Education; a major challenge to growth in Africa

Economic growth in African continues its role in driving poverty reduction, increasing standards of living and providing security and stability. And while Covid 19 is likely to push the African economy into its first recession in 25 years according to the World Bank, the bank also forecasts a strong rebound in 2021. The African development Bank sees strong fundamentals in place across Africa capable of sustaining increased investment.

Humphrey Kariuki, a successful African entrepreneur with a business that spans eight countries in Africa, believes that if sustainable growth in Africa is feasible, there are serious long term and structural challenges that are still being overlooked by policy makers and business. HK believes that poor levels of education and a skills shortage are one of the most critical challenges to growth and development in Africa and that education is at the centre of unlocking Africa’s future and remains one of the greatest barriers to progress across Africa.

HK is clear that without schools and without a good education, Africa’s youth will not have the skills they need for the jobs of the future, and African businesses will not have access to the skills base needed to drive economic transformation for African economies.

As the Brookings Institute points out, ‘The lack of education is at the core of most development problems. There is no high-income economy with low levels of education. The backbone of sustained and inclusive development in Africa is education reform.’ Brookings also notes that sub-Saharan Africa has the lowest education attainment in the world.

The problem is complex. The World Economic Forum argues that although much has been done to progress policy around education, this is often not translated into practical outcomes.

“African businesses need to do more to build the African skills base”

Humphrey Kariuki

HK says that “African businesses need to do more to build the African skills base. This is not only essential to empowering people, but it also lays the critical foundation for the growth and development of the African market, the development of new sectors and the economic transformation needed to enable African businesses to extract more value from Africa’s resources. We need African investors to take the lead on this, and we need sustainable and African-led solutions.”

HK believes that African investors are intrinsically more committed to addressing structural issues in the African market because their businesses are tied to the growth and future of Africa. This means they are best placed to find solutions to skills and educational issues in Africa. As the global market place changes at an unprecedented rate, underpinned by rapid advances in technology, Humphrey believes that education and skills development must become an increasing focus for African investors and government alike.

HK has invested in the skills and future of Africa’s youth

HK has already invested over US$500,000 in education initiatives and projects across Africa and is committed to increasing this as a priority.

  • Having the right technology is important to equipping young people with the right skills for the future. This is why HK donated over $30,000 to St. Anne’s Secondary School in Nairobi to provide students with a state-of-the-art computer lab and laptops for each of the 450 students.
  • Ensuring the education of people who face adversity is critical. As part of his commitment to special needs children, HK and friends donated a $41,000 donation in partnership with The Nobelity Project to support the education of children at the River Likii School for Special Needs.
  • Many people in Africa come from extremely low-income backgrounds, in which education is a resource to which many do not have access. In order to break this cycle of poverty and create opportunities for people from impoverished and rural African communities, HK is supporting low-income families. In Kenya he has donated over $20,000 in  providing scholarship to children from poor backgrounds, and recently, in the DRC, he put $140,000 towards the education of people from low-income families in a remote rural area through the Nakhjavani School.
  • While endemic conflict in Africa is now less common, the long-term effects of war continue to hurt younger generations. This is why, in countries like South Sudan, HK is helping to construct schools to put an end to the generational cycle of becoming child soldiers.  He contributed $230,000 towards constructing classrooms and providing clean water at the Bishop Mazzolari School in Rumbek, South Sudan. This will give young children new hope for the future. US$100,000 was donated to Malek Academy towards rebuilding the facilities that had been destroyed during the civil war.

There is more that HK wants to do to ensure Africa’s youth have the skills they need for the future. He will continue to work with organisations and government to invest in education programmes, facilities, and technology at schools to give African youth the future they deserve.

He is currently looking at establishing  a hospitality and conservation school in the Lakipia county.  HK believes that the two are sectors are strongly intertwined  and there is a need to develop a relevant curriculum that expounds  on the synergy of two sectors.