The high-profile World Economic Forum on Africa got underway this week,with a sharp focus on how to propel the continent’s next phase of growth,with hundreds of government officials, business executives, academics and the media officials, business executives, academics and the media congregating in Cape Town, South Africa.
Discussions will among other areas focus on financing growth,technology and innovation, the region’s demographic growth and infrastructure, as the continent builds up ideas on boosting the growth of the last two decades.
Key to such growth will be how well African countries develop and deploy their human capital, a “more important determinant of its long term economic success than virtually any other resource”, according to the WEF.
In its recent Human Capital Index, the organisation says that while the focus has tended to be on gross unemployment, this does not take into account the education and skills in both those who have a job and those who are searching.
To guide policy makers and employers, the Geneva-headquartered organisation ranked 124 countries on how successful they have been in developing and deploying what it calls human capital.
Some 29 countries in Africa are ranked on a total of 46 indicators, essentially measured on how far they are from the “ideal”. The indicators range from school enrollment rates and quality of education to skills, workplace learning and labour force participation.
Given the age group’s low educational attainment and a healthy life expectancy at birth below 60 years for all countries in the region except Mauritius, this almost certainly reflects activity due to economic necessity and lack of an adequate welfare or pension system,” the report says, but adds that senior citizens have much to offer the younger generation.
It is a however a list that contains a few surprises.
The next five positions are taken by Ghana, Zambia, Egypt, Botswana and, more surprisingly, Cameroon. Many of these countries however have high incidences of child labour.
The region’s most advanced economy, South Africa, comes in sixth (and a distant 114th for its ease of finding skilled labour) ahead of Namibia, Morocco, Tunisia and Kenya.
At the other end of the scale is Chad, which is last of those ranked. To highlight the link to development, the Central Africa state placed last of the nations surveyed in the Human Development Index.
Mauritania, Burundi, Africa’s biggest economy Nigeria, and Guinea follow.
The WEF study urges a global “fundamental rethink” of the “talent value chain” to respond to both current predicaments and a highly uncertain future with the topic featuring prominently on the crowded agenda.
SOURCE: Mail & Guardian Africa