In February 2019, Africa Lead and the African Management Initiative (AMI) launched the Executive Leadership Course for Africa’s food security. An intensive six month program, the course combines high impact in-person work-shops with online learning and on-the-job feedback. The six month program design is a change in Africa Lead’s tradi-tional week long leadership training model, with a focus on supporting food security leaders as they work on a learning activity in their sector or institution. The 20 participants representing six countries – Kenya, Madagascar, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe – were drawn from East Africa Community (EAC) and Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) member states. The participants underwent a rigorous application process. The selection process included an online application drawing more than 130 applicants of which 40 were selected as finalists. One-way video interviews were conduct-ed before the final selection of course participants.
To begin the three day kickoff event, participants heard from Steve Smith, Africa Lead Chief of Party and keynote speaker Dr. Fidel Ndiame, the Interim Vice President, Policy and State Ca-pacity for the Alliance for Green Revolution Africa (AGRA). Dr. Ndiame expressed optimism about the opportunities available for growth in the agriculture sector in Africa with great lead-ership in place. He spoke about current commitments that exist like the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Pro-gramme (CAADP) and how leaders can use these tools to find opportuni-ties to improve the food security situa-tion in Africa.
Over the remainder of the three day kickoff event, AMI led participants through self-reflective exercises teach-ing them how to identify challenges as leaders, how to influence without au-thority, building trust, creating a space for collaboration, building desire and will, engaging stakeholders effectively and working through others. They were then allowed to come up with individual projects which they committed to work on over the next six months. The cohort also received a presentation on the African Union CAADP Toolkit for Action on Improving Af-rica’s Food Security which focuses on the results of 2018 Biennial Review report.
Speaking after the event Daniel Joloba, an agro-processor from Uganda and the proprietor of Raboni Group of Companies, said that he hopes to expand his knowledge base, learning from other East African leaders as he seeks to reach more smallholder farmers through his maize processing business.
“My purpose of coming for the Executive Leadership for Africa’s Food Security course is to ex-pand my networks in East and Southern Africa. As a company we have a very ambitious growth-plan, we are looking at making very strategic investments but to do that you need the skills that enable you to take some tough decisions as a leader,” says Daniel. “How do I provide the critical leadership needed by my employees to help my company grow and create even more opportunities for them? These are some of the key issues that brought me here, and so far I believe I have learned a lot from my fellow participants and the facilitators,” he adds.
The participants left with commitment to follow through on the upcoming online learning ses-sions as well as the finale event which is set to take place in August 2019. They will have access to online learning tools over the six months provided by the AMI, as well as support from Afri-ca Lead, as they get deep into leadership development and ensuring their projects come to life.