Nigeria's skills shortage may hamper its economic success
The managing director of a leading UK consultancy which helps companies looking to enter African markets has warned that the huge skills shortage in Nigeria may hamper its moves to becoming an economic giant.
Kevin Korgba, Managing Director of ETK Group made his comments following BBC Radio 4’s broadcast of the documentary MINT: The Next Economic Giants which discussed opportunities in Nigeria.
In Korgba’s view the economist Jim O’Neill, featured in the broadcast, failed to emphasis as strongly as he should have on the huge skills shortage in Nigeria which he believes urgently needs to be filled.
Korgba said that in addition to basic skills such as communication, reading and writing there is a dearth of management, leadership, technical and administrative expertise.
“The lack of talent and expertise is one of the key factors that will prevent Nigeria from fulfilling its potential,” said Korgba.
“There needs to be an urgent focus on addressing this through increased access to education and training.
“We would also emphasise the importance of understanding the nuances of local markets as failure to acknowledge differences in leadership and management styles can make or break a business.”
ETK Group believes there are three ways in which this skills gap can be filled:
Education:In addition to enabling more children (particularly girls) to attend school, more attention should be afforded to introducing vocational education and apprenticeships to encourage practical skills that are transferable.
Foreign investment:Merging international best practice with local knowledge is the most effective way to boost sales and run a profitable business.
Encouraging foreign companies of all sizes to enter the Nigerian market will therefore have a positive impact on the skillset of both employer and employee.
Diaspora:There is a wealth of experience to be found within diaspora communities. A conscious effort should be made to provide incentives for Nigerians in diaspora to return through the creation of opportunities that are attractive both in relation to remuneration and career advancement, and which also place an emphasis on what the diaspora can do to help business growth in Africa.
Obstetrician/gynaecologist, Dr Chito Nwanna, provides one example of the positive impact returning diaspora can have on the Nigerian community.
Upon returning to Abuja, Nigeria from North America where she had been living and studying, Dr Chito worked with ETK Group to found a Women's Healthcare practice, offering obstetrics, gynaecology, paediatrics, family medicine and counselling services.
Since opening in 2012, the Tabitha Medical Centre has gone from strength to strength and today has an active patient-list of 378, has conducted more than 25 successful surgeries and has organised several reproductive health workshops and awareness events.
MINT: The Next Economic Giants is a series of BBC Radio 4 documentaries by economist Jim O'Neill, that focus on the four countries believed to be the next emerging economic powers: Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey. www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03p824m
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.