Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Nigeria emerging power house: Are firms ready to respond?

ECONOMICALLY and geopolitically, Nigeria’s international reach is continuing to broaden. It is the most populous country in Africa, currently accounting for 20 per cent of the continent’s total population - a figure that is set to grow to 1/4 by 2030. Based on International Monetary Fund economic growth forecasts, African countries will outpace their Asian counterparts over the next few years with annual GDP growth rates in Nigeria alone predicted to be in the region of six to seven per cent.

The operating environment for business in Nigeria is not without its challenges and the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Ranking rates Nigeria a lowly 131 out of 185. But a closer look at the index shows that Nigeria lies above India (132) and below Brazil (130) - two of the BRIC countries that business are clamouring over one another to break into.

As an export market, Nigeria is a box of opportunity and open for business, which countries such as the UK are beginning to realise. In 2009, the UK exported £2.5 billion worth of goods to Nigeria. In 2011, that grew to £2.8 billion. The 2012 figure is set to continue this upward trend. A bourgeoning middle class with increasing disposable income is creating a new generation of consumers.

In 2011, Nigeria emerged as Africa’s biggest destination for Foreign Direct Investment with $8.92 billion, according to the 2012 World Investment Report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. Health care, agriculture, power privatisation, information communication technologies, arts and creative media as well as retail have been identified as potential areas for foreign investment.

But questions remain over whether businesses in Nigeria have the ability to respond to this breakneck impressive economic growth. Does the country have the human resources required to meet the growing demand from domestic and foreign owned companies for educated leaders? Alim Abubakre, Founding Executive Director of These Young Minds - an organisation that provides management training for African executives - thinks that many Nigerian companies do not fully understand the importance of human capital. “Unfortunately the talent pool for skilled local workers with knowledge of good management practice and a grasp of international business markets is relatively small in Nigeria. The ration of well-grounded management professionals in Nigeria to the total population is minuscule.”

“Many companies do not fully understand the importance of human capital in achieving a successful organisation. Often, little attention is paid to hiring the right people to do the job and favouritism amongst friends and family in the recruitment process remains common. Another problem is the level of attention given to the development of human capital within the organisation. A lot of top management appear to have a short-term view of human resource management thus giving this key resource a low priority.”

To be more competitive and sustainable, Nigerian organisations need to develop a knowledge-driven economy, pay more attention to human resource management (including employee reward systems and talent development) and harness new ideas, innovation and technology. They can do this by carrying out more research, managing the external environment and developing learning organisation via capacity development.

In order to address the need to enhance the leadership capacity of African senior executives, These Young Minds and Aston Business School in the UK have partnered to offer a four-day executive education programme on Strategy for Sustained Competitive Advantage. The programme is unique in that it is specially customised for African senior executives from the public and private sector, ensuring it reflects contextual nuances and adds immense measurable value for participants and their organisations. Executive education programmes such as these are ideal for helping people gain international experience and applying it to the local context, ultimately making them more attractive to both domestic and foreign employers.

Abubakre says “The programme Strategy for Sustained Competitive Advantage combines tuition in management that reflects the contextual nuances of a developing country with a platform for senior executives to shape their organisational vision while challenging their assumptions. Through this programme senior executives would broaden their horizons, enhance their ability to provide strategic leadership, improve their capability to anticipate and manage the future and present risks involved and maximise their potential to harness opportunities for their organisation in a sustainable way”.

Dr Andrew Bass, a member of the Aston Business School faculty for the programme and a seasoned international senior executive consultant said “the programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, case studies, syndicate group work, and group presentations. Lectures expose participants to the pivotal theories and frameworks necessary for understanding and analysing strategy for competitive advantage. The case-study discussions facilitate the practical application of these theories to real-world problems and support the appreciation of the pragmatic issues of strategy in practice.”
With programmes such as this on offer Nigerian businesses have little reason not to be ready to respond to the continued economic growth that the country is set to enjoy.

Sourec: The Guardian

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