Kagame meets senior African executives on Harvard programme

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Some of the officials on the Senior Executives Program Africa at Urugwiro Village during the meeting yesterday. Courtesy photo

President Paul Kagame on Tuesday met with a delegation of 56 top African executives currently undergoing a special programme at Harvard Business School in the United States.

The executives are currently undergoing the programme dubbed Senior Executives Program-Africa (SEPA) and it is offered in collaboration with the University of Pretoria (South Africa) and University of Lagos Business School in Nigeria.

The programme is now in its second cohort and it was first launched in South Africa last year and it has now been moved to Rwanda this year.

As part of the training, participants met with President Kagame who gave them personal insights on Rwanda’s development path, leadership strategy among other things.

According to Prof. Srikant Datar from Havard Business School, the team was inspired by Kagame’s approach to addressing several challenges the country faced to be where it is today.

“The insights he provided on the challenges and how he has addressed them and the wisdom with which he delivered those insights was just amazing. The inspiration he really provided, both in terms of his words and his examples, on what it means to lead and to lead in such a spectacular ways was really amazing,” he said.

The objective of a week-long programme is to develop management skills among leaders in Africa such as CEOs, board members, senior consultants among others, Datar says.

According to Datar, the trainees are expected to undertake projects in their companies before they go to Harvard to undergo another week-long training between November and December.

Regarding the role of SEPA towards the transformation of Africa, Datar said that it was still early to measure the impact but participants themselves are expected to deliver on the outcomes of the programme.

“We are trying to run this programme in a very different and innovative way. We have never done it this way before in Africa, not even in Harvard or anywhere else.

“We are trying to really connect to the issues and challenges here might be and give participants the kind of skills, which the president talked about (hands-on skills). Time will tell; we are still optimistic and hopefully it will have a big impact. For now, it is still too early.” Datar added.

The current SEPA cohort is made of participants who enrolled from 16 countries across Africa and one Rwandan, Dr. Diane Karusisi, is part of the cohort.

Karusisi, who is also the Managing Director of Bank of Kigali said that such a programme is what Africa needs to develop efficient leaders that would bring the much sought-after regional transformation.

“I think the programme that targets executives in Africa, is very much aligned to the challenges that the continent is facing. What we are trying to learn is how to address the challenges we are faced with in Africa—and as leaders in our respective countries—they really want us to have an impact in terms of development of the continent.”

She added: “Rwanda and Africa in general needs leaders that are well equipped to execute effective strategies for development,” Karusisi told reporters.

From this training programme, participants are expected to create innovative offerings, nurture high performance teams and navigate rapid changes in Africa’s dynamic markets.