A more co-ordinated and strategic approach to developing capacity is needed if Africa is to achieve the ambitious goals as defined by Agenda 2063.
This emerged from the Capacity Development Forum (CDF) in Harare, being held as part of the Silver Jubilee of the African Capacity Building Foundation.
Experts are gathered in Zimbabwe’s capital this week to discuss various continental capacity development initiatives within the wider context of the sustainable development goals and the AU’s Agenda 2063. This was also an opportunity for the ministers, development partners and experts to take stock of the progress made in the last 25 years.
Having achieved successes in the policy arena, many capacity challenges remain. “To achieve economic, political and social transformation, we will need critical skills and a change of mindsets,” says Professor Emmanuel Nnadozie, executive secretary of the ACBF.
Aked to elaborate on what that meant in real terms, Nnadozie stressed the need to develop skills, such as more engineers, more agronomists, and more managers.
He says that currently Africa has a gap of 4,3-million engineers if the continent is to implement all its flagship projects.
“We need 1,6-million agricultural scientists and researchers; we have identified a gap of 2,8-million water and sanitation engineers. And this relates to the targeted needs identified for 2023 – the 10-year target for the first leg of Africa 2063.”
Right now over 80% of students are enrolling in social sciences and humanities and there needs to be a conscious effort to stem this trend and direct more students towards the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and maths), he adds.
Among the speakers present, it was agreed that capacity issues remained the missing link in achieving development agendas in Africa. And that a strategic and co-ordinated approach was needed.
In a keynote address, Dr Anthony Mothae Maruping, commissioner for economic affairs at the African Union, highlighted how the AU had been working with the ACBF in assessing the capacity requirements for implementing Agenda 2063. “Through Agenda 2063 Africa has a clear and articulate roadmap for change. We are counting on ACBF to make this Agenda a reality. The focus should be on building capacity that builds further capacity to make it sustainable,” he says.
Nnadozie stresses how the skills gap is not only relevant to the private sector but that institutional capacity needed to be reinforced. “To what extent are our constitutions development-friendly. We also need to ensure our parliamentarians have the necessary skills to push through a development agenda and understand the treaties they are ratifying.”
As well as the hard skills, Nnadozie stresses the importance of the development of “soft” skills, which he identifies as the confidence and leadership skills to define solutions to the continent’s problems. “We need to educate African youths in order to solve African problems.”