Experts Urge Private Sector Stakeholders to Support Skills Development in Sub Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan African countries need to reel in private sector investment and leverage public spending to promote skills building and development, a team of experts has affirmed.

The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the World Bank, along with other analysts, researchers and scientists, have determined that skills development is vital to the growth of the region’s economy.

The researchers – who include Ayhan Kose, Sergio Kurlat, Franziska Ohnsorge, and Naotaka Sugawara, authors of a policy paper titled ‘A Cross-Country Database of Fiscal Space’ – found that workplace learning and on-the-job training are an important source of skills formation. They found that on average, about 30% of formal sector firms in Sub-Saharan Africa provide on-the-job training, compared with 35% of firms in the rest of the world.

Their analysis covers countries such as Angola, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Africa, whose economies experienced a sharp slowdown over the past two years. They state, however, that a recovery is underway.

Their data indicated that gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the region is expected to strengthen to 2.4% in 2017 from 1.3%in 2016, slightly below the pace previously projected.

The rebound is being led by the region’s largest economies. In the second quarter of 2017, Nigeria exited a five-quarter recession and South Africa emerged from two successive quarters of negative growth. Economic activity has also picked up in Angola.

An October 2017 report from the team, coupled with data compiled from more than a dozen other experts, stated that the region’s firm training incidence is comparable to that in South Asia, higher than in the Middle East and North Africa, but lower than in Europe and Central Asia, East Asia and the Pacific, or Latin America and the Caribbean.

“The percentage of firms offering training varies from 9 percent in Sudan to as high as 55% in Rwanda,” said the report.

“On-the-job training in micro and small firms, often informal, is even more challenging. The potential reasons for the lower incidence of on-the-job training are multiple and likely vary across countries. Improvements in infrastructure, the business environment, and governance could lead to increases in on-the-job training,” stated the analysis.

The experts argue that more and better skills can help create more productive, inclusive, and adaptable economies in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Private sector stakeholders have been urged to give greater attention to skills for growing sectors through market-driven Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and higher education, incentives for on-the-job training, and entrepreneurship support.

Source: Footprint to Africa

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