Characteristics of Africa’s Technological gap in Project Management

There is a deficit in the quantity and quality of qualified experts and professionals in project, programmes and portfolios management. This technological gap materializes by multiple shortcomings observed in the delivery of projects and programmes in Africa. These are reflected in particular by:

  1. lengthy studies and procedures for project selection and initiation;
  2. a lack of codification and development of the function of Project Manager, Project Director and Programme Director;
  3. poor design of project scope and inappropriate organization to project requirements;
  4. implausible and unrealistic planning of projects with complacent schedules and often underestimated budgets;
  5. research, raising and an arrangement of project financing facilities through inefficient procedures and resulting in extremely long timelines and random results;
  6. delayed project implementation with chronic budget overruns and unsatisfactory technical performance in terms of physical performance and earned value;
  7. a high number of partially completed or abandoned projects due to inadequate monitoring and controlling;
  8. inappropriate processes and procedures related to project procurement activities often without appropriate risks management;
  9. inappropriate financial disbursement procedures due to the inadequate consideration of the bankers’ non-objection requirements;
  10. a weak absorptive capacity of States and governments, resulting in a low consumption rate of available funds and external financing obtained;

The issues listed above cause corresponding huge losses in technical, financial and human resources estimated at tens of millions of US dollars a year.

The structural and infrastructure transformation needs of the African economy are increasing the number and complexity of projects and programmes. Their satisfactory and optimal realization will not be possible without the availability of a growing critical mass of qualified experts and professionals in project and programme management.

It is in this context that the technological gap of Africa in project management can be assessed using four (4) activity indicators in the sector.

  1. The participation of African countries in the technical committee ISO/TC 258. The technical Committee ISO/TC 258 is responsible for the development of international standards in the field of project, programme and portfolio management. This Technical Committee currently has 51 members of which 37 are participating members and 14 are observer members. Africa has only six members, including only 2 participating members (South Africa and Cameroon) and 4 observer members (Egypt, Kenya, Morocco and Uganda). Yet Africa has 39 ISO members including 27 member committees and 12 corresponding members.
  2. The number of PMI chapters in Africa. PMI is a professional organization that has 293 chapters in 83 countries. In this professional network, Africa has only 6 chapters (South Africa, Cameroon, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda and Senegal).
  3. The number of member associations of IPMA in Africa. IMPA is a professional organization with 60 member associations. In this professional network, Africa has only 4 member associations (South Africa, Algeria, Egypt and Nigeria).
  4. The number of accredited project management programmes in universities and higher institutes. Established by PMI in 2001, the Global Accreditation Centre for Project Management Education Programs (GAC) has about 100 universities and higher institutes worldwide that have accredited project management training programmes for mostly Masters and PhD level. Currently, only one African university has obtained since October 2008 the accreditation of two (2) Project Management Masters (Master of Engineering, Project Management and Master of Science, Project Management). It is the University of Pretoria, Graduate School of Technology Management (GSTM) in South Africa.