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Sixth edition of the Africa’s Development Dynamics report raises importance of promoting skills development for the growth of Africa

The OECD has publishes the 2024 edition of Africa’s Development Dynamics, the annual flagship report developed in partnership with the African Union Commission that analyses economic conditions and prospects for the development of Africa. The previous edition of the report provided an overview of the investment climate in Africa and its challenges, with recommendations on how African regions could accelerate sustainable investment in strategic sectors to accelerate economic development. The 2024 edition is instead focused on education and skill development, which was selected by the African Union (AU) as theme of the year 2024 : “Educate and Skill Africa for the 21st Century”.

The Africa’s Development Dynamics 2024 report analyses the disfunctions of the African labor market, concluding that the education system in the continent does not currently match the current and future demand of jobs and growth in productivity planned under Agenda 2063.

Consequently, a series of recommendations are proposed to African policymakers to promote the emergence in the continent of new skills for which the demand is higher, like in the digital and green sectors (e.g., eco‐tourism, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy and green construction), or in sectors with the highest potential for development, including mining, renewable energy and agri‐food.

Recommendations are tailored to the peculiarities of each region in Africa and in some cases are country-specific. With regard to East Africa, for instance, it is noted that despite the average schooling period and years spent in education by youths are higher than in other parts of the continent, the region’s labor productivity is below the African average. The report notes that East Africa has the greatest rate of highly educated emigration in Africa, and therefore the higher “brain drain” and talent outflow. A phenomenon that unfortunately ends up benefiting other markets. In other words, the skills and abilities acquired by East Africa's youth are exploited by other economies, in most cases located outside the continent. This is a phenomenon from which all the continent suffers, not only East Africa, where probably is most accentuated.

If African policymakers want to support the continent's development trajectory, it will be necessary to correct this aberration. They need to find solutions capable of ensure that these categories of youth will remain in the territories where they acquired such competences (in whose development East African governments invested), so to put their skills at the service of their respective countries.

Moreover, the report notes that an alignment of educational and skills development policies across African countries would help close skill gaps in the African market, allowing African countries to reap the benefits of the interplay of skill mobility, free trade (notably while developing the African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA) and the free movement of people across borders. In this regard, the close link between free trade and the free movement of people across African borders is pointed out. The report concludes that as these two freedoms go hand in hand (goods cannot move without persons), they should be better integrated with each other and pursued jointly, leveraging the progress achieved by the Regional Economic Communities, to be progressively expanded on a continental scale.

Lastly, among the solutions needed, there is a call to invest more, and more effectively, in research and development and centres of excellence, and in strengthening vocational and technical training, internships and work‐study programmes. Specific priority policies are also formulated in the report to bridge gaps in foundational, soft and technical skills, drawing on lessons from across the continent and beyond. Success factors for technical and vocational education and training (TVET) projects in Africa are also evaluated and solutions are proposed to increase their efficiency.

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