Dar es Salaam, May 19, 2023 –President Samia Suluhu Hassan of Tanzania has called on fellow African leaders, policymakers, and other development stakeholders to accelerate investments in learning, health, and skills, to secure the productivity of the region’s people as its greatest asset.
President Samia made the call at the official launch of the Africa Heads of State Human Capital Summit (HCS) today in Dar es Salaam.
“As our countries struggle to weather the unprecedented impacts of overlapping crises over the last few years from the COVID-19 pandemic and now the rising inflation, competing fiscal priorities and tight budgets, it is possible to get consumed by agendas focused on immediate relief from these crises, and lose sight of important investments needed for our human capital which is our greatest asset,” said President Samia. “I call upon fellow African leaders not to lift the pedal off these critical interventions. Our people are key to unlocking their aspirations and the continent’s economic potential.”
In 2018, the World Bank Group launched the Human Capital Project (HCP), as a global effort to accelerate more and better investments in people for greater equity and economic growth. As of April 2023, 87 economies have joined the HCP.
The Project utilizes advocacy, measurement, and analytical work to raise awareness and increase demand for interventions to build human capital. Among these analytics is the Human Capital Index (HCI) which quantifies the contribution of health and education to the productivity of the next generation of workers. Ranging between 0 and 1, the index takes the value 1 only if a child born today can expect to achieve full health (defined as no stunting and survival up to at least age 60) and achieve their formal education potential (defined at 14 years of high-quality school by age 18).
As a region, Africa entered the last decade with significant deficits in human capital, with the lowest average HCI compared to other regions, while recent global crises including COVID-19 have further exacerbated learning poverty, the skills gap, and health challenges.
The Summit will be held on July 25 and 26, 2023 under the theme, “Accelerating Africa’s Economic Growth: Boosting Youth Productivity by Improving Learning and Skills.” It will bring together leaders from across the continent to focus attention and draw tangible financial and policy commitments prioritizing investing in people as a core driver of productivity, resilience, and growth.
“It is projected that by 2050, the Africa region would have doubled its population to 2.2 billion,” said Victoria Kwakwa, World Bank Regional Vice President for Eastern and Southern Africa. “Timely investments in the education and health of its population can increase productivity, spur job creation to create a demographic dividend and unlock the enormous economic potential of the region.”
“Women’s empowerment is a cross-cutting theme that is one of the important foundations to achieve better human capital outcomes,” said Ousmane Diagana, World Bank Regional Vice President for Western and Central Africa. “Investing in women, children, and adolescents to ensure equitable and affordable care carries transformative potential to unlock higher lifetime opportunities, support inclusive growth and advance their rights.”