AABS Chairman’s Message
By 2050 Africa will have 25% of the world’s workforce. According to the Brookings Institute, by 2100, 13 of the world’s 20 biggest urban areas will be African — up from just two today — and will house more than a third of the world’s population.
Two critical determinants will influence whether this is a future of hope and prosperity or not. The first is the extent, quality and relevance of education provided to Africans and the second is the extent to which African collaboration and trade can grow and be effective.
The engine of prosperity is business. Good businesses, driven by capable, confident, and proactive people, that provide value to other businesses and society – to build opportunity and grow economies. Here the role of a skilled and dynamic African business education sector is central.
Never before have African business schools had a greater opportunity or been more needed. Africa is full of capable people, though too many are under-educated, excluded or trapped in poverty. Business schools urgently need to work together to make sure that the majority of Africans are skilled and meaningfully included in work because unless they rise, African economies will not rise.
To meet this enormous challenge, African business schools must collaborate to raise the capability and standards of all. We must commit to more than building our own institutions and commit to being the institutions that collectively build Africa. It can be done. While individual schools can – and should – be worthy and respected rivals to each other, the logic, reach and power of African collaboration to build the reputation and credibility of the sector as a whole outweighs competition.
The Association of Africa Business Schools (AABS) is a rapidly growing association of more than 55 business schools that has made big strides in building the image of African business schools worldwide. It does this not just through its unique accreditation programme, which is rapidly gaining traction, but also by assertively sharing the stories of the achievements of African schools and by preparing them to achieve further international accreditation.
At this critical time – as the African Continental Free Trade Area opens for business and the pandemic looks to be in retreat – AABS will continue to lead in building performance, growth and improvement in Africa’s business schools. We are committed to an agenda to protect the world we live in and its nature, environment and climate, and to promoting and assisting increased female representation at senior levels in our business schools. Already the AABS board constitution has been changed to require at least 40% women board membership over the coming three years.
More broadly, we want to encourage the sector to think bigger and to carve out a more extensive role and reputation for itself in social and economic spheres, understanding the extraordinary contribution we can, and must, make in building the people and organisations that will grow prosperity and good business on this continent.
As the incoming chairperson of AABS I am deeply aware of the duty of service it brings. I also salute the dedicated work done up to now by the AABS team, board and previous chairs. I commit to driving AABS’s ideals and aspirations and to accepting the honour and challenge of serving the member schools as they take on ever-more ambitious visions and projects to build stronger African economies through the quality of the learning, research and leadership they provide.
It’s time for African business schools to deliver with authority and energy on Africa’s progress; with Africans, for Africans, with increasing confidence in ourselves, based on ever-improving standards and commitment to Africa’s future. If you haven’t already joined us, we invite you to be part of this journey.
Dean Jonathan Foster-Pedley – AABS Board Chairman
Henley Business School Africa