2022 Inaugural Presidential Speech
Academy of African Business and Development: The challenge for Excellence
Simon P. Sigué, PhD
Athabasca University, Canada
On behalf of the new executive committee which has just been sworn in today, I would like to thank Prof. Darley and other members of the Nominating and Elections Committee (NEC) for conducting the elections transparently and all AABD members for overwhelmingly entrusting us with this second term to lead our beloved organization for the next three years. This renewed trust goes straight to our hearts as it is a vote of confidence in the repositioning work that our team began in 2019, despite the challenges of COVID-19. Allow me also to acknowledge our elected members of the Board of Governors: Profs. Felix Ayadi, Lettice Rutashobya, P.D. Rwelamila, and Anita Spring and former President, Prof. Kofi Dadzie, who attended this conference virtually. My thanks also go to Conference Co-Chairs, Profs. Abednego O. F. Amartey and Nathan Austin, members of the Local Organizing Committee, and local sponsors for hosting and supporting a high-profile conference that will be difficult to forget. Finally, I extend special thanks to His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana, for honoring the AABD with his participation in the opening of the conference and for inspiring remarks.
Inspired by Chinua Achebe’s statement: “until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter,” a group of visionary African Scholars in the diaspora founded AABD in 1998. They were convinced that African business and development research needed its own forums and publication outlets to shape the narrative on Africa and to positively contribute to the transformation of Africa to a better continent to live and do business. Thereafter, several scholars have spread this message inside and outside Africa. In fact, the AABD has successfully organized 22 annual conferences in several countries, including Barbados, Canada, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Uganda, South Africa, U.K., U.S.A., and Tanzania. Its webinar series, Business According to African Elites, and its official publication outlet, Journal of African Business (JAB), are increasingly growing in stature in business and scientific communities.
Our proposal to you in 2019, when you first gave us the leadership responsibility of the academy, was not to rest on its past achievements. We were convinced that AABD would only realize the dream of its founding fathers if it broadened its membership, gained greater scientific legitimacy for its conferences, workshops and publications, and generated original solutions for sustainable development in Africa. This required, among other things, moving away from the perception of being an intellectual ivory tower to becoming an inclusive and impactful organization for academics, graduate students, business professionals, consultants, and policy makers.
Over the past three years, we have started implementing our 2019 vision through various activities, including the creation of a new series of webinars to stimulate open business discussions between all stakeholders, the implementation of mentorship programs, the availing of capacity building workshops as an addition to our traditional annual conferences, and networking with decision makers in Africa at all levels. Underlying our 2019 vision was the necessity of developing a culture of excellence as a shared value among members and a common thread of behavior in our organization. This inauguration of our second term offers the opportunity to deepen this idea and to clarify concretely what it means to strive for excellence for AABD.
Excellence for AABD means building on pan-Africanist roots planted by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah to deliver authentic, endogenous business and economic solutions that live up to African hopes and contribute to creating a better life in Africa. It is going beyond simply copying or adapting imported business and development models to provide innovative and original solutions for business and development challenges applicable in and outside Africa.
Excellence for AABD means helping to stimulate the genius that lies dormant in African youth in all aspects of business and development and to convey Nelson Mandela’s message that: “Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.” Excellence is also to serve as models for young Africans to enable them, not only to be proud of who they are, but to assert themselves as researchers, businesspeople, policy makers, and leaders at the global level who deeply care about their communities, countries, and Africa.
Excellence for AABD also means agreeing to continually challenge ourselves, as AABD members, and setting for ourselves high standards in our interactions with or for the academy. This implies, among others, having a sense of duty for AABD, committing to doing well what is required, and above all, avoiding deceiving the AABD community by taking on responsibilities that cannot be honored. It also implies, doing our part for the success of AABD by meeting deadlines and graciously complying with set requirements to ease the work of officers.
Nelson Mandela once said: “A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamt of.”
Colleagues, we no longer need to demonstrate our collective desire to play a part in transforming Africa into a better continent to do business and live in. However, we have the choice between making this desire a pious wish or a reality through the impact of our activities, our behaviors, and our characters; we have the choice between passivity, mediocrity and plunging more young Africans into despair, and excellence in whatever we do and opening new perspectives for them; we have the choice between greed and selfishness, and love for our communities, our countries, and Africa.
Colleagues, let our dream of an impactful AABD and a better Africa inspire our choices, our research, our teaching, our decisions, our behaviors, and our characters over the next three years.
Long Live AABD!
Long Live Africa!
Delivered on May 20, 2022 at UPSA, Accra, Ghana.