Managing Human and Intellectual Capital for Sustaining African Organisations

February 1, 2017 • GLOBAL ECONOMY, Middle East & Africa, World Development

By Hamid H. Kazeroony, Yvonne du Plessis, Bill Buenar Puplampu

In this article, the authors examine the needs of African organisations for human and intellectual capital and suggest how they should work with governments and the educational system to acquire, retain, and develop higher performing talent. Such efforts would create more dynamic and productive organisations to serve African growth.


African organisations to function and compete effectively in the global marketplace require particular focus on managing human and intellectual capital.

African continent, since the end of colonial era, which calumniated in the collapse of apartheid in South Africa in 1994, completing the transition, has undergone numerous social, political, economic, and cultural changes impacting management and organisational processes. The transitions within this period gave rise to a new set of human and organisational challenges in each African country in addition to the emergence of social and economic demands by various stakeholders for managing various resources (Kazeroony, 2016). To address their human and intellectual capital needs, African organisations – as stakeholders in their respective countries – should work with their governments and higher education institutions to expand capacity and address social, political, and cultural influencers in the development of human capital. They should continually examine their internal organisational dynamics and organisational practices and relate these to the current and emerging African market conditions within the global economy (Kazeroony, Du Plessis, & Puplampu, 2016). It is only through such focused attention that human capacity may be enhanced to serve African organisations. In this paper, we share a few thoughts on how these may be realised.


Macro and Micro Issues in Human Capital Development

At the macro level, public organisations such as the African Capacity Building Organization (ACBF) (What Do We Do, n.d.) help with a variety of financial and expertise resources to advance capacity building for governmental and private actors directly, addressing the human and intellectual needs of organisations for growth and innovation. In addition, organisations such as the African Development Bank Group have been very active in supporting the growth of human capital by engaging in projects that would benefit gender diversity to maximise the human capital utilisation while expanding support for higher education developments in enlarging the intellectual capital pool for African organisations (Capacity Building, n.d.). These represent tangential efforts by non-State actors to influence skill development. However, as the President of Liberia, Ellen Sirleaf noted, African governments may develop policies quickly to address capacity building, however, implementation, prioritisation, and governance issues pose difficult obstacles (Ratcliffe, 2013).

At the micro level, individuals attempting to build their intellectual capacity, face multiple obstacles such as lack of family financial means, lack of educated family members understanding particular needs for success, and limited pathways for access to and progress through higher education.

Higher Education Institutions are the actors who connect the human and intellectual capital requirements of organisations to the individuals who seek skill development and the marketplace which “consumes” talent.

African Higher Education Institutions currently face many challenges including policy gaps, resource constraints, and brain drain. Each of these challenges underscore the need for reform and changes in public policies, collaboration with the private sector, and attention to the gaps between foundational knowledge gained at the elementary and secondary schools and the curricula for developing human and intellectual capital at the higher education end of the spectrum.

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