Beyond Buzzwords: choosing performance over ideas in Africa


In the challenging and dynamic business environment of Africa, success can be hard to come by. The continent is home to a diverse array of markets and economies, each with its own unique opportunities and obstacles. To thrive in this environment, businesses need to be agile, innovative, and laser-focused on results.

Yet, too often, businesses in Africa prioritize ideas over performance – chasing after the latest trends and buzzwords instead of focusing on the fundamentals that drive success.

In this article, I hope to explore why it is so important for African businesses to prioritize performance over ideas, and outline some strategies for making this happen. By doing so, businesses in Africa can overcome the challenges they face and achieve long-term success.

African Businesses Can Achieve Results That Matter

In today’s fast-paced and competitive business environment, having great ideas is not enough. To truly succeed, businesses need to focus on performance, which involves executing on those ideas. This is particularly important in Africa, where the business landscape can be challenging and success requires a combination of innovation and effective execution.

There are several reasons why performance is more important than ideas. First and foremost, performance is what separates successful businesses from those that fail. According to a study by Harvard Business School, high-performing companies consistently outperformed their competitors in terms of profitability, growth, and customer satisfaction (Davenport et al., 2010). This suggests that while having innovative ideas is important, it is the ability to execute on those ideas that ultimately drives success.

In Africa, where the business environment can be challenging, performance is even more critical. Businesses operating in Africa face a range of obstacles, including limited infrastructure, regulatory barriers, and political instability. In this context, the ability to perform effectively is essential to achieving long-term success.

Furthermore, focusing on performance is what builds credibility and trust with customers and other stakeholders. In Africa, trust is a particularly vital component of business relationships.

According to a survey by PwC, trust is the top factor influencing customer loyalty in Africa, with 73% of respondents citing it as a key driver of their purchasing decisions (PwC, 2018). By delivering consistent, high-quality results, businesses can build trust and earn the respect of their customers, which can help them to achieve even greater success in the long run.

In addition, performance is what drives innovation and growth. When businesses focus on performance, they are forced to find ways to improve their processes, products, or services continually. This drive to innovate is what sets successful businesses apart from their competition and helps them stay ahead in the long run. In Africa, where innovation is essential for economic growth and development, the ability to perform effectively is particularly important.

Several studies support the idea that performance is more important than ideas for driving innovation and growth. According to a study by the University of California, Berkeley, high-performing companies are more likely to invest in research and development, leading to more innovative products and services (Folta et al., 2010).

Similarly, research by the African Development Bank found that the most successful African businesses are those that are able to innovate and adapt to changing market conditions (African Development Bank, 2019).

Let us explore some strategies that businesses can use to prioritize performance and achieve better results.

Strategies for Prioritizing Performance in African Businesses

While it’s clear that prioritizing performance over ideas is important for achieving success in Africa’s challenging business environment, it can be difficult to know how to make this happen in practice. Here are some strategies that businesses can use to prioritize performance and achieve better results:

  1. Set clear goals and metrics: To prioritize performance, businesses need to have a clear understanding of what success looks like. This involves setting specific, measurable goals and metrics that allow businesses to track their progress and identify areas for improvement. By regularly monitoring and analysing these metrics, businesses can make data-driven decisions and continuously improve their performance.
  2. Focus on efficiency and process improvement: To achieve better performance, businesses need to find ways to optimize their processes and workflows. This can involve investing in technology and automation to streamline operations or adopting lean principles to reduce waste and improve efficiency. By focusing on process improvement, businesses can eliminate bottlenecks and reduce costs, ultimately leading to better performance.
  3. Invest in training and development: To perform at their best, employees need to have the necessary skills and knowledge. This means investing in training and development programs that enable employees to learn and grow in their roles. By providing ongoing training and development opportunities, businesses can improve employee performance, which ultimately leads to better business outcomes.
  4. Foster a culture of continuous improvement: To truly prioritize performance, businesses need to embrace a culture of continuous improvement. This involves encouraging employees to identify areas for improvement and providing them with the tools and resources they need to make changes. By fostering a culture of continuous improvement, businesses can drive innovation, increase efficiency, and achieve better results.
  5. Collaborate with partners and stakeholders: In the challenging business environment of Africa, businesses cannot succeed alone. To achieve better performance, it’s important to collaborate with partners and stakeholders, such as suppliers, customers, and government agencies. By working together, businesses can access new resources, leverage each other’s expertise, and create new opportunities for growth.

In conclusion, prioritizing performance over ideas is essential for businesses to achieve long-term success, particularly in the challenging business environment of Africa. By focusing on performance, businesses can differentiate themselves from their competition, build credibility and trust with their customers and other stakeholders, and drive innovation and growth.

By setting clear goals and metrics, focusing on efficiency and process improvement, investing in training and development, fostering a culture of continuous improvement, and collaborating with partners and stakeholders, businesses can prioritize performance and achieve better results.

Ultimately, businesses that prioritize performance will be better equipped to overcome the challenges of the African business environment and achieve long-term success.

I hope you enjoyed the read. Hit me up, and let’s keep the conversation going! I read all the feedback you send. Also, feel free to throw at me topics you’d like to read or hear my thoughts on. You can always head to my Calendly at or connect with me your own way through my Linktree:

Have a blessed week!


♕ —- ♕ —- ♕ —- ♕ —- ♕




African Development Bank. (2019). African Economic Outlook 2019: Macroeconomic Performance and Prospects.

Davenport, T. H., Harris, J. G., & Morison, R. (2010). Analytics at Work: Smarter Decisions, Better Results. Harvard Business Press.

Folta, T. B., Delmar, F., & Wennberg, K. (2010). Hybrid entrepreneurship. Management Science, 56(2), 253-269.

PwC. (2018). Winning in Africa’s consumer market: A transforming landscape.


♕ —- ♕ —- ♕ —- ♕ —- ♕


Dr. Maxwell Ampong is the CEO at Maxwell Investments Group, a leading agro-commodities trading firm, an Honorary Curator at the Ghana National Museum, member and Official Business Advisor with Ghana’s largest agricultural trade union under the nation’s Trade Union Congress (TUC), Executive Ambassador at the Zongo & Inner-Cities Development Secretariat (ZICDS), and an avid writer about relevant economic topics and general perspective pieces.

Leave a Reply