About Mdu Gama

Mdu Gama, a 41 year old Soweto-born entrepreneur, has made history by becoming the first recipient of a PhD in Finance to be awarded by the University of Johannesburg (and its predecessor Rand Afrikaans University) for his groundbreaking research in the area of capital investment in IT.

Says Gama, “I discovered during my research that South Africa spent more than R60-billion on IT in 2009 yet decision-makers made those huge investment decisions without any clear idea whether they make economic sense or not.

“This is because they are relying on financial tools designed more than 200 years ago during the industrial revolution and which don’t work for IT. One result is that in this century, world-wide 90 per cent of IT projects go over budget, 98 per change the original objectives or scope, 20% wound up being inappropriate for users’ requirements and only 30 per cent applied risk analysis when making the investment.

“This is chilling information with far-reaching implications for business.” Gama said that the good news is that his research led him to tools that would be helpful in the IT era.

Gama grew up in Soweto, the son of a truck driver and a housewife, Gama is currently chief executive of Safika Asset Finance (Pty) Ltd., a company he founded in 2002 and which now has Standard Bank and Liberty as fellow shareholders.

Gama’s academic achievements are remarkable in light of the fact that he grew up during a time when educational opportunities for blacks were few and far between. “I briefly attended a South African university where the math and statistics lecturers told us that science and finance were not for Blacks!” says Gama.

Accordingly he found his way to the University of Lesotho where he graduated with a B. Com (accounting) and was named

top student in the Department of Business Administration and top accounting student by the Institute of Lesotho Chartered Accountants. He followed this with an MBA and a stint at Cornell University in New York on a USAID scholarship.

“Even when my business career took off, I knew I would always be partly an academic,” said Gama. “Hence the PhD. My thesis started as the pursuit of knowledge but it has yielded useful information that business can use which makes me very satisfied because it has always been my desire to contribute to the body of finance knowledge at the highest level.”

Now he is planning a second PhD.

Mdu in the media