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Africa Human Capital Heads of State Summit

July 25-26, 2023
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Human Capital-Led Economic Growth in Africa: A Focus on Learning and Skills

This video highlights the fact that even though Sub-Saharan Africa countries have grown economically over the last 30 years, this has not been enough to translate into rapid per capita income growth.

The Africa Human Capital Heads of State Summit came in response to engagements with government focal points on the need to draw attention to the role of human capital in economic growth and elevate the discussion on the importance of investing in people. The Summit fostered technical deliberation and shared the latest knowledge on human capital. At the conclusion, African leaders from 43 countries endorsed the Dar Es Salaam Human Capital Declaration, which constitutes concrete commitments to prioritize investments in people, with specific targets in health, education, and jobs. Here's a Summit recap.

Sub-Saharan Africa entered the last decade with significant deficits in human capital—the knowledge, skills, and health that people accumulate over their lives. The region’s average Human Capital Index (HCI) was the lowest among all the world’s regions, with a large proportion of African countries at the bottom of the HCI. Overlapping global challenges of the last three years—including the COVID-19 pandemic, rising inflation, and the war in Ukraine leading to increased fuel, grain, and fertilizer prices—have further restricted the accumulation of human capital and worsened the recovery of the human development losses seen during COVID-19. With impacts generally worse for children in poor households, this has translated into greater inequality.

The current education system is at capacity, and the demand will increase with nearly 750 million children expected to be of school age by 2060. The rapid increase in cohorts of children and young people presents a significant fiscal pressure on governments in terms of service delivery needs, early childhood development interventions, and sustained investment in accessible and quality education for all, especially girls.

It is time to change the narrative on human capital from being mere expenditures to productive investments that are high GDP contributors. For example, one extra year of education correlates with 10% higher household income, and one extra year on average for a country translates overall to 2.5% higher GDP per capita.