(Business in Cameroon) - Cameroonian universities generally do not figure in the different rankings of African universities. However, within the most globally known multinational companies or international institutions, Cameroonians, including those who studied in the training schools of the country, are performing as well as their brothers from South Africa, from English-speaking Africa or the Maghreb, entities of the African continent whose universities are often in the international rankings.
Yes! Despite an education system which no-one doubts needs to be improved, there are indeed several Cameroonians who are talented, competent, intelligent and inventive. Many of them sometimes started their education in a small forgotten village, before finding themselves, generally through the support of State grants, in the best universities of the world, where their competencies have even sometimes led them to celebrity.
Through their varied experiences, their great ideas stemming from the desire to change the world, they became worthy ambassadors for Cameroon in various sectors in Europe, in Cameroon itself, in the United States, etc. Through their accomplishments, they contribute to raising high the tricolour flag of their countries at the global exchange meeting. These flag-bearers for Cameroon are the hope of a country with potentialities to be yet exploited, but whose future could hide many surprises for the most sceptical.
In this feature, we will present a sample of Cameroon’s pride, in the diaspora as well as in the country, as part of a casting which will surely be disputed. The goal of our initiative is more to pay homage, without exception, to these young managers, innovators, civil society leaders, etc., who, sometimes unknowingly, are building every day the image of a country still trying to find its way in the concert of nations.
(Brice R. Mbodiam)
Acha Leke: the indomitable lion of the American firm McKinsey
“Lions on the move”. Do you know it? Well, this is a report from the famous American firm McKinsey, published in 2010, and which decodes the most dynamic economies of the African continent. Among the authors of this report, of which a new edition is currently being prepared, is Cameroonian Acha Leke (photo), from Fontem, in the North-West region.
Having joined McKinsey’s sub-Saharan African headquarters in Johannesburg in 1998 for an internship, Acha Leke is now one of the 350 consultants of the firm on the African continent. With a degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University, USA, “his corporate spirit and his bilingualism enabled him to surmount barriers which have stopped many others”, his fellow countryman Cyrille Nkontchou confided.
At McKinsey, Acha Leke, 42 years, has mostly worked on the Nigerian economy. He even stayed there from 2010 to 2013, for projects which enabled the local tax administration to increase its revenues by approximately FCfa 420 billion. But, this Cameroonian financier is especially presented as one of “the architects of the Development programmes of Togo, Senegal and Gabon for French speaking countries, and of Kenya Vision 2030 on the English speaking side”.
In addition to finance and economy, Acha Leke is interested in education issues. Indeed, with his Ghanaian friend Fred Swaniker, he is one of the founders of the African Leadership Academy of Johannesburg, which prepares in two years about one hundred young people from 43 African countries to join the best international universities.
“There have been three generations of African leaders before us: that of Nyerere and Nkrumah, who gained independence and built our States; that of General Abacha, who destroyed them; and that of Kagamé or Johnson Sirleaf, currently in power, who brought growth. This is now the turn of my generation. We must bring prosperity, particularly through intercontinental exchanges”, he stressed.
Bony Dashaco: the communicator distributing his messages in 22 African countries
Since 2002, Bony Dashaco is the CEO of the African Center for Marketing, Advertising and Research, or Acmar Media Group, which he fully owns. With a presence in 22 countries of Central and Western Africa, the Acmar Agence is one of the first independent agencies for media consultancy in French speaking Africa.
Based on this presence whose fame keeps on growing on the continent, this Cameroonian communicator is now dreaming of developing his communication company, in order, we learnt, to be able to rival world known agencies who are still dominating the African market.
Considering the performances in recent years, as well as the prospects available to his communication company, Bony Dashaco features, since 2014, in the Choiseul ranking of the 100 African leaders of tomorrow. Ranked 35th in Africa, the CEO of Acmar Media Group is the 2nd Cameroonian of this list.
Arthur Zang created the Cardiopad, the first African medical tablet
Arthur Zang was made, on 2 July 2015 in Yaoundé, a Knight of the National Order of Valour. He thus becomes, at 28 years, one of the youngest recipients of this award from the Cameroonian State. The medal came with a cheque of FCfa 20 million representing the special encouragement prize from the Head of State.
This money, we learned, will allow the young IT specialist to complete the production of the first 100 copies of his Cardiopad, the first African medical tablet for performing heart tests and remotely send the results, which was set up through the ingenuity of this alumnus of the Ecole Polytechnique de Yaoundé. Though sought by industrialists and bankers wishing to take part in the production and marketing of this device, Arthur Zang decided to give these first copies to the hospitals of his country, already basking in the aura of his invention.
An invention which made him, on 24 June 2014 in London, one of the 5 recipients of the “Rolex Awards for Enterprise 2014”. 1,800 candidates throughout the world took part in this competition. In 2015, the Cardiopad inventor, who appears in the Choiseul ranking of “African leaders of tomorrow” since 2014, was among the 10 nominees for the 2015 Innovation Prize for Africa, out of 925 entries from 41 African countries. This other competition was organised by the African Innovation Foundation (AIF).
During the Africa-Development Forum, organised in February 2015 in Casablanca, Morocco, Himore Medical, the start-up through which Arthur Zang developed his Cardiopad, won the entrepreneurship trophy in the “Innovation” category. So many distinction which do not however deter this “polytechnicien”, more than even focused in his goal: to remedy to the lack of cardiologists in Africa through technology.
Vera Songwe on a pedestal at the World Bank
Director of Operations at the World Bank (WB) for Senegal, Cape Verde, Gambia, Guinea Bissau and Mauritania since 2011, Vera Songwe, from Cameroon, has become since 2015 the new Regional Director of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) for Western and Central Africa.
In these new functions, even though she will continue to work with the Senegalese authorities who seem to have a particularly limited appreciation for her rigorous methods as Operations Director for the World Bank, Vera Songwe will be more in contact with the private sector, the IFC being the subsidiary of the WB specialised in financing for the private sector.
Having joined the WB in 1998, this Cameroonian features in the 2014 Choiseul ranking of “African leaders of tomorrow”, which, according to the Choiseul Institute, “identifies the women and men, 40 years old or less, who embarked upon the path to success and whose ambition is to bring Africa to the highest level of economic, social and cultural development”.
(See tomorrow the 2nd part)