The impact of executive education in sub-Saharan Africa

In the last ten years sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has experienced significant growth in the banking sector including its emergence as a mobile banking leader, openness to foreign, global and Pan-African banks and active use of microfinance mechanisms. However, the region’s financial sector is still considered ‘underdeveloped’ with major challenges of unmet financial and banking needs that executive education (ExEd) training can help to address.

This is according to the ‘The Impact of Executive Education in sub -Saharan Africa’ research commissioned by Financial Sector Deepening Africa (FSD Africa), and conducted by the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) in collaboration with its member institution, the University of New Brunswick (UNB). The research focused on Cameroon, Ghana, South Africa, Ghana, Uganda, Senegal, Nigeria, Namibia, Zambia, Kenya and Tanzania. It aimed to develop an understanding of how middle and senior level managers learn most effectively in ExEd courses and how their learning benefits organisations.

According to the research, ExEd positively impacts financial services firms in the aggregate, chiefly through the application of employee skills and knowledge learned in ExEd programmes. It highlights that the market for ExEd is growing and in demand from financial services firms. Additionally, it states that ExEd can be improved in SSA via partnerships with international business schools and a larger focus on practical learning activities as opposed to theoretical ones.

The research finds that ExEd needs to more practical and less theoretical, employees are somewhat dissatisfied with their pay after completing ExEd training, ExEd graduates perceive themselves to be mobile and managers values the skills which ExEd graduates possess. Moreover, it finds that ExEd graduates help make their organisations more prestigious, ExEd improves customer service and relations, ExEd is primarily being provided by universities and ExEd graduates are in demand in SSA financial institutions.

In order to address the needs of the sector, the research concludes that changes are required in the delivery, scope and content of ExEd. It further recommends that there is need to undertake additional research to study the impact of ExEd on the financial services sector over the long term as well as address the question whether ExEd leads to increased access to financial services by the underserved segments.