Building African Institutions for Africans

Upcoming online conference on December 8th, 2020 from 3.30pm to 7pm Via Zoom

25th Anniversary – Virtual Conference

Building African Institutions for Africans

Context

The potential of the African continent has never been in doubt: Young people represent 77% of its total population[1]; Africa has 60% of the world’s unexploited arable land[2]; various mining resources populate its subsoil, etc. However, Africa remains the least developed region in the world and one of the reasons for this situation lies in the quality of African institutions. Indeed, recent studies have shown the link between the quality of institutions, poor governance affecting the continent and its socio-economic development.

Weak and dysfunctional national governments in far too many African states lead to the inability to provide basic services to citizens and grow economies that can create jobs for Africa’s millions of young people. The weakness of national governments has led to weak institutions in multiple sectors.

This institutional crisis is not limited to the domestic level. Given that national governments are the building blocks for regional and continental cooperation and integration, their weakness has tended to translate to these upper institutional echelons as well. The creation of multiple regional or continental organizations is driven by the desire of African states to address common problems such as poverty, violent conflict and underdevelopment together. However, weak governance in these institutions generally prevents them from accomplishing the missions for which they were created and has led to many Africans questioning the relevance of these organizations.

Africa can no longer content itself with speaking of potential.  The time for achieving results is long overdue.  To achieve results Africa must build strong institutions from the grassroots to the apex of the continent.

  • What key pillars are needed for African institutions to succeed?
  • How can these institutions provide solutions to the fundamental needs of African citizens?
  • What needs to be done by African citizens, African governments and foreign partners to achieve this?

For 25 years, STRATEGIES!, an international firm specialized in leadership and management, has been accompanying African institutions in their transformation process, at local, regional and continental levels. From local governments through national governments to continental institutions STRATEGIES! has offered services aimed at strengthening these institutions with some successes and many failures. STRATEGIES! believes the institutions that Africa needs to reach its full potential are institutions that provide sustainable African solutions to Africa’s particular sets of problems.

Themes

Themes that will be discussed during the conference:

  • Achievements, challenges and potential of African Institutions
  • The path to creation or transformation of institutions that serve the needs of Africans
  • The role of citizens, governments and partners in building the institutions Africa needs

Audience

The conference will be attended by:

  • High level managers in African institutions
  • Government officials
  • Private sector – Decision-makers of multinationals in Africa
  • African Entrepreneurs
  • Leadership and senior staff of development organizations

Invited speakers 

Oby Ezekwesili

 

      • Candidate for President of Nigeria in 2019
      • Founder of the governance transformation initiative #FixPolitics in Nigeria
      • Co-founder Bring Back Our Girls Advocacy group
      • Former Vice President for Africa Region, World Bank
      • Co-founder, Transparency International
      • Former Minister of Solid Minerals and Former Minister of Education, Government of Nigeria
      • Chartered Account

 

 

Kah Walla 

Kah Walla

 

  • Candidate for President of Cameroon in 2011
  • CEO of STRATEGIES!
  • President of the Cameroon People’s Party
  • Consultant and adviser to over 30 local governments, 5 African governments, 7 regional and continental institutions

 

Deqo Mohamed

 

  • CEO of the Dr Hawa Abdi Foundation
  • Obstetrician-gynecologist
  • Manager of Hope Village in Somalia.  Hope Village offers care and community to thousands of displaced Somalis.  The village consists of a 400-bed hospital, a primary school, a high school, a women’s education center, agricultural projects, a sanitation program and a refuge for families

 

Liberata Mula Mula

AUDIO:MAANDALIZI YA SHEREHE ZA MUUNGANO WASHINGTON DC - Mtangazaji

  • Visiting Scholar and Associate Director of the Institute for African Studies at the George Washington University
  • Former Ambassador of Tanzania to the United States
  • Former Senior Diplomatic Advisor to President of Tanzania, H.E. Jakaya Kikwete
  • First Executive Secretary of the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region on Peace, Stability and Development.

To join us, click on the link below to register: 

Webinar Registration – Zoom 

References :

[1] Deutsche Welle, « Jeunes en Afrique (77%) », https://www.dw.com/fr/77/t-46526646

[2] Info Afrique, « L’Afrique dispose de 60% des terres arables inexploitées au monde », https://www.info-afrique.com/grenier-afrique-monde/

Above and Beyond

25 years! It feels like yesterday that we were in a dining room with a few computers dreaming a company that would make us world class consultants competing with the best, and winning. Africans, advising the world in leadership and management. An outrageous idea. Thank goodness for outrageous ideas.  Over 25 years, they are what have taken us above and beyond the wildest dreams we had in that dining room in April 1995.

In 1995 in Cameroon, management consultants were for the most part middle-aged white men, flown in at great expense from capitals far away.  They came from Paris, Washington and London to help companies and development organizations strategize, plan and train their employees. So, our first outrageous idea was to believe that a company entirely run by Cameroonians, with a 30-year old CEO and consultants even younger, could compete in this market.  We believed and we succeeded, by going above and beyond.  From the beginning we set out to be as professional and state-of-the-art as the best international consultants, then we went beyond.  Gerard Tocco gave us our first contract with a multi-national, CAMOA.  We performed beyond expectations.  CAMOA became one of our most important clients over the next 10 years.  As STRATEGIES! we knew the Cameroonian market.  We could address questions of leadership and management that foreign consultants did not know existed. Subjects of planning, structure and organization that had not been covered in schools staff graduated from. Questions of ethnicity, gender and corruption that undermined multinational companies. The real challenges teams and managers were facing in a complex environment.  STRATEGIES! did not skirt around them or give superficial answers, we faced them head on and enabled managers and teams to work through and find solutions. We became organizational doctors from the very beginning, above and beyond.

In 1998 with no funding, but a group of highly enthusiastic, newly elected mayors, STRATEGIES! decided to take on local governance.  From Douala I to Kumbo by way of Soa, Wum and Bot-Makak we began to conceive and help local governments implement development. Youth and women’s entrepreneurship, water catchment management, local economic development, building of roads and bridges, local tax collection and more.  STRATEGIES! helped local governments develop a participatory planning system; mobilize resources locally, nationally and internationally; mobilize the local population for projects; implement and evaluate them. We went above and beyond.  No mayor, no development agency and certainly not the Cameroonian government thought it was possible to accomplish so much with so few resources, in so little time. Yet with our municipal partners we did, taking municipal management to a level it had never been before. Above and beyond.

In 2005, on the “nose” of a consultant who was absolutely certain there was a market for STRATEGIES! in Tchad, we ventured international.  She asked us to take a blind risk of about 2 million fcfa.  An enormous amount of money for us at that time.  She was our best sales consultant.  Her “nose” had proved itself right on more than one occasion.  We took the risk.  STRATEGIES! made 13 million fcfa in Tchad that year.  Our international adventure had begun. Now we were African consultants competing against western consultants in African countries that were not our own. Over and over again we had to prove that we were good enough to be in that space. We honed our skills, perfecting research, analysis and planning tools.  We brought an African touch to training and facilitation, while respecting the highest international standards. STRATEGIES! made the often-grueling work of situation analysis, scenario analysis, strategic and operational planning, fun and interesting.  We integrated African history and culture into leadership training even as we profiled contemporary African leaders. We were Africans bringing leadership and management skills to the world. Above and beyond our wildest dreams.

Our “German Adventure” had begun since 1995. We were doing a pro bono facilitation for women journalists when then Friedrich Ebert Foundation Director, Michael Hackenbruch discovered our facilitation style and initiated what would become a 20 plus-year partnership with the FES.  One German led to another and FES, DED and INWENT all played key roles in STRATEGIES! development.  In 1995 STRATEGIES! was selected by GIZ to learn ZOPP facilitation.  Thus began a 25-year methodology love affair.  ZOPP as a planning method has long been left behind at GIZ.  At STRATEGIES! it is still at the foundation of the work we do as organizational doctors.  We have tweaked the methods and adapted them, but ZOPP logic still forms the backbone of our methodological approach to most organizational challenges.  STRATEGIES! took German structure and added in African flexibility and creativity.  The result is key to what has enabled us to go above and beyond.

GIZ also over the years became our major client.  If we have worked in 26 countries in Africa, 20 have been with GIZ. If we now have various clients in Berlin, it is thanks to the 25-year partnership with GIZ. Reimund Hoffman and Gerald Schmitt deserve particular mention for their belief in us as an African firm that could perform at international standards.  They fought hard within their own organization for us to be recognized as such and opened doors that took us above and beyond.

Our American adventure began in 2007 with the first workshop STRATEGIES! facilitated for Vital Voices in Johannesburg, South Africa.  It was love at first sight.  Vital Voices integrated STRATEGIES! CEO, Kah Walla as one of its foremost global women leaders and retained STRATEGIES! to provide organizational support first to the Africa Department, then to the organization as a whole.  Here we were, young African women, being flown to Washington D.C. to be organizational consultants for an American NGO.  Amazing. The opportunities provided by Vital Voices cannot be counted.  If we are a renowned international firm today with footing in the American market, it is because Vital Voices saw us as partners and advisers on equal footing, regardless of what part of the world we came from. Melysa Sperber, whom we worked with at Vital Voices left the organization to work for Humanity United.  She took her management consultants with her.  STRATEGIES! has been providing organizational development advice to Humanity United since 2012. Two important clients in the U.S. and several in Europe, meant we could envisage opening an office in the Western Hemisphere.  In 2017, STRATEGIES! opened its Washington D.C. office and began competing with the largest consulting firms in the world for contracts. We are still just getting our foot in the door, but it has opened up a whole new business world.  Here we go, above and beyond.

STRATEGIES! faced 2010 with trepidation.  Could a consulting firm whose CEO had chosen to go into national politics as a presidential candidate in the opposition against an entrenched regime, survive? We tried a transition at the head of the company, it failed.  Apprehension was palpable. STRATEGIES! did what it does best.  We adapted. The international market became our focus and senior consultants took over most technical work. The storm came. We lost a few national clients. We had a clean tax slate, so no worries there, even though audits multiplied. In the end, a CEO with a national and international profile as a public leader is beneficial. Some clients pay for the profile of an internationally recognized public leader, others want a public speaker with such varied experience.  STRATEGIES! CEO entering political waters was a personal right, but an enormous risk.  Once again, STRATEGIES! rose, above and beyond.

STRATEGIES!’ fundamental value, is “We Believe in People”. If we have been able to go above and beyond, it is because of the people. Our clients, suppliers and partners have all been extraordinary in the past 25 years.  At the center, have been STRATEGIES! staff.  Our company has a saying “Once a Stratège, always a Stratège”. We believe in people and our people believe in us.  Incredible Cameroonians have come together to build a counter-culture of African excellence; of building companies that are profitable and development organizations that are efficient while putting people at the center of decision-making; of using African culture and history to build successful modern organizations. The people of STRATEGIES! have done this. All African, over 90% trained in Africa, all demonstrating that they can see above and beyond, that they can perform above and beyond that they can do so with principles and integrity above and beyond.

25 years! Such an extraordinary journey so far.  Of course, we’ve only just begun.  After all, as far back as 1995 we committed to go, above and beyond. Watch us go!

Au-delà des limites

25 ans ! C’est comme si hier encore, nous étions dans une salle à manger avec quelques ordinateurs, à rêver d’une entreprise qui ferait de nous des consultants de classe mondiale en concurrence avec les meilleurs. Des Africains, conseillant le monde en matière de leadership et de gestion… une idée scandaleuse. Dieu merci, pour ces idées scandaleuses.  En 25 ans, elles nous ont permis de dépasser les rêves les plus fous que nous avions dans cette salle à manger en avril 1995.

En 1995, au Cameroun, les consultants en gestion étaient pour la plupart des hommes blancs d’âge moyen, arrivés par avion de capitales lointaines, à grands frais.  Ils venaient de Paris, de Washington et de Londres pour aider les entreprises et les organismes de développement à élaborer des stratégies, à planifier et à former leurs employés. Notre première idée scandaleuse a été de croire qu’une entreprise entièrement dirigée par des Camerounais, avec une DG de 30 ans et des consultants encore plus jeunes, pourrait être compétitive sur ce marché.  Nous y avons cru et nous l’avons réussi, au-delà de nos limites.  Dès le début, nous avons voulu être aussi professionnels et à la pointe que les meilleurs consultants internationaux, puis nous sommes allés plus loin.  Gerard Tocco nous a donné notre premier contrat avec une multinationale, CAMOA. Nous avons réalisé au-delà des attentes. CAMOA est devenu l’un de nos clients les plus importants sur une dizaine d’années.  En tant que STRATEGIES! nous connaissions le marché camerounais.  Nous pouvions aborder des questions de leadership et de gestion dont les consultants étrangers ignoraient l’existence. Des sujets de planification, de structure et d’organisation qui n’avaient pas été abordés dans les écoles dont le personnel était diplômé. Les questions d’ethnicité, de genre et de corruption qui minaient les firmes multinationales. Les véritables défis auxquels les équipes et les dirigeants étaient confrontés dans un environnement complexe.  STRATEGIES! ne les a pas contournés  et n’y a pas donné de réponses superficielles, nous les avons affrontés  et avons permis aux managers et aux équipes de les analyser et de trouver des solutions. Nous sommes devenus dès le début des médecins de l’organisation, au-delà de tout.

En 1998, sans financement, mais avec un groupe de maires nouvellement élus et très enthousiastes, STRATEGIES! a décidé de se lancer dans la gouvernance locale.  De Douala I à Kumbo en passant par Soa, Wum et Bot-Makak, nous avons commencé à concevoir et à aider les gouvernements locaux à mettre en œuvre des projets de développement. L’entreprenariat des jeunes et des femmes, la gestion des bassins versants, le développement économique local, la construction de routes et de ponts, la collecte des impôts locaux, etc.  STRATEGIES! a aidé les gouvernements locaux à développer un système de planification participative ; à mobiliser des ressources au niveau local, national et international ; à mobiliser la population locale pour des projets ; à les mettre en œuvre et à les évaluer. Nous sommes allés au-delà des attentes.  Aucun maire, aucune agence de développement et certainement pas le gouvernement camerounais ne pensait qu’il était possible d’accomplir tant de choses avec si peu de ressources, en si peu de temps. Pourtant, avec nos partenaires municipaux, nous l’avons fait, et se faisant nous avons porté la gestion municipale à un niveau jamais atteint auparavant… au-delà des limites.

En 2005, grâce au flair d’une consultante qui était absolument certaine qu’il y avait un marché pour  STRATÉGIES! au Tchad, nous nous sommes aventurés à l’international.  Elle nous a demandé de prendre un risque aveugle d’environ 2 millions de FCFA.  Une somme énorme pour nous à l’époque.  Elle était notre meilleure consultante commerciale.  Son flair avait fait ses preuves à plus d’une reprise.  Nous avons pris le risque.  STRATEGIES! a gagné 13 millions de FCFA au Tchad cette année-là.  Notre aventure internationale avait ainsi commencé. Nous étions désormais des consultants africains en concurrence avec des consultants occidentaux dans des pays africains qui n’étaient pas le nôtre. Nous devions sans cesse prouver que nous étions assez bons pour être dans cet espace. Nous avons aiguisé nos compétences, en perfectionnant les outils de recherche, d’analyse et de planification.  Nous avons apporté une touche africaine à la formation et à l’animation, tout en respectant les normes internationales les plus élevées. STRATEGIES! a rendu amusant et intéressant le travail souvent éreintant de l’analyse de situation, de l’analyse de scénario, de la planification stratégique et opérationnelle.  Nous avons intégré l’histoire et la culture africaines dans la formation au leadership, tout en dressant le profil des leaders africains contemporains. Nous étions des Africains qui apportaient au monde des compétences en matière de leadership et de gestion. Au-delà de nos rêves les plus fous.

Notre “aventure allemande” a commencé en 1995. Nous faisions de l’animation pro bono pour les femmes journalistes lorsque Michael Hackenbruch, alors directeur de la Fondation Friedrich Ebert, a découvert notre style de facilitation et a lancé ce qui allait devenir un partenariat de plus de 20 ans avec la FES.  D’un Allemand à l’autre, la FES, le DED et l’INWENT ont tous joué un rôle clé dans le développement de STRATEGIES!  En 1995, STRATEGIES! a été sélectionné par la GIZ pour apprendre la facilitation ZOPP.  C’est ainsi qu’a commencé une histoire d’amour de 25 ans avec cette méthodologie.  Il y a bien longtemps que le ZOPP en tant que méthode de planification n’est plus utilisé à la GIZ.  À STRATEGIES!, elle est toujours à la base du travail que nous faisons en tant que médecins des organisations.  Nous avons modifié et adapté les méthodes, mais la logique du ZOPP constitue toujours l’épine dorsale de notre approche méthodologique de la plupart des défis organisationnels.  STRATEGIES ! a repris la structure allemande et y a ajouté la flexibilité et la créativité africaines.  Le résultat est la clé de ce qui nous a permis d’aller au-delà des limites.

Au fil des ans, GIZ est également devenu notre principal client.  Si nous avons travaillé dans 26 pays d’Afrique, 20 ont été avec le GIZ. Si nous avons aujourd’hui plusieurs clients à Berlin, c’est grâce au partenariat de 25 ans avec la GIZ. Reimund Hoffman et Gerald Schmitt méritent une mention particulière pour la confiance qu’ils ont placée en nous en tant qu’entreprise africaine capable de livrer des services selon les normes internationales.  Ils se sont battus avec acharnement au sein de leur propre organisation pour que nous soyons reconnus en tant que tels et ont ouvert des portes qui nous ont permis de nous surpasser.

Notre aventure américaine a commencé en 2007 avec le premier atelier facilité par STRATEGIES ! pour Vital Voices à Johannesburg, en Afrique du Sud.  Ce fut le coup de foudre.  Vital Voices a intégré le DG de STRATEGIES! Kah Walla, comme l’une de ses principales femmes leaders dans son réseau mondial, et a retenu STRATEGIES! pour apporter un soutien organisationnel d’abord au département Afrique, puis à l’organisation dans son ensemble.  Nous étions donc de jeunes Africaines, transportées par avion à Washington D.C. pour être consultantes en développement organisationnel pour une ONG américaine.  Incroyable ! Les possibilités offertes par Vital Voices sont innombrables.  Si nous sommes aujourd’hui une entreprise internationale de renom qui a des assises sur le marché américain, c’est parce que Vital Voices nous a considéré comme des partenaires et des consultantes sur un même pied d’égalité, quelle que soit la partie du monde d’où nous venions. Melysa Sperber, avec qui nous avons travaillé à Vital Voices, a quitté l’organisation pour travailler pour Humanity United.  Elle a emmené avec elle ses conseillers en gestion.  STRATEGIES! fournit des conseils en matière de développement organisationnel à Humanity United depuis 2012. Deux clients importants aux États-Unis et plusieurs en Europe, nous ont permis d’envisager l’ouverture d’un bureau dans l’hémisphère occidental.  En 2017, STRATEGIES! a ouvert son bureau à Washington D.C. et a commencé à concurrencer les plus grandes sociétés de conseil du monde pour l’obtention de contrats. Nous n’en sommes encore qu’au début, mais cela nous a ouvert un tout nouveau monde d’affaires.  Nous voilà partis, bien au-delà des limites.

STRATÉGIES! a affronté l’année 2010 avec appréhension.  Une société de conseil dont le PDG avait choisi de se lancer dans la politique nationale en tant que candidate à la présidence en opposition au régime en place, pouvait-elle survivre ? Nous avons tenté une transition à la tête de l’entreprise, elle a échoué.  L’appréhension était palpable. STRATEGIES! a fait ce qu’elle fait de mieux.  Nous nous sommes adaptés. Le marché international est devenu notre priorité et des consultants seniors ont pris en charge la plupart des travaux techniques. La tempête est arrivée. Nous avons perdu quelques clients nationaux. Nous avions maintenu une situation fiscale correcte dès le départ, donc peu de souci, même si les audits se sont multipliés. En fin de compte, une DG au profil national et international en tant que leader dans le sphère publique est bénéfique. Certains clients paient pour le profil d’un dirigeant public reconnu au niveau international, d’autres veulent une oratrice ayant une expérience aussi variée.  L’entrée de laDG de STRATEGIES !  en politique était un choix et un droit personnel, mais un risque énorme pour l’entreprise.  Une fois de plus, STRATEGIES ! s’est élevé, au-delà des challenges.

La valeur fondamentale de “STRATEGIES !” est “Nous croyons aux personnes”. Si nous avons pu aller aussi loin, c’est grâce aux personnes. Nos clients, fournisseurs et partenaires ont tous été extraordinaires au cours des 25 dernières années.  Au centre, se trouve le personnel de STRATEGIES !  Notre entreprise a un dicton : “Stratège un jour,  Stratège toujours”. Nous croyons aux personnes et notre personnel croie en nous.  Des Camerounais/es incroyables se sont réunis pour construire une contre-culture d’excellence africaine ; pour construire des entreprises qui sont rentables et des organisations de développement qui sont efficaces tout en mettant l’être humain au centre de la prise de décision ; pour utiliser la culture et l’histoire africaines afin de construire des organisations modernes qui réussissent. Les Stratèges l’ont fait. Toutes et tous des Africain/es, plus de 90 % formés en Afrique, qui ont toutes et tous démontré qu’elles/ils peuvent voir au-delà des limites, qu’ils peuvent être performer au delà des attentes, qu’ils peuvent le faire avec des principes et une intégrité au delà de toute attente.

25 ans ! Un voyage si extraordinaire jusqu’à présent.  Bien sûr, nous ne faisons que commencer.  Après tout, dès 1995, nous nous sommes engagés à aller au-delà des limites. Nous voilà parti !

Decentralize! Decentralize! Decentralize! COVID-19, an opportunity to strengthen community healthcare

As we continue to examine the opportunities provided by the COVID-19 crisis, monumental amongst them is the one for African governments to decentralize healthcare services and strengthen community health.

Most African healthcare systems are weak and amongst the weakest links are healthcare facilities for communities outside large cities.  As African governments deploy responses to COVID-19, there is opportunity to:

To achieve these goals, local government is key.  Enabling local governments to respond to COVID-19 while strengthening their capacity to build community health services is key to developing Africa’s resilience to fight disease and future pandemics.

Municipalities are uniquely positioned to play a leading role in the global response to COVID-19. First, because they are the public institutions closest to the people. Second, because it is at the level of the municipality that it is most feasible to apply recommendations from central government, regional institutions like the Africa Center for Disease Control and global institutions such as the World Health Organization. Third, without coordination at the local level, mobilizing the population to apply measures which for the most part are about information, education and behavior change will be difficult.

I – Reinforcing health governance at local level

To effectively respond to this crisis and reinforce health governance at local level, it is important to develop a coordinated approach based on certain key principles.

Guiding principles of the coordination approach

At least four principles must always be in the minds of decision-makers at the local level in managing this unprecedented crisis and developing a coordinated approach for healthcare in their community.

  • The participation of all or the mobilization of collective intelligence. This crisis as is the case for all healthcare, has an impact on everyone. It is only possible to win against COVID-19 and strengthen community healthcare if the entire municipality is involved in the response. It is necessary to ensure that all categories of the population are consulted and involved. Every group in the society has ideas, resources and skills. All sectors and groups must be mobilized to build the municipality’s healthcare response.
  • Solidarity to ensure the effective protection of all, especially the most vulnerable. We are only as strong as our weakest link. Solutions must be provided to the most vulnerable groups in the community and those most at risk first.
  • Defining global, multisectoral and sustainable solutions. The crisis is not just about health. It also has economic, social and in some cases security implications. It is necessary to determine and provide solutions at all levels. It is important to respond to the crisis of the moment, but in doing so every community must consider the implications on the medium and the long term as well.
  • Integrity in the management of resources. In this approach the resources of the community will be mobilized. It is imperative that they are used efficiently and managed transparently with no hint of corruption or graft.

To implement these principles, the first step is to develop a coordination unit at local level.

The local coordination unit for the COVID-19 response and for community healthcare

The local coordination unit sets the community’s objectives, mobilizes resources, allocates resources, monitors and adjusts the strategy as the situation evolves.  During the COVID-19 crisis, such a unit would be reinforced in human and material resources.  As the town moves out of crisis, the unit would remain with fewer resources, however with the pivotal role of coordinating the community’s healthcare.

A Community Healthcare Coordination Unit could be made up of the following elements:

  • A general coordination team which includes representatives of the municipal executive, decentralized services of the central state (Health, Economy, Transport, Security, Finance, etc.) and leaders of all the other teams below.
  • A medical crisis team, bringing together the town’s hospital directors, district health officials, nurses, doctors, pharmacists, laboratory staff and other branches of the medical community from both the public and private sectors.
  • A communication team, including public, private and online media. This team would be in charge of providing regular briefings to the population as well as information and education campaigns, including the dispelling of fake news.
  • A neighborhood leadership team (quarter heads, village chiefs, religious leaders, etc.) which would ensure the vertical flow of information from grassroots to decision-makers and vice-versa. This will ensure real-time information on the situation and allow continuous adjustment of the strategy. This is the team that ensures community mobilization, without which it is impossible to fight against COVID – 19 or to improve healthcare in general.
  • An economic team, bringing together businesspeople, market managers, managers of financial institutions and all other relevant economic actors. The idea is to assess the economic impact of the health crisis and to proceed, in a concerted manner, to take measures that will ensure the safety of the population, while bolstering businesses and jobs as much as possible.
  • A security team made up of representatives of the Municipal Police, the City Police and volunteer neighborhoods self-defense groups. This team must monitor the security situation and develop an ad-hoc security strategy adapted to the impact of the health crisis on security. In conflict or post-conflict areas, this team is particularly important as armed groups tend to take advantage of crisis.

It is important to note that the people composing these various teams are not new hires.  They are existing city, central government or private sector personnel who already have existing salaries and benefits and who would be taking on these duties as part of their core responsibilities.  While they may require resources for fieldwork and logistics, resources should not be used to pay them additional salaries or benefits.

It is also important to stress that:

  • Work within the different teams must be voluntary.
  • Work should be done as much as possible via internet platforms.
  • Different teams of the local coordination unit must hold daily, weekly, monthly meetings as the crisis evolves
  • This type of coordination will enable local authorities to effectively deploy the prevention strategy for this crisis as well as preventive healthcare in general.

The first task of the Community Healthcare Coordination Unit is to produce baseline information which is essential for evidence-based decision-making to manage the crisis and community healthcare.

Producing baseline information for strategic and operational decision support

In African healthcare systems data and statistics are largely deficient.  A decentralized approach to fighting COVID-19 provides opportunity to collect information at local level which can be used to create viable local databases that can eventually be linked to a national database. Some of the key areas in which it is vital to have accurate and up-to-date information are:

  • Population. Information must be collected or updated fairly quickly on its composition (different categories of the population and their size, different socio-professional categories, ethnic groups, religious groups, etc.), spatial distribution (grid by district and per block) and the different leaders within groups.
  • Assembly points. All places where the population meets in large numbers such as markets, bus and train stations, places of worship, sports arenas, etc. must be identified.
  • Health infrastructure. This is the opportunity to gather precise information on both public and private health facilities, their equipment, personnel, and bed capacity. The crisis enables local governments to collect this information quickly and comprehensively, providing a baseline for the health system in each municipality. Strengths and weaknesses can then be assessed to determine response capacity for COVID-19 and for community health in general.
  • Economic entities. The crisis creates the opportunities to gather accurate information quickly on both formal and informal business entities. As governments devise responses that include economic aspects, it is possible to count and, in some cases, even register businesses within the community. This will enable local governments to integrate formal and informal enterprises as both part of the response and part of the resources they can count on to face the crisis.

It is advisable that a national template for data collection be developed which will facilitate the integration of local information into a national database.  Young tech entrepreneurs in most African countries are desperate to be invited to develop such products and contribute to the fight against COVID-19.

II – Making a quantum leap in access to community healthcare services

Decentralizing the COVID-19 crisis response will enable local governments to tremendously improve both prevention and care in the local healthcare system.

The implementation of a prevention strategy

The implementation of a prevention strategy

The most important aspect of responding to COVID_19 is of course prevention. At the local level, this strategy should be based on the following axes:

  • Communication
  • Masks for all
  • Hand washing
  • Social distancing

The Community Healthcare Coordination Unit would mobilize resources and implement a strategy along these 4 axes.

Axis Key actions
Communication •       Develop a communication strategy adapted to local realities.

•       Train a diverse group of journalists whose media directly reach all segments of the city’s populations.

•       Create dedicated sites and pages on various networks to relay official information and raise awareness.

•       Communicate regularly on the evolution of the pandemic, measures taken and the outlook.

•       Deploy an awareness and training campaign for various segments of the population with channels and language adapted for them.

•       Respond to rumors, fake news and other concerns as they emerge

•       Open a local call center to manage the concerns of the population

Masks for All Masks are essential to the prevention of COVID-19 spread. It is therefore necessary to:

•       Equip all health personnel in the town with masks.

•       Provide each citizen with masks for essential outdoor outings.

To succeed in this, local authorities must mobilize the entire community to:

•       Fund the production of masks.

•       Distribute masks to citizens.

•       Control the wearing of masks in crowded public spaces

Handwashing Local governments will be able to mobilize funds to:

•       Increase the number of handwashing points in the city and makes soap and disinfectant gels available in the short term

•       Improve access to pipe-born water in the medium term. COVID-19 should serve as a wake-up call. Every African government should use resources mobilized to significantly improve access to water.

Social Distancing In Africa, informal economies and community living, make social distancing a serious economic and cultural challenge.  Local governments will need to consult with all segments of the community to define social distancing measures that are adapted to the local situation.  These could include:

•       Organizing rotations in crowded public spaces such as markets, motorcycle taxi points, etc.

•       Individuals to self-organize to conduct an activity 50% of the time.

•       Reduce overloads in public transportation, etc.

Deploying the system for treatment and care

The strategy for treatment and care at local level includes at least five axes:

Once again, COVID-19 provides the opportunity to strengthen these key elements of the local treatment and care system, rendering it more resilient and capable to meet long term community healthcare needs.

  1. Strengthen existing health facilities and build a network

Using the baseline information gathered, it will be important to:

  • List and categorize the different health facilities of the municipality. Then establish basic information sheets on each structure stating its capacities, needs for upgrading and the specific role it can play in the local healthcare system.
  • Identify a COVID-19 focal point in each facility for optimal management of information flows and rapid decision-making.
  • Mobilize funds to rapidly strengthen healthcare facilities.
  • Set up isolation units in selected facilities that can accommodate infected people under conditions that reduce the spread of the virus.
  • Set up facilities that can accommodate patients in critical condition, needing specific assistance such as ventilators.
  • Organize the network of facilities to ensure continuity of care for other patients.
  1. Set up a patient tracing system

Given that COVID – 19 is highly contagious, it remains necessary to develop a system to trace the path of the patient. This tracking system aims to:

  • Identify people with whom the patient may have been in contact and who are in urgent need of testing and isolation.
  • Continuously monitor patients to see the medium and long terms effects of the virus.
  1. Ensure testing and reinforce laboratories

Africa is still testing at levels considerably lower than the rest of the world.  As more tests become available, it will be necessary to make them available through local healthcare systems.

  • Increase testing capacity as much and as quickly possible to get a clearer picture of the disease
  • Build the capacity of local laboratories so they can analyze and provide results quickly
  • Ensure that these laboratories will be able to test and analyze for other common diseases faced in the community
  1. Ensure the health workforce is ready to meet the challenges

In most African countries the health workforce is essential, insufficient, overworked and underpaid.  With COVID – 19 pandemic, they are also among those most likely to contract the disease.  It is important to use this moment to reorganization and reinforce the health workforce.  of health This includes:

  • List and categorize all the city’s medical personnel
  • Recruit more staff wherever this is possible and mobilize personnel that is in training for jobs that require less training.
  • Train health facility managers on the COVID-19 disease.
  • Train medical staff by category.
  • Facilitate access to online training for staff. Much content has been developed by the Africa Center for Disease Control, the World Health Organization and other health institutions to help healthcare workers cope with COVID – 19. It is important to ensure health personnel have access to online training.
  • Provide health personnel with the necessary protection by providing as much material as possible (gloves, masks, clothing, etc.) in sufficient quantity and quality.
  • Provide financial bonuses and other material compensation for the risks taken, the additional workload and the sacrifices healthcare workers are making.
  1. Reinforce the equipment

At this level, it is also important to carry out the following tasks:

  • Identify key equipment available in the community: scanners, respirators, beds, etc.
  • Define protocols to facilitate rapid access to all available material, including that in the hands of the private sector. These protocols may include user fees to be paid by government and guarantees in the event of equipment failure.
  • Call on the expertise and innovation of local / national scientists and entrepreneurs to rapidly develop complementary solutions adapted to the socio-economic realities of the city.

V – Building the trust

Key to managing healthcare and particularly during a crisis, is trust.  All of the steps mentioned above which are developed and implemented with representatives of the population and using continuous communication will reinforce the trust between the population and its local healthcare system. As will providing accessible, quality health services.

In addition to this, two key security aspects must be managed carefully:

  • Community security directly linked to the crisis response
  • Pre-existing conflict situation in the community

Managing community security as part of the COVID-19 response

The restrictions of the COVID – 19 response – ban on gatherings, closures of public venues, confinement, obligatory wearing of masks, etc. will create fear, apprehension and anxiety within the population.  There are negative consequences of these restrictions on the economy – loss of employment, decrease in income, rise in prices, etc. All this increases tension in the community and can result in increase in violence:  domestic violence, violence against children, tensions in the neighborhood, etc. It is therefore important to put into place a strategy to manage community security as a part of the COVID-19 response.

This requires the Community Healthcare Coordination Unit to:

  • Use baseline data to map out places with high population density (popular neighborhoods, markets, bus stations, etc.) were additional security personnel may be needed.
  • Train mixed units (national police, municipal police and district / market / block managers, etc.) to raise awareness and monitor compliance with protection instructions (social distance, dispersal of crowds, prohibition of overloading) without brutality or repression.
  • Ensure that services that ensure protection from domestic violence, child abuse, and provide mental healthcare remain open and functional.
  • Set up systems within neighborhoods that ensure the security and well-being of the populations.

Elected officials must monitor this security team to ensure that there is no abuse of power or violence against citizens.

Monitoring Armed Conflict and Cooperating with National Security

Non-state armed groups tend to take advantage of a crisis during which there may be some laxity in security due to the national focus on the pandemic.  It is important for local governments in zones where there is pre-existing conflict to remain vigilant and monitor the security situation closely. National security forces should be alerted in case of increased activity by armed groups to avoid the crisis being exacerbated by increased conflict and violence against the population.

VI – A system of monitoring, evaluation and regular adjustment of responses

For it to be effective, this proposed municipal approach assumes that certain management principles are applied. These include:

  • Ongoing consultations with all the key stakeholders as well as the population who will have to apply the measures decided upon.
  • Continuous data collection and analysis, taking into account the strong trends that emerge.
  • Evidence-based decision-making accepted by the majority and explained to the target population. Informed decisions at both collective and individual levels are key.
  • Mobilizing resources at both community and national levels and using them effectively.
  • Synergy in implementation. This synergy must be built at the level of city stakeholders. It must also be built with neighboring towns and with the central government.
  • Continuous evaluation and adjustment of the measures based on results obtained in the field. In this type of crisis, proactivity translates into regular anticipation of possible developments in situations, flexibility in implementation and rapid readjustment in the face of new data in the field.

Conclusion

On the strength of all the above, it is obvious that local governments in Africa have a key role to play in turning the COVID-19 crisis into opportunity.  The opportunity to respond effectively to the crisis and in so doing to build strengthened and resilient community healthcare systems.

As resources are mobilized at national, continental and international levels to fight COVID-19 in Africa, it is important that they are used to seize these opportunities. Municipal governments can carry out concrete coordinated action that directly benefits the population.  That is an opportunity which should not be missed!

Recruitment of a Communication Consultant

STRATEGIES! is a consulting firm specialized in Leadership & Management, offering its services to international development organizations, as well as to private companies in the fields of:

• Organizational Development
• Strategic and Operational planning
• Design, Monitoring and Evaluation of projects,
• Conceptualization and facilitation of workshops and international conferences, etc.

After 25 years of experience, STRATEGIES! wishes to consolidate its international positioning and increase its visibility while embracing digitization.

 

STRATEGIES! recruits a Communication Consultant

 

  • Roles and responsibilities of the consultant

Content development

  • In charge of content development for the website and other social media channels of:
    • Technical articles – such as courses, books, thematical articles
    • Non-technical articles – activities or events related articles, as well as
    • Production of other communication tools
  • Assist in writing articles and developing strategy for STRATEGIES! positioning as a Thought-Leadership firm

Community Management

  • Develop and implement a strategy for STRATEGIES! social media presence
  • Plan and coordinate a communication strategy for the company’s events and online products.

Coordination of communication strategies with other partners

  • Coordinate communication work that is outsourced to other partners such as marketing or advertising agencies

Media & event management (Would be an added advantage)

  • Ensure regular presence in traditional media
  • Manage events around the 25th anniversary of the company

 

Required competence:

Candidates should demonstrate

  • Strong analytical, research and writing skills
  • Ability to produce high-quality content within deadlines
  • Ability to write clearly and adapting style and content to different audience
  • Strong strategic thinking skills
  • Ability to work independently, flexibly and under pressure
  • Flexibility in responding to changing priorities in a fast-paced environment
  • Productive and efficient worker, highly motivated
  • Competence that would be a great advantage
    • Good understanding of private sector and/or development issues
    • Basic web content management
    • Experience in managing social media pages for an organization
    • Strong presentation skills
    • Experience with traditional media relations: TV, radios, magazines, etc…

Required Skills & Experience

  • Academic Qualifications/Education:
    • At least a Bachelors’ degree or equivalence in experience
  • Experience:
    • Experience in corporate and/or institutional communication
    • Proven record of producing articles, blogs and communication products – At least 3 samples of previous work must be provided
    • Using online platforms for communication
    • Knowledge of social media management and monitoring: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc, is an advantage
  • Language skills:
    • Fluency in English and French is required (written and verbal) – emphasis is on English
    • Strong listening skills
  • Documents to be submitted 
    • Curriculum Vitae (CV)
    • 3 different samples of write-up showing variety in style and target audience

Application should be submitted  no later than  Sunday, 28th August, 2020 at 2.00 pm to strategiesrecrutement@gmail.com

Note: Only applications received by email and fulfilling requirements will be considered.

  

5 Ways to Strengthen African Healthcare Systems During COVID-19

As most African countries enter month six of dealing with the Corona virus, the continent is nearing the one million mark in number of cases and WHO is warning that the world is in for a deep, long crisis.

What preliminary conclusions can Africa draw and how can we manage COVID-19 better going forward? Every crisis is also opportunity, is Africa seizing the opportunities that COVID-19 offers? 

Let us examine some of Africa’s key systems, analyze, learn and seize the opportunity going forward.

The Health System

Much has been written about the inadequacies of Africa’s health systems.  Some of the key elements characterizing them are:

  • Insufficient and inadequately trained personnel. According to WHO, Africa needs to increase health personnel by 63% to ensure adequate health coverage to citizens. In addition, the health sector suffers from a severe brain drain as doctors and nurses trained in Africa head to Europe, the U.S. and other countries where they can earn decent salaries and work in minimally acceptable conditions.
  • Insufficient and poor-quality health infrastructure. Accessing healthcare is challenging for all Africans, but particularly so for the 60% who live in rural areas.  Not only are there not enough health centers, those that do exist lack equipment, personnel and basic supplies.
  • Lack of health information and data. While Africa continues to appear to be less impacted by COVID-19 than other continents, the truth is no one really knows.  Nigeria which is among the top 10 African countries carrying out the most testing is averaging 1.3 tests per 1000 people.  South Africa which has carried out the highest number of tests on the continent is at 48 tests per 1000 people. In comparison, the UK is testing 134 people per thousand and the US, 162.  In both countries the testing level is considered to be insufficient. 

In addition, many African countries lack the data on deaths from previous years to be able to make comparisons on comorbidities or abnormally high death rates.

  • Lack of research and development capacity to test innovations. Ordinary Africans have reacted to the COVID-19 crisis as they should, by innovating. From herbal remedies to ventilators and tests, Africans young and old have put their know-how and creativity to work to find solutions for coronavirus.  Is there a miracle cure or a savvy tech application that can reduce testing time and cost somewhere on the continent? Hard to tell.  The continent lacks the research and development facilities to test, improve and scale these innovations.

In the midst of all the crisis activity that goes into fighting a pandemic what are some of the systemic solutions African countries should be implementing to ensure that African health systems come out of this crisis stronger and more resilient than ever? There are many. Here are just five suggestions:

1 – A percentage of aid, debt forgiveness and/or new debt should be used to invest in structural solutions for health infrastructure and training of personnel.

COVID-19 and Africa’s estimated needs of over $200 billion to respond to COVID-19 have triggered a variety of initiatives for debt cancellation, debt suspension and debt standstill.

The G20, OECD, the African Development Bank, the African Union and others are all mobilizing funds to enable Africa to respond to COVID-19.  While this must be handled with flexibility and adapted to each country’s situation, it is imperative that access to these resources be conditioned by a percentage being used for structural investments in African healthcare systems such as:

  • Upgrading training institutions in an aim to improve short-term training for healthcare workers facing the crisis as well as increasing the quantity and quality of healthcare workers in African countries in the medium term. The African Union should consider setting a minimum quota of increase in healthcare workers which will condition funding.
  • Making use of green technology to ensure that energy supplies to healthcare facilities are sustainable and independent of dysfunctional national grids. This will also generate green jobs for the healthcare and other sectors.
  • Making efficient use of technology for:
    • Distance learning for healthcare workers
    • Telemedecine to increase access to healthcare and specialized health services for citizens
    • Providing information and education for preventive health measures

This will also require investment in internet infrastructure to improve connectivity which has been discovered to be highly insufficient in Africa during this crisis.

2 – Decentralize, decentralize, decentralize (see STRATEGIES! upcoming article on the Municipal Approach to fighting COVID-19)

While many countries have zoned their national territory into health districts, generally these districts remain extremely weak in decision-making power and resources.  While it is important to maintain norms and quality standards at national level, COVID-19 like most health challenges requires proximity healthcare management.  Empowering local health districts to work with decentralized branches of the health ministry and local elected officials will enable African countries to improve access to healthcare by bringing services much closer to the population. It will also greatly improve the ability to collect health information from the population.

3 – Build a national health information system

Weak information systems and the lack of data are compromising understanding of the virus and decision-making in African countries.  It is extremely important that COVID-19 is used as an opportunity to make a quantum leap in health information systems. 

The crisis has created a focus on health systems for governments and for citizens.  It is the opportunity to set up an information system to collect data at all levels, from individual clinics and hospitals to districts and up to national level.

Almost all African countries have vibrant tech communities full of young entrepreneurs who could be instrumental in devising and running these information systems.  It is therefore an opportunity to digitalize health systems, create jobs and vastly improve data collection and analysis in the health system which will improve evidence-based decision-making.

4 – Partner with the Diaspora to obtain high-level skills

Tens of thousands of African medical professionals trained on the continent, work in other parts of the world. This is mainly due to poor working conditions: salary, professional growth, equipment, etc. in many African countries.  At the emergence of COVID-19, many of these doctors and nurses put their knowledge at the disposal of their home countries, demonstrating the attachment they have to Africa no matter where they are in the world.

COVID-19 is the opportunity for African countries to innovate and create short and medium term programs where African medical professionals in the Diaspora can “give back” by providing highly specialized services and training that African countries have difficulty accessing.

A wide variety of NGOs have already enabled African Diaspora medical personnel to return home for short term medical missions.  African governments should learn from this and envisage programs where Diaspora could return home for 3 to 24 months to teach, mentor and transfer skills. If investment is made in the overall working conditions of medical staff, there is no doubt a certain percentage of them would return definitively.

It is estimated that 1/5 doctors trained on the continent, work outside of it.  It is time for Africa to go on the offensive and stem the brain drain.

5 – Build national, regional and continental systems for research and development

It is the job of citizens who can, to create and innovate.  It is the job of states to channel that innovation, test it, help improve it and scale it so that it can be used to solve the problems of a society. COVID-19 has stimulated a rash of innovation in Africa.  Unfortunately, few countries have put into place systems to harness this innovation and do the work necessary to transform it into solutions for the country, the continent and perhaps the world.

Africa needs to improve on this at all levels.  In this moment of crisis, every country should put into place a system for collecting innovative ideas, technology, systems and concepts.  Of course, a high percentage will be of no use.  This is part of the process.  Research and development centers where these ideas can be tested should be put in place at national level if possible, but certainly at regional and continental levels.  Finding African solutions to African problems begins with harnessing and testing new ideas.  COVID-19 offers a wonderful opportunity for Africa to build systems that do this.

It remains unclear whether Africa has truly lucked out where COVID-19 is concerned and unclear whether it will be comparatively less impacted by the disease.  What is clear, is that this crisis provides opportunity for African countries to make fundamental systemic changes that will improve healthcare on the continent for decades.  There are a myriad of systemic changes to be made.  The above five are just a sample.  In the necessary frenzy of fighting the pandemic in the immediate, this opportunity for tremendous systemic change should not be missed.

N.B. Upcoming articles by STRATEGIES! on “Systemic changes for the African economy during COVID-19” and “The Municipal Approach to fighting COVID-19

Sources

Testing in Africa – https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-53181555

Debt forgiveness – https://www.un.org/africarenewal/magazine/july-2020/external-debt-complicates-africas-post-covid-19-recovery-mitigating-efforts

Diaspora – https://www.universityworldnews.com/post.php?story=20200624152928519

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4908684/