IN THIS ARTICLE
VALUES AND MODELS WHICH HAVE BEEN DEVELOPED GLOBALLY ARE APPLIED TO AFRICA WHERE,
WITH THE EXCEPTION OF BOTSWANA, INADEQUATE ADMINISTRATION HAS BEEN AN IMPEDIMENT
TO DEVELOPMENT IN THE PAST DECADES.
ENVIRONMENTAL INFLUENCES, SUCH AS EXPLOITATION
BY INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN AGRICULTURAL PRODUCE, TIMBER AND METALS, OVER-ENFORCEMENT
BY THE IMF AND OTHER FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS, DO NOT RELIEVE THE AFRICAN ADMINISTRATORS
OF THEIR OBLIGATION TO ACCEPT THEIR OWN RESPONSIBILITY. AFRICAN ADMINISTRATION
SHOULD BE DISTINGUISHED FROM AFRICAN CIVILIANS. THE AFRICAN ADMINISTRATION STILL
FAILS IN ITS DUTY TOWARDS AFRICAN CIVILIANS. IMPROVEMENT IS A MATTER OF ORGANIZATION
AND MANAGEMENT. THE MEASURES THAT NEED TO BE TAKEN ARE ALL RELATED TO ORGANIZATIONAL
MATTERS, PARTICULARLY REDUCING 'OVERCENTRALIZATION', PROVIDING SOCIAL SERVICES,
STABILITY AND WORKING HARD. A NON-TRADITIONAL URBAN MIDDLE CLASS CAN BECOME THE
DRIVING FORCE BEHIND A MODERN ECONOMY.
DEVELOPING ADMINISTRATION INTEGRATES
AFRICA WITH GLOBAL ECONOMY
Drs E.R. van Riemsdijk
Lecturer in organization
& management and researcher into culture
Gradually, the notion is growing
that Africa has reached a point where it has more chances for real development.
After roughly thirty years, it appears that independence alone has not been a
guarantee for better administration and increase in prosperity. Former administrators
focussed on old relationships and concurred in them. The western coastal states
are therefore now in a state of crisis. The Sahel states, eastern and southern
Africa have already had their crises and improvement can be hoped for. In eastern
Africa, past experience has shown that after a crisis, administrators tend to
assume responsibility themselves and start to focus on their own people. An emerging
middle class in countries such as Senegal, Ghana, Birkina Fasso, Kenya and South
Africa is now demanding this cultural change process. In addition, it has become
evident that modern organizational culture and quality of labour are more important
for productivity and progress than independence in old structures alone. However,
in the administrative process (a service process) this transition has not been
made. There is over-centralization in administration.
For West Africa, the
change process means a new modest governmental structure with modest administrators.
Administrators should focus on their own population. At present, they conduce
to exploitation and violence against their own population. A new balance is needed
between, on the one hand traditional values and family structure and, on the other
hand, a new modern organizational structure and procedure aimed at stimulating
economic progress and market forces for the benefit of the population.
IN AFRICAN CONTEXT
Africa is no longer dependent
on aid. Famine is exclusively caused by destabilization resulting from wars on
the continent. Otherwise, it is very well possible to produce all the food that
it needs and to increase productivity. Violence is harmful to the population.
Economy in African context
The aim is to involve the growing pool of unused
and well-educated Africans. This requires organization of labour and organizational
structure, which at present is still chaotic in Africa, while the family organization
does have a clear structure. Africa lacks a traditional culture of protestant
work ethic and work division which, according to organizational theory, forms
the basis from which, through working hard, one gets ahead in this world and effective
organizations are created.
According to the Nigerian H. Ukpabi, Africa has
values which have a negative effect on modern organizational structures. First,
there is a traditional family structure with over-centralization of money and
power with the leader. Second, there is an African (family) context with several
non-business mutual services. The Kenyan Mazrui adds a third: a lack of knowledge
of planning (hoarding up for the winter) and, consequently, a lack of a change
process in human behaviour in this respect. These are prerequisites for creating
Empirical facts were gathered in West Africa through
contacts with a town in Cameroon, Batouri. We have been involved in many meetings
where non-business arguments led to suspicions of unfair treatment of individuals
or groups within the organizational structure. A manager at Vlisco (a textile
firm in Helmond which only trades in West Africa) confirms our experience. He
states that managers who are not afraid to take decisions are frustrated by the
leader by these non-business criteria, which play a role in the decision making
process. Families in West and East Africa are very well structured, whereas organizations
and administrations are not.
The Africa Institute in Leiden, the Netherlands,
says that there is a lack of added value through labour and therefore jobs in
Africa. In their experience, due to lack of stability the African entrepreneur
will choose to spread his risks over different sectors. However, what Africa needs
right now are investments in one single direction with more added value in order
to be able to provide for the pool of educated workers in agriculture, industry
or services. The increasing quality of labour increases productivity. Modern and
up to date information is essential to the new African entrepreneur but is missing
Working hard yourself
Yet, the notion is growing that
parts of Africa are about to start their own successful development process. The
Kalenjin (Kenya), Oromo (Ethiopia), Zulu (South Africa) and others have successful
languages which are uniting many different tribes into people and this process
is continuing throughout Africa. After thirty years of independence, there are
more than enough well-educated people. In this way an isolated traditional culture
is transforming into the direction of more modern groups in Africa. Protestantism
has been common in many countries in Africa for a long time, and the notion that
Africa should integrate into the world and should work hard itself is gaining
ground. This what our friends in Batouri experience with the COOP-SAAD organization
and similar stories can also be found in recent newspaper articles of people exercising
influence on policy from Mali, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Botswana.
in West Africa
West Africa has many problems which deeply frustrate the
decision making process; over-centralization and power are overvalued. Publications
by two renowned Nigerians support our experiences in the group of friends as well.
Achebe writes about power (title: Termite Hill) and P. Enahoro shows self-mockery
and humour in his work (title: The Complete Nigerian). In the West African macho
society, power is expressed more sharply in unfriendly behaviour among each other.
As a consequence, Ukpabi says, exploitation is imminent again and again. Liking
from Cameroon and Tansi from Congo confirm this in their writings. New governments
in East Africa claim that their culture is more characterized by modesty and respect
(Eritrea). This is supported by Professor Hofstede in Maastricht (title: Allemaal
Andersdenkenden) in his generally recognized cultural research. West Africa appears
to have a macho culture (as the USA), East Africa is more feminine with more opportunity
for consensus and modesty (as the Netherlands). Uganda, Eritrea and Ethiopia are
now experimenting with their own African political-administrative solutions. According
to organizational theory, this sense of responsibility and evidence of self-respect
are prerequisites for motivation and the development of modern structures.
Human rights and environment
A general design process has been formulated
by SID (Society International Development) which the author transformed into a
circular model. For Africa, this process is taking shape in East Africa where
it is generating the necessary stability. Only within this framework will economic
development have a chance throughout Africa and will African societies as a whole
be better managed in the next decade. In addition, human rights and environmental
issues are part of this design process. We will now present solutions as to how
change in behaviour can be accomplished in this organizational change process
Towards decentralization of power
in Africa frustrates the country's administration, province and municipality as
well as successful organizational structures. A methodology is essential in the
change process of behaviour but this requires good management. This is why we
describe good management (for each administrative level) and formulate the goals
as applied to the situtation in Africa. The model shows institutions in an international
Goals and country's institutions
An attitude of anti-violence and respect for human rights promotes stability
and creates the least exploitation. This also means that care for the society
is a state priority rather than care for one´s own group only. This is immediately
followed by a priority to economic development by stimulating professional organizational
structures in Africa. This leads to stimulation of business transactions and better
decisions in modern African organizational structures.The result can be that African
entrepreneurs may opt for more investments in one single direction, such as investments
in the environment. The four goals apply to each type of organization and at each
level of administration. Environmental aspects are part of the decision making
Furthermore, in the model we illustrate that Africa can now catch
up on information and communication by making use of the latest computer and communication
networks as of 1999 when the telecom industry will have finished installing glass
fibre cables around Africa. The telecom companies in Africa are the richest in
the world at present. As of 1999 this will benefit the exchange of ideas in human
networks on the African continent and to other continents.
In the model
good administration also means having and respecting independence from the country´s
institutions, i.e. the legislative body (the council), the controlling body (the
aldermen) and an independent judicial power (including the police force). In Africa
the fight between the opposing parties has in many cases not yet resulted in a
good balance in respecting these values. Not only in Africa but also elsewhere
this is a continuous developmental process, which especially now is requiring
more guidance of the accompanying behavioural change process, which we discussed
Behavioural change is reached by better planning as part of good
management. Planning means in the organizational discipline "giving direction
to (focus) and achieving participation of personnel". This requires behavioural
change in Africa. The only right way is for African administrators to set an example
in their respect for the institutions and in this behavioural change process.
If administrative and corporate organizational structures are to function well,
an accompanying cultural change process in essential in Africa.
why I now continue to give a systematic supplementary discussion of power, money,
organization and culture in Africa, from the book by the Nigerian Ukpabi:
This is a matter of "territory". African culture does
not allow control of the family eldest. Yet, the following will have to be learnt:
"restrict yourself to your territory in corporate and government positions".
Thus, space is created for different pressure-groups and for consensus and compromise.
This fits into African culture well. In this way the political structure in every
organization is improved.
Power is also "consolidating the interest of
the family" by transferring power from father to son. The combination of
these things makes it difficult to tackle higher positions. It is not about the
power itself, but power is the means to serve economic interests. The eventual
problem is overconcentration of power in one person and of all jobs in one capital/region.
The solution is to share economic interests and spread them over the regions.
Training in modesty then becomes important. This applies specifically to the culture
of West Africa.
Money and culture:
The problem is "control of money".
In Africa there is "no difference" between "private and public
life". This in combination with the big family and the family eldest results
in the problem that funds intended for a company or the government flow to the
family eldest. In difficult circumstances this is even worse: one must take care
of each other.
The solution is a good registration in companies and the
government and a regular recording of money flows and accounts. Large amounts
of money must be recorded and "checked" on method of spending. This
requires training, because it conflicts with the informal nature of the African.
Also, reports are necessary in which these money flows are accounted for. In this
way control is achieved indirectly. Culture, however, says that the family eldest
does not accept any control, for he himself controls. This means a new learning
process. Taxation is also unusual and rules are often not accepted. Taxes are
necessary as an instrument of the government to share economic capacity. Expenditure
strengthens the social structure, as it stimulates "the formation of a nation".
The problem is that African administrators in companies and the
government do not accept transfer and delegation of responsibility, because they
equate responsibility with authority. The solution is to provide training in organizational
concepts. "Transfer of responsibility" is not equal to "transfer
of authority". The slogan "close the gap: close it" to get feedback
.... "in meetings". Again, this fits in well with African culture.
The aim is also the transition from an "entrepreneurial/family organization
model" to other organizational concepts, which do allow space for people
outside the family. If management succeeds in this process of change, they will
only then be able to reach and control more economies of scale in organizations.
African governments would be subservient to the population and increase the social
structure of their countries. This would result in a transition from a traditional
to a modern structure in many African countries. Executives in modern organizations
would then be the new professionals. However, decision making would still in many
cases be the prerogative of the traditional groups at the top of the organizations.
Both groups would have their own role.
should set an example in decentralization and sharing money and power. Eventually
it is all about money, including building up of power in Africa, which, according
to Ukpabi, often centres around the family and the family organizational structure.
In managing any organization other than the family structure money must be administered
optimally by professionals. Empirical fact is the African context for these managers
and a too central role of the highest leader in the administration. The learning
process in the new organizational structure is to avoid these African context
This experiment seems to be working in Botswana, but the question
is whether the miraculous phenomenon of "sharing" outside the family
is structural in this country. There is a well functioning government. Also Senegal,
Burkina Fasso, Ghana and Uganda are doing well according to recent growth statistics.
Many other African countries, however, are still hesistant to steer a clear course
for decentralization. Examples are Cameroon and Kenya, which are continuing to
hold to too much central political authority with too little respect for people
of a different mind. In these countries this is therefore still hampering economic
democratization (delegation of responsibility to professionals).
according to the Kenyan Mazrui in his book "The Africans", Africa has
been important for Europe throughout the ages because of the subsequent procurement
of tropical colourings and flavourings, rare minerals, labour for the plantations
in the Americas, raw materials for foodstuffs, oil and natural gas, and, unfortunately,
for dumping waste. There is hardly any value added by labour in a production process
in Africa itself. In other words, .... is not in Africa´s interest. Mediocre
economic achievements in Africa are therefore also caused by not choosing to deploy
labour in production processes. That is why Africa is sharing insufficiently in
added value and prosperity. Also, the culture of profit maximization in simple
processes restrained investments in industrial processes in Africa. In East Africa
there is a more feminine culture which is more suited to trade and services.
there are success stories. The major example is BATA shoes. As BATA manufactures
a useful product that gives jobs in any country it is located, there is no lack
of possibilities for this manufacturer in Africa. African countries hold good
prospects for small and medium-sized companies in local (and regional/national)
industrial processes. Often exporting is not feasible for several good reasons.
This goes for Africa and is universal. Experience shows that in Kenya, according
to the Africa Institute in Leiden in the Netherlands, these smaller companies
nevertheless have to learn to focus more on exporting, as they will otherwise
lose out to the competition on their home market because of lower quality. As
it is, there is already strong competition between Europe, Kenya and South Africa
on each other´s markets.
Larger companies are able to provide larger
series in production, as well as products of larger complexity. Experience is
that small and medium-sized companies can enter the export market if they offer
a product in smaller numbers with additional value and professionalism. An example
is the "Fair-trade" organization. Another clear example is rose exports
from Kenya, while the canned fruit sector in Kenya is also exporting successfully.
This was recorded in a research project conducted in Kenya in 1993 and 1997 by
students under the supervision of the writer of this article (there were also
From interviews with CBI, the purchase department of Bijenkorf
and importers of flowers it has appeared that importers/purchasers in Europe,
after initial contacts, have often wanted to stop trading with Africa because
promises were not kept and because "they do not want to make money by working",
as people in China and elsewhere in Asia are accustomed to doing. So there are
still a number of obstacles. The Dutch flower branch is also familiar with these
problems, which, however, are corrected by immediate feedback by fax. The export
of canned fruit from Kenya is going well, too.