Project management skills vital to Africa's growth

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Healthy project management has an essential role to play in Africa?s infrastructure
expansion and many project managers will be sourced from South Africa due to its
position as a key development power on the continent.


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Africa?s fast growing market of urbanised middle class consumers, which is
expected to increase to 1.1 billion (42% of the population) by 2060,coupled with the
scramble for Africa?s unexploited commodities, are both trends that indicate the
massive need for infrastructure development and better service delivery on the
continent.

One of the key statements in the South African National Planning Document is the
following: Government?s ability to spend its infrastructure budget will be addressed,
particularly with regard to project management capacity, long term planning and
monitoring and evaluation of both expenditure patterns and construction work.
Healthy project management therefore has an essential role to play in Africa?s
infrastructure expansion and many project managers will be sourced from South
Africa due to its position as a key development power on the continent.
This is the view of MC Botha, head of the Postgraduate Diploma in Project
Management and executive: Centre for Project Management Intelligence at the
University of Stellenbosch Business School, who says that who says that Africa is at
the juncture of a knowledge explosion.

However, he says that The African Management Initiative (AMI) commissioned a
research project to gain insight, amongst others, in the quantity and quality of
entities that provide management education on the African continent and found that
"Globally, 950 internationally institutions accredited by the three bodies AACSB,
AMBA and EFMD (Equis) offer business degrees - only 13 of those are in Africa'.

"This paints a grim picture if considered that Africa has almost 1 billion people and
with the current limited supply of schools of management on the continent to serve
them. When applying some acceptable standards for such institutions one is left with
about 25 "up to standard' institutions and when applying international accreditation
standards one is left with about 6-10 such institutions.'

Botha says the World Bank estimates that Africa needs almost R800 billion
annually for infrastructure projects and that an infrastructure boom period of a
decade is needed for Africa to realise its emerging growth potential.
"Africa is facing a critical development phase and is, as the World Bank says, on
the eve of an economic explosion. The need for skilled project managers to
successfully complete various types of projects, ranging from small projects and
partnership projects to mega government projects, in diverse business sectors will
only continue to grow in the foreseeable future.'
He says that the South African government has already strongly committed itself
to project management as a way to achieve better service delivery and
infrastructure development. As recent as August 2013, a document was published
by the Department of Higher Education and Training that listed Project and
Programme Management as a critical scarce skill in the process of preparing South
Africa for the Strategic Infrastructure Projects.

He also points to President Jacob Zuma?s 2013 State of the Nation Address that
mentioned the establishment of the Infrastructure Development Bill to fast-track and
enhance the coordination of South Africa?s planned strategic infrastructure projects;
as well as the 2013 Budget Speech announcement whereby Finance Minister Pravin
Gordhan announced the planned spending on infrastructure projects by the public
sector to amount to R827 billion over the medium-term expenditure framework
(MTEF) period.

Botha says the government?s strategies can only become a reality if healthy
project management principles are implemented to convert vision into action."What
needs to be established is a single project management methodology for all
departments and government levels.

"The Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC) should have a
clear mandate to give strategic direction and to force integration and
coordination.'
He says a project-oriented mind-set needs to be developed in the state sector.
"Unrest and general dissatisfaction in South Africa over service delivery are proof of
this. The need for infrastructure development and better service delivery, together
with the shortage of diversified production structures, low levels of human capital
and poor management supervision (corruption) are restraining development
challenges for the continent.

"South Africa, together with the rest of Africa, can cross the hurdle to a new
phase of development if it takes project management seriously. But to achieve this,
the old cliche still holds true: everyone has to contribute and the public and private
sectors must strengthen each other?s hands.'
As far as outcomes are concerned, Botha says infrastructure projects will also
succeed in speeding up skills development. "Education institutions should, as a rule,
get involved with government projects, which should be focused on entrepreneurial
project management. Consequently, team members who can?t return to a line
function after completion of the project can become entrepreneurs and job creators
with the technical skills they have acquired,' concludes Botha.
The University of Stellenbosch Business School will be hosting an Project
Management information session at the USB campus, Bellville, Cape Town on
Wednesday, 11 September at 17h00. For more information visit
http://www.usb.ac.za, If you wish to attend email Edwina Sonnenberg at
[email protected].


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