“We are a diverse continent with limitless potential”, a common phrase we hear in Africa. Well, this is seemingly true. Before the advent of the slave trade in 1835, in Lord Macauley’s Address to the British Parliament, he stated: “I have travelled across the length and breadth of Africa and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief, such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we could ever conquer…”; Yet, they conquered; and even so many decades after Africa fought off slave trade and colonialism, Africa is still stuck at the bottom of the chart when it comes to economic emergence. This brings us to the development of Africa’s human capital, particularly its youth and in order for us to implement solutions, we must first properly identify the problems.
In Sub Saharan Africa, as acknowledged by the World Economic Forum and the International Labour Organization, the unemployment rate is high and job opportunities are scarce. Taking into account the increasing working-age population, it is imperative that governments, including policymakers and the private sector, tap into the potential and dynamism of Africa’s burgeoning population by making available initiatives and investments for adequate education that will prepare job seekers for the professional world.
Here we highlight 3 main challenges that are limiting the continent in terms of effective skills development of the population:
Education and Orientation: There still exists limited access to educational institutions as compared to other parts of the world. This leads to little or no motivation to harness skill sets and abilities. Furthermore, the unavailability of orientation centres for talents and skills enhancement, absence of rehabilitation centres providing second chances and opportunities for the underserved communities, remains a plague in our emerging continent.
Infrastructure: Physical infrastructures across the continent remain a challenge to productivity. Financial institutions, Educational institutions, sports complexes, entertainment venues, etc. are usually very poorly constructed, organized and systemized. Their shortcomings are bound to discourage any individual investment in skill or talent with the knowledge it may yield to little or no advantages.
Political crisis and Extremism: The lack of acceptance of our diversity and absence of social cohesion has led to extremism in our continent today. Examples over the years include Xenophobia in South Africa, Genocide in Rwanda and the Region segmentation occurring in Cameroon today; factors which have greatly affected economic growth in the entire continent. It will be unrealistic to expect outstanding skillsets to excel in hostility. These circumstances serve as distractions and have instilled fear and anxiety around the continent, therefore providing little opportunity for excellence.
As stated above, there exist factors restricting inclusivity in skillset management. The first step is to identify the problems and then subsequently, engage in collaborative brainstorming on possible solutions to these problems. Therefore, in order to tackle these challenges:
Firstly, Africa needs more stakeholders, leaders and angel investors who see present-day Africa but envision a completely evolved economy in the nearest future. The solution is having the African man, see potential in the African man, hence improved educational facilities, infrastructure, availability of jobs for a variety of skill sets and plenty more.
Secondly, we must encourage the promotion of local content. When an individual believes his skill is been appreciated and consumed by his immediate community, he goes beyond the limit to exploit his full potential.
Thirdly, and most effectively, we must create facilities and workshops for youth orientation, digital innovation and talent enhancement.
Finally, the importance of public-private partnerships is crucial for a collaborative effort in order to put in place adequate education policies that will respond to the current demand for skills.
We believe with the above analyses and solutions, we could be heading towards a more emergent and prosperous next decade in the African Continent.