Last week I talked about public leadership within the East African Community (EAC).I will now turn over to leadership within the private sector. The EAC will impact greatly on how business will be carried out in this region, which is bubbling with much potential.
This means that business leaders will find themselves operating in a completely new business environment. In this new landscape, innovation is the basic ingredient that will be needed to ensure and sustain success within the business world.
Lack of innovation will mean that business leaders will become relegated to irrelevance and by extension, end up being labeled as failures within their sectors.
This fact will be due to the increased levels of competitiveness which will be the order of the day within the new dispensation that the EAC will bring forth. It will be of no matter for a business entity to be known as Rwandan, Burundian, Kenyan, Tanzanian or Ugandan.
This is due to the fact that we are moving to destroy the colonial boundaries that have so much divided us for the last 200 years. As we move steadily towards this future, we have various brands which have picked this cue quite well and early.
KCB banking group boasts of 200 branches across the region. That is real business leadership. East African Breweries Ltd (EABL) is another case in point.
Right here in Rwanda, Bralirwa has intimated that it intends to spread its wings regionally. Perhaps, in the same vein, Onatracom and Sina Gerard should be following suit.
The School of Banking and Finance (SFB) should seriously consider opening campuses in Bujumbura, Dar –es-salaam, Kampala and Nairobi. By so doing SFB should be renamed East African School of Finance and Banking (EASFB).
I recently had an opportunity to share coffee with a local business leader where I asked him about his views on opportunities and challenges which the EAC will bring to the local business community.
This is what he said, “the successful EAC local business leader will be one who will be able to see opportunities that others will not be able to see. Such local business leaders will have to make re-adjustments and decisions that are not considered to be current business norms here in Rwanda----decisions that others will be unable to make for quite some time for the purposes of registering a return to investments made in the future.
This statement rang a bell in my mind regarding those firms that are labeled as being East Africa’s most respected companies. Safaricom Ltd must have heeded such principles.
I guess they will continue doing just that in the foreseeable future. I will only point out one innovation that has enabled them to stay far ahead of their peers in the telecoms industry; their famed mobile money transfer product M- Pesa- a product that has enabled thousands of Kenyans to bridge the gap between telecoms and banking. M Pesa will enable Safaricom to soar to new heights in the coming years.
What I can say, with some hindsight, is that the combination of outstanding leaders, both public and private, is what will most likely deliver the EAC political federation. In short the symbiosis between such exemplary leaders within both public and private sectors will be very invaluable in delivering East Africans to the Promised Land.
The author is a journalist with The New Times