Are women fit to manage the crises and challenges of leadership in corporate Africa?

Last year, at the annual summit of the African Union, attending leaders declared 2015 the Year of Women’s Empowerment. This was done in acknowledgement of the increasing role women are playing in Africa’s development. Chairperson of the AU called women (and youths) the greatest asset the continent has. However, corporate Africa seem to think otherwise.

In a 2015 blog post, Geraldine Joslyn Fraser-Moleketi. special envoy on gender of the African Development Bank noted that Africa must have more women serving on company boards to sharpen the continent’s competitive edge and make inclusive growth a reality – all the way to the top. According to results from a study of 307 listed companies, using 2013 data spanning a dozen of the continent’s most powerful economies, close to a third of African companies have boards without a single woman on them, and two-thirds of companies have a little presence of women at the table (one or none).

She noted also that the worst showing for female board membership was in small and mid-cap companies — the market segments that account for a large share of the growth and vitality of many stock markets in Africa.

One wonders why African firms are not open to appointing more women to their boards. Does it have anything to do with the ability to manage complexities and crises of leadership in corporate Africa, or lack of it? Iquo Ukoh was the first female director at Nestle Nigeria and she seems to have all the answers.