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Professor Theuns Pelser, Dean and Head: Graduate School of Business and Leadership, University of KwaZulu-Natal - Africa's Unlikely Heroes


Everyone is in agreement; Africa and The Middle East will drive growth for the world for the coming thirty years, just as Asia has done for the last thirty. By the year 2050, the population of Africa will reach 2.4 billion, i.e. double what it is today. Parallel to this, we are seeing the rise of a new African middle class - better off and better educated - who are demanding more in terms of  consumption, housing and, of course, governance. All these changes are having the effect of attracting new companies, as well as the best talent, to benefit from the development ambitions of Africa and The Middle East.

It's no wonder, then, that 72% of CEOs are concerned about the availability of key skills, particularly with 48% planning to increase headcount in the coming year. And it explains why by far the most CEOs (75%) say that a skilled, educated and adaptable workforce should be a priority for business in the country where they're based. According to the 19th Annual Global CEO Survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), this is such a vital factor that CEOs see it as a top priority for both business and government - together.

The problem of human capital is today one of the three principle investment priorities, and has been since 2014, for more than 30% of managers in Africa. According to a study entitled 'Africa Business Agenda' from PwC, 75% of these same managers state that a lack of key skills is threatening growth. In addition, there is currently a lack of capacity to develop new managers. Africa has far too
few good formal business schools to meet the need for management education.

The Graduate School of Business (GSB) was started in 1974 in the then University of Durban-Westville (UDW). In 1994, a reaccreditation of the MBA was required and the GSB earned the reputation of being the first historically
black university authorised to grant MBA degrees. In 2004, UDW merged with the then University of Natal, the MBA became the flagship offering of the newly formed Graduate School of Business (GSB) in what was now the University
of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). The merger also brought about the college-based model at UKZN, and the GSB became part of the College of Law and Management Studies (CLMS). In 2011, the University underwent a restructuring process and the Leadership Centre became part of the GSB, forming the current
Graduate School of Business and Leadership (GSB&L).

The Master in Business Administration (MBA) is an appropriate programme to
attract and develop practicing middle managers. The MBA degree is an internationally recognised brand that signifies management and leadership
training. Under the auspices of the Council on Higher Education and the Higher Education Quality Committee, the National Review of the MBA programme was concluded at the end of 2015. The new MBA programme's design, learning resources and assignments from the GSB&L encourage students to engage
actively with the learning content through the extensive use of case studies, class discussions and practical exercises to assist them to apply the learning in real-life scenarios and to develop problem solving skills to develop creative
solutions for addressing our current challenges.

A Masters of Business Administration (MBA) signifies that an individual has become a specialist or master of the skills necessary to manage a business or operation. In the final analysis, what those skills are subject to is constant scrutiny and change. In this regard, the Graduate School of Business & Leadership is ideally placed to contribute to the development of middle
managers to unlock the potential for growth in Africa.

Professor Theuns Pelser, Dean and Head: Graduate School of Business and Leadership, University of KwaZulu-Natal - Africa's Unlikely Heroes

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