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.
UK Flags Borno, Yobe, Others as Danger Zones
By Ashemriogwa Emmanuel
The United Kingdom (UK) has advised its citizens against travelling to some northern and middle belt states in Nigeria it described as danger zones as a result of the heightened kidnap cases and increased insecurity in those regions.
These states include Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Gombe, Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River.
In a travel advisory for its nationals released on Saturday, October 16, the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) announced to foreign nationals that there was a high threat of kidnap throughout Nigeria for ideological, financial or political reasons.
According to the advisory, “The groups have previously shown intent and capability to conduct kidnaps in Nigeria. Foreign nationals, including humanitarian workers, are likely targets for kidnap.
“Humanitarian hubs and workers have been targeted during attacks in the North East, including Monguno, Borno State on June 13, 2020.
“There’s a high threat of kidnap throughout Nigeria. Kidnaps can be motivated by criminality or terrorism and could be carried out for ideological, financial or political gain. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the risk of kidnap increases after dark.
“The security environment in the North East has deteriorated since 2018 and there is a heightened risk of kidnap. Kidnaps in the North East have included humanitarian and private-sector workers.
“There are also reports that Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa, ISWA, are continuing to actively plan to kidnap foreigners.
“In North-East Nigeria, extremist groups operate in some northern and middle belt states, including Bauchi, Gombe, Kano, Kogi, Kaduna, Niger and Adamawa states. If you’re working or travelling in these states then you should be aware of the risk of terrorist kidnapping.”
The information also disclosed the increased protests and demonstrations in the South East region of Nigeria Since August 9, 2021, warning that stay-at-home protests are likely during October in the South East region.
“There have been reports of violence during Stay at Home protests previously. You should monitor local media, avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings and follow any instructions from local police and security forces.
“There have been a number of attacks and targeted killings in the South-east and Southsouth regions of Nigeria, including in the states of Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Imo, Abia, Anambra, Delta, Edo and Ebonyi.
“Some of these attacks have been on isolated roads and in remote locations, but there is a chance that they could occur in metropolitan areas. There is also a heightened risk of indiscriminate attacks on police and security infrastructure, which may inadvertently affect bystanders,” it read.
The UK government then advised travellers to these regions to exercise caution if travelling in remote areas at night and follow local news outlets for further information.
New US Travel Rules Excludes Foreigners Vaccinated with Russia’s Sputnik V
By Kester Kenn Klomegah
Local and foreign media have stepped up reports about rising COVID-19 infections in Russia. While the reports indicated high deaths in the country, the other highlighted new trends that are noticeably appearing there.
Interestingly, directors at the Russian tourism and travel agencies say that many Russians are lining up for vaccine tourism in Serbia, Bulgaria and Germany and a few other foreign countries.
These Russians aim at getting foreign vaccines including Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca.
Here are a few facts about Russian vaccines.
Russia’s Sputnik V was the first officially registered coronavirus vaccine on August 11, 2020. Russia is using four vaccines for mass vaccination for COVID-19. These are Sputnik V and Sputnik Light developed by the Russian Health Ministry’s Gamaleya Center.
EpiVacCorona developed by the Vector Center of the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing (Rospotrebnadzor), and CoviVac developed by the Chumakov Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Clinical trials of the EpiVacCorona vaccine on teens aged from 15 to 17 might begin in the near future.
China has a 1.3 billion population and has given the two billionth vaccine by the end of August, the United States has 380 million and has vaccinated 60% of its population. In Europe, the vaccination rate is high at an appreciable level.
Overall, Russia with an estimated 146 million people has Europe’s highest death toll from the pandemic, nearly 210,000 people as of September 30, according to various authentic sources including the National Coronavirus Task Force.
More than 42 million Russians have received both components of a coronavirus vaccine, according to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova.
“The number of citizens who have received the first component of a vaccine has topped 44 million, and more than 37 million people have completed a full vaccination course,” Golikova said.
She gave an assurance back in July that once the population have been immunized with at least the first component of a two-shot vaccine, herd immunity to COVID-19, or at least an 80% vaccination rate, should be reached by November 1.
Even though Russia boasted of creating the world’s first coronavirus vaccines, vaccination is very low. Critics have principally blamed a botched vaccine rollout and mixed messages the authorities have been sending about the outbreak.
In addition, coronavirus antibody tests are popular in Russia and some observers suggest this contributes to the low vaccination numbers.
Western health experts say the antibody tests are unreliable either for diagnosing COVID-19 or assessing immunity to it. The antibodies that these tests look for can only serve as evidence of a past infection. Scientists say it’s still unclear what level of antibodies indicates that a person has protection from the virus and for how long.
Russia has registered Sputnik V in more than 150 foreign countries. The World Health Organization is yet to register this vaccine. For its registration, it must necessarily pass through approved procedures, so far Russia has ignored them, according to reports.
There have also been several debates after the World Health Organization paused its review process of the Sputnik V vaccine over concerns about its manufacturing process, and few other technical reasons. While some talked about politicizing the vaccine registration, others have faced facts of observing recognized international rules for certifying medical products as such vaccines.
During the first week of October, Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko has reiterated or repeated assertively that a certain package of documents was needed to continue the process for the approval of the Russian coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V by the World Health Organization. The final approval is expected towards the end of 2021.
Still, one of the problems with registration is unfair competition in the global market. For instance, Russian Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov said in an interview with the Rossiya-24 television channel on October 5: “I think it is an element of competition. Until Pfizer covers a certain part of the market, it is pure economics.”
On the other side, Pyotr Ilyichev, Director for International Organization at the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry, told Interfax News Agency, for instance, that World Health Organization has been playing politics around Russian vaccine especially when it is needed in most parts of the world.
“The world is facing an acute shortage of vaccines for the novel coronavirus infection. In certain regions, for instance in African countries, less than 2% of the population has been vaccinated. The Russian vaccine is in demand, and the UN stands ready to buy it,” he told Interfax.
“However, certification in the WHO is a complex, multi-step process, which was developed in the past in line with Western countries’ standards. It requires time and serious efforts from our producers. We hope that this process will be successfully finalized in the near future,” Ilyichev said.
Chairman of the State Duma’s Foreign Affairs Committee Leonid Slutsky has described as discriminatory a decision reported by foreign media that the United States, under its new consular rules, would deny entry for foreigners immunized with the Russian COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V.
“Thus, the U.S. will blatantly embark on a path of ‘vaccine discrimination.’ There are absolutely no grounds for such decisions. The efficacy and safety of the Sputnik V vaccine have been confirmed not only by specialists but also by its use in practice,” Slutsky said on Telegram.
He cited an article in The Washington Post saying that from November the United States may begin denying entry to foreigners vaccinated with Sputnik V.
It means that if such additional border measures are adopted, foreigners seeking entry to the United States will have to be immunized with vaccines approved for use either by American authorities or the World Health Organization.
According to an article published in The Washington Post, for the first time since the pandemic began, the United States intends to loosen entry restrictions for foreigners vaccinated against COVID-19.
The new rules, which enter into force in November, will not apply to Russians vaccinated with Sputnik V and citizens of other countries using this Russian vaccine.
Under the new rules, foreigners will enter the United States only if they are immunized with vaccines approved for use by the United States Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization. Russia’s Sputnik V is yet to be approved by the World Health Organization and is not recognized by the United States.
Airtel Money, Flutterwave to Explore East African Markets
By Adedapo Adesanya
Airtel Money has announced a partnership with an African payments company, Flutterwave, to expand the former’s services to East African markets.
Through the partnership, businesses integrating Flutterwave in Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Kenya and Rwanda will be able to receive payments from Airtel Money customers and make bulk payments into Airtel Money wallets, thanks to Airtel Money’s proprietary fintech platforms.
The new services will go live subject to regulatory approvals in the respective countries and reach Airtel Money’s 19.2 million customers in East Africa.
This is coming after a month after the fintech company announced a mobile money partnership with MTN Group to integrate Flutterwave in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia to receive payments via MTN Mobile Money (MoMo).
According to the company in a statement, the partnership will positively increase mobile money usage and penetration in Africa and improve local economies and livelihoods, as well as create opportunities for individuals and businesses across the continent.
Speaking on the development, Airtel Mobile Commerce BV CEO, Mr Vimal Kumar Ambat commented: “Airtel Money is committed to bridging the digital divide and enhancing financial and digital inclusion for millions of businesses across sub-Saharan Africa. Our partnership with Flutterwave will help to empower even more customers through simple and accessible payments services, using the latest technologies, that support business innovation and boost local economies.”
On his part, Flutterwave founder and CEO, Mr Olugbenga Agboola, stated that, “Our business goal is to continue to support African businesses digitise their payments methods and introduce them to a world of opportunities that come with digitisation.
“We are excited to have partnered with Airtel Money to further advance local businesses payment methods which will allow them to increasingly provide more services to their customers, grow their customer base and revenue.”
The development of Mobile Money in Africa has been nothing but remarkable and commendable with approximately 144 mobile money providers operating in Africa, with M-Pesa having over 50 million users and MTN MoMo having over 48.9 million users.
Furthermore, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates show that Africa has more digital financial services users than any other region in the world, accounting for nearly half of the 700 million individual users globally.
COVID-19 has also triggered a widespread shift in the adoption of mobile money services, with the GSMA reporting a 12.7 per cent increase in the number of registered global mobile money accounts in 2020.
As the trend continues its upward spike, this partnership further responds to the growing dominance of cashless societies across the sub-Saharan region and the need to penetrate digital innovation deeper into communities across Africa.
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