Experts urge Africa on private sector financing for tertiary education

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By Lucy Ogalue

Business Development experts have urged African nations to intensify efforts to attract private-sector financing to enhance tertiary education in order to equip the continent’s youth with competitive skills.

The experts spoke at a panel discussion in Nairobi, Kenya, on the sidelines of the 2024 African Development Bank (AfDB) Annual Meetings.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Bank organised the event in collaboration with the Kenyan government, the African Union Commission and the German Development Agency (KfW).

The theme of the meeting is “Policy Dialogue on Innovative Financing for Tertiary Education in Africa: Revitalising the Role of the Private Sector.”

The session explored strategies and best practices to stimulate private-sector financing for tertiary education.

The experts reiterated the importance of political commitment to guarantee returns on private-sector investments in education.

Former Tanzanian President, Jakaya Kikwete, Chairman of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), he advocated national policies to build strong foundations in primary and secondary education.

According to Kikwete, strong education foundations provide a talent pool of trained young people for lifelong learning that will make them thrive.

He said there was a need for a renewed commitment to increase national education expenditure to harness Africa’s demographic potential as the world’s largest future labour force.

While commending efforts by some African states to bolster their education budgets, Kikwete said the recent global financial challenges required innovative resource mobilisation for education.

“There is also a need for strong and diverse partnerships that put young learners at the heart of the continent’s development agenda,” he said.

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Kikwete highlighted collaborative initiatives by the GPE and the AfDB to mobilise investment to support education in Africa.

He said the Nairobi gathering would provide further opportunities for the two bodies to advance their partnership and deliver sustainable financing for African education systems.

“Today is only the beginning; we must always work together to explore avenues to ensure the entire education system from basic to tertiary is adequately funded.

“Giving our young people the knowledge and skills they need to thrive in the 21st century”.

Beth Dunford, the AfDB’s Vice President for Agriculture, Human, and Social Development, said the Bank had been actively engaged in education and skills development since 1975.

“We are committing significant resources to strengthen science, technology, engineering, and mathematics infrastructure at tertiary levels and enhance sectoral policy environments.

“The institution has committed 964 million dollars to tertiary education and skills development over the past decade.

“The focus has been on strengthening infrastructure for technical and vocational education and training and catalysing private sector investments in skills development and job creation,” Dunford said.

The vice-president highlighted the Bank’s 80 million dollars support for Nigeria’s Ekiti State special economic zone project.

She also highlighted a three-million-dollars investment in Rwanda’s proposed Centre of Excellence for Aviation Skills as one of the projects that would help boost economies and create jobs.

Prof. Mohamed Belhocine, African Union Commissioner for Education, Science, Technology, and Innovation, said increased investment in tertiary education requires national, continental, and global action.

He said that between 2017 and 2019, only seven African countries met the required seven per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) expenditure on education, with the average standing at about four per cent of GDP.

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Similarly, Dr James Mwangi, the Group Chief Executive Officer of Equity Holdings, shared how collaboration with tertiary institutions boosted human resource development across the continent.

He said the company had provided scholarships to about 23,000 students in partnership with the Kenyan government.

NAN reports that the highlight of the event was the signinh of a letter of intent with the German Corporation for International Corporation (GIZ) to scale up joint commitments to skills development in Africa.

More than 10,000 participants registered for the AfDB hybrid 2024 Annual Meetings, with about 5,000 delegates attending physically.

Several heads of state are expected to participate in a presidential dialogue on Wednesday. (NAN)(

Edited by Ese E. Eniola Williams

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