates the African culture, making it a very unique style of managerial leadership that we call the African participative leadership style.
Our plan is to secure location sites in every Black African country with representatives who will engage in the promotion of this program, advertising and running commercials and getting people to know about this free African participative leadership style training program. We want to make sure that every single African participative managerial leader gets access to this training no matter where they come from or their economic status. As long as they have internet access, whether through their phones or through their laptop computers, they can go through this training program successfully from anywhere.
Just to give you a clue as to how the program is laid out: First, participants take a pre-lesson assessment, then they start the very first Lesson 1. After each and every lesson, participants take a 10-question quiz to make sure that learning has taken place; if they pass, they jump on to the next lesson. Finally, after the 15 lessons, there is an exam of about 25 questions. Once they pass, an electronic certificate is emailed to them to show that they have gone through this training program and they are deemed ready to put what they have learned to practice.
In what ways would you argue that the Institute of African Leadership is an educational institution that provides the necessary skills for young aspiring leaders?
This is a very good question. First of all, my research study used the Path-Goal Leadership Questionnaire to measure the directive/autocratic leadership style of participants among four different age groups. The results show the 18 to 29 age group had a directive/autocratic style average score of 28.5, the lowest among the four groups measured: (a) 18 to 29 years, (b) 30 to 44 years, (c) 45 to 59 years, and (d) 60 and older.
The study also showed that the same 18 to 29 age group had a participative style average score of 24.8, the highest among the four groups measured. Thus, young aspiring African leaders between 18 and 29 years old are predominately participative-centric, and less likely to be so as they get older. This group of African leaders needs the training now to reinforce their current participative style before they age into the next group when it gets harder to change their mindset.
Entrepreneurship is very challenging. What keeps you personally motivated as a chief executive officer of the Institute of African Leadership?
I agree that entrepreneurship comes with a lot of challenges, and some are difficult to overcome, but I know I have to deal with it come what may. I have been teaching and working as a mechanical and manufacturing engineer for some 40 years now, and it seems almost impossible to manage another career – training and developing African managerial leaders. I have dropped that career and am currently pursuing a training and development career.
I have been an entrepreneur once before and failed, then I went back to my predictable career, working again for an organization as an engineer. I have learned my lessons, especially when it comes to funding. This time, I have a pool of capital that will lead me to establish the first phase of this training program, which is getting the website and the lessons fully completed and ready for the participants, and I am happy about that. However, the second phase, which entails the dissemination of the training program via advertising (e.g., radio, TV, billboards, and newspapers) throughout all the countries in sub-Saharan Africa, requires additional resources and funding to make it work. I am currently seeking help from monetary organizations.
There are numerous factors that keep me personally motivated as a director of the Institute of African Leadership: (a) my will to problem-solve, (b) my vision, and (c) my education. However, and like I said before, I continue to ruminate several years ago, when I was a teenager growing up in Ghana and watched various politicians talk about policies that they believed would help alleviate poverty. Yet, when they came to power, nothing really good happened for their people. I wondered why? During that same period of time, I also read in the newspapers many times how poor Africans were and how the leaders have mismanaged their countries’ resources. But these were intelligent people, so why? This is where my will to problem-solve comes in, wanting to at least contribute my share of solving the failed leadership in Africa. I believe, where there is a will, there is a way.
Also, like I said earlier on, my research found that Africans in US businesses have assimilated into the American system by practising participative leadership styles, finding success as managerial leaders in many organizations in corporate America. That tells me African managerial leaders are capable, but it seems the environment in Africa does not allow them and that environment needs to be changed. I’ve been told so many excuses and reasons why this cannot be done, but I still didn’t give up finding some solution to this problem. This is where my vision for Africa comes in, where one day through the African Participative Leadership Training Program (APLTP) we will discover our true selves just like that, embrace our problems, become capable to solve our own problems our own way, grab our power back, and the whole game changes. Africa will be economically free forever. Japan, Singapore and other nations did it, why can’t we?
Of all the ways, I describe myself – mechanical engineer, manufacturing and quality engineer, business manager, counselor, professor, professional consultant, author, and researcher – perhaps the most fitting is multipotentiality, which is defined as someone whose interests span multiple fields or areas rather than someone who is proficient in just one. I hold a Bachelor of Science, B.S., degree and Master of Science, M.S., degree in mechanical engineering, a Further Education Teachers’ Certificate, (F.E.T.C.), a Master of Business Administration, MBA, degree, a Doctor of Education, Ed.D., degree in organizational leadership, a Master of Arts, M.A., degree in clinical psychology, certification as a marriage and family therapist, MFT, and a Doctor of Psychology, PsyD. This is where my education comes in, an excellent corporate trainer, teaching African leaders to help their followers cultivate their skills and knowledge by providing complete training and sharing my rich and tremendous knowledge and expertise in ways that motivate them.
What is your vision for the Institute of African Leadership and where do you see this business of education and training in the next 5 years, especially clients from Africa?
My vision for the Institute of African Leadership is to create wholesale success and overperformance in organizations in Africa, and eventually decrease poverty, increase the standard of living, and change the way Africans think and act at the institutional and personal level. I know that as the founder I will be expected to generate ideas, and when a competitor emerges, it will be my responsibility to come up with a response plan. When I hit an impenetrable obstacle, my job will be to come up with an alternate plan to move forward. I am capable of moving this program forward because I have tremendous knowledge and rich experience that spans over 40 years as I indicated previously.
There are so many unknown factors that come along with any entrepreneurial venture. For example, how long a business will exist and whether it will be profitable. In this case, will these African managerial leaders like the training and development service that we are creating? There are no solid, reliable answers to any of these questions. However, one thing that I can assure you is the training, development lessons will be online in May 2021 and maintaining this program online will go on forever at no cost to the participants.
In the next 5 years, I see the Institute of African Leadership (IoFAL) will be in every organization, workplaces, everywhere in every sub-Saharan African country, training and developing African managerial leaders in the African Participative Leadership Training Program to achieve our own unique management philosophy, one that is deep-rooted in the African culture, like Japan and others.
Kester Kenn Klomegah is a versatile researcher and passionate contributor, most of his well-resourced articles are reprinted elsewhere in a number of reputable foreign media.
South Africa Faces Deep-Seated Economic, Energy Crisis
By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh
South Africa, highly considered an economic powerhouse, is in a deep-seated crisis. The energy deficit has crippled industrial operations, and supplies for domestic use have largely been reduced. Unemployment is rising, and the cost of living becomes unbearable across the country. As a result of the crisis, social discontent has engulfed every corner of South Africa.
Reports monitored here say South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa and his cabinet on May 7 held an extensive meeting with key business leaders as concern over the country’s energy crisis, logistic constraints, and close ties with Russia grow. Attendees discussed collaborating to obtain inclusive growth, inspire confidence in the economy and create jobs, the Presidency said in an official Twitter post.
Five years after Ramaphosa ushered in a wave of business optimism that he’d revive the economy crippled by industrial-scale corruption under his predecessor, executives are running out of patience with the president, who is seeking reelection next year.
Economic stagnation stoked by record daily power cuts, rampant crime, disintegrating infrastructure and foreign policy missteps is leading investors to the exits. Yields on the benchmark 10-year generic government bond have risen 129 basis points this year to 12.1%, foreign buyers have been net sellers of the nation’s stocks, and the rand has plunged 11%.
Executives including Daniel Mminele, Nedbank Group Ltd.’s chairman, and MTN Group Ltd.’s Chief Executive Officer Ralph Mupita have called for urgency in resolving domestic hindrances to economic growth and warned the country is at risk of becoming a so-called failed state. Others, such as FirstRand Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Alan Pullinger, have criticized the country’s relationship with Russia. The government’s indifference to the war in Ukraine and its friendship with Russia is “foolhardy in the extreme,” he said.
Early March, reports also warned that South Africa’s banking industry faces a “profound geopolitical risk” from the government’s close ties with Russia. South Africa has drawn criticism from some of its biggest trading partners, including the United States and the European Union, over military exercises it conducted with Russia and China. Those countries have also censured Ramaphosa’s administration over its abstention from United Nations resolutions condemning Russia’s war with Ukraine.
“Countries are noticing our government’s left-leaning enthusiasm for China and Russia vehemently opposed” to the war in Ukraine, FirstRand Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Alan Pullinger said at an investor briefing in Johannesburg. The government’s indifference to the war and its friendship with Russia is “foolhardy in the extreme,” he said.
South Africa’s banking industry is dependent on access to international markets, global clearing and settlement, Pullinger said. The country risks consequences because of its stance on Russia, he said. “Our collective access is a privilege; it is not a right and can be revoked easily,” Pullinger said. “FirstRand does not share our government’s enthusiasm for Russia.”
With an estimated population of 58 million, South Africa is the southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by 2,798 kilometres of coastline that stretches along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the north by the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe; and to the east and northeast by Mozambique and Eswatini.
Nigeria, Ghana Expediting Actions On Abidjan-Lagos Highway Construction
By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh
Popularly referred to as the Abidjan-Lagos corridor, this is a long highway which stretches from Abidjan to Lagos, crossing five independent states (Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Nigeria) from west to east, and includes two political capitals and many regional economic centres.
By European standards too long, but this highway, which has a length of approximately 965 kilometres, is considered the most mega-project to undertake in Africa.
Due to the countries’ linguistic, cultural and political differences, the region’s economic potential has not yet been fully exploited. There has been little alignment of standards and construction of common infrastructure, and even within the countries, transportation links are often unreliable. The idea of undertaking this transport connection has still been on the planning table, with its biggest headache about the source of finance.
Reports emerged that there had been a series of negotiations and meetings at the highest levels to determine effective ways of financing and its final realisation in the region. In this extreme case for this giant infrastructure, global key players offer reassurance, but there has not been any noticeable successful financial commitment.
The Ministerial Steering Committee of the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway Development Project held its 19th in May 2023 to take decisions on expediting the completion of technical studies, securing lands for the right of way, financing the construction of the highway project and the operationalization of the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Management Authority (ALCoMA).
Welcoming participants on behalf of the ECOWAS Commission, the Commissioner for Infrastructure, Energy and Digitalization, Sediko Douka, lauded the commitment of the member countries and highlighted the fact that the Abidjan-Lagos Highway remains a flagship project for the Commission and is one of the interventions that could change the narrative of ECOWAS by highlighting the contribution to the total economic growth of community citizens with projects in transport, health, agriculture, customs, migration, education and more.
“It will enable community citizens to appreciate better and be informed about tangible achievements of ECOWAS. Indeed, we must accentuate the visibility of ECOWAS achievement on physical infrastructure projects in the area of transport, energy, telecom, water resource and agriculture, just as this project has been presented at various African Investment Forums by the African Development Bank, he said.
Commissioner Douka, however, charged the participants to take an interest in ensuring that the project becomes a reality. “We keep calling on both public and private investors to accompany the countries and ECOWAS in the realization of this visionary venture,” Douka added.
The feasibility and preliminary design studies have been completed, whiles the final phases should be completed before the end of this year. “On resource mobilization, it should be noted that ECOWAS has just adopted a new regulatory framework on the Public Private Partnership (PPP) that is an incentive for the entry of Private Sector in large Investments like the nature of this project,” according to the Commissioner.
Ministers of Roads and Works of Corridor Countries took turns to express their continued commitment to support the completion of the technical studies and accompany ECOWAS and Development Partners to raise the needed investment to fund the project.
Chairman of the Ministerial Steering Committee and Minister of Public Works and Housing of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Babatunde Raji Fashola, expressed his pride at the achievements so far attained from the outset. He highlighted that projects of such magnitude usually encounter several challenges at the preparatory stages, but through the hard work of Project Engineers and Member States, most challenges have been overcome.
“We are building a road over 1,000 kilometres, across five (5) countries, across a diversity of languages and political structures, in a modern era of climate change, people’s rights and sustainability on our horizon. We have heard issues about compensation, environment, social impact assessment, resettlement and action plan etc., because, at the end of the day, this is all about people. So, we must build in a way that takes care not only of people’s interest but also climate and other diversities,” noted Babatunde Raji Fashola.
In this case, partners and stakeholders are still highly optimistic about the completion of the necessary reports to address all the obstacles relating to the project. “If we get this right, then constructing the project will be very easy, so please do not despair. It may look difficult, but with my little experience, this is the hardest part, and we are almost there,” he said and intimated that the operationalization of the Management Authority that will manage the corridor highway development project has commenced with the formation of the Board of Directors.
Vice President of the Republic of Ghana delivered a keynote address during the meeting through Yaw Osafo Maafo, Senior Advisor to the President. The Vice President commended the ministers and ECOWAS for their sustained effort and strong collaboration in preparing the Corridor Highway Project. He hinted that in preparation for the construction of Ghana’s Multinational Highway section, Ghana has embarked on massive sensitization drives along the host communities.
He expressed excitement over the assurance of the African Development Bank (AfDB) to raise the required funds for the highway construction, describing the project as top on the agenda of the Ghanaian government. “The Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway Project is on the priority list of the Government of Ghana, and we keenly look forward to the day that the sword will be raised for the commencement of this construction. We believe that this project will give a new dimension to ECOWAS, and we believe it will change the economies of the five (5) countries and the region, and therefore whatever we can do to support it, we will do it,” concluded Yaw Osafo Maafo.
Construction of a highway route from Abidjan to Lagos is tentatively scheduled to begin in 2025. The project is expected to cost $15 billion and will significantly increase regional economic integration. The African Development Bank (AfDB) is involved in the financing. In broad terms, it contributes to poverty reduction and economic and social development in the least developed African countries by providing concessional funding for projects and programs and technical assistance for studies and capacity-building activities.
Its materialisation largely depends on sustained collective efforts to the corridor highway project and strong collaboration. Facilitating the sub-region movement of goods and people. It will connect the industrial zones and move products and services across West Africa. Consequently, this project will give a new dimension to ECOWAS. High gratitude goes to the African Development Bank (AfDB) which is leading the consortium to raise the funds for this project in the region.
Worth re-emphasizing here the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway implementation and its related significance to the African Continental Free Trade Area in the West African region. It has the full potential for achieving the ultimate goals of the single market under discussion. This highway infrastructure involves the five corridor member countries: Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.
The population within the region is experiencing rapid growth, and nearly 50 million people are expected to live within the corridor by 2035. The Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway offers an opportunity for a significant portion of West Africa’s economic output to be generated, and it is also envisaged that cities within the corridor will become the most economically developed across the West Africa region – in the Economic Community of West Africa.
GTS Drilling, Others Lauded for Supporting Children’s Heart Foundation
The President of the Children’s Heart Foundation, Ghana, Mrs Jacqui Akomka-Lindsay, has praised GTS Drilling and others for supporting the organisation over the years.
According to her, over 200 children are diagnosed with congenital heart diseases annually in the country, and their families cannot pay $6,000 to $10,000 for surgery.
She noted that the exploration and drilling company and others have always made efforts to support patients with funds to carry out surgeries.
Speaking at the organisation’s annual fundraiser ball, she emphasised that it takes benevolent and kind-hearted individuals and organizations to aid children with heart defects.
“At this juncture, I will like to mention the names of some companies that, since 2011, have supported us. These include GTS Drilling, Ghana International School, Labadi Beach Hotel, and Interplast for helping undertake the surgeries of children with heart defects financially,” said Mrs Ahomka-Lindsay, adding that, “The rest are Tropical Cables, Electromat, Melcom, and ECOBANK, among several others.”
The president of the Children’s Heart Foundation explained how heart disorders have, over the past years, affected the growth and development of infants in the country and the need to treat them properly.
“Congenital heart disorder continues to be the most common childbirth defect for infants worldwide. These are defects that do not discriminate based on affluence or lack thereof, and those environmental conditions, especially at the early age of pregnancy when the major organs of the foetus are developing, can increase or decrease the risk of a child being born with various heart defects leading to heart diseases if not treated properly,” she added.
The Human Resources Manager for GTS Drilling, Iddi Baah-Kurey, told News Ghana in an interview that the company is motivated by saving the lives of children with such heart defects.
“Saving the children’s lives is close to our hearts”. The real heroes are the children who demonstrate courage and patience while undergoing treatment and recovery,” said Mr Baah-Kurey.
“Each recipient inspires us as employees of GTS Drilling and individuals while reminding us that health is the greatest wealth,” he added.
GTS Drilling is a local provider of drilling services to major, intermediate, and junior mining companies in Ghana.
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