Human talent is Africa’s biggest problem

Posted on August 8, 2013 09:01 pm

Africa’s economic success over the past decade has been cited as the reason that has created a new challenge that could likely undermine the sustainability of the growth and expansion. A friend working for an International research organization shared with me jaw dropping figures that showed acute shortage of talent to run and manage enterprises, government agencies, non-governmental organization, private firms and organizations in 48 countries they have researched on. Although I can’t disclose the name of firm because the report is yet to be released officially, the 27 year told statistician told me that as the continent rapidly moves up the rank of the fastest developing economies in the world, indigenous firms are having to confront the issue of the shortfall of talented managers, which could leave them left out of the continent’s economic expansion altogether. Having traveled to 13 African countries, I do understand that Africa faces serious challenges on the human resources. Newspaper columnist and policy makers have for long discussed the biggest challenge the continent.

Despite efforts by private firms to focus on improving the skills of workers through education, training and seminars has not been duplicated by governments that remain the largest employers in Africa. According to the report, there are different aspects of the human resource challenges depending on the country and colonial and post colonial history. My contact was quick to me that it is not often acknowledged or discussed as it should be. That begs the question; who is going to be manage African multinationals if Africans are not being groomed and prepared for the tasks? Me think that there is need to tap the pool of managerial talent among the member states of African Union. Rwanda, for example hired thousands of teachers from Kenya. Skilled and talented Ugandans are flocking in droves to South Sudan, the world’s newest state while South Africa, the continent’s largest economy absorbs thousands of skilled workers annually from other African countries. I think countries should complement each other depending on the abundance of supply. However, due to cultural, political and linguistic differences, this approach can only be a short-term solution.

In the medium and long term, African countries will have to develop their own pool of talent as most countries are going to experience shortages.Brain drain has also been seen as an issue in sub Saharan Africa with a growing number of African talented brains heading to work in western countries especially in Middle East, United Kingdom, Europe and North America. This has made the shortage of talent is felt at all levels from the highest to the lowest managerial ranks. Apart from the lack of talent, the existing is said to lack breadth and depth. According to my contact, middle level management chronic shortage has been most, with a prediction more than 50%. The most common problem in African countries lies at education system that does not adequately prepare candidates for job markets. In spite of constant reforms and curriculum improvements, with exception of a few countries, others produce graduates below what their respective country needs. In South Africa, Uganda and Ghana, a lot of time and resources have been devoted to improving the quality of the education the students receive but the conveyor belts seems to be churning less and half baked products.

Contador Harrison