CEOs who met for the Africa CEO Forum in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, shared optimism that Africa has the necessary tools to develop by making use of its own resources. This comes in the wake of reports that Africa is the second most attractive investment destination in the world, behind North America and has a higher rate of return on Foreign Direct Investment than any other developing region.
This optimism must however be approched with sobriety. In spite of partnerships and FDI flows, African economies have not been able to generate enough jobs to absorb the bulging youth population. Moreover, the existing job market is feeble, with hundreds of thousands of poor quality, low wage jobs created in sectors like retail, transportation and hospitality.
Africa must invest in building high-calibre human capital. This means providing the right skills and the right curriculum to equip school graduates. The continent must perfect sectors like manufacturing and agriculture, which potentially have the greatest multiplier effects in the larger economy. Governments must consider moving resources from low to higher productivity sectors. Africa’s leaders must strategically partner with the private sector and move from proclamations to actions to actualize the brilliant policies gathering dust on government shelves.