November 10, 2011, Accra, Ghana – Speaking at the Vodafone African Business Leaders Forum, Dr. Yaw Perbi – Global CEO, The HuD Group, Canada – emphasised the importance of education and developing the African youth.
“When we talk of Africa, everyone refers to our natural resources, forgetting our human capital,” says Perbi. “The existing educational system was built to create factory workers, and it is not going to work. Our greatest resource is our people, and if we do not develop the people, it is not going to work.”
Perbi highlighted the fact that 41% of people in Africa are 15 years of age and below, labeling it ‘the generation that must be saved.’
Dr. Esi Ansah, Chief Executive Officer, Axis Human Capital, Ghana, agreed that the current educational system in Africa takes the wrong approach, saying,”It’s important to remember that schooling is not the same as education – we need to be training people who are versatile and critical thinkers.”
“The goal of education is societal transformation,” she added. “As a nation, we need to have key things that we are looking for at every level.”
She spoke of the importance of having multiple stakeholders in education, establishing career centres, and building sustainable funding models that decrease the reliance on government.
Stella Appiah-Nkansah, Director of HR, Vodafone Ghana, proposed an additional solution to Africa’s education challenge: recruit and retain the highly qualified Africans who are working abroad. “Many of our compatriots find themselves in the Western world, with a desire to return home,” she said. “Of crucial importance is the recruitment and retention of these talented individuals.”
Appiah-Nkansah listed various strategies which African companies can pursue in order to attract young professionals back to the continent. These included developing strong company brands, offering attractive and flexible remuneration packages, and targeting African-centred career fairs.