Economy

World Bank launches plan to invest in Africa’s future human capital

Since the continent has highest young population in the world, this plan aims to equip the youngsters with skills appropriate for the future economy

 
By DTE Staff
Last Updated: Friday 12 April 2019
African economy
Photo: Getty Images Photo: Getty Images

There’s a hurdle in Africa’s growth: how to prepare its young population to cope with future needs. Soon, Africa will have the highest young population in the world. Of the continent’s 1.2 billion people, 43 per cent are below 15 years of age.

During the ongoing Spring Meeting of the World Bank-International Monetary Fund, the Africa Human Capital Plan was launched. The plan aims at facilitating investment that equips the young generation with skills appropriate for the future economy.

“For the region to compete in the global, digitising economy and to really make a dent in poverty, it is imperative that Africa’s young people and future workers are enabled to fully develop their human capital. Fortifying Africans to reach their full potential enables access to a world buoyant with opportunity and promise, and results in a high return on investment,” says Hafez Ghanem, vice-president, World Bank, Africa.

Launched on April 11, 2019, the new plan focuses on ensuring healthy life, to begin with. The Sub-Saharan Africa already rates the lowest in the bank’s human capital Index. This index measures countries’ investment on the next generation of workers.

“The score is explained by high mortality and stunting rates in the region, as well as inadequate student learning outcomes — all of which have a direct effect on economic productivity,” says a release from the World Bank.

The new plan has quantified targets, like those under the United Nations-ratified Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be achieved by 2023: reduction in child mortality to save four million lives, averting stunting among 11 million children, and increasing learning outcomes in school by 20 per cent.

“These achievements can raise Africa’s human capital index score to increase the productivity of future workers by 13 per cent,” estimates the new plan.

Under the plan, the World Bank has committed to increase investments in human capital in Africa by 50 per cent in its next funding cycle. This will amount to $15 billion during 2021-2013.

“Preventing a child from fulfilling his or her potential is not only fundamentally unjust, but it also limits the growth potential of economies whose future workers are held back. GDP per worker in Sub-Saharan Africa could be 2.5 times higher if everyone were healthy and enjoyed a good education from pre-school to secondary school,” says Ghanem.

“The adolescent fertility rate in Sub-Saharan Africa is 102 births per 1,000 girls — three times as high as in South Asia. This is not only damaging for girls and their children, but it also hurts economic growth,” added the bank’s vice-president.

The new plan is part of the bank’s flagship Human Capital Project. Around 60 countries have joined this coalition committing to increase investments on next general workers/generation. Out of these, 23 are from the African continent.

 “Human Capital Project countries are breaking away from traditional paradigms to make investment in their people a priority and are working in a more coordinated way across governments to ensure that households have the right enabling environment to support human capital formation,” says Annette Dixon, World Bank’s vice-president for Human Development.

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