[Interview] Dr. Mohamed El Sahili, CEO, Medland Hospital, Zambia
Dr. Mohamed El Sahili is the Chief Executive Officer of Medland Hospital, Zambia. As a medical doctor and entrepreneur, Dr. Sahili also serves on the board of key economic international organizations like the African Business Roundtable, the American Chamber of Commerce, Zambia, Olympic Youth Development Center and the Africa CEO Forum.
Please tell us about Medland Hospital and how you came to be its leader.
From a young age, I always knew that I wanted to be a doctor. I envisioned making a difference in people’s lives by providing access to affordable, timely and quality health care. Today, the vision is a reality by Medland Hospital. Located in Lusaka, Zambia, Medland Hospital is a private health facility dedicated to providing access to comprehensive and individualized patient care in a friendly, safe, and comfortable environment of international standards based on the principle of collaboration, compassion, and innovation. The hospital also provides medical tourism and specialized clinical services that include Cardiology & Interventional Cardiology, Cardiothoracic Surgery, Woman Wellness Clinic, Plastic Surgery, Orthopedics and Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) clinics. We also have Q-Medland mobile clinics located in Livingstone, Zambia at Sandy’s Creation Resort and Avani Victoria Falls Resort that provide Covid-19 screening, testing and vaccination services.
Africa has not been known for ease of doing business. In your experience, how would you say the AfCFTA stands to improve this status quo, say in Zambia?
The AfCFTA ratification for cross-border trade and investments has created an enabling environment for economic transformation through robust market information and other incentives to power local businesses. In the context of Zambia, the key drivers for economic growth can be attributed to the deepening private-private and public-private sector engagement and commitment on long term investments in trade and empowerment of women and youth in the society.
Through the AfCFTA, Zambia has been able to identify and support small scale business owners which are majorly owned by women and youth. With an increase in the continued recovery of agriculture, supported by higher demand for copper, manufacturing and tourism, I do believe that more market and investment opportunities are expected to increase exponential growth due to available resources in the country.
What government policies can be implemented for local industries to thrive in Zambia?
With positive developments such as the recovery of the manufacturing sector with regards to increased international demand and increase in copper pricing, the government may look into lowering the unit cost of production and transactions that can help strengthen and develop new supply and value chains. The world is more digitized than ever, thus policies that foster access to ICT products and services will promote local innovations and research for economic growth. A review and update of the laws on data localization, protection and intellectual is a current issue that may require immediate attention seeing the increase in the cases of cyber security breach in Zambia.
Women in business in Africa. How far has it come over the years and what evolution can we expect in the years coming?
Currently, women in business in Africa are much better positioned in comparison to the previous years. In the past women were short-changed as a result of lack of capital and socio-cultural inhibitions. However, women entrepreneurship continues to blossom through government interventions enforcing and implementing favorable rules and regulations, provision of credit facilities, incentives and women empowerment. Women and young girls in our society are constantly being empowered with life and financial skills which help them to make more informed decisions on their lives, careers and financial choices. Personally I believe in empowering women to be the best version of themselves, even in entrepreneurship. Women are constantly proving that when equipped with knowledge and skills, they too can make a difference in the economy.
Through consistent investment in women-led businesses and economic programs, women entrepreneurship will be a common practice in Africa in the future.
How prepared is Africa to become a knowledge economy?
To be a knowledge economy, one needs to invest in research as well as apply it to advance economic growth. Africa is already progressing in becoming a knowledge economy. With the emergence of new educational platforms, skills transfer and innovations among young people, it is evident that access to the digital world is the first step towards fully achieving a knowledge economy. There is plenty of raw and untapped talent in Africa. Take a look at Rwanda, it is home to one of Africa’s largest technology universities - The University of Rwanda’s College of Science and Technology. Or the African tech hubs and business incubators such as iHub in Nairobi, CTIC in Dakar and the Bandwidth Barn in Cape Town. All these sites nurture young talent and innovative ideas. The growth of Africa as a knowledge economy is steadily on the rise with support from the government and private sector investment in internet access and technology education.
The African Business Roundtable, of which you are a founding member, has inked several strategic partnerships and forged useful alliances over the years, always to the benefit of Africa’s private sector. What can we expect for the future?
ABR plans to implement short, mid and long-term strategic objectives that will spur growth and development of the African economy. Through Memoranda of Understanding (MoU), mutual and beneficial relationships will be forged to drive and develop programs centred on capacity building of indigenous African enterprises in the private sector to grow within the African economic space. These African enterprises will be able to share skills, expertise and knowledge on how to operate, seek opportunities and scale up their business and become renowned brands in Africa and globally. This will help nurture cross-border business partnerships with entrepreneurs from all over Africa from emerging and developing countries in the continent. Through such strategic partnership, ABR will be able to leverage on expertise, technology, financial and non-financial resources of both African and international partners for African private sector-led economic growth and social development.
Since the organization was formed 32 years ago a lot has changed in the world. Technology has transformed the way everything is done. How does the ABR stay on top of these disruptive changes?
Disruption is inevitable in changing times especially now that we are facing a global pandemic and a rise in other viral diseases which by default require organizations to be fluid and rise to the constant need to adapt to changing environments, not only in health but also socio-economically. As we continue to embrace the new changes, the Roundtable has put in place a paradigm shift on its operations such as holding hybrid and/or virtual meetings. It also seeks to re-establish itself by pushing for a forward-thinking and self-sustainable growth by cooperating and collaborating with Pan-African, continental and/or regional business associations to build and strengthen its presence, relevance and visibility per country.
What is the most rewarding aspect of being a founding member of the African Business Roundtable?
I think the most rewarding thing as a founding member is the diversity of growth and the milestones that Africa Business Roundtable has been able to achieve so far. If you were to tell my past self about the achievements that we have today made as an organization, I would have thought that you had completely lost your mind. Take for example the Nigeria International Partnership Forum held on 10th November, 2021 in partnership with the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Millennium Club, and the African Business Roundtable. In that event we strategized and mapped out the future of the global economic landscape, explored business opportunities and forged international investment partnerships with Africa.
Are there, or will there be seats on the board of ABR for young professionals?
I would say that the youth are eligible to apply for board membership at the African Business Roundtable. We have youths all over the Africa taking up seats on various boards, government positions, and even parliamentary seats. In my interactions with young people, I often urge them not to hesitate to apply for such positions. The only limitation comes when the youth question their own abilities and shy away from applying for top positions. I always insist on conducting due diligence on the requirements and criteria needed for any career opportunity, then apply and allow the process to flow as constituted. You never know, a member of the younger generation may be selected to join the board or even be chairman if they have the expertise, meet the requirements and have the commitment. Anything is possible.
What is the latest news from Medland Hospital?
At Medland Hospital we are always doing something new and innovative and learning as we grow. We are an accredited medical training health facility and a recognized continuous professional development center. Medland Hospital recently had the privilege to be part of the Kumbuluka Kwa Bafana Initiative in which 500 vulnerable children from the communities and orphanages were given the opportunity to fly. We have also successfully performed first-of-a-kind surgical procedures which shows our ability to perform successful specialized surgical procedures here at Medland. We also installed a 4D ultrasound scanning machine at our diagnostic and imaging department and the 4D ultrasound scan services are readily available. Those are examples to show that our motto - #together_we_are_ready - is what we truly believe in. Our Vision 853 is axed on a Triple-W structure: Women and Youth Empowerment, Wellness and Health and Water and Waste Management. When it comes to healthcare, our approach is to turn it from a patient-centered to a people-centered approach. This is in line with our main Triple-A goal of making healthcare affordable, accessible and agile. Our latest news and updates - see them on facebook and Instagram - are always going to be a reflection of the above.