Africa Could Provide Workforce to the World

Huajian shoe factory in Addis Abeba
Many companies are shifting production to Africa

The African continent can potentially provide the workforce to aging developed economies, says chief executive officer of the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci), Neren Rau.

“Africa is positioned, and can potentially provide the workforce to the world. As the world’s developed economies face aging populations and by the middle of the century, they will increasingly be looking to Africa for the skills they require to continuously run their economies.

“But if Africa is to live up to the challenge and successfully provide the workforce to the world, we need to critically look at ourselves and determine whether we are currently cultivating an appropriate and suitable workforce for the world, that will be equal to the task,” said Rau.

Speaking on the last day of the 37th International Small Business Congress in Sandton on Tuesday, Rau said African countries needed to look at whether their domestic labour regulations were creating an adaptable workforce or making it difficult for the continent’s workforce to adapt and operate flexibly in other environments.

“We need to look at our education systems and the skills that it creates, and determine whether they are competitive enough and meet the global standards. The work ethic and productivity levels of the continent’s workforce are also some of the things that we need to look into if these developed countries were to realise value for their investment when our workforce travel to these countries for the countless opportunities that will be available in their economies,” he said at the conference hosted by the Department of Trade and Industry.

If Africa is able to provide the workforce to the world “it will help us overcome many of our domestic challenges, particularly employment,” emphasised Rau.

Rau also urged the private sector in Africa to partner with governments for the roll-out of infrastructure development programmes.

According to the World Bank, Africa needs to spend $93 billion per annum on infrastructure in the next decade.