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22 \ Business Life \ February 2013

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BUSINESS LIFE:

How African skills shortages drive up costs GTA speaks to top recruiters and organisational change executives focused on Africa about meeting the challenge of the continent’s skills shortage by Jeremy Kuper

Matimba Mbungela Vodafone - Regional Head of Organisation Effectiveness and Change: Africa,Middle East and Asia Pacific GTA: How is a multinational like Vodafone dealing with the challenges of the skills shortage in Africa?

“In some cases, you find people who are in the diaspora who are keen to go back on a permanent basis. But you do find some people who are keen to go back, make a difference for a period and who want to move on after that.” - Matimba

Mbungela,Vodafone - Regional Head of Organisation Effectiveness and Change

Matimba Mbungela: In terms of skills back in Africa, one of the key things that I found, and something that we’ve used very successfully at Vodafone, is to tap into the diaspora. And we had a very successful case study in Ghana. When we bought Ghana Telecom, we managed to attract a number of people who are in different parts of the world who were keen to go back, people who have an interest in being part of the change. So tapping into the diaspora is one of the key things, but obviously that comes with challenges, because often people of the diaspora would have been used to different living conditions, and how you then package what is attractive to them is quite critical. One is the type of role that you get for them. Secondly, it’s obviously the remuneration. But I think the key thing, is also putting [in place] what the career prospects look like for them back in the country - and also, being a multinational, other opportunities inside the group as well.

So in some cases, you find people who are in the diaspora who are keen to go back on a permanent basis. But you do find some people who are keen to go back, make a difference for a period and who want to move on after that. So for them it’s part of another move. The fact that they are of Ghanaian descent, as an example, makes it attractive for them to do that move, to bring that value home first, and then move on to other things. So actually it’s a combination of factors. The other piece is something that I strongly believe in…a global mentorship programme for multinationals. I do a lot of that as well. Mentoring people in different parts of the business, identifying the high potential people, and giving them an opportunity to be mentored by someone who is quite senior in the business, who may not necessarily be in the same location. And in this case I’m talking of locals in Africa who have the potential to do bigger things. One of the things that Vodafone is beginning to be a successful in, is forming project teams that consist of people from different locations across different countries. Often teams in such projects would be working outside of their own home country on something that may not even have immediate relevance in their own home location. This is also an opportunity for one to build an international network while learning how to engage with colleagues from

Gateway to Africa February 2013  

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