Project Management Institute (PMI), the world’s leading association for project professionals, hosted over 300 delegates from 20 African countries at its recently concluded PMI Africa Conference 2022. The 2-day conference took place at the Eko Hotels & Suites, Lagos and saw key stakeholders discuss the evolving nature of project management, the project economy, the impact of new technology, and the custom certifications PMI is developing to meet new demands in specific industries.
The highlight of the conference was the conversations around youth, led by the youth, for the youth who raised and discussed issues around entrepreneurship, education, and employability. The conference achieved its objective of promoting project management as fundamental to building thriving entrepreneurial ecosystems, high-performing workplaces, and societies.
Organised under the theme, “Sustainable Growth for Social Good,” all the speakers, which included Africa’s leading and inspiring thought leaders, educators, entrepreneurs and changemakers, agreed that for Africa to grow sustainably, strategic changes in education, national policies, youth empowerment and corporate culture are needed.
George Asamani, MD, Sub Saharan Africa, PMI, said that next year’s edition, the 8th PMI Africa Conference, will be hosted in Kenya in partnership with the PMI Kenya Chapter.
Noted South African journalist and Executive Director of Marketing & Communications, University of Limpopo, Victor Kgomoeswana, opened his keynote by quoting anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko. Kgomoeswana reminded delegates of Biko’s words, “It is better to die for an idea that will live than to live for something that will die.’’
Kgomoeswana remarked that Africa is endowed with biodiversity, mineral resources, tourist potential and cultural heritage in abundance. In addition, the significant growth recorded in Africa despite the Covid-19 pandemic can be attributed to cross-border trade and internet penetration.
In his view, 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.”
Simi Nwogugu, CEO 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.
“If entrepreneurship is not for you, skills like design thinking, problem-solving, teamwork and innovation can help you 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.”
Odunayo Sanya, Executive Secretary, MTN Foundation, observed 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.
Executive Director, Anzisha Prize, Josh Adler, 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.”
During his closing remarks, Asamani 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.”