20 Apr Africa needs to, and can, Quantum Leap Its Development
By prioritizing the need for a skilled and advancing labor force.
A Changing Tide
Traditionally, Sub-Saharan Africa has been characterized as land and resource abundant, but labor scarce. For decades, the region’s development agenda has been mired in the belief and burden of the resource curse.
But recent projections show that from 2000 to 2050, Africa’s population will rise by 160%, turning most countries in the region into labor-abundant economies. This demographic change has new and important implications for the region’s development dynamics and comparative advantage.
With the rising human population, advancing human capital is fundamental to the continent’s economic advancement. The confluence of rapid technological change and globalization means skill development is imperative for countries seeking to close the development gap and become economically competitive (OECD).
It is for this reason that the work of capacity builders in Africa is of dire importance to the continent’s economic and social advancement. The work that pioneering capacity builders, such as Stars From All Nations (SFAN) in Ghana, do, is essential to achieving all development outcomes in the country because, without ready and available skilled labor, companies and organizations cannot grow and deliver on their missions and goals.
Quantum Leap Career Fair 2017
Stars From All Nations (SFAN) is a social enterprise on a mission to provide education to employment/entrepreneurship pipeline opportunities for youths in Ghana and beyond.
One of its hallmark events is its yearly Quantum Leap Career Fair where the company brings together business leaders, HR experts, entrepreneurs, and hundreds of candidates to discuss the next phase of work and skill development on the continent.
At this year’s Quantum Leap Career Fair, held at the British Council Ghana, business leaders such as Lucy Quist, Chief Executive Officer at Airtel Ghana, joined about 300 participants in thinking through the future of work on the continent.
The event, aptly named Technology and the Future of Work in Africa, hosted a panel session with Yasmin Kumi, Founder at Africa Foresight Group; Paul Payne, Manager at the British Council Skills Hub; Josiah Kwesi-Eyison, Co-founder at iSpace; Amma Baffoe, Recruitment Manager at MEST, Genevieve Puni, Founder at Rectrain Limited; and Jemila Abdulai, Founder at Circumspecte. The panel session was followed by a one-on-one mentoring session where candidates had the opportunity to talk to resource personnel about their resumes, career interests, enterprise ideas, and job opportunities.
How To Quantum Leap
Conversations during the day revealed that Africans do not only have a responsibility but a unique opportunity to solve both local and global problems. In fact, Africans today are in a unique and unprecedented position: with modern advances in technology and access to the global market (the proliferation of mobile phones, social media, tech tools), there has never been a better time to join the global movement and ride the proverbial technological wave. Finally, the veil of fear and ignorance that has long separated the continent from the rest of the world is lifting, as worlds and people connect through various social platforms.
But while technology brings new opportunities to connect and new employment and business opportunities, young Africans must also build and work for businesses that address local issues that have long plagued and continue to plague our communities and dim progress: high illiteracy, poverty, low health outcomes, food insecurity, and inequality.
The good news?
History shows that in the long term, “investing in skills development is far less costly than paying the price for poorer health, lower incomes, unemployment, and social exclusion — all which are closely tied to lower skills” (OECD). Meaning, skills development allows us to make the quantum leap to a more prosperous Africa because it inherently addresses many of the issues that the continent faces.
The future of Africa is finally here! Both labor and resource-rich, generations of future Africans can enjoy a better quality of life if institutions, capacity builders, and businesses work together to bring more skilled and knowledgeable founders and workers who will address the issues of today and tomorrow to the market.
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This article was written by Bridget Boakye.
Tom-Chris Emewulu is the Founder & President of SFAN. He is an education enthusiast, entrepreneurship and career coach, a consultant at Mastercard Foundation, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana, and an aspiring Venture Capitalist.