ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE ON SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA DEVELOPMENT – PART 2
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In the previous post, we emphasized on the importance for Central Africa nations to balance foreign technology imports and local innovation. Due to the close relationship between well-being and the creative capacity of nations, human development can be a key contributor to the emergence of strong economies in Central Africa.
Urbanization, Healthcare and Education are major components of human development and constitute strategic areas where sub-saharan countries should invest heavily.
Capital cities in Central Africa are facing several challenges caused by rural exodus (human migration of population seeking better living conditions from rural areas to urban cities). The efforts undertaken to maintain agriculture versus the revenues gained from the sector are not enough to encourage populations in rural areas to embrace that domain of activity. As a consequence, human masses flee from villages to cities, hoping to get better jobs and earn more revenues. Urban population and unemployment rates are on the rise since there are not enough jobs for the available workforce and to tackle unemployment populations have to jump into informal economic activity. Food security is also at risk due to the decrease in agricultural output. Lack of proper housing leads to the creation of slums and city councils are not able to ensure safety of goods and people efficiently.
While the World population is experiencing an increase of the life expectancy due to constant improvements in healthcare technologies and procedures, most of the CEMAC countries except for Gabon and Republic of Congo are stalling around 40-50 years.
Millenium Objectives (UN initiative) such as the improvement of maternal health and the battle against major diseases are not going to be met by many Central African countries, even if more foreign aid flows toward these regions.
Deficit in modern infrastructures (clinics, hospitals) and new generation medical equipments are among the problems faced in Central Africa. We believe engineering can help addressing these issues by finding solutions to manufacture medical equipments locally and build the required infrastructures. We will discuss it in details in a later post.
Last but not least, education will play a critical role in human development of Central Africa. Over the past decades, many african students have relocated to industrialized countries in order to study in fields like business administration, engineering, medicine among others. The main reason for that relocalization was the quality of academic curriculums in the local universities and the attractiveness of immigration programs promoted by countries such as Canada, Australia and the US. That trend has several impacts on human development:
- First, a financial impact since studying abroad for these students is more expensive than attending local schools. The amounts paid oversees could help addressing the issue around funding of the educational systems in the CEMAC region.
- Second, a social impact since most of the students settle permanently in their countries of adoption after they have obtained their diplomas.
According to the International Organization for Migration, " Africa has been losing 20,000 professionals annually since 1990. "
In order to retain students in their home countries, quality of education needs to be improved, curriculums meeting both the domestic job market and the international job needs have to be built. It ensures future skilled workers get access to better wages when they are hired for local or international opportunities. As easy as it is to talk about competence development, it is also important to put emphasize on job creation. Skilled workers should be able to find jobs and put their competence at contribution in order for the development loop to be efficient. Governments and private sector companies need to work together on the resolution of that challenge, since it is a key element for the ''creation of wealth''; we will discuss this in our next post.
The challenges we are debating here will realistically take decades to be tackled, but CEMAC countries should embrace their journey with confidence.
Millenium development goals -http://www.acdi-cida.gc.ca/acdi-cida/acdi-cida.nsf/eng/JUD-13173118-GPM
Africa Brains Drain - http://www.idrc.ca/EN/Resources/Publications/Pages/ArticleDetails.aspx?PublicationID=704
Healthcare systems in Africa - http://www.acdi-cida.gc.ca/acdi-cida/acdi-cida.nsf/fra/JUD-824143542-PTE