Stakeholders at the just concluded Project Management Institute (PMI) Africa Conference in Lagos have identified innovation, entrepreneurship and education as the pathways to achieving sustainable development across Africa.
Speakers at the conference with the theme, “Sustainable Growth for Social Good,” were unanimous in their call that for Africa to grow sustainably, strategic changes in education, national policies, youth empowerment and corporate culture are needed.
Victor Kgomoeswana, South African journalist and executive director of Marketing and Communications, University of Limpopo observed that Africa is endowed with biodiversity, mineral resources, tourist potential and cultural heritage in abundance.
Kgomoeswana said the significant growth recorded in Africa despite the Covid-19 pandemic can be attributed to cross-border trade and internet penetration, adding that African leaders and changemakers must focus on developing a population with problem-solving skills.
“We need to change our perception and attitude. No goal can be achieved without good project management. It is a skill that should be instilled in basic education. All problem-solving today in Africa requires project management of some kind,” Kgomoeswana said.
Simi Nwogugu, chief executive officer of Junior Achievement Africa, said that the youth on the continent need to develop 21st-century skills and cultivate a spirit of volunteering. The youth will have to develop an entrepreneurial mindset to stave off a talent crisis in the project economy.
According to if entrepreneurship does not work, skills like design thinking, problem-solving, teamwork and innovation can help youths get the available jobs.
“Mentoring is also key because if you are working with the youth, especially teenagers, they need relatable role models. For this, we bring volunteers into the classroom. There is no single way to succeed; it is a combination of your talent and innovation the world needs that can provide an income,” she said.
Odunayo Sanya, executive secretary, MTN Foundation, said that funding is one of the drawbacks to entrepreneurship. To alleviate this, MTN Foundation, in partnership with the Bank of Industry, provides loans and has also launched the Y’elloPreneur programme.
On his part, Josh Adler, executive director, Anzisha Prize, an organisation builder with over 20 years of experience across business, education and non-profit sectors, pointed out the importance of examining the outcomes of entrepreneurial training.
He observed that many graduates of entrepreneurial programmes don’t actually start their businesses after graduation.
“Many of these graduates still go out there to get jobs,’’ he observed. “They need to learn how to do project management and how to execute. We need to be honest with ourselves about the outcomes. We need better outcomes.”
George Asamani, managing director, Sub Saharan Africa said the region’s entrepreneurial potential hasn’t been fully explored while the majority continue to be micro-enterprises operating in the informal sector, collaborations to scale this potential will only exponentially grow the impact of their efforts.
The PMI Africa Conference is a platform to build a foundation and bring together various stakeholders to pool their ideas over two action-packed days to contribute to turning Africa into one of the world’s leading entrepreneurial communities.”
“One way to accelerate the upskilling is to foster talent and bring government, partners in the private sector and volunteers to support this effort.”