In my opinion, Manasseh is a respected journalist so it was most unfortunate for him to adopt a very populist approach to condemning the organizers of the event without asking critical questions especially from the strategy perspective.
Key issues would have been:
Who organized the event?
What was the aim?
What were the key objectives?
Who were the target audience?
Was it just a convergence of African CEOs as the name suggested?
Was it just focused on Africa-Africa engagements?
These and some other basic questions would have given Manasseh an indication of the factors that informed the choice of venue.
Who organized the event?
It was organized by Groupe Jeune Afrique and Rainbow Unlimited GMBH in collaboration with the African Development Bank.
Rainbow Unlimited GMBH “ is a Swiss company based in Lausanne that specializes in introducing, promoting and facilitating business links between Switzerland and Africa, through the organization of business events relating to economic development, the execution of mandates and projects for individual companies/investors, and the organization of business trips to selected countries in Africa. ”
Groupe Jeune Afrique s a media organization focused on promoting the African continent. It’s the producer of the Jeune Afrique and The Africa Report magazines.
The event was also sponsored by over 60 international organizations
“The AFRICA CEO FORUM is the foremost meeting for CEOs of African and international companies, bankers and investors as well as high-level decision-makers. The forum accompanies African companies as they develop and provides a platform to promote their activities in Africa and internationally.”
Basic analysis indicates that it was not an Africa-Africa engagement, it was an Africa to the world engagement.
From a strategy perspective, it’s better to take your pitch to your target audience to initiate engagements than expect your target audience to come to you.
Does Manesseh think it was a lack of common sense for the organizers to choose Switzerland as the convergence point for a global meeting aimed at attracting investment into Africa? Really? Which is better? Taking your products to your target audience or asking your target audience to come to you?
If Manasseh conducted some basic analysis, he would not have attacked the choice of venue with such venom.
I am a strategist, and from the strategy perspective the choice of Switzerland as a global convergence point for CEOs of African firms, international organizations and agencies focused on promoting Africa INTERNATIONALLY was apt. Africa was not promoting Africa to itself, they took Africa to the world.
Manasseh focused on the name; “Africa CEOs” jumped on the populist bandwagon and unfortunately a certain Nana Kwame has crashed it.
If a certain Kofi Asempa wrote that comment instead of Manasseh and got “punched”, it wouldn’t have been an issue.
I share in Manasseh’s pain but it shows that when you are at the top, the standards must consistently be high. It also shows that we are all fallible and cannot always get it right.
By: Nana Yaw Kesse