IS AFRICA’S HUMAN CAPITAL READY FOR THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION?

Most African countries have expressed increased readiness for business on a global scale, however, many investors and businesses feel that while Africa has the numbers and a cheaper cost-saving workforce, its people’s skills are thinly spread, with skills that involve critical thinking in high demand.

As shown in figure 1 below, Africa is doing well in human capital development. In addition, it has the advantage of a youthful and energetic workforce to meet the demand the continent’s rapid economic growth is creating (See Figure 2). According to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s 2019 annual letter, the median age of the African continent is just eighteen years old. With at least thirteen years youthful gap from the rest of the world’s population, Africa is a human capital outlier indeed.

Figure 1: Human development progress: Average annual growth for Africa and the rest of the world, 2010–2017

Source: Africa Business Class; UNDP: Human Development Indices and Indicators (2018)

Figure 2: Africa’s youthful population is the future

Source: VisualCapitalist, Gates Notes, CIA World Factbook, Statista

Skills development through the following routes are key to meeting the Africa’s human capital demands in the fourth industrial revolution and beyond.

  • Secondary education
  • Vocational and technical institutions
  • Higher education in Africa, including MBA modules that are designed to revolutionise business in the continent
  • The critical role of business advising in Africa

The state of education in Africa can be considered better off compared to other developing economies. Ongoing sustainable growth in African countries’ economies is experienced as a by-product of the region’s improved education system. According to an IMF report, as an emerging market, Africa is home to better prospects compared to other developing economies. Investment in education in the region is growing and has become very lucrative. For a good ROI, investors should look at exploring Africa’s education system, especially in the area of private schools and training colleges.

~Photo by Doug-Linstedt

For detailed discussion on the above, get a copy of my latest book How to Succeed in the African Market: A Guide for the 2020s for Businesspeople and Investors

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