By Peter Walker for CNN
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Africa is generally seen as the continental poor relation in business school terms, lagging behind North America, Europe and Asia, even South America.
However, as detailed before on Executive Education (click here), Africa does have a number of top schools, and the Association of African Business Schools is working hard to raise general standards.
Also, schools elsewhere are also getting involved, as illustrated by a recent conference hosted by Insead, the highly-ranked school based jointly in France and Singapore.
Deans and other staff from more than 30 business schools worldwide got together at Insead for the second annual meeting of the Global Business School Network Academic Advisory Council, an event based around the theme of "Nurturing Business Education in Africa."
The aim was to lay out a precise plan of action on how leading schools in developed nations can help their African counterparts grow and improve.
Africa is in desperate need of qualified and talented management to help its economies, not only running companies but helping entrepreneurs and ensuring more effective corporate and legislative governance policy.
Qualified African managers can also help put together vital inward investment with policymakers, multinationals and charities.
With its own global perspective -- it has faculty from 32 different countries -- Insead "has a responsibility to support business education in Africa and thereby help to build the foundation for economic growth and poverty reduction," said the school's dean, Frank Brown.
Partnerships and progress
Among subjects discussed at the meeting were the possibility of mentor professors teaching in African schools, joint student projects, pro bono consulting support projects and even formal pairings or partnerships.
"The challenges that African nations face as they try to improve the welfare of their people are enormous, and those of us who can help, even if only modestly, have an obligation to do so," said Landis Gabel, professor of management and the environment at Insead.
"We will be looking for practical ways that business schools and their professors can strengthen the capability of African schools to train the continent's future managers."
The meeting is part of a wider series of projects organized under the umbrella of the Global Business School Network, a non-profit body put together by the International Finance Corporation, the private sector investment branch of the World Bank.
It brings together schools, companies and international organizations to develop sustainable programs for management education and training in developing countries.
Among the members are a series of leading US business schools, as well as their equivalents in countries ranging from Denmark to India and Nigeria.
Working for prosperity: Farmers in Nigeria.
FACT BOXFT MBA Rankings
1. Wharton, U.S.
2. Columbia, U.S.
3. Harvard, U.S.
4. Stanford GSB, U.S.
5. London Business School, UK
6. Chicago GSB, U.S.
7. Insead, France/Singapore
8. Stern, NYU, U.S.
9. Tuck, Dartmouth, U.S.
10. Yale, U.S.
Source: Financial Times 2007
FACT BOXMBA BASICS
The classic MBA is a two-year full-time program. Accelerated and distance learning MBAs are increasingly popular.
A typical MBA student has several years' work experience and is in their late 20s.
Those who take an Executive MBA, or EMBA, tend to be older, more senior managers.
Courses are expensive, but the rewards are high -- some new MBAs now get a $100,000 basic salary, according to a survey.