• August 4th, 2020

Strong link required between public and private sector than ever

In the 21st century environment, the dynamics are about change. Change is perhaps the most predictable phenomenon and characteristic of human life. It is not just how organisations are managed that has been changing and will continue to change, the drivers of any management dynamics and the consequences of such change on human existence are themselves open to change. 
Business, government and leaders should, therefore, not be surprised by the outbreak of the global coronavirus pandemic. 

The 21st century differs significantly from preceded centuries and thus shall keep scientists and management experts on their toes to come up with workable solutions for human kind’s survival. 
With its ramifications for social and political chain reactions, technology management has become key to all human economic activities. 

To be successful in the 21st century, any organisation shall be premised on the economies of scale; focus on outcome rather than input;  fast-paced management and evidence-based decisions in response to the dynamics of the market;  and emphasis should be placed on consistent customer satisfaction in the face of stiff competition and unexpected outbreaks such as Ebola and Covid -19 that emerged of late.

During this epoch of deadly epidemics, nations of the world and in particular governments, academics and business leaders are being urged strongly to place emphasis on drivers of national economy. 
There are various opinions on what constitute the main drivers of our day to day life in the 21st century. In my view, the major drivers particularly in Africa, include power (electricity), technology, internet connectivity and change management. It is an undeniable fact that the 4th industrial revolution is real and no government, no institution and no individual can afford to do business as usual.  

1.  Electricity 
Let’s elaborate a bit on electricity, the acclaimed eclectic supply of electricity in most African countries today is, for business, a far more destabilising management challenge than bureaucracy. Research has it that in some parts of Africa, electric power is inaccessible, unaffordable, and unreliable for many thereby entrapping people in poverty. Students find it difficult to read after dark, clinics cannot refrigerate vaccines and businesses have shorter operating hours (World Bank. Energy in Africa 2013). This trend ought to be reversed sooner. Efforts should be deliberately geared for massive electrification of rural areas. We know resources are limited but electricity has become part of human life. 
Shortage of electricity is a huge impediment to Africa’s development.  It should be noted there can be no development and economic growth without reliable electricity supply. It goes without saying that acute power shortages, as experienced on our continent, retards economic growth and development. 
Given the strategic importance of power to business and humankind in general, both government and the private sector should work hand in glove to find amicable and lasting solutions more so now than ever.

2.  Technology
The fact is incontestable that in the 21st century all business activities, unlike before, will be dominated by technology. It has been established that the world of technology in the coming years during the 4th industrial revolution will see “significant advances in the fields of artificial intelligence, robotics, internet, autonomous vehicles, nanotechnology, biotechnology, etc”. These technological developments will “soften the borders between the physical, digital and biological spheres and pose a series of important challenges and opportunities”. Alvarez Sainz, María and Apellaniz, Kepa Xabier (2017).

Government and the business community must thus gear up and be ready to accommodate the impending technological changes brought by the 4th industrial revolution, the rapid pace of these changes and their profound effect on human life and living. No doubt, these changes are bound to transform production processes, business management, teaching and education delivery not to mention the systems of our governments. 
Given the above, the hunt for talents, for appropriate skills to match the speed of technological changes, will be the top priority. 

To close the skills gap, governments should take the lead with the active support of the private sector, particularly the business community. Business ought to be proactive in influencing school curricula, subject mix and qualification specialisation at various levels. Potential scientists should be identified early in school and given the necessary support to grow and become specialists.

The business community should encourage students through scholarships, endowments and research grants. Government and the business community must build the bridge between the producers of skills and consumers of expertise for mutual benefit and national development. That is the best way to face up to the challenge of technology in the 21st century and the outbreak of deadly pandemics such as coronavirus.
The focus should not only be on the students in schools, not just on the young men and women who are yet to enter the work force but attention should also be given to the current workforce  across the age spectrum to get trained on the job in response to the ever changing production processes. Education must be seen as a life-long preoccupation by all.

3.  Internet connectivity
It is perhaps in the realm of internet connectivity that the radical way of doing business in the 21st century manifests itself. With skyping, video conferencing, moodle facilities in universities all is made easy. Gone are the days when board members had to travel over land or sea for miles on end to attend scheduled meetings.
Directives can now be issued via email; Facebook; WhatsApp; Twitter; Google+, etc. The professor can sit in the office or at home and communicate with anybody, and every one, anywhere and in any place as long as the internet connectivity is guaranteed.

While it is reasonable to throw the management challenge back to electricity supply, a part of the internet connectivity problem has to do with poverty and weak internet infrastructure. Again, both the government and the business community should work together for a viable solution aiming at reducing the cost of internet infrastructure to enable greater access and boost business interests.

4.  Managing change 
To say the least, every business organisation should in today’s world be conscious of organisational change as an imperative. Change is in most cases often necessitated by the need to achieve efficiency and effectiveness. The obvious challenge here is that if change is not effectively managed it will unfortunately be rejected. It is human nature to resist change.  Adapting to the changing business environment requires amongst others, self-belief, iron discipline and cooperation.

*Professor David R. Namwandi, is a former education minister in the Republic of Namibia and the founder and council chair of the International University of Management (IUM) the largest privately owned university in Namibia that offers accredited courses.

Staff Reporter
2020-04-17 10:24:58 | 3 months ago

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