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William Duggan


ORGANISATION: Columbia Business School
TITLE: Professor

Professor William Duggan has worked in African development for 20 years, 10 of which he lived in Africa. He is the author of three books on innovation: Strategic Intuition: The Creative Spark in Human Achievement (2007); Creative Strategy: A Guide for Innovation (2012); and The Seventh Sense: How Flashes of Insight Change Your Life (2015). In 2007 the journal Strategy+Business named his book Strategic Intuition ‘Best Strategy Book of the Year’. Duggan has a BA, MA and PhD from Columbia University and 20 years of experience as a strategy advisor and consultant. He teaches innovation in the MBA course, Executive MBA course, and Executive Education sessions at Columbia Business School. In 2014 he won the Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence. He has given talks and workshops on innovation to thousands of executives from companies in countries around the world.


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Question of the Week 23 2017-02-13 14:25:38
I spent more than twenty years working on African development, ten of those years
living in Africa. I fully endorse the shift to local business in African development. But beware.
Africa is a far cry from post-war Europe in one key respect: Europe had a thriving local business
sector before the war. The Marshall Plan helped revive it. Africa lacks the deep network of
institutions that a thriving local business sector both needs and creates.

The new Marshall Plan lists ten “starting points.” They are all fine, in the long run. In the
short run, begin with only two:

6. Demanding the right political environment and supporting its development – Sustainable economic development is reliant on the rule of law, on both men and women enjoying political participation and on efficient and non-corrupt administrative structures. Everyone should benefit from economic progress in a country, not just the elites. That is something to be supported and also demanded on a daily basis.
7. Reform partnerships, not a blanket approach – The members of the African Union have
committed to specific reforms in their Agenda 2063. We will be taking Africas commitments seriously and will step up our development cooperation with those partners
who implement reforms aimed at good governance, protection of human rights and
economic development.

Corruption is the scourge of modern Africa. Individuals and their families in government
positions have perfected the art of stealing from public, private and NGO sources. Nobody
knows this better than Africans themselves. Read Chinua Achebe’s A Man of the People if you have any doubt. The history of foreign aid is a series of naïve programs and projects that end up feeding this system of corruption.

Transparency International lists the Netherlands at #8 and Germany at #10 in its
worldwide corruption index. Botswana is highest in sub-Saharann Africa at #35. Out of 146
countries, most of sub-Saharan Africa is in the bottom half. Nigeria, for example, is #136. The World Bank’s Doing Business index ranks Germany #17 and the Netherlands #28. The highest sub-Saharan African country is Rwanda at #59. Again, out of 190 countries, most of sub-Saharan Africa is in the bottom half. Nigeria is #169.

Stringent program and project financial control is not enough. Every country needs an
independent judiciary to punish corruption, an honest legislature to make it illegal, a free press to reveal it, political parties to stand against it, and a cadre of qualified accountants to track every cent. These institutions do not arise overnight. And you cannot simply pay for them with foreign funds. Sub-Saharan Africa must ascend far in both rankings – from Transparency International and Doing Business – before a Marshall Plan moves on to its other eight starting points.

This corruption puzzle is not simple to solve. If it was, someone would have figured it
out by now. Please, German Marshall Plan, start with that.