Lack of ICT skills holding Africa back

March 21, 2013

Africa’s largest companies and key government institutions are finding it very difficult to recruit staff with technology skills and to make it worse they are doing little to help fix the problem. A new survey for more than 300 businesses across various industries found more than a half were finding it difficult to hire professionals and managers with science, technology, engineering and Math skills. The problem most keenly felt by big business and the private sector. More than half of the employers surveyed found a lack of applicants with science, Math and engineering skills to be their greatest barrier to recruitment. The other key barriers included a lack of workplace experience and the content of qualifications not being relevant to business needs.In the private sector, 55 percent of businesses reported difficulties recruiting professionals with technology and engineering skills and in countries like Tanzania and Uganda manufacturing companies revealed it was nearly 70 percent while their neighboring counterparts Kenya reports 28% the second lowest in sub Saharan Africa after South Africa. The report makes the case that the increasing adoption of technologies has resulted in a need for a higher level of skills across the workforce, which in many cases isn’t being met.

In west African countries like Ghana and Nigeria old fashioned manufacturing manager is still prominent instead of the same manager being able to handle a database and do all that sort of thing that never existed a decade ago.Lack of skills is holding back African economies and causing real frustration for employers, made worse by the fact that young people in schools and universities are not acquiring the relevant skills needed for the future prosperity of the country. I recall a case where the Late Dr. James Mulwana, a respected Ugandan industrialist was quoted a few years ago as saying that the enrolments and the number of graduates with important qualifications continue to decline as compared to 1960s and 1970s. Personally, I think the only way out to address the gap is for an industry led working group to help develop partnerships between schools and industry and to boost industry participation in addressing the problem in the whole of African continent.

Contador Harrison