Private Education’s Public Benefits

In order to maintain growth and continue to attract foreign direct investment, Africa must develop a high-skilled, well-trained workforce. With governments lacking the resources to ensure high-quality education, the private sector will have to take a central role in meeting rising demand for schools.

LAGOS – Africa’s economies are finally beginning to roar. In 2000-2010, after decades of sluggish growth, six of the world’s ten fastest-growing economies were in sub-Saharan Africa. By 2060, Africa’s population could reach 2.7 billion, with a billion-strong middle class.

This is no mere rosy scenario. More than 70% of sub-Saharan Africa’s population is under 30 years old – a youth bulge that could fuel rapid economic development, as has happened in Asia over the last three decades. Moreover, Africa’s economies have already begun to diversify, placing less emphasis on natural resources relative to thriving tourism, agriculture, telecommunications, banking, and retail sectors.

In order to maintain growth and continue to attract foreign direct investment – which rose six-fold in the last decade – Africa must develop a high-skilled, well-trained workforce. But inadequate education and training are the continent’s Achilles’ heel. Indeed, African business leaders often cite finding people with the right skills as a major challenge to their operations, especially in high-tech industries.

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