Analysis: How many CEOs in Africa have an MBA?

Africa Advisory Group conducted an analysis of 100 chief executive officers running companies based in Africa. The analysis provides a snapshot of CEOs who have an MBA. The survey found that 29% of the chief executives have an MBA.

The analysis included the top 20 biggest companies by market capitalization in four segments—banking, telecommunications, consumer goods, and a combination of natural resources and construction businesses. The top 20 companies were selected from a ranking done by Africa Business Magazine. Additionally, several large multinational businesses were included in the study from the four sectors.

The chief executives from the 100 companies are based in 10 different countries in Africa including South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Morocco and Cameroon. Five went to U.S. business schools, 14 to European business schools and nine to African business schools. There was one CEO who attended an Australian business school. More than half of the CEOs who have an MBA are local hires and about a third are expatriates.

AAG MBA analysis-2

Global comparison

To compare the 100 Africa-based CEOs to global trends, AAG looked at a study done by the Financial Times in 2014 of the top 500 listed companies globally by market capitalization. The Financial Times study, which contained a larger number of companies,  found that 29% of the companies are led by an MBA graduate. The Financial Times data also showed that amongst U.S. companies, 46% have chief executives with an MBA and of the U.K.-based companies 37% of the CEOs have an MBA.

Looking ahead

The number of students from Africa taking the GMAT, necessary to attend business school, has declined in the past five years, according to figures from the Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers the GMAT. The drop is inline with global trends.

A report by the Association of African Business Schools and the Association of MBAs in 2015, says students in Africa are less interested in traditional finance roles and are seeking others ways to make a difference and be involved with innovation-driven fields at home instead of going abroad. There are currently only around 100 fully operational business schools in Africa, a continent of 54 countries. That compares to 4,000 in India.

“The traditional MBA, with its high costs and less flexible structure, will become less relevant to business in Africa, particularly as it is likely to remain unaffordable or inaccessible for most students,” the report says.

That doesn’t mean students won’t seek an MBA in Africa and that companies won’t want executives who have one. Indeed, many companies, especially those who want to hire a CEO from outside the country of location in Africa, do ask for candidates with an MBA.

The Association of African Business Schools and the Association of MBAs say “business schools in Africa will continue to evolve…New models of delivery will emerge that are more economically sustainable and that offer greater access to different types of learners.”

Research conducted by Akua Ampah and Devon Maylie.

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