Dr. Ajeet Nedungadi,

Convener and Our Host,

Distinguished Ambassadors and High Commissioners,

Respected Guests,

Faculty Members,


Ladies and Gentlemen.,

Namaskar! Good Morning!

I am delighted and feel greatly honoured and privileged to represent His Excellency Baraka Luvanda, the High Commissioner of the United Republic of Tanzania to India at this auspicious gathering.

You had invited the High Commissioner and you were expecting him to be here. On his part, he had wished and had been eagerly looking forward to being part of this conversation on creating employment and entrepreneurial opportunities through professional and technical education.

Unfortunately, due to equally pressing exigencies at New Delhi, especially the ones relating to the International Solar Alliance Founding Members Summit being hosted at the same time by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi together with the French President, H.E. Emanuel Macron, he could not make it. He has instead wished us a very successful conference.

I wish on behalf of the Government of Tanzania to thank the University leadership for the very warm reception accorded to me as well as for the generous hospitality since my arrival to this spectacular mountainous scenery. Thank you very much.
We hope that the same level of generosity will be sustained in many years ahead.

Mister Convener, Dear Friends,

As I have stated earlier, I stand here to represent the High Commissioner of Tanzania to India as well as the United Republic of Tanzania. I can assure you that even though I am a substitute, I will try to be true to absolutely faithful to his instructions as to what I should speak to you this morning.

Mister Convener, Dear Participants,

We have been informed that a conference like this was held last year during which more than 10 Countries and 07 States participated. Allow me to commend the University leadership for keeping up to the tradition of holding this conference as an annual event.

The increased number of participants this year, especially those of us from Africa, simply demonstrates the immense interest out there, and also it is a clear indication of approval to the quality education that Shimla University continues to live up to.

It is quite appropriate therefore that this conference reflects on the heightened interest that African countries have in the University for many years ahead. And for Tanzania, the recent visit Tanzania by your good self - (Dr Nedungadi) last month has scaled up our relationship to even greater heights.

Mister Convener, Friends,

We consider that there could not be any better, or rather a timely thematic subject than this year's. In other words, the choice of the theme for this conference was quite appropriate. Indeed, the title "Creating Employment & Entrepreneurial Opportunities through Professional and Technical Education," resonates well with the appalling situation of unemployment in Africa, in general and, in Tanzania, in particular.

It is therefore fitting to state that the objectives of this conference have been carefully crafted and we thank the organizers for the job well done.

Dear Friends,

As we meet here today, unemployment among young people aged 15–24 years old in the Sub-Saharan Africa has hovered between 12% and 14% since the global financial crisis of 2008. This is higher than the 9–10% in South Asia over the same period. What is worrisome is the fact that such data does not include youth in vulnerable employment and underemployed in informal sectors, who make up at least 70% of the workforce.

In other words, while many African countries have recorded significant GDP growth over the last decade, the growth in the economy has not translated into formal employment. In fact, 70% of workers in Sub-Saharan Africa remain in the informal sector involving smallholder farming, street vending and domestic tasks.

By 2030, over 120 million young people will enter the workforce across Africa. And therefore, to create enough stable jobs, Africa will need to improve education, expand access to financial services, to encourage civic participation, and to provide social safety nets.

But one of the biggest impacts will be realized when the majority of our young people in the continent are fully empowered to pursue entrepreneurship. With the right support, the continent’s youngest job seekers can lead to Africa’s employment growth, going forward.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am sharing these statistics for two reasons. First, the problem facing India today where more than 1.2 million young people enter the labour market each month are less similar to most of the African countries. In Tanzania, for instance, nearly 800,000 young people enter the labour market each year and most of them, of a low skilled cadre.

Secondly, the solutions for unemployed youth being introduced in India are more or less similar to what is being tried or tested in Africa. This is not a coincidence. It is because India and Africa share quite a lot in common. Africa-India relationships have been defined by historical, political, economic, military and cultural connections.

Besides, apart from sharing part of the Indian Ocean, the continent has a lot of trade ties, technology as well as professional ties with India.

Mister Convener, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As you are all aware, Africa has registered significant growth in recent years. However, the 2017 Africa Competitiveness Report noted that the growth in several African countries has been slow and that this has been due to a protracted period of low commodity prices as well as reduced growth from emerging markets such as China and other advanced economies.

The situation has compelled the continent to look into reforms and economic diversification to re-awaken optimism about Africa’s growth prospects. Under this, Africa’s young and increasing population have been seen to present an extraordinary opportunity to stimulate rapid growth. A growing labour force and an emerging consumer market are being considered of significant importance for growth opportunities on the continent.

However, it has been confirmed that in order to make use of this increase in the working-age population, African countries will have to find ways to expand investment in skills development to gain from the population dividend as others have done.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At this juncture, allow me to share some of the homegrown solutions for youth unemployment in Africa.

In many ways, Africa’s youths are already confronting the challenge. This generation is more educated than their parents, and many live in countries that have benefited from rapid and broad development, including growing access to information, financial products, and other business-related services.

Today, young African business leaders are emerging to tackle complex problems, and in the process, putting many of their peers to work. There are countless success stories. In Kenya, for example, the Umati Capital, a digital finance which has supported agricultural processors, traders, and cooperatives to access funds needed to expand their businesses.

In Ghana, the Eco-Shoes Company has been supporting artists with disabilities to create fashionable and comfortable footwear and accessories from old tires and recycled fabric.

In South Africa, the RLabs founded by Marlon Parker created a virtual currency called Zlato to encourage active participation in skills-training workshops. When young people attend courses, access laptops, or book rooms at RLabs cafes, they earn Zlato credit that can be exchanged for food, medical care, and basic necessities. And since its inception in 2008, RLabs has created tens of thousands of jobs and is now active in 24 countries in Africa.

Mister Convener, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The skills with which young people are creating jobs through such enterprises provide great hope as demonstrated by greatest tenacity needed to overcome existing barriers and contribute to the wellbeing of their families, communities and countries.

However, with all the home-grown solutions I have just pointed out, Africa continues to be challenged by lack of Critical Technical Skills necessary for sustainable economic transformation. This challenge is compounded by low Critical Technical Skills enrollment at the tertiary level and by low educational attainment, as well as insufficient attention and focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematic disciplines.

As a result of limited capacity in Critical Technical Skills, Africa has not able to invest adequately in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. In the Sub-Saharan Africa for example, research in the physical sciences and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics makes up only 29% of all research output.

By contrast, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics makes up the largest share of Malaysia and Vietnam’s total research output, with an average of 68%. It is therefore not surprising to find that the continent remains far from being independent in critical skills to drive Research and Development(R & D).

Mister Convener, Ladies and gentlemen,

While Africa continues to address the issue of Critical Technical Skills, it is important to acknowledge that across the continent, the potential exists for creating high-value-adding and formal-sector jobs in a number of areas. However, in order to realize this potential, closer dialogue between education providers and the industry is needed in order to align and to optimize the region’s demand and supply of skills.

In closing, I appreciate the fact that this conference serves as a platform for new insights and that it brings together business efforts to address future-oriented skills development, as well as supporting a constructive public-private dialogue for urgent and fundamental reforms of education systems and labour policies to prepare workforces for the future of jobs in Africa in collaboration with development partners such as India.

Let us all commit to renew our commitments to up-skill or re-skill Africa so as to realize its dreams and aspirations. It can be done.


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