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.

  

Call for Application Communication Consultant for STRATEGIES! Sarl

JOB ADVERT – 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

Communication strategy 

  • Develop a strategic and operational communication plan for the company
  • Ensure communication serves to meet larger objectives of sales, visibility, positioning, etc
  • Ensure communication activities contribute to increase traffic and reach key decision-makers through publications
  • Monitor and evaluate the communication strategy

 

Content development

  • Assist consultants in content development 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 strategy for STRATEGIES! positioning as a Thought-Leadership firm

Community Management

  • Follow-up the redesign and update of the company website
  • 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
  • Coordinate implementation of communication strategies with STRATEGIES! clients who may require these services

 

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
    • Experience with traditional media relations: TV, radios, magazines, etc…
    • Basic web content management
    • Experience in managing social media pages for an organization
    • Strong presentation skills

 

  • 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, March 29th 2020 at 2.00 pm to strategiesrecrutement@gmail.com

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

TAKING INNOVATION TO SCALE IN AFRICAN AGRICULTURE

TAKING INNOVATION TO SCALE IN AFRICAN AGRICULTURE

Agriculture, a sector at the heart of Africa’s development challenges.

As we all know, Africa remains a continent with a fairly high poverty rate. Key facts and trends continue to reveal this:

  • About 41% of the population south of the Sahara lives below the global poverty line of $1.90 per person per day [1].
  • Undernourishment in Africa affects about 20.4% of the population, or just over 237 million people. In addition, the demand for food will increase in view of increasing demographic pressure. [2]
  • Agriculture already contributes to about 65% of employment in Africa, and this rate could be higher if the entire agri-food system is taken into account. However, these jobs remain precarious and do not allow small producers, who represent 80% of farmers, to live decently [3].

It therefore appears that agriculture is a key sector which, if developed, will help to achieve certain sustainable development objectives in Africa. These include poverty eradication, hunger eradication, access to decent work and stronger economic growth.

For years now, this sector has struggled to meet this potential due to low productivity, heavy losses, insufficient investment etc.  Climate change will undoubtedly magnify the productivity challenge. Within the last 5-7 years, many have begun to see innovation as the key to unlock Africa’s agricultural potential.  For innovation to act as a key to large scale improvements in agriculture, it must itself perform on scale.  What is happening with agricultural innovation on the continent and how can we bring innovations to scale so they in turn can impact agriculture on scale.  Let’s take a look.

Types of innovations in the agricultural sector in Africa.

Innovations in the agricultural sector in Africa focus on technical, technological and organizational aspects.

Technical innovations tend to focus on production, conservation and processing in both farming and livestock breeding.  They include the development of improved seeds, farm equipment and natural conservation techniques for agricultural and livestock products.

In the field of technology, drones are being developed to facilitate the performance of tasks such as crop protection and the surveillance of herds. Applications are being developed to enable farmers learn about weather, market prices and farming techniques. Networks on mobile devices enable farmers to exchange information, follow training courses and sell their products.

Images of Drones for Agricultural use and a mobile App to identify crops disease and find ways to cure.

Organizational innovations concern new forms of cooperation, with a view to enabling farmers to better organize themselves in order to strengthen their skills, disseminate technical knowledge as well as access funding and markets. Contract farming is an example where multi-year contracts with large companies can enable farmers to expand production, meet quality requirements and access both training and funding. The return to cooperatives is also enabling “innovation” that integrates lessons of the past to allow farmers better market their products and easily acquire their inputs.

Innovations are being developed daily across the continent.  Yet despite a lot of hype about drones on farms and mobile apps for cattle herders these innovations have so far had only a small impact on the development of the agricultural sector and the major challenges of production, conservation, transformation and the creation of decent jobs in African agriculture, remain intact.

Why have the innovations not had a significant impact on African agriculture so far?

STRATEGIES! facilitates an experience sharing event on innovation for rural development for over 200 participants from 14 countries for German Development Cooperation (GIZ)

 After a few years of supporting various organizations which focus on innovation, STRATEGIES! has identified a number of bottlenecks that limit the impact of agricultural innovations on the continent. The most salient are:

  • ►The weak involvement of public authorities in the innovation process. Innovations are very often driven by individual farmers or small start-ups. Few countries have a mechanism whereby these innovations can be supported by government services. Due to the lack of systems for identifying, adopting and replicating these innovations, they remain unknown to the general public and particularly to those in the agricultural sector who should use them. The innovator has neither the means nor the mandate to bring new equipment or technology to the farmers who need it most. Still today government services seem far removed from the cutting edge thinking that is innovating in agriculture.
  • ►The non-sustainability of innovations initiated through development organizations alone. Innovations initiated through development projects have the advantage of being supported for a creation and testing phase. However, if the project is not anchored within a large-scale farmers’ organization or within local, regional or national extension services, there is little chance that the innovation will be adopted by a large number of users.  As soon as the project ends, the innovation will either be abandoned or continue to be used on a very small scale.
  • ►The high cost of implementing innovation. Some innovations, because of the cost of their implementation, are beyond the reach of farmers. There is no mechanism in place to allow small farmers to access these innovations despite the cost. Other innovations are costly to develop and take to market. Neither farmers, nor innovators have support to develop and access innovations.

So overall, it is the absence of a system for identifying, supporting, introducing and scaling up innovations that limit their impact on the agricultural sector.

Key actions to scale agricultural innovations and boost agriculture in Africa

In order to scale up agricultural innovations in Africa, it would be wise to invest in the system for identifying, supporting, introducing and scaling innovations. In this cycle, each actor should play their role.

For Governments:

  1. Establish a system for promoting and identifying innovations at the local level, particularly in municipalities, within the education system and through agro-pastoral fairs.

– In municipalities, there should be a mechanism in place to enable innovators submit their work to the municipality and to local Ministry of Agriculture services. This will enable innovations to be identified early and will open up the possibility receive support for them.

– Identification should also be done at the level of schools and universities. To do so, agriculture should be a part of the education system, which will encourage young people to see agriculture as a professional option, even as it encourages innovation initiatives.

– Many governments organize agricultural fairs. During these fairs, innovation should be showcased and discussed. This will provide the opportunity to give innovators incentive awards and will facilitate outreach regarding to specific innovations.

  1. Strengthen government institutions in charge of innovation

This includes, for example, strengthening agricultural research and development institutes so that they are able to pick up the best innovations and scale them up. They must therefore receive funding to fully develop them in order to make them accessible to small farmers. Research facilities must also have a direct link to extension services which will enable farmers to be informed about an innovation, test the innovation and give feedback for scaling up.

  1. Subsidize innovations.

Some innovations require significant investment for both development and acquisition.  Subsidies which go directly to the innovator as well as those who enable the small farmer to access the innovation are essential.

In addition, municipalities can acquire expensive innovations (notably equipment) and set up a management system that enables large numbers of farmers to access the same equipment.

For Farmers’ Organizations:

It is important for farmers’ organizations to see innovation as an essential part of their work. Good organization will enable farmers’ organizations to partner with innovators, research institutions and/or governments.

Furthermore, well organized cooperatives and associations can develop partnerships which enable them to orient the development of specific innovations to solve problems identified by their members.

It is essential that farmers’ organizations identify, test, improve and scale up agricultural innovations with or without government support.

 For Development Organizations:

Today, development organizations are probably the actors that provide the greatest support to innovation on the African continent. This work is to be applauded as it has produced some remarkable results.  To scale it up and render it sustainable, development organizations must remember the following:

  • ►It is necessary for innovations to be anchored within the national ecosystem: farmers’ organizations, ministries of agriculture, research institutions, private sector organizations, etc. as early as possible.
  • ►It is necessary to develop the business case and business plan for an innovation. How will development, testing and dissemination be financed?  What is the market segment for the innovation, does that innovation have the buying power to access it, etc.
  • ►It is helpful to connect innovators across national borders and even across continental borders. It is important that this learning and sharing be anchored within the national ecosystem of the country where the innovation will be used.
  • ►A discussion on patents and intellectual property cannot come too soon. Africans have often been robbed of their innovations. Both innovators and actors in the national agriculture ecosystem may need assistance in navigating discussions on intellectual property.

Innovations, however successful they may be, are necessary but not sufficient instruments to enable the African agricultural sector to meet the challenges it faces. The answers to be provided must necessarily be part of collective approaches involving all the actors concerned. These responses must also highlight the mechanisms of interaction with the agriculture ecosystem in order to make innovations truly work for agriculture.

Africans are innovating.  It is essential to capitalize on these innovations to accelerate and scale up results in agriculture so we can meet the various challenges related to population growth, food needs and employment in Africa.

[1] 2018 Report of the world bank : https://www.worldbank.org/en/publication/poverty-and-shared-prosperity

[2]  2018 Report of FAO : Africa regional overview of food security and nutrition

[3] Banque Mondiale 2016: https://www.banquemondiale.org/fr/topic/agriculture/brief/the-west-africa-agricultural-productivity-program

STRATEGIES! CEO, Kah Walla, Visiting Fellow at Perry World House, University of Pennsylvania

STRATEGIES! is pleased to announce, its CEO, Kah Walla, will be a Visiting Fellow at Perry World House, University of Pennsylvania, April 22 – 26, 2019. During her stay, Ms. Walla will be helping to shape the intellectual agenda of Perry World House’s inaugural research theme, “Global Shifts: Urbanization, Migration, and Demography”.

Ms. Walla will interact with University of Pennsylvania students and professors as a Visiting Professor in various classes, speak at conferences and working sessions as well as hold one-on-one sessions with students.  Building on her extensive experience as a development professional and her work as a frontline political leader, she will work with graduate students and professors to expand research and produce a policy-oriented paper on the theme “Transitioning societies from autocracy to sustainable democracy”.

Kah Walla is an entrepreneur, political leader, activist and former presidential candidate who is recognized internationally for her expertise in management and governance, as well as her commitment to Africa, its development, its women and its youth. Research and analysis carried out by STRATEGIES! in the last five years on Macro Trends in Africa in the areas of:

  • Peace and Security,
  • Economic Development & Food Security
  • Demography and Migration

will serve as a basis for her work at Perry World House.  Ms. Walla’s grassroots and national level work as the President of the Cameroon People’s Party on Political Transition in Cameroon will inform on the practical challenges of transitioning from autocracy to sustainable democracy.

Founded by Benjamin Franklin, the University of Pennsylvania is a private Ivy league research located in Philadelphia. It is one of the most highly ranked universities in the world and prides itself on a tradition of active pragmatism, translating knowledge into social-minded action.

Perry World House’s mission is to bring the academic knowledge of the University of Pennsylvania to bear on some of the world’s most pressing global policy challenges, and to foster international policy engagement within and beyond the Penn community. Visiting Fellows at Perry World House are a distinguished group of international scholars and professionals including profiles such as Susan Rice, Former U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Michel Gabaudan, former President of Refugees International.  Kah Walla is proud to be the first Perry World House Visiting Scholar from Africa.

Following her stay as a Visiting Fellow at Dartmouth University in 2018 and her conferences at Harvard University, Georgetown University and Yale University in prior years, STRATEGIES! is proud of its CEO’s continuous collaboration with the finest universities in the United States.  These collaborations have enabled our firm to integrate global conversations, contributing through our specific field work and research on the African continent.  Africa’s challenges are the world’s challenges. As STRATEGIES! seeks solutions for these challenges in its daily work, it is a privilege to take part in some of the most innovative and advanced conversations on our planet.

Looking for Africa-based, full-service Communications Firm to work at Sub-regional level.

STRATEGIES! is looking for a communications firm to partner with on the development and implementation of a communication strategy for an African Regional Member State Institution. The Communication firm will be responsible for:

  • Joint development of the 3-year Communication Strategy for the Peace and Security Program
  • Generating content and packaging for:
    • A quarterly brief produced electronically and distributed to all stakeholders
    • An annual report distributed both electronically and in print form
    • The stories of the program (3-6 per year) in short video format
  • Coordinating media relations, including:
    • Establishing a database of relevant media at national, regional and international levels
    • Drafting press releases for major events
    • Strengthening the relationships between relevant media and the institution

This contract will require 1-2 dedicated staff to manage the contract.  Work may include travel to East and Central Africa.

If you are interested, please send a presentation of your firm and at least 3 relevant samples of your work to strategiesrecrutement@gmail.com no later than Wednesday, February 13th.  For questions or further information, you may contact:

Land Line – +237 233 433 876 / 233 438 237

Mobile – +237 699 890 899

Recherche d’une entreprise de communication multiservices basée en Afrique pour travailler au niveau sous régional

Le cabinet STRATÉGIES! est à la recherche d’une entreprise de communication avec laquelle s’associer pour élaborer et mettre en œuvre une stratégie de communication pour une Institution Sous Régionale d’Etats Africains. La structure retenue sera responsable de:

  • Développer conjointement la stratégie de communication triennale pour le programme Paix et Sécurité
  • Générer du contenu et packaging pour:
    • Un rapport trimestriel produit électroniquement et distribué à toutes les parties prenantes
    • Un rapport annuel distribué sous forme électronique et imprimée
    • Les histoires du programme (3-6 par an) en format vidéo court
  • Coordonner les relations avec les médias, y compris:
    • Création d’une base de données des médias pertinents aux niveaux national, régional et international
    • Rédiger des communiqués de presse pour des événements majeurs
    • Renforcer les relations entre les médias pertinents et l’institution

Ce contrat nécessitera 1-2 employés dédiés. Les travaux peuvent inclure des voyages en Afrique de l’Est et Centrale.

Si vous êtes intéressé, veuillez envoyer une présentation de votre société et au moins trois exemples pertinents de votre travail à strategiesrecrutement@gmail.com  au plus tard le mercredi 13 février 2019. Pour toute question ou information complémentaire, vous pouvez contacter:

Ligne fixe : +237 233 433 876/233 438 237

Mobile : +237 699 890 899

A Week at Dartmouth: Bringing the African perspective to an American campus

A Week at Dartmouth: Bringing the African perspective to an American campus

For the past two years I have been invited to speak at Dartmouth College during the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI). The YALI program is, in my opinion, President Obama’s most significant legacy in Africa. The program which provides training and support to about 1,000 young African leaders from civil society, business and the public sector has not only increased the visibility of young African leaders, most importantly, it has enabled them to build networks. My engagement with Dartmouth, which is one of the prestigious Ivy League Schools in the US, has increased annually. This year the university used its “Great Issues Innovation Fund” to invite me in as a guest lecturer to spend a week at one of America’s most prestigious universities speaking to a wide variety of classes and groups.  It was a wonderful week of exchange, discussion, learning and experience sharing.

From Entrepreneurship to Activism

I am a political leader, entrepreneur and rights activist.  Dartmouth deftly drew from all of my experiences to create a wide variety of platforms for discussion and exchange.  I co-taught four classes.

  • Politics of Africa with Professor Jeremy Horowitz. Jeremy Horowitz who has lived in Africa, including in Cameroon knew exactly what to assign students as readings on Cameroon and on my personal experience as a political leader.  The hour flew as we covered Cameroon’s post-colonial journey, the current Anglophone crisis, the economics of dictatorships in Central Africa and the political perspectives for my wonderful country.  Dartmouth students do their homework. They had read and analyzed, enabling us to have in-depth discussions and make comparisons that stretched across the continent.  I left feeling buoyant. The students’ questions and perspectives triggered a multitude of new ideas in my mind.

 

  • Gender Identities & Politics in Africa with Professor Ayo Coly. I co-taught two sessions with this class and would go back again tomorrow without hesitation. Discussing with Ayo Coly was in itself a delight. This feminist professor of Senegalese origin delves into African feminist theory with gusto. She masterfully intertwined the dance performance of South African Dada Masilo, Obioma Nnaemeka’s notion of negro-feminism, the role of Liberian women in ending the war as portrayed in “Pray Back the Devil” and my own political leadership in Cameroon to produce the most thought-provoking discussion on Gender and Politics in Africa that I have participated in, in years. It is pleasantly jolting to theorize one’s own practice in the context of what  African women are doing all over our continent.  This class left me thinking, thinking and thinking.

 

  • The Challenges of Global Poverty with Don Steinberg.  Dartmouth is remarkable at drawing in nationally and internationally renowned figures to teach. Steinberg who has over 35 years-experience in US Foreign Policy as deputy administrator for USAID, National Security Council senior director for African Affairs and who served in both the Clinton and Obama administrations is a delight to exchange with. Here again the hour proved too short. I had to dig deep in my own 28+ years of working on development issues in Africa to meet the student’s questions.  From economic growth to education policy, we discussed different models I have had the opportunity to work with and lessons we can draw on to catapult development. Luckily, we were at the end of the day.  Exchanges with a handful of students continued for a good hour or so after class.

 

  • Women in Politics with Professor Deb Brooks. The timing did not work for me to participate in this class in person. Professor Brooks came up with the idea of filming a session for future use in her class. We covered my journey as a woman in politics.  Why I came into the field, challenges and successes in the last 10 years as well as perspectives for the future.  I look forward to seeing the video myself!

A variety of learning environments

I also tremendously enjoyed the variety of learning environments as I had coffee and desert with Human Development Fellows and King Scholars.  These less structured sessions with a smaller number of students enabled more in-depth discussions that were tailored to students’ specific questions and needs.  Particularly enjoyable for me was reconnecting with Ambassador Johnnie Carson, former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and members of his U.S. Policy on Africa class over lunch.  Ambassador Carson was a great friend of Cameroon when he was at the State Department and has continued to be so. His class had question after question ranging from the Cameroonian economy to the fight against Boko Haram and the implications for U.S. Policy.

Policy and development is of course wonderful and essential. However, I was also thrilled to speak to the MBA students at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business on entrepreneurship and building a consulting business in Africa.  The group of students from about 5 African countries had a multitude of questions on starting and growing a business in challenging environments on the continent.  I did not close without stressing on the importance for a business owner to be involved in improving governance.  It is your duty as an African citizen and it’s essential for business!

Building People Power…

The highlight of my week at Dartmouth was the Public Talk and Community Dinner on “Building People Power: Lessons from Grassroots Movements in Cameroon and in the USA”. Given the very recent mobilization of US citizens against gun violence and the march by Cameroonian women to stop violence in our country and improve governance, the topic was extremely timely.  With a conference room full of Dartmouth students and faculty as well as some of the alumni from the Class of 1957 which supports the “Great Issues Innovation Fund” which enabled my week at Dartmouth and alumni from the class of 1982 who are considering gifting their alma mater in a similar way; we examined some of the key features of these movements:

  • Ordinary citizens deciding to take on entrenched, powerful systems
  • Unlikely leaders – young people and women – who when we look throughout history turn out to be very likely leaders
  • The need for citizens all over the world to greatly increase their engagement with public governance to address the complex problems with which our world is faced.

The lively discussion during the public talk continued for several hours at the community dinner.  To me, it emphasized once again, the need for us as citizens to engage in lively, informed, in-depth discussion on the intricate challenges with which we are faced.  Whether one is from Douala or from Hanover as citizens we can no longer afford to be bystanders in the governance conversation!

The week at Dartmouth was invigorating.  Students bring to the discussion, fresh perspectives, passion, the “why not” question which always stimulates and an eagerness to find solutions which one can lose after years challenging circumstances.

The resources on the Dartmouth campus are impressive. Students have more science, communication and computer equipment on one campus, I am certain, than in all of Cameroon’s universities combined.  Even more important however, is the way alumni, professors and staff pool these resources and converge to give these students the ultimate learning experience. Everything comes together to help the student succeed. It is no wonder after such an experience that Dartmouth alumni are such generous benefactors to their school.

It is my hope that my African perspective and my experiences as a practitioner enriched their learning journey as much as they enriched mine.