Ceibs, the Shanghai-based business school which runs the largest executive MBA programme in the world, has officially launched the programme outside China - in Africa.
The two-year programme, run in Accra, Ghana, has 42 students in the first cohort - 30 from Ghana and the rest from Nigeria. The plan is to open the programme to managers throughout Africa, says Kwaku Atuahene-Gima, head of the Ceibs marketing department and boss of the Accra programme.
“Our EMBA is a model for emerging economies,” he says. “The kind of problems Africa faces today are the same as China faced 15 years ago.”
The programme will be taught by Ceibs faculty and Prof Atuahene-Gima will move permanently to his home country of Ghana this summer to mastermind the development of the programme. Students on the Accra programme will take part of their programme in Shanghai next year and Chinese students will have the opportunity to visit Africa.
The profile of the Ghana class are remarkably similar to those of the class in Shanghai and the rest of China: the average age is 42 and 20 per cent of the class are women. Only five of the 42 students have support from their companies; all the others are providing their own funding. This shows that managers are prepared to study in Africa if there is a top quality programme, says Prof Atuahene-Gima. “Previously if you wanted to get a good degree you had to leave the country and most people never returned.”
Although the teaching will follow closely the structure of the Chinese programme, there will be some teaching around case studies written about African companies. At the moment these cases are written by other schools, but Prof Atuahene-Gima intends to set up an African case writing centre in Accra.
Pedro Nueno, one of the founders of Ceibs and who has been instrumental in setting up the Accra programme, says the initial priority has been to ensure the quality of the students and the programme. He believes the development of the Ceibs Ghana programme will follow that of its Chinese parent: to begin with the programme will be taught in rented accommodation; next the school will acquire its own buildings and the number of programmes will expand.