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Africa: Building Excellence

         Date: 2012-07-07

           Tag: Africa, Africa Excellence

Summary: With the world's sights increasingly set on opportunities in Africa, the continent is working hard to create world-class business schools; requiring the right mix of global and local, of academic an…

With the world's sights increasingly set on opportunities in Africa, the continent is working hard to create world-class business schools; requiring the right mix of global and local, of academic and vocational perspectives.

"It's not easy to find business schools with expertise in both academic and industry spheres," says Sarah Tinsley-Myerscough, programme director, Association of African Business Schools. "AABS is working towards it with... programmes designed to develop business school professors. But institutions also need to foster opportunities for academics to engage with industry through consulting programmes."

African business schools face the dual challenges of meeting local needs while also ensuring that what they offer is globally relevant; an issue that needs to be reflected in the affiliations they develop.

"Without local knowledge, courses are largely irrelevant to local students and participants," says Guy Pfeffermann, CEO, Global Business School Network. "Emerging market experience is particularly crucial for schools in Brics countries and other emerging markets, as many graduates will work in regional or global companies and need to be able to operate seamlessly across these markets. But globally-relevant experience and knowledge of best practice are also crucial as all companies, wherever they are based, need to be competitive."

Across the hemispheres

Many of the continent's institutions work with schools in Europe and North America. Spain's IESE Business School, for instance, offers an 'International Faculty Programme' to help develop African staff. The school helps African partners in other ways, says Franz Heukamp, IESE's secretary general: "We also support African institutions by teaching in them, sitting in on sessions with local colleagues and giving them advice. We help them consider how to build and fund campuses and encourage them to think long-term - to think about who the faculty members of the future will be, so they can give them the right training."

Josephine Kibe, who is studying at IESE, will be helping to develop Kenya's Strathmore Business School once she has completed the IFP. "We have people from Holland, Hungary, Sweden, Ghana, Nigeria, Spain and Pakistan in my class.

This multinational exchange of knowledge is very important. It has enabled me to build networks which will be essential in connecting our business schools, enabling us to share our experiences regionally and keep up to date with what is happening around the world."

France's Rouen Business School is also working with institutions in Africa, including Université Catholique de l'Afrique Centrale (UCAC), ISCAE Maroc, ISM Dakar and ISCAE Tunis. "We develop strategic partnerships," says Michel Motte, Rouen's assistant director for international academic affairs.

"For example, our partnership with UCAC involves sponsoring professors to come to France once a year to participate in research or academic activities. We also sponsor administrative staff for specific projects. Professors from these institutions sometimes get the chance to be guest lecturers, teach, speak at conferences and participate in the Rouen Business School international week."

The north-south approach has its merits. For example, Marie Noelle N'Guessan is studying IESE's IFP to help develop Côte d'Ivoire's MDE Business School.

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