SOUTH Africa’s borders officially open for the first time in six months on October 1 but if they hadn’t, students on Henley Business School Africa’s brand new NQF level 8 qualification for Africa would have been walking through the continent’s factories and fairs – from the comfort of their own home – on October 27.
“There’s an immense amount of romanticism about Africa,” says Henley Africa dean and director Jon Foster-Pedley, “and rightfully so, but the fact that the Pan African dream has never properly taken root and been developed, especially commercially, is perhaps because no one has set about creating a powerful and practical framework that interrogates what it takes to do business in Africa and then gone about teaching those skills.”
The Post Graduate Diploma in Management Practice (Africa) that Henley has now developed is a unique qualification to teach those skills to ambitious and enthusiastic business leaders to become truly successful in one of the last high-potential, untapped markets in the world – and forge their own network of cross-continental peers. It’s also another key gateway for the school’s internationally acclaimed flagship executive MBA programme.
The PG Dip (Africa) blends the best of the Henley Africa assets – especially its pioneering Full Immersion Reality Education (#HenleyFIRE) – with some of the best educators available. Cameroonian Francois Ameguide will be teaching the strategy component of the year-long part-time evening course and also designed the immersive modules. He’s not just an adjunct faculty member at Henley Africa, but also an MBA graduate and an investment banker with a 16-year track record of deal origination and execution across sub-Saharan Africa.
“The uniqueness of this course is that it provides the context within which business is conducted in Africa – which is different from country to country,” Ameguide explains. It’s a three-dimensional approach; exploring the economic dynamics of the particular country or region, understanding management orientation and unpacking cultural nuances.
“Immersion through virtual (VR) and augmented reality (AR) is a vital part of this process. Normally you would expect students to travel to the country to immerse themselves, but COVID 19 makes that much more difficult. It has also opened all our eyes to new opportunities that really excite us. so instead, wearing a VR headset, the student will actually go on a walkabout of a manufacturing plant in Accra, Ghana, and talk to the plant management about the challenges they face, as one example.
“Or they can go to an art gallery in Accra and speak to one of the artists there about their work and its cultural and historic significance.”
Ghana is just one example. Henley Africa hopes to virtually showcase at least one country from West Africa, one from East and one from southern Africa in each cohort to allow students to feel and deeply comprehend the differences between them – and appreciate the similarities.
Providing students with a near-real experience has been a hallmark of Henley Africa’s PG Dip programmes, through the Henley FIRE process pioneered by Louise Claassen, who will be playing a leading role once more, alongside Ameguide. The immersive learning component now is available through VR and AR platforms. It’s also asynchronous, allowing students to learn at times that suit them using Henley Africa’s virtual platforms that were perfected during South Africa’s lockdown, making it highly convenient not just for students based in South Africa, but across the entire continent.
“COVID 19 drove us upwards in many ways,” says Foster-Pedley, “when we pivoted to virtual learning, we opened many new doors and unlocked a host of new opportunities. One of these is being able to infuse the lessons we have learnt from this process into the programmes we now present. The PG Dip (Africa) is a dynamic incubator of all of these innovations.”
He is extremely excited about the potential of the course.
“Africa is a complex and beautiful concept. There are huge economic and social opportunities and through this course, we can help bring people together. We can better prepare South Africans to seamlessly operate in other African countries while introducing African businesspeople to ready-made networks in South Africa. Through all this we are exploring the international and global opportunities too and helping Africans see and seize their rightful commercial status in the world.
“When I look at Africa, I see these areas of brilliance in every region that remain unconnected. If we can find a way to bring them together and tap into that simmering potential, I think there’s an extraordinary energy that we can harness – and with that a wonderful freedom too.
“This organically African, globally benchmarked, course for Africa is an opportunity for us to start seriously collaborating with each other, not competing.”
If you would like to be part of the PG Dip (Africa) journey, please go to https://www.henleysa.ac.za/postgraduate-diploma-in-management-practice-pgdip/ for further details.
- Henley Business School Africa is a leading global business school with campuses in Europe, Asia and Africa. It holds elite triple international accreditation; has the number 1 business school alumni network in the world for potential to network (Economist 2017); and is the number 1 African-accredited and -campused business school in the world for executive education (FT 2018, 2020), as well as the number 1 MBA business school in South Africa as rated by corporate SA (PMR 2018, 2019, 2020).