The African Promise Part 3

An Interview with Paul Cleal, PwC Managing Partner of the UK/Africa Alliance

If you read the African Promise ‘part 1’ and ‘part 2‘ then you have a clear understanding of what the promise is about (the unlocking of the continents’ greatest wealth, its people). Recently, I interviewed Paul Cleal, PwC Managing Partner of the UK Africa Alliance. He currently sits on the board of PwC Africa, previously sat on the board of PwC UK and is a board advisory member for GoGetters.

Organisations like PwC, Equity Bank, and Dangote Group all have a role to play. What tangible actionable steps are they taking to equip Africa’s people to make sure that they can actually be part of the African rising narrative? Ensuring that they can support the people to achieve the brighter future that many of us want for the continent.

Paul recently moved from the UK to help grow the PwC Africa practice and is now based out of Lagos. As one of the leaders I look up to and as a senior leader in PwC, I wanted our GoGetters community to gain an insight into what his African Promise is.

— — — — — — — — — Conversation with Paul Cleal — — — — — - — — —

Why promises are necessary

When we think about promises, the word we often come back to is trust. Promises are in part necessary because of the lack of trust. So if you trust me then I don’t need to promise but in the absence of trust and with the history of Africa, with all sorts of people turning up in the past proving to be untrustworthy then promises are even more important there than other places. So I think the idea of an African Promise is a good one.

“Wherever you go, whatever you do and find, you create a positive legacy if you leave the place and the people in a better state than when you arrived.”

The African Promise

At its heart, the African Promise is like the PwC promise in many ways as a partner. Being a PwC partner is about creating a legacy or to put it in another way, wherever you go, whatever you do and find in terms of the condition of the place and the people, you create a positive legacy if you leave it in a better state than you found it.

Creating a legacy

The question people often ask is, are you creating a legacy or are you consuming a legacy? And if you are consuming someone’s legacy then that is not welcomed and a lot of that has happened in Africa. For me the African Promise is all about creating a legacy and the role a firm like ours has in it is quite broad and it is to do with creating a set of institutions which function better than it did before we arrived. Beyond the job creation there will be “collateral benefit” to what we do, because we will do what we say in our purpose, we will build trust and solve some important problems. As a result we hope that more good things will happen, more wealth will be created and we will advise government on how to share it more evenly. PwC’s involvement is to improve society as a whole in Africa and generally in the work we do. The legacy then will not just be greater wealth but sustainable wealth creation.

It takes a leap of faith

I think the African Promise should be measureable on some hard targets like for every 1 secondee sent from abroad to a country in Africa, 5 local jobs should be created. That is a concrete promise, you could contract for it, for example if you want to have 50 work permits, then you have to create 250 local jobs and in a years’ time you need to outline a list of hires. But actually like a lot of things what is measurable is quit narrow and the bigger picture is often more vague and requires like all things to do with trust, a bit of a leap of faith to really understand it properly.

— — - — — — — — — Conversation with Paul Cleal — — — — — -— — — —

We at GoGetters believe that things should be done out of passion and drive. We are governed by our values and have a plan to achieve our mission and vision in realising the African Promise. But as we have learnt the hard way and as Mike Tyson has taught many of his opponents “Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth.” Be ready for change and remember that you don’t have to see the whole picture to take the first step as sometimes our only available transportation is a leap of faith.

“Are you creating a legacy or are you consuming a legacy?”
“What is your African Promise?”

Originally published at go-getters.co.uk.

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