Harvard scholar faults Kenya s devt strategies

July 22, 2008

NAIROBI, July 22 – The father of the modern strategy field Professor Michael Porter says leaders must move from partisan interests and inaction if the country is to achieve its economic goals.

In an exclusive interview with Capital Business, held recently in Nairobi, Prof. Porter blames under-development on the indiscipline of its leaders.

"People here are too tangled up in their own little interests. There\’s isn\’t a sense that we are public servants. This is about our society. We have to get things done."

He said should learn from which has made great development strides with limited skilled manpower.

"President (Paul) Kagame is a very disciplined leader. He is very results oriented.  He holds his people accountable. If a minister does not do a good job, he\’s fired. If had 100th of \’s professional talent it would be ."

Porter further added that must begin to run social services like a business if they are to translate in improved livelihoods for citizens.

He admitted that the problem in managing social services was not peculiar to . He said social services the world over have not had meaningful impact because their success has been incorrectly measured.

He cited healthcare as an example. "What are we getting in terms of results for having a clinic in a village? Traditionally, we haven\’t even tried to measure the results. We haven\’t tried to see if people are healthier? Do we have fewer deaths? Nobody measures that. People just measure how many beds do we have? How many doctors do we have?"

Prof Porter said value-based social services focus on the quality of the service and not the quantity of inputs.

"So for example if you\’ve got Malaria ask, \’what\’s the best way to cure the patient from malaria, the fastest with the lowest possible cost?\’ That\’s a value perspective. We can\’t just claim that by simply making it available we\’ve achieved success."

Responding to how can become more competitive globally, Prof Porter advised that must attract significantly high foreign direct investment in order to reach its economic goals.

This is the only way, he said, to propel local industries to produce world class products that can compete on the global arena.
"What this country needs is access to distribution channels. It needs sophisticated managerial skills, it needs technology. To build a competitive economy you need a combination of local and foreign firms.  It is not really taking advantage of the tremendous power of foreign investment to accelerate the development process."

Prof Porter cautioned that sheltering home industries from foreign companies is counter productive.

"The home industries are inefficient and uncompetitive and don\’t provide good service and don\’t meet the needs of the customer. So what are you really protecting? You are better-off allowing a foreign company to come in and then the local companies are going to have to compete to meet the standards."

"Then all of a sudden the standard goes up. You don\’t want to give foreign companies any advantages. You just want to give them the opportunity to drive competition and raise the standard."

Porter has a University professorship from Harvard University. Harvard Business School and Harvard University jointly created the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness, dedicated to furthering his work.

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