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Preparing Tomorrow's African Leaders Today - Interview With Prof Ncube

Mawutodzi Abissath

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There is a Ghanaian proverb which says: “If your friend is more handsome than you, you must admit it and praise him; rather than trying to envy and denigrate him. "

Undoubtedly, one positive legacy the defunct apartheid South Africa bequeathed modern South Africa is excellent educational system. What one may condemn is the fact that, perhaps in the past, only the “White" mostly benefited from that outstanding educational system to the detriment of the “Black. " It is hoped things are changing and rightly so, for the advance of humanity, regardless of colour of the skin.

This author is not unaware that since the end of the apartheid system in South Africa in the early 1990s, many African citizens from various parts of the continent including Ghana, have been receiving both professional and academic training in some of the institutions of higher learning in that country. This trends of event is very commendable and must be maintained and sustained if the entire African continent is to disentangle itself from the shackles of poverty and squalor in the midst of abundant natural resources on this planet of interdependence.

Wits Business School (WBS) of the University of Witwatersrand, is one the outstanding institutions of high learning which has distinguished itself in the training of future leaders in Africa. The School's motto Sculpting Global Leaders in Africa speaks for itself. Since its establishment in 1968, WBS is said to have undergone tremendous leadership changes. This year, the School is poised to celebrate its 40th anniversary in higher education in grand style. Records show that the contribution of WBS to the business community in South Africa for the past 40 years cannot be overemphasised.

It is against this backdrop that this author set out to conduct this online interview with the Director and Head of the School, Professor Mthuli Ncube. The object of the interview is to find out what has made WBS what it is today. What is its prospect for the next 40 years? But then when I took a glance at the Prof's profile, it did not take long to conclude to myself I was dealing with a man of a thousand lives. In other words, one may not be too wide of the mark to describe Professor Ncube as a multi-talented soul personality!

When I got to know that Prof. Ncube was once a Visiting Scholar in the Research Department of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and conscious of the fact that the IMF and the World Bank are sometimes perceived globally of being institutions that hardly grant loans to developing countries without strings attached, my first question to him was to share his experiences with the Fund to the rest of the African media.

Frankly, I was not only intrigued but also fascinated by the way Prof. Ncube answered my loaded question in one simple and straightforward sentence. He wrote: “The IMF was created, largely as a provider of Balance of Payments support to distressed economies. "

Second question: “What would be your personal assessment of the financial support of the Fund (IMF) over the years to the economic prosperity of developing countries, especially African nations?"

Answer: “The financial assistance from the IMF to Africa has been appropriate. It was mainly targeted at Balance of Payments (BOP) support. What was missing in the reform programs is support for institutional reforms, which largely explain the ineffectiveness of the reform programs, " he pointed out.

On the actual issue of my interview, which was the 40th anniversary celebration of WBS, I requested the Professor to tell me how he came to be associated with that famous University of Witwatersrand of which he is the Director and Head of School of Business Administration. In other words, I wanted him to inform the rest of Africa about some of WBS's achievements over the past 40 years, challenges and the way forward.

Hear him: “I joined with Wits Business School in 2005 as a Professor of Finance and was subsequently appointed Director of the School by the University. The challenges of the School are the attraction and retention of lecturers in the face of uncompetitive salaries in universities. However, the School has produced some of the most successful entrepreneurs and managers in the country. Going forward, the challenge is to grow our presence and relevance in the rest of the African continent, and stay competitive globally. "

My next question to Prof. Ncube was to find out whether his University has any plans for preparing future African leaders in terms of programs aimed at educating students for effective financial management of the unlimited natural resources of the continent, such as gold, uranium, diamond, oil and so on.

His response was to the point: “The School has launched a program for training future leaders in Africa, the Pan African Leadership Program. The School has various programs in finance and one jointly with Imperial College, UK, for managers in the mining sector. "

The final question I put to the Professor was this: “What is the position of WBS in the scheme of African Universities at the moment and what would the University be doing differently in the next 40 years of its existence?"

Simple answer from Prof. Ncube thus: “In the next forty years the School will become more involved in training leaders and managers in Africa - “Sculpting Global Leaders in Africa. "

If I were to pass any comment on this brief interaction with Professor Ncube through this online interview, I would simply say that this is a man who knows his left from the right. Period!

Mawutodzi K. Abissath is a Ghanaian journalist, writer, poet and blogger. He is Expert Author, author of Kofi Annan the Great - poetry, Friends of Tomorrow-Poems for Young Children and Co-author of Traditional Wisdom in African Proverbs.

He writes from Accra, Ghana


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