Africa's rapid economic growth has helped change the stereotype of a hopeless continent of starving people waiting to be rescued, but it has also created an intense need for strong managers, according to a newly released report.
Poor management is hurting the effectiveness of global multinational corporations, major local companies, governments and charitable foundations in many African countries, says the report issued by the African Management Initiative, a nonprofit organization focused on training managers to help business development on the continent.
The study found common problems across much of Africa, including big firms having to bring in overseas managers who don't always understand the local culture; charitable foundations spending heavily to train people, only to have them leave to work elsewhere; and entrepreneurs who struggle to find savvy managers to handle key duties.
Several businesspeople quoted in the report said their concern about hiring midlevel managers might involve issues such as skills and ethics.
Many times, senior managers take on midlevel duties rather than risk turning to someone they don't trust to do the job well.
"We really want to hire locally, but the fact that we still can't is really a mark of the fact that those people aren't there," said a Nigerian banker quoted in the report.
AMI, which recently launched its efforts Tuesday in Lagos, Nigeria, also aims to develop a register of experienced managers with strong records. The managers on the register will sign a pledge of integrity and excellence.
"Poor management can be a matter of life and death. If a hospital is poorly managed, death can follow," Jonathan Cook, chairman of the AMI steering committee, said in an interview. "In the private sector, it's more a matter of livelihood.