A clear, concise overview of project management best practices, with a particular focus on what leads to project success in Africa.
For this guide to working effectively in Africa, Davies (co-author: Cracking the Success Code, 2012) draws on his years of experience managing technology projects on the continent. Much of the book deals with information that applies to businesses in any locale—the basics of certification, establishing a project’s scope and timeline, budgeting for all necessary elements, etc.—and it does so in clear prose that is mostly free of excessive acronyms and specialist jargon. Davies goes beyond these basics through examples from his own work with telecommunications companies, public-private partnerships and nongovernmental organizations, providing concrete examples of specific issues project managers must address while working in Africa. The overall theme of the book’s Africa-specific advice is the importance of developing knowledge of the factors that determine success in a given location. For instance, a telecommunications project in Lagos, Nigeria, suffers substantial disruptions when managers fail to realize that the city’s gangs play a role in the construction industry; they should have been counted among the stakeholders whose needs were addressed. Davies also addresses the challenges of project funding in African countries, as well as the inapplicability of standard risk management techniques. The book takes a pragmatic approach to the continent’s challenges, providing guidance for accommodating them without veering into indictments of corruption or prescriptions for reform. Readers will not find specifics—e.g., the names of officials who can get building permits approved in Nairobi, or average cost overruns of website development projects in Mbabane—but they will finish the book with an understanding of how vital such local information is to the success of any major business or public undertaking in Africa. Most importantly, they will understand how to incorporate it into the crucial planning and evaluation phases.
A well-written handbook that provides an overview of management basics and may prove a useful tool for project managers preparing to work in African countries.