How Africa can unlock human capital potential

VICE- PRESIDENT Dr Philip Mpango has highlighted three critical measures which African countries ought to take to unlock the continent’s human capital potential, key being harnessing public-private partnerships.

Others include coming up with innovative financing solutions and strengthening training institutions.

Dr Mpango revealed this while opening the Ministerial Technical meeting at the Julius Nyerere International Convention Centre (JNICC) in Dar es Salaam, on Tuesday ahead of the African Human Capital Heads of State Summit which convenes today.

The VP viewed that the meeting should come up with a strategy to motivate the private sector to actively collaborate with the government to act as co-sponsors and co-producers of quality human capital as key beneficiaries.

Besides, he underscored the need for the multilateral financial institutions to do more by devising innovative financing solutions in support of Africa’s drive to accelerate human capital development, given the limited fiscal space of most countries in the continent.

In particular, he said human capital investment was long term in nature and thus requires low-cost financing with long-term maturity.

“I firmly believe that our training institutions, being key players in human capital development, can and should help the continent bolster local capacities to efficiently manage and exploit our natural resource endowment,” said Dr Mpango.

He added: “It is an irony that the continent spends much of its financial resources to import knowledge for harnessing our own natural resource wealth. African training institutions should therefore reposition themselves and collaborate to produce home grown solutions to Africa’s challenges.”

Dr Mpango revealed that the African Union Agenda 2063 has made human capital development as one of its primary flagship themes, which is centered on improving access to healthcare and education for all people, advancing gender equality, empowering women, and developing the necessary skills and competencies for growth and transformation of the continent.

“By 2025, the African Union hopes to have at least 70 per cent of African children enrolled in pre-primary education, while also prioritizing investments in tertiary and higher education and technical and vocational training programmes,” noted the VP indicating a very short time was left to meet the envisioned goal.

On this backdrop, the VP shared some of the milestones attained by Tanzania in human capital development programmes as including scaling up financing for education from 17.9 per cent in 2019/2020 to 18.9 per cent in 2021/2022 of the total budget, which is approaching the 20 percent agreed target for 2030.

As for health and agriculture, the budgets for food security and nutrition also increased significantly.

To expand outreach and efficiency of social services delivery, Tanzania has over the past two years focused on improvement of hard and soft infrastructures, including construction and renovation of classrooms, healthcare facilities, installation of telemedicine hubs, X-Rays and MRI machines for all Regional Hospitals.

Others were cited also improved teachers and healthcare workers training, taking into account inclusive strategies (investing in vulnerable groups), strengthening the National Health Insurance Fund by increasing service delivery centres and increased supply of medicines.

Currently, the government is implementing free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education for all, including allowing teenage mothers to resume their studies.

Besides, Tanzania rolled out a countrywide Social Safety net programme under the Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF) and financial inclusion programmes to support access to social services.

And, significant investment has been made in digital infrastructure and interoperability, which have in turn contributed to wider coverage of branchless banking and mobile money services, thereby increasing financial inclusion from 65 per cent of the adult population in 2017 to 73 per cent in 2023.

“The interventions outlined above have yielded some quite impressive results including improved food security which reversed trends in all forms of malnutrition for children. The prevalence of stunted growth declined from 34 per cent to 30 per cent for the period between 2015 and 2022,” noted the VP.

Earlier the Minister for Finance, Dr Mwigulu Nchemba also underscored some valuable lessons offered by Tanzania in accelerating its human capital as including prioritising education as a fundamental pillar for human capital development.

Such efforts have yielded positive outcomes, empowering youth with the knowledge and skills necessary to thrive in an ever-evolving World.

He said by forging strategic partnerships with the private sector, Tanzania has aligned technical and vocational education and training programs with the needs of industries, creating an integrated pathway from education to employment.

Adding to that, the country is currently designing programs that will prepare graduates at all levels, even dropouts, to seize opportunities and contribute meaningfully to the workforce.

“I invite other African nations to learn from the experiences and collaborate with Tanzania in building a brighter future, where human capital serves as the bedrock of sustainable development,” he pointed out.

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