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Francis Okomo-Okello: Africa’s Future requires Leadership for a Positive New Era

  Dec 20, 2016

Francis Okomo- Okello, Advisory Board Member  and Executive Fellow- Strathmore Business School shared the following remarks during the  recent 2016 IESE Global Alumni Re-union themed: ‘Be the Change – Leadership for a Positive New Era.’ He gave a perspective on how internalization is contributing to the socio -economic development of Africa. Francis is also the immediate  past Chairman  of  Barclays Bank of Kenya, a board member of Barclays Africa Group and the Group Chairman TPS (Eastern Africa)-Serena Group of Hotels, Lodges & Resorts.

Africa’s  fast growing economy  has become an integral part  of the  world economy through  the global value chain . Africa’s optimistic growth path has been largely based on improved political, macro-economic stability and micro economic reforms supported by the following key factors among others: Abundant natural resource endowment, expanding regional markets, demographic dividend and youth bulge, improved infrastructure, the explosion of small scale  enterprises/informal sectors, accelerating technological and digital innovation and on-going urbanisation.

The  recent report by the McKinsey Global Institute (September 2016): Lions on the Move II: Realising the Potential for Africa’s Economies, largely endorses  the validity of the Africa Rising narrative. However the report identifies some of the following issues as some of the impediments to the full realization of  Africa’s economic growth Agenda  and which issues need to be urgently addressed:

  • Quality of management and leadership in the public, private and civil society sectors;
  • Income distribution and inequality;
  • Fragmented nature of the African markets;
  • Excessive trade barriers;
  • The cost of doing business;
  • Diversification from the heavy reliance of commodity exports into manufacturing and services; and
  • Increasing the volumes of intra Africa trade.

The most crucial impediment to Africa’s growth potential relates to the quality of management and leadership in the public, private and civil society sectors.

How can leaders prepare to manage the inevitable change? The nature of current global challenges heavily characterised by unprecedented volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguities (VUCAs) continue to necessitate an urgent call for Leadership with crucial roles for global citizens in tackling these challenges.

To be effective leaders in a tumultuous world requires honing of some of the following leadership traits or skills:

  • Resilience and agility: It is about our ability to adjust to new and emerging scenarios in a timely and effective manner.
  • Adoption of sense making as a leadership/management tool so as to enhance our ability to use little or too much information as may be available to trigger other leadership activities such as visioning, relating and inventing. It is about making better sense of what is going on around us whilst embracing a multidisciplinary approach to resolving the challenges being faced.
  • Being situational leaders and managers capable of designing the necessary leadership/ management tools with appropriate focus on personal transformation.
  • Addressing issues related to emotional intelligence which is the ability to identify and manage emotions such as shock, fear, anger, doubts and anxiety.

To reap the full benefits of globalization and more importantly play its rightful role on the global stage, Africa should curve for itself a leadership position in the world stage and be a competent dialogue partner in the discussions of  its  role and our roles as global citizens in shaping the direction of globalization.  .

Click here to read the full presentation document.

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