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Senior Management Talent: the Key for development in Africa

Leonel van Aldere de Mendonça


“Success in Emerging Markets, and in particular in Africa, depends on your capability to execute on the ground, and you are only as good as the people that you hire” has been one of the mantras that we have shared with investors and new comers into the continent over the years. We don’t stand alone: everyone seems to agree that Senior Management Talent is the Key for development in Africa and for the realisation of “The Great Africa Opportunity”:

David Storey, Director E&Y in EY 2014 Sub-Saharan Africa talent trends and practices survey said: “There is a rising war for talent in Sub-Saharan Africa. As companies gear up for growth, the demand for skills needed to support such ambitions has increased, and is being matched by greater mobility in the labour market. In order to remain competitive, companies need to be deliberate in how they plan and respond to these challenges.”

Kimani Njoroge, Human Capital Leader, Deloitte Consulting in the 2014 Africa Human Capital Trends: “Leadership remains a top human capital concern—and key barrier to organisational growth. The need: develop new leaders faster, globalize leadership programs, and build deeper bench strength.”

Conor Kehoe, director at McKinsey, said: “The biggest gaps are in funding for small and medium sized businesses, especially in East and West Africa. The challenge is getting the talent to oversee the investments, sit on the boards and coach the management. Capital is often the least of your problems.”


At the same time there is a clear trend of highly qualified human capital that has a growing interest in working in Emerging Markets, and in particular, Africa:

The PwC report on Talent Mobility 2020 showed human capital around the world is changing and that the places where people want to work is no longer static. Graduates, for example, indicated that the majority want to have a working experience in Africa at some point in their career (93%).

Finally, although currently Africa is one of the most talent-scarce continents, the future is actually quite bright: many foreign organisations are trying to come up with innovative ways of retaining and increasing the capital within their organisations because looking into the future, according to the PwC report, by 2020 the world’s average working age population is going to be over the age of 60, but in Africa the working population is going to be between the age of 24 and 50. Along with the largest store of untapped natural resources and mineral reserves, this makes Africa the talent hub of the world.

The Boston Consulting Group report of “Winning in Africa” identifies Talent as a bottleneck and highlights that to build 2020 capabilities companies must invest now aggressively into local African Talent and human resources. For those investors and CEO´s who want to be ahead of the curve, the time to act and initiate a long term Human Capital strategy and Talent Development plan is now. The future leaders of Africa must be identified, nurtured and developed now so that they can assume leadership roles in five to ten years from now and realise the unlocked potential of the continent and make “The Great Africa Opportunity” a reality.