Challenges facing Procurement, Logistics and Supply Chain Management professionals in Africa

Once I started writing this blog, I realised my folly. The topic of my blog might sound simple, it was anything but, especially for me – (1) my knowledge of Procurement, Logistics and Supply Chain Management (PLSCM) is entirely academic, and (2) I am not African, nor have I ever worked or even visited Africa.

But I do know that Africa is the future and has the potential for dramatic growth (if she is able to tap into that potential), and effective management of PLSCM will play a pivotal part in this future, given the resources in raw materials that Africa has.

And hence my topic, and my folly, and something I felt needed to be done.

What I didn’t realise when I picked this topic was the resources I had on hand. As of today, Robert Kennedy College (RKC) has a very large number of students from Africa who are doing or have successfully completed our 100% Online MSc programme in Procurement, Logistics and Supply Chain Management, and this is the resource I tapped into when writing this blog. 

I conducted an online survey of these students (of which about a hundred participated) and asked them about the challenges they face as PLSCM professionals in Africa, the image below indicates a country wise breakup of the response we received from our students to the survey.

Country wise breakup of the survey response received

The following are the top five responses I got back from the survey. Now, while this blog is Africa-centric, I find that these challenges are universal, and effect Africa as a whole, other developing nations, and even the developed or “first world” nations to some degree.

Top 5 challenges facing PLSCM professionals in Africa

Infrastructure – is the foundation on which a strong PLSCM function is built. The whole point of having a streamlined and efficient PLSCM department is to effectively purchase (at best costs) and move raw materials and finished products from point to point in a timely and less resource intensive manner. Efficiency also means having the products readily available, while at the same time not leaving them idling in a storehouse somewhere. To enable this, state of the art, physical infrastructure is needed – from roads and railways to airports, seaports, and safe and secure areas (such as industrial zones, etc.) for manufacturing and storage.

“A change in policy is required as there is a lack of willingness by African governments to invest in infrastructure development.”

Current student of our MSc programme in PLSCM

Corruption – the universal bane to businesses, and something that is global, encouraged and fostered by everyone involved, willingly or unwillingly. It is easy to blame a corrupt official for delays and holdups, until palms are greased to get thing moving without looking at the reasons why. Are you encouraging the behaviour by paying the bribe? Is your competitor paying bribes to hold you up? Why does the official need the money, is he paid enough? Are the laws strict enough to prevent corruption?

“Effective specially designed civic education programs at the grassroots level, to empower the people to make the right choice of leadership to drive the change that is needed.”

Graduate of our online MSc in PLCSM

Policy Change – As one of my former managers once told me “If you are comfortable then you are not growing”. And while this is true, who doesn’t like being comfortable? From our survey, this seems to hold especially true in Africa. For policy changes to take place, something big should have happened for the powers that be to even consider a change, and even then, comities have to be put in place to suggest the changes and then review the suggested changes, all this taking forever. By the time the policy change comes about, it will usually be outdated.

“A paradigm shift from traditional procurement method to e-procurement method. Also, government policies need to be critically reviewed across the board in order to encourage small and medium scale enterprises in Africa. Manufacturing sectors should not be left out as well as they are the process owners.”

A suggestion from one of our online MSc in PLSCM student

Stuck in time (Slow to incorporate modern methods) – A follow on to the previous point, it is not just the people in power who are slow to incorporate change, but also the people who do the work who are slow to embrace change as well. As the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. But what people don’t realise is, it is not about fixing it, it is about bettering it. People get comfortable and don’t want to change or learn new ways of doing things, and then complain about the people above them making life difficult by not embracing change and current best practices.

“Changes in technology are associated with high set-up costs. Financial constraints are a major drawback, especially in some developing economies, when it comes to capital projects. Modern procurement is now taking place online, but many companies still haven’t adopted to these technological changes. Most functions now and procurement is done online while in Africa most countries still do their procurement manually. This is basically because of poor infrastructure, weak strategic alliances and reluctance to change that makes people not adopt these changes.”

A thought from one of our MSc PLSCM students

Cutting corners to save time – another universal truth. After doing a job for a period of time, we begin to believe that we know best, and can make a process better by cutting corners. But what we fail to understand is that we are but a single, small cog in the machine, and a process is in place to help the whole machine run smoother. By cutting corners and not following the process, all that might be achieved is to throw a spanner in the works. If you believe there is a better way to do something, take it to the management and make you case, it might just increase the efficiency of the whole machine.  

“Build Collaborative supportive systems and structures that work for both governments and stakeholders.”

Suggestion from a graduate of our online MSc in PLCSM

These are just some of the most basis challenges that a PLSCM professional faces in Africa. I am sure there are a lot more complicated and technical challenges out there that will confound even the most seasoned PLSCM professional. Constantly learning and getting your knowledge up-to-date is required to stay ahead of the curve. Robert Kennedy College, through our exclusive partnership with the University of Salford, UK, offers a 100% Online MSc in Procurement, Logistics and Supply Chain Management to better prepare you for the challenges to come. Here’s what our students said about this in our survey:

This is what our students had to say when asked during our survey

You can also chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on the programmes offered, application process, and for more information on any discounts we might be running in this rather strange period of our lives.

A step-by-step guide to the enrolment/admission process at Robert Kennedy College

So, after speaking with our education advisors, going through our programme catalogue and experiencing our OnlineCampus through the 14 day trial access we offer, you have decided to make a positive change in your life and join our online Master degree programme.

For your better understanding, what follows is the step-by-step breakdown of our admissions process. Please note, we welcome applications from students who may not meet the formal entry criteria but who have relevant experience or the ability to pursue the course successfully.

  1. Putting the required documents together.
    • Copy of your Bachelor’s degree certificate. Please note, if your certificate is unavailable or if you have not completed your bachelor’s degree, please check with your Education Advisor for further guidance.
    • Your updated CV/ Resume with correct dates of employment and education (month and year).
    • Signed application form (Please download the application form, fill it, print it, sign it, scan and email it to your education advisor).
    • A reference letter from your present employer on the company letterhead. The letter should be current dated and addressed to The Dean, Robert Kennedy College, Zurich, Switzerland.
  2. Application Fee payment of 100 CHF (Swiss francs). A credit card payment link will be emailed to you once your online application has been created. You can also make the payment by a Bank Transfer, details will be provided once the application has been created.
  3. Statement of Purpose (SOP) of a minimum 300 words, in English, this statement allows the admission office to determine your suitability for the programme.
    • Points to cover in your SOP –
      • Why did you choose Robert Kennedy College and the University of Cumbria?
      • What is your ambition and motivation to study and graduate from this master programme?
      • Where do you see yourself, professionally, in 5 years’ time from now?
      • Please ensure that your SOP has no spelling, punctuation or grammar mistakes and no short forms is to be used and is to be written in your own words and is not to be copied.
      • You can write and email the SOP to your education advisor as a Word/ PDF document.

Alternatively you can directly create an online application digitally sign the application form, upload the reference letter, degree certificate and your CV, write the SOP and pay your application fees.

At Robert Kennedy College we have truly simplified, modernised and streamlined our admissions process but at every stage we recommend that you keep in touch with and take the advice of your Education Advisor who is there to be a guiding hand.

Doing a Masters without a Bachelor degree

Postgraduate study usually requires an undergraduate (Bachelor’s) degree as a prerequisite – but if you haven’t completed an undergraduate degree, earning a Master’s qualification isn’t out of the question.

There are a number of criteria that a university might take into consideration when evaluating an application for a Master’s degree programme. Some universities insist on a Bachelor’s degree from a recognised and accredited university. However this should not dissuade you from applying for a Master’s degree as the long term professional benefitswill stand you in good stead, and a large number of universities will take into account your professional experience and other certificates and diplomas in lieu of a Bachelor’s degree when considering your application.

Here’s how to get your Master’s without a previous undergraduate degree.

Leveraging your professional experience – The best way to learn is to do! There will be a number of concepts that you learn in your Master’s programme that you might have already executed in your professional life to great success and yet be unaware of the theories, best practice or the full practical potential of the concept. But having already executed the concept and seen it work (or fail), your knowledge of the concept will put you equal to if not steps ahead of a Bachelor’s graduate who has joined a Master’s programme directly after graduation. The knowledge you have gained through your time in employment or self-employment may prompt a university to consider you favourably for a Master’s degree in lieu of a Bachelors’ when considering your application.

Other Education/ Professional Certificates or Graduate Diploma – There are a number of reasons why a person might not have completed their Bachelor’s degree. Maybe at the time of your Bachelor’s programme you were only able to attain a graduate certificate or a diploma, or maybe you were unable to enrol for a Bachelor’s programme in the first place due to personal or financial commitments. But It is a fact that the only way to continuously and consistently grow in your professional life and have a successful career is to keep updating your knowledge and to this end you might have accumulated a number of professional certificates which testify to your knowledge and professional expertise. It is such knowledge coupled with your professional experience that a university might take into consideration when evaluating your application for a Master’s degree programme.

Robert Kennedy College with almost 14,000 students from almost every county in the world offers one of the most diverse, accredited and globally recognised online master’s degree programmes in both Business Law, Leadership and Management through exclusive partnerships with British universities. For more information download programme catalogue.

Choosing the right University

A Master’s degree is one of the keys to success in your professional career.  It’s a commitment that demands a financial investment and at least one year of your life, so choosing the right university is the most important decision you’ll have to make to ensure that success.

The process of choosing a Master’s programme can be made less daunting if you break it down into a few important points to consider:

  1. Online or On-Campus: Following a programme on physical university campus represents a very substantial commitment in both time and money. Yes, it can be a rewarding experience in terms of knowledge gained and networks built, but we live in exciting times where innovations in technology and communication have resulted in a richer and more complete online education experience than was available in the past. The gap between an online and an on-campus university experience has been drastically reduced in recent years.
  2. Choose the right programme: Choosing the right programme is as important as choosing the right university. Look carefully into the course content and the delivery method to ensure that it satisfies what you’re seeking in a programme. Be clear about where your interests lie and the career path you wish to take, and identify the programmes that align with them. After all, the aim is that after successfully completing a programme you should be rewarded with better job opportunities.
  3. Cost: Have a clear understanding of your finances, and fix a budget on how much you’re willing to invest in your education.
  4. Accreditation and Ranking: The standing of your degree depends on the standing of the awarding university. There are several different ranking systems for universities which are drawn up by organisations that use different metrics to come up with their top university lists. But whether they measure academic and educational performance, or the teaching environment, the internationality of the institution, or whatever, the major ranking systems are data-driven hierarchies which outline the competition between major universities worldwide.
  5. Alumni Network: A strong alumni network can have a positive influence in long-term business and career opportunities. Get in touch with the alumni of your choice and get first-hand feedback on the university, the programme and the delivery mechanism. The easiest way to get in touch with the alumni would be to ask your Student Advisor to put you in touch with them.

Robert Kennedy College offers a number of online master’s degree programmes in Law and Business through an exclusive partnership with British universities. For more information download programme catalogue.