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APO International

Harnessing Human Capital: Key Insights from African Development Bank Group’s 2024 Annual Meetings

todayMay 30, 2024 9

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Africa is known for its generally youthful population. But is the continent truly harnessing this demographic dividend to its advantage?

This question was at the heart of a forum hosted by the Kenyan government on May 27 on the sidelines of the African Development Bank Group’s 2024 Annual Meetings in Nairobi. The panel discussion, titled “Harnessing Human Capital for Sustainable Growth and Development in Africa: Demographic Dividend and Circular Movement of Skilled Labour,” rallied experts to deliberate on the issue.

Prof Njuguna Ndung’u, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for the National Treasury, emphasized the importance of aligning skills development with emerging market opportunities to leverage human capital effectively. “If you don’t have human capital expertise, you are going to lag behind,” he said.

William Asiko, Rockefeller Foundation Vice President for Africa, highlighted Kenyan President William Ruto’s recent announcement that carbon credits will be Kenya’s next significant export by 2030. He noted that this initiative could create numerous jobs but stressed the necessity of developing the right skills to seize this opportunity. “Artificial Intelligence carbon markets are the big issues now. Can we develop these skills for the future?” he posed.

Martha Phiri, the Director, Human Capital, Youth and Skills Development Division at the African Development Bank, shared the Bank’s new 10-year strategy, 2024-2033. She emphasized that a healthy, productive, and innovative workforce is essential for Africa’s transformation. “A workforce that can ensure food security, drive power plants, enhance transport connectivity, and foster industrialization is crucial.”

Phiri pointed out the importance of derisking youth participation in investments across the value chains. “We need to ensure we not only build the necessary skills for young people, but invest in their businesses, and enhance derisking instruments to ensure youth are seen as bankable.”

The private sector was identified as crucial for mobilizing resources for human capital development. The panel emphasized the need to establish instruments that encourage private sector participation to optimize growth. The discussions called for igniting the right policies and initiatives to bridge the resource gap, alongside policies that address the mismatch between skills taught in classrooms and what the labor market offers.

The event was moderated by Dr Rose Ngugi, Chief Executive Officer of the Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Development Bank Group (AfDB).

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