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Opinion: Why Africa's leadership needs to change.

'Book Knowledge’ alone not enough to overcome leadership gap in Africa'

African countries have made strides in producing educated people with the ability to run businesses and organizations but more needs to be done to equip them with the leadership skills needed to run major corporations and entities that have a global reach, participants at the 9th biennial of the U.S.-Africa Business Summit were told in the second day of the summit that has attracted over 1,000 business and government leaders from the US and Africa.

Speaking to a capacity crowd in what turned out to be one of the most popular sessions of the conference, a
panel which featured senior executives from Microsoft and Procter and Gamble said just obtaining the education and not the experience will not cut it in the new global economy.

Stanislav Vecera who leads Procter and Gambles operations in East and Southern Africa said the continent did not have a shortage of people with the academic qualifications to fill the jobs that are being created in Africa but that many do not have the required experience for many of the high skills needed for the expanding African economy.

“This is also a challenge to those companies operating in Africa to provide the opportunities that these (students) need to get the corporate experience”, Fred Humphries, Vice President of Government Affairs at Microsoft said.

Patrick Awuah, founder and President of Ashesi University, a private, non-profit institution in Ghana concurred saying that students in the continent need “broad perspectives” in order for Africa to have great leaders in business and government. “This is why”, he said “partnerships between Africa (and others) will have to make sense”.

Asked to share his thoughts on what a 25-year old African with no education can do to better himself, Simpiwe “Sim” Tshabalala, Co-CEO of Africa’s largest bank, Standard Bank, said it is never too late to better oneself. “If the opportunities can be provided, one can go back to school anytime”, he said. Tshabalala said with the expanding middle class in Africa, new opportunities should open up for all.
On how to overcome the leadership gap in business and government, those in position already will have to “lead by example” be willing to listen and rough it all “be humble”, according to Dr. Michael Maves, a former CEO of the American Medical Association.

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