Africell and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) have teamed up to test a new model of on-the-job professional education in Africa.
London-based Africell and LSE Generate, the LSE’s entrepreneurship hub, have partnered to deliver a series of bespoke training courses on “intrapreneurship” and “empathetic leadership” in The Gambia and Sierra Leone, where Africell is the leading mobile operator.
Motivated by the premise that the skills associated with entrepreneurship are as valuable in big organisations as in small startups, the training offered a practical introduction to current thinking around leadership, entrepreneurship and innovation, drawing on contemporary academic research at LSE.
Experts from LSE Generate first oversaw an intensive two-day workshop for Africell employees in The Gambia, which involved a Q&A with successful Gambian-American health-tech entrepreneur Dr Ismail Badjie, before travelling to Sierra Leone to lead an expanded programme including both in-house Africell training and a special session at the iconic Fourah Bay College for students and faculty-members in Sierra Leone’s public university system. The in-house training in Sierra Leone concluded with a Q&A with H.E. Salima Monorma Bah, the country’s telecommunications minister and youngest ever member of the cabinet.
Appreciation for empathetic leadership resonates deeply in Africa, despite a more agentic tone often being viewed as more economically viable. In a region where community is key, emphasising the power of human connection and encouraging a genuine interest in the well-being of colleagues is received openly. We need more organisations to follow Africell’s example and offer training opportunities based on these ideas, not just to the senior expats but also to aspirational middle management.Laura-Jane Silverman, Head, LSE Generate
The special session at Fourah Bay College was facilitated by Sierra Leone’s Ministry for Technical and Higher Education (MOTHE). Addressing the participants, Deputy Minister Sarjoh Aziz-Kamara thanked Africell for bringing LSE to Sierra Leone and endorsed the collaboration.
A key part of the higher education experience is the development of soft skills needed to succeed beyond university, including leadership, empathy, emotional intelligence and confidence. This joint programme between LSE, MOTHE and Africell is the first of its kind to take place in Sierra Leone and we expect it to be the start of an ongoing partnership which gets bigger and better every year.Sarjoh Aziz-Kamara, Deputy Minister
During its visit to Freetown, LSE co-hosted an evening reception with the British High Commission and Africell to celebrate educational and business links between Sierra Leone and the UK. The event saw over a hundred LSE alumni, Chevening Scholars, Commonwealth Scholars and others – including senior government officials from both main political parties – gather at the British High Commissioner’s residence for networking and entertainment.
We are excited to welcome such a prestigious UK university to Sierra Leone. The UK and Sierra Leone have an enduring friendship, in part a result of the rich legacy of institutions that have much in common. I hope that LSE and Africell’s collaboration in Sierra Leone will help young people to nurture vital skills, advance in their careers, and contribute to Salone’s broader development.Lisa Chesney, British High Commissioner, MBE
LSE has a long tradition of educating African and other global leaders. LSE Generate, which helps LSE students, alumni and staff build their own businesses, has previously worked in Nigeria and Ghana, but not in The Gambia or Sierra Leone. Partnering with Africell gives LSE access to two smaller west African countries where the personal and systemic impact of LSE Generate’s engagement can be greater.
The in-house training programme for Africell staff, which was titled ‘Leading With Impact’, came within the scope of the Africell Impact Foundation, of which education and entrepreneurship are key impact areas. In May 2023, Africell and the LSE’s Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa held a major event at LSE’s main campus in central London focusing on innovation in Africa. Ziad Dalloul, Africell Group’s CEO and President, explains the rationale for further developing Africell’s partnership with the university:
The aim of this initiative is to give key staff a unique, insightful and high-quality in-person learning experience which represents a serious investment in their professional development and demomnstrates our confidence in their potential as future leaders. We were also keen to help establish direct links between the LSE and two of our most important operating markets. Being a London-based but Africa-focused technology company, Africell is well positioned to be a conduit for knowledge, skills, and best practices between Africa and the wider world, and our work with LSE is part of that agenda.Ziad Dalloul, CEO and President, Africell Group