Craig Eisele on …..

July 13, 2011

What is a non-traditional Strategic Planner?

What is a nontraditional Strategic Planner?

The easy answer is one that does not use the same format as Boston Consulting Group or Booz Allen. But that is too easy. See the large firms are often brought in to help boost someone else’s plan or to Design and implement a Management Information System. But who challenges the Top Management of Major Companies today. The short answer is almost nobody. And the reasons are as obvious as fear and as subtle as brown nosing.

A NON traditional Strategic Planner can come in many forms but for the sake of this post… and of course to bolster my own work,,, I would like to share with you my approach to Strategic Planning.

Let’s start with a simple idea. Often the problem that a person or company thinks they are facing is not really the problem but a symptom. There are other times that the problem is misstated. But realizing that the core issues are not being addressed is an afterthought most of the time.

Then there is the failure to see the future with greater accuracy. A bold statement given that NO ONE can see the future but we can predict with greater accuracy the further we extend our information sources outside of the Core Business.

In deciding a future for a company it is always important to identify issues affecting the employees, the Supplies and the Customers.

The Non traditional approach will see what is happening in these entities world and what is the potential that their business or behavior will be affected. Not just stopping there but going even further as to what may be happening in the Communities from Local to National to International and then what is happening in Technology outside of your core.

The purpose of this extensive network information gathering is to provide not only data for current operations but to see where the future may  be affected by those external forces.

One need only look at Facebook’s phenomenal growth and now Facebook is facing n uncertain future in how to grow as the number of subscribers is flattening out and they look to Apps to grow or to change the paradigm in how their growth is measured.

Changing the paradigm is always an interesting way to change the future of a company… the Companies that are most successful do this on a regular basis and are leaders. The rest are followers and will grow or decline in response to how quickly they can adapt.

But there is another approach that is often over looked. When companies/ organizations or even societies face uncertain futures the Questions that are posed are usually a knee jerk reaction to a change in environment. WE HAVE A PROBLEM they say… but as I said above the problem they state is usually just a symptom and if treated as the sole problem does not address what is really going happening.

Sometime the problems are “unsolvable” in the context that they are presented. This is where my favorite technique is used the most and to the greatest advantage,


The second part of this is also appropriate in evaluating if the supposed problem is really a problem or just a symptom


This also opens the door to not only being an industry leader but ancillary business with limited windows of opportunity and fabulous returns on investment.

A Practical Example;

Egypt: a Country of 80+ million people that depend on the Nile River.. There is a nearly a century old Treaty brokered by the British that dictated the amount of water that must flow to Egypt from the riparian Countries (those upstream and on the Blue and White Nile Rivers). This was not just for the use of the Egyptian people but to prevent the salty water of the Mediterranean from moving up the Nile River and contaminating Fresh water (potable water) supplies.

Most of these countries are breaking the treaty for various reasons. The most egregious of these is Ethiopia which claims the water as its own for purposes of Industrial, Hydro Electric, Dams, Commercial, Agricultural and human consumption without regard to Egypt’s critical needs. Adding to this siphoning off of water is the study by Egypt that even with all the water previously guaranteed by the treaty it would have water shortage problems by 2016.

The PROBLEM that is stated is that these riparian countries must release the water to Egypt. In all frankness that will not happen. Egypt has said it vies the taking of this necessary water as an act of war, and they appear to be justified. But WAR in a conventional manner is not a resolution to the problems Egypt really faces.

Some have suggested that Egypt use Desalinization plants that consume power that is still in short supply in Egypt and if Fossil Fuel is used then the huge cost is difficult to bear for the industrial nations of Europe and North America let alone Egypt Egypt has authorized a nuclear power plant they hope will help but it does not sole the REAL PROBLEM.

From my statements above you know that I have attempted to redefine the problem. The problem is how much water flows through the Nile River. You may at first say that is obvious and given the current attempts to resolve the problem as most see it (that being the Riparian countries excessive use) that there is little hope of getting more water to the Nile. But you would be wrong in assuming that the above listed actions are the ONLY methods of getting water to flow in the Nile.

There is another way to bring water to the Nile… and yes I have found it… but I will not give it away at this time. This is how I do strategic planning… not only can I bring more water to the Nile for less than 500 million US Dollars but I can create and sustain 10’s of thousands of new jobs in the process. These jobs go a long way to improve the economy of Egypt and to foster greater stability as well. Basically this plan addresses several of Egypt’s needs at the same time.

How can Egypt pay for this… that answer is simple as well. With the exception of maybe 5 million dollars upfront the Entire project can be paid for with no other funds from Egypt or loans Guaranteed by Egypt or even by giving away things to outsiders. Others will pay if for no other reason than peace

This is the type of strategic planning I do. Find issues that appear to have no solution redefine those problems, devise a strategy that will not only address that particular problem but also other problems in the environment, incorporate other “benefits” into the solutions presented, and just as important find the economic benefit that pays for the solutions as implemented. It is a NON traditional manner of Strategic Planning… but something I think should be more main stream in all areas of business, government and society.

To be a truly effective Strategic Planner we must look beyond the reality presented to see if that is truly the reality. Challenge the conventional thinking and come up with creative but executable methods that incorporate benefits that are far reaching assure a future positive outcome.  It is not easy although it may appear to be. It takes a mindset that is not rigid, is flexible, and a think tank type approach. Simply it takes thought and creativity which few have today.

I am not soliciting business as I turn down 50 times more projects then I take on because most who seek my skills are not really looking for ideas they are looking for approval for their own. I am very very selective and of course expensive… but I generate returns far greater than most as I believe the economic realities demand profits in one way or another.

I am better in explaining things in person then I am in writing… as is the case for many my mind is usually faster than my fingers but I hope I was able to at least give you food for your thought processes

Craig Eisele

March 28, 2008

Infrastructure Development Tops AfDB Projects in Africa

I have read the article below and am in awe of the lack of strategic planning and the failure of appropriate methodology to bring to Africa this much needed Infrastructure. This lack of this basic “backbone” infrastructure is what hold Africa back more than any other issue that faces Africa today. Trying to develop Africa in the same way as North America or Europe is NOT feasible. There has to be a unique and special plan such as the one developed by Trans-African Development  Strategies and the sister Company Trans African Development Company to bring this “backbone” Infrastructure to fruition. The current approach will hold Africa back for at least 50 years. When I read articles like this I can honestly say I am furious at the lack of true understanding… but then I remember that organizations like AfDB are NOT inclined to think “outside the box” …. As those who know me will tell you I subscribe to the basic philosophy “If you cannot solve the problem you are facing…. then you are facing the wrong problem” If AfDB and others would redefine the problem as I have then the realistic and implementable solutions would be obvious!!! But I have tried to discuss this with AfDB and others… and to my dismay they are not interested in even considering anything but the “Status Quo” thus dooming Africa and it’s people to decades of unnecessary poverty and suffering. My offer to AfDB and others interested in truly and honestly solving these and other issues that face Africa remains open but I am NOT optimistic that closed minded individuals will ever consider other pragmatic approaches.
Infrastructure development tops AfDB projects in Africa
The announcement was made during a recent conference on African infrastructure held in Senegal, which brought together donors, government ministers, and representatives of regional bodies such as the African Union and its intergovernmental development initiative, NEPAD.
An AfDB press release notes that the promised funds will come from the bank’s low-interest lending window, the African Development Fund (ADF). In December, the Bank secured commitments from donors to contribute a record $8.9 billion to replenish the ADF for the next three years.
It has earlier been reported that the loans will finance regional infrastructure projects, including the construction of “a number of major road and rail projects aimed at crisscrossing the continent with transport corridors.”
Proposed projects would include transcontinental transportation corridors that would require a huge outpouring of money. They would serve to benefit exporters and, by extension, transnational companies that profit the most from Africa’s commodities.Some of the more ambitious proposed projects include the construction of “Trans-African highway projects to connect Beira in Mozambique to Lobito in Angola, Dakar in Senegal to Lagos in Nigeria, and Lagos to Mombassa in Kenya.”
While Africa suffers from an acute lack of infrastructure, it is important to consider what type of infrastructure is most needed to help alleviate poverty on the continent. By and large, transcontinental highways and railroads will require a huge outpouring of money and serve to benefit exporters and, by extension, transnational companies that profit the most from Africa’s commodities. Roads and high-quality railroads are indeed necessary to move goods to and from land-locked countries such as Uganda.
The sheer scale of transcontinental projects, however, could distract effort and funds from these more manageable projects, and in the end the more grandiose projects have a higher likelihood of being abandoned because of unmet expectations.
At the same time, Africa’s poor will likely remain cut off by the lack of basic local road networks and adversely affected by the intense footprint that such large-scale physical infrastructure projects often entail.
A recent study by International Rivers and Environmental Defense also shows that large, capital-intensive infrastructure projects such as these tend to be the most prone to corruption. Questions also remain as to whether the AfDB has the requisite experience to identify and mitigate the serious potential impacts of these projects, and whether it wields sufficient leverage to ensure that its social and environmental safeguards, which are strong on paper, are enforced.
Since it resumed regular operations after facing a financial crisis in the early 1990’s, the AfDB has sought to define itself as a lender with special expertise on infrastructure in Africa. It has consistently allocated a significant portion of its lending to the sector, and was chosen to coordinate regional infrastructure initiatives, such as NEPAD’s Infrastructure Action Plan and the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA). However, the AfDB has made limited progress in its convening role, and few of its ambitious plans to create regional energy, transportation, and water initiatives under NEPAD have come to fruition.
While African governments appear keen to benefit from this and other regional infrastructure schemes, it remains unclear the extent to which this latest initiative is demand-driven or being pursued at the behest of donors. The lion’s share of new donor commitments at the AfDB have been earmarked for infrastructure, while a new high-level panel (see “High-level panel issues report on prospects for African Development Bank”) on the Bank recognizes that the board of the ADF is disproportionately influenced by its donors. A recent Financial Times article suggests that AfDB President Donald Kaberuka “is facing dissent from some African staff concerned that efforts to carve out an independent role for the AfDB are being undermined by some western donors.”

February 12, 2008

Some (NOT me) claim that AfDB Should be Africa’s Premier Development Institution

I am personally NOT convinced that the ADB/AfDB is actually the best… or even that good for African Development. I have spoken to them several times concerning projects and have found them to be… well let me just say indifferent to projects that are not traditional and conservative in their approach Africa not only needs but deserves aggressive lending practices for development… I do NOT find that with this bank… however in difference to fairness to them am posting this article.

AfDB Should be Africa’s Premier Development Institution – Says Panel Report

Accra Mail (Accra)
28 January 2008
Posted to the web 28 January 2008
An Independent High Level Panel has said in a report released on Tuesday in Tunis that given the huge development challenges it faces, Africa, more than any other region, needs a premier continental development bank.

The report, “Investing in Africa’s Future: The ADB in the 21st Century,” says while poverty reduction and promoting growth and economic integration will be the overarching objective of the Bank, it should foster economic integration and, particularly, undertake regional investments in which returns are greater than those for any individual country and which may otherwise not be financed.

It says the AfDB of the 21st Century should provide a range of regional public goods, particularly knowledge and advisory services, to transfer experience and best practice, and to be an African voice on development internationally.

The report says the Bank should also channel development capital efficiently to all African countries on reasonable and predictable terms. The report lists four interlocking priorities for the Bank:

– Investing in infrastructure: Africa will never become competitive, or realize its productive potential, without massive improvements in infrastructure, with needs estimated at US$20-30 billion a year. Infrastructure is a precondition for, and an enabler of growth for private sector development. The report notes that the ADB already has solid experience in infrastructure, adding that the Bank has generally performed well on its mandate from the African Union to implement the infrastructure component of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) as well as lead several multi-donor initiatives.

The panel, however, believes that the Bank must be more proactive and take more leadership in defining needs and priorities, designing strategies and action plans, bringing stakeholders together, and coordinating and managing implementation. It should help Africa build infrastructure to effectively mitigate and adapt to climate change through clean energies (hydro and wind power), all-weather transport and irrigation projects. More of the resources available for infrastructure should be channeled through the ADB.

– Building capable states: The report says effective and accountable institutions are essential for sustained economic growth and social progress, explaining that building capable states must be at the heart of the ADB’s work just as engaging in fragile and post-conflict states is an imperative rather than an option.

The Bank should have a leading role in issues of governance but intervene selectively, consistent with its other areas of focus. Its assistance must be flexible, fast, and consistent, well coordinated with other players. Additional financial and human resources will have to be directed accordingly.

– Promoting the private sector: The report asserts that that the private sector will drive growth in Africa noting that it behooves the ADB to help it do so by promoting an enabling environment, by facilitating investment and entrepreneurship. This means listening to the private sector, lending directly to private interests, and helping governments reform their legal and regulatory frameworks to strengthen governance and accountability.

The ADB must better exploit the advantages of its integrated structure, building up country and regional strategies that encompass both the private and public sectors and foster the synergies between them, the report says, noting that the Bank’s direct private sector operations tripled in the last year and should grow further.

– Developing skills: The advisory panel urged the AfDB to help Africa build the skills it needs to be competitive, noting that in 2030 half of Africans will be under 25. The continent will have transitioned to a primarily urban population. Only economic growth can provide Africans with opportunities. However, to grasp these opportunities, they will need the right skills.

The report says that given the heavy involvement of other donors in primary and basic education, the ADB should concentrate on vocational training, higher education, and science and technology. The priorities should be building centers of excellence, providing the necessary infrastructure for education, and developing mutually supportive links with the private sector to promote the use of local skills.

This 13-member Independent High Level Panel on the Bank Group, co-chaired by former Mozambican President Joachim Chissano and former Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, and including the Nobel Laureate in economics, Joseph Stiglitz, was established by President Donald Kaberuka as an independent advisory body to provide recommendations on the AfDB’s strategic vision and on the operational strategies needed in the medium to long term.

January 25, 2008

African bank to champion infrastructure financing

African bank to champion infrastructure financing

Fri 25 Jan 2008, 5:33 GMT
By Diadie Ba
SALY PORTUGAL, Senegal (Reuters) – Sixty percent of the African Development Bank’s $8.9 billion soft loan resources for 2008-2010 will go towards infrastructure projects on the continent, a bank official said on Thursday.

Last month, donor countries agreed a record level of support for the bank’s soft loan window, the African Development Fund, amounting to $8.9 billion for the next three years, 52 percent up from the 2005-2007 period.

The AfDB, whose shareholders include Africa’s 53 nations and 24 non-African donor countries, lends commercially to Africa’s richest nations and at concessionary rates to poor ones from its Development Fund, financed largely by Western donors.

Addressing an African ministerial conference in Senegal on Infrastructure Financing, Youssouf Ouedraogo, special adviser to AfDB President Donald Kaberuka, said $4.8 billion of these funds for concessionary lending were earmarked for infrastructure.

This included a number of major road and rail projects aimed at criss-crossing the continent with transport corridors.

“These resources are insufficient …. the bank will spare no effort to try to mobilise additional resources coming from multilateral and bilateral partners, sub-regional banks and the private sector,” he told delegates at the conference in the coastal resort of Saly Portudal.

Ouedraogo said the bank was already financing and carrying out feasibility studies in major existing transport corridor projects, such as those to link Djibouti on the Red Sea with Dakar and Libreville on the Atlantic coast to the west.

It would also support trans-African highway projects to connect Beira in Mozambique to Lobito in Angola, Dakar in Senegal to Lagos in Nigeria, and Lagos to Mombasa in Kenya.

Financing was also earmarked for three major bridge projects, at Rosso over the Senegal River between Senegal and Mauritania, over the Gambia River in Gambia and the Kazangula bridge over the Zambezi between Zambia and Botswana.

In addition, the bank was contributing to the financing of the rehabilitation and expansion of the giant Inga dam hydropower project in Democratic Republic of Congo.

In his speech to the conference, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade urged African countries to work together to develop the continent’s deficient infrastructure under the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), which aims to fight poverty and improve governance.

“For several years, nobody wanted to hear about infrastructure. Today, we are unanimous,” he said.

Historically, Africa’s infrastructure has been geared to old colonial markets in Europe, resulting in economic isolation for the 40 percent of Africans who live in landlocked countries, and starving local markets of cross-border roads and railways.

“Without infrastructure, there’s no development. We need a single voice and a single agenda,” Bernard Joba, commissioner for infrastructure at the African Union, told the conference, which was attended by representatives of regional and international organisations.

December 5, 2007

AFDB Seeks “Intelectuals” to Promote Africa’s Economic Growth

AFDB’s Plan to Promote Africa’s Economic Growth
East African Business Week (Kampala)

26 November 2007
Posted to the web 26 November 2007
By Geoffrey Kamali

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has for some time now been on a campaign to involve African intellectuals into dialogue on the African development agenda. Recently, the AfDB, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the African Economic Consortium, convened the second African Economic conference to encourage such dialogue. East African Business Week’s Geoffrey Kamali caught up with the President of AfDB, Dr. Donald Kaberuka over the new partnership and below are the excerpts.

The idea you initiated to involve African economists and researchers into debate on development issues affecting the continent appears to be wide, how is it going to work?

It is working already, because the idea to widen debate on African development issues to include African economists, the think tanks has results.

These are researchers from universities and the think-tanks and they come here to share ideas. The objective of this conference is to allow African economists and think-tanks to share scientific thinking on the development issues of the day. We were in Tunis (last year) and we have done so now. Every year, we add to our stock of knowledge on how things will work or not.

Has the process started feeding into policy making?

It’s still too early but there have been extensive discussions at this conference on managing the natural resources boom. Clearly now, there is positive dialogue, but this is quite bigger. If it is feeding into policy immediately, maybe not. But at least policy makers now have got a wide range of instruments that have been produced by the economists.

When is that time coming when research findings should feed into policy making?

Policies are made over a long period of time. Policies are not static, they evolve everyday. And my take will be that they are already getting together economists and policy makers in an understanding. On one hand you have practitioners handling issues on a daily basis, and on the other side you’ve got economists who handle things maybe on a theoretical point. Now, there are realities of both sides. As they interact, I expect the quality of policies to keep improving.

But the thinking of African economies is mainly done outside Africa and there’s nothing wrong with that. International financial institutions and agencies have in as much driven the African agenda, but what is happening here is now an African perspective to drive that agenda. Africa’s own economists are adding in their own perspective. It is the totality of this perspective that we are talking about.

Is this process going to work like a charter to legally compel African governments to implement such policies?

No, African governments are democratically elected. They are accountable to parliament, not to economists. This is not about a government receiving, it’s an exchange of experiences and there is an academic, theoretic confrontation of data, objective facts, with day to day realities.

It is the interaction of the two which improves the quality of policies. It’s a confrontation of policy realities, which enables Africa’s own thinking on Africa’s own problems.

Please understand this, there is such a difference to continue thinking that you got governments here receiving ideas from economists only is wrong.

There are economists in universities, in ivory towers, they have never been confronted with managing a country or managing a ministry or the Central Bank. But economists also have information, which can be useful. I expect yearly improvements. For example, next year, we will concentrate on an issue, such as growth. So, we’ll get economic growth at the centre of the agenda.

Now, you can come to economic growth from very many angles; institutions, investments, governance, education, whatever you want. But the finality will be the growth agenda, which is issue-based.

What’s important is that African intellectuals themselves and African policy-makers feeding into policies in Africa. It is not an exclusion of non-African ideas, far from it! It is aiding to those ideas in another perspective, by Africans and Africans in the Diaspora.

Various issues were raised at the conference, such as corruption, infrastructural challenges and governance, aren’t these likely to affect the process of this dialogue and policymaking?

The issues raised are numerous and they are all important. They recognise such challenges by governments and all the things you have mentioned. So here are experts, the AfDB and others to debate over them. Now, the issue is how is it done? Fighting corruption for instance is critical, getting experiences and sharing them.

Some recommendations made, such as private sector credit support and lowering interest rates by a half, are unrealistic and likely to be disruptive…

Okay, there is a recommendation to lower interest rates, for example. Well, let me come to it from this perspective. I expect economists to go back to their countries and look at the cost of capital, the competition in the banking sector, level of government borrowing and barriers, which influence interest.

And then, depending upon the findings, we see if the mechanisms are efficient enough to lower interest. There might even be cases for raising interest! So a scientific subject like this cannot be made into a recommendation…it cannot be.

Certainly, interest rates vary from economy to economy and so, we cannot declare them from here. I think the issue is that competition should be increased in the banking competition. But these are highly technical issues, such as excess liquidity in the economy… the Central Banks know what to do.

Africa’s current economic boom is pegged on newfound and existing resources such as oil and minerals, yet you seem to disagree.

Well, what I said on geology is not new. There is not much geology (resources that are under the ground) in India and China; there isn’t much under the soil. But they are the ones now driving the world economy. I said, use the resources from the boom to develop other resources. And among these other resources, I put talent as number one.

What time frame have you given this process (of interaction between economists and researchers) to feed into policy?

Each country is different, what we call initial conditions are different. Take a country like Liberia, which has just emerging from 20 years of crisis. You cannot have one formula for different countries. The important thing is to kick- start the economy to make it move.

You said the AfDB will support African universities to promote scientific training, how will this be achieved?

That support started before I came to the bank. It is part of a comprehensive approach and some examples of the support the Bank is doing is the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology. It has been getting this support.

This was not because of me because I was not there yet. Now, if we could find centres of excellence like this in every region…like the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture, it is an excellence centre. There is some idea to identify in every region, centres that have built excellence or where excellence can be built, and then we support them.

We have limited resources, we cannot do this in every country or university but at least…in West Africa, Central Africa and East Africa, we will identify centres of excellence and go there and support them. Technicians of AfDB will identify how to support and see the missing gaps…like the Bank tha just started… the Bank has supported to build laboratories and providing equipment.

You said AfDB has decided to adopt a particular economic approach for fragile economies. Please explain.

Every country has got its own natural resources endowment, like Liberia. Before Liberia went to civil war, at least it was a middle-income country. It made huge profits.

Liberia is a country rich in natural resources but it is a traumatised country in terms of institutions. Now, to help Liberia is not the same thing like helping say, Botswana…the problems are different. You need to appreciate that we cannot have a formula, which fits every country.

There is a new policy for fragile states, any of the fragile states emerging from conflict. The Bank has in the past helped them to clear the debt arrears…that was the first step, so they can re-engage with international financial institutions.

Once you have cleared arrears, you must now kick-starts the economy. And money alone is not always enough, you need to help them rebuild institutions. A country like Mozambique had to be helped to rebuild its institutions, especially the customs on its coast. So we are helping the to, one, clear arrears, kick -start the economy and then building capacity.

What in the Bank’s view should the citizens of Africa expect to achieve in the next 10 years?

Now, AfDB is one of the players, the biggest player in every country is that country itself. International organisations come in to support. We have no different agenda from other countries. Our agenda is to promote economic growth…I would hope that in 10 years, we will have attained the Millennium Development Goals and economic growth which is necessary for the MDGs. I hope that our share world trade and investment is growing everyday…now it is 2%. Asia is 8%, so I would hope our share also increases. Our dependence on foreign aid is declining. For that to happen, it means that we expect our institutions to have become stronger and governance is strengthening every day. If that happens, I think we will have contributed to what the countries themselves want to do.

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