In April 2019, we launched the Africa Human Capital Plan. This ambitious plan sets out clear targets and commitments to boost Africa’s potential through its human capital—the health, knowledge, skills, and resilience of its people. They are the continent’s greatest resource and the key to prosperity in a globalized and digitizing economy. The current COVID-19 pandemic reminds us how precious human capital is.
After just one year, the plan is well underway. Work has been rapid and intensive, and this report sheds light on how the World Bank, countries, and communities are boosting investments in Africa’s people – investments that will pay off both now and in the future.
Highlights include a strong push to empower women and accelerate Africa’s demographic transition. Over $2.2 billion of new World Bank-financed projects will further African women’s agency, health, education, and employment opportunities. In Niger, for instance, we are supporting the government to combat child marriage. In Burundi, we are helping with family planning alongside nutrition interventions. In Nigeria, we are working to keep teenage girls in school.
Our human development project commitments in the region have nearly doubled, and teams across the World Bank Group are stepping up to support human capital priorities, such as road safety in transport projects and electrification of all health centers and schools in Africa by 2030.
We are also innovating. A first generation of operations is supporting human capital policy
reforms, like stronger legal frameworks to protect women and children. New large-scale training for our staff and clients is expanding the use of geolocated data collected via mobile phones to improve project and service delivery.
Thirty-one African countries have joined the Human Capital Project, a global effort to accelerate more and better investments in people and enable them to be more productive members of society for greater equity and economic growth. These countries are united in their desire to build human capital for Africa’s future. They are compelled by the 2018 Human Capital Index, which revealed that African children will achieve only 40 percent of their potential because of human capital deficits. They are working with partners, including the World Bank Group, toward improving the prospects of children born today.
The COVID-19 crisis underscores the need to protect and bolster human capital in the overarching effort to save lives, promote well-being, and safeguard future productivity. It emboldens us to stay the course and redouble our efforts together with countries and development partners. We must not let the challenges of our lifetime become the next generation’s burden.
-Hafez Ghanem, Vice President for Africa, World Bank
-Annette Dixon, Vice President for Human Development, World Bank