Africa's strategy for human capital should focus on Africa's youth who do not have basic education and the unemployed being produced at different levels of the education system. Priority needs to be placed on the growing creative sector and ensuring the sustainability of this growing market in Africa.
These were some of the reflections of participants from Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique, Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe, who met in Pretoria during a two-day consultative workshop on October 22 and 23, organized by the African Development Bank in collaboration with the Southern Africa Regional Centre, to discuss the Bank's new Human Capital Development Strategy for 2013-2017.
The workshop provided open discussion and feedback on the strategy's three main pillars, namely Skills for Competitiveness and Employment Opportunities; Value for Money and Accountability in Efficient and Inclusive Service Delivery; and Building Inclusive and Financial Social Systems.
Addressing the participants, AfDB Director for Human Development, Dr. Agnes Soucat said, "Human capital needs to be at the core of development planners' agenda in all African governments. One of Africa's biggest challenges is that although governments invest large sums of money in job creation initiatives, it still has not had the desired impact, nor has it achieved the type of growth needed to build an inclusive economy."
A key outcome from the consultation is the need for political dialogue, prioritization of good governance by Africa's governments, and youth employment. A central theme was seen as the reliance by governments and planning ministries on the physical infrastructure delivery rather than on human capital. Participants agreed that a shift in mindset on the overall approach taken by African governments when addressing issues of human capital, enterprise development, matters pertaining to education and health, among others, is urgently needed.
Africa is progressively becoming a continent with a fast-growing, young population. This reality equally offers a great potential, but poses a threat for this divisively rich continent. It is estimated that by 2040 Africa will possess the largest workforce in the world, overtaking both India and China. Economically, the continent has been growing by an average of five to eight per cent, but this growth has not been inclusive and nor has it had the necessary trickle-down effect.
The AfDB's core vision is to harness the potential of one billion Africans, by building skills, creating jobs and providing equal opportunities, in order to sculpt forceful, competitive economies that effortlessly carry the capability of reducing poverty and securing higher growth rates.
The strategy is aimed at identifying key areas for investments in human capital and ways to effectively use the large amount of domestic financing allocated to the development of human capital in Africa - with the objective to build, develop and retain human capital in Africa and promote inclusive and green growth for Africa.
"Our commitment is to help create tools for effective governance and implementable policies that will enable Africa's economic growth," said Dr. Soucat.After the conclusion of the multi-stakeholder dialogue series, the Human Capital Development Strategy will be presented to the African Development Bank's Board of Executive Directors in December 2012 for approval and implementation in 2013-2017.