Remarks By Dr. Leonard Akwilapo, Permanent Secretary, Ministry Of Education, Science And Technology Of The United Republic Of Tanzania At The Inaugural Session Of The India-Africa Knowledge Exchange Mission, 30 October, 2017.

Honourable Dharmendra Pradhan,

Minister of Skills Development and Entrepreneurship, India

Hon. Prof. Mary TeuwNiane,
Minister of Higher Education and Research, Senegal,
(Also Chair of the Board of Directors of the Partnership for Applied Science, Engineering and Technology - PASET),

Ms. Annette Dixon
Vice –President of the World Bank- South Asia Region,

Mr. Rajesh Agrawal,
Joint Secretary, Ministry of Skills Dev and Entrepreneurship, India

Honourable Ministers,

Heads of Delegations from Rwanda, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal,

Distinguished Participants,

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Good Evening!

I wish to first of all introduce the Tanzania High Commissioner to India, His Excellency Baraka Luvanda, who is in our midst.

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

I would like to start by thanking our friends in India and, especially the Honourable Minister for accepting to host this very important forum. A forum that will give us ample opportunity to share among ourselves experiences and knowledge in skills development as a way of imparting changes in skills growth and prosperity in our countries.

Allow me also to thank our host country for the noble contribution in giving a good start to this, so called, “New Skills Agenda for Africa”. Your ideas, your expert opinions and, indeed your advice through PASET Initiative have given a strong impetus to reach the stage that we have at present. The strong support of the World Bank is also very significant in our desires to equip our youths with relevant skills to support their lives, but also for the development of our nations.
I am quite convinced that if the two sides, the World Bank, on one hand and African Governments, on the other, work together then we are certain to achieve better outcomes of this challenge, which we have set it to be at the top of the agenda, as far as youths are concerned.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have come to this very auspicious Conference because all of us here agree that skills development offers, not only appropriate pathways to affluence and personal development, but also acts as a driver for economic transformation around the globe.

With the right skills, our people will be better prepared for active citizenship; our people will have better chances of finding and keeping good occupation; and they will also be better equipped to be self-employed or even create jobs for others. We also agree that our economic success depends on matching the skills of our population with the labour market needs of today and tomorrow.Our speakers in the morning have applauded this to its fullest, and I think there is very little that I can add on that.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

While we agree on the importance of skills for economic transformation, it is important also to acknowledge the fact that different countries around the world have different levels of economic prosperity, and this is often associated with the levels and the extent to which skills are utilised for enhancing production and productivity.

While some countries may have gone a longer distance in creating knowledge and giving adequate skills to their population, others have greater shortages of the same, such that their productivity is reduced to subsistence levels, the so-called “hand to mouth economies”. This suggests that there is a necessity to have opportunities of sharing experiences and knowledge transfer between parties as well as between countries. I am quite certain that this noble Conference would do justice by giving that idea a special consideration.

We in Tanzania believe that there is a lot to be learned from our friends in India. We were informed this morning of the huge numbers of graduates from various levels of education; actually the number of graduates surpasses the entire population of some of our countries. The population of Tanzania is about 55 Million. So, what I am seeing is that India is dealing with youths, whose population can be six or more times the entire population of Tanzania. So, good luck to you and congratulations for the strategies that you have put in place to come to terms to this numbers, which I am certain will keep on increasing.

The solution to this, as it was said this morning, is to offer long as well as short term training programmes that would give skills for productive jobs.

This is the only option, and Tanzania, among many other countries, has started to take this direction.

We have identified six strategic sectors that can serve as an answer to this ever rising problem of unemployment among the youths. Through our National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS), which will be running for ten years, we have identified six strategic sectors that we believe, if well developed with youths given relevant skills, then we will have a panacea to these challenges.

The selected sectors include the following; Agriculture, Tourism and Hospitality, Construction, Energy, Transport and Logistics and ICT.

I wish to express our strong appreciations to the World Bank for coming to us at the right time, and we are now putting together the system that would allow the initiative to run smoothly.

We have set up a Financing Mechanism namely, “Skills Development Fund” and the “Trainees Voucher Scheme”. The former is to support the institutions that would give specialised trainings in the target sectors, while the latter will support students who will be enrolled in these institutions.

But apart from the Financing Mechanism, we will also set up a Coordination Mechanism that will run from the central level to the sectorial levels. That is from the National Skills Council to the Sector Skills Councils.

We are well aware that the gap in skills for our youths is enormous and we have already identified institutions that can assist in filling up this gap. What is necessary for now is to identify the relevant skills needed by the market. Naturally, these would be in the priority sectors, which have already been identified, as stated earlier.

Public and Private institutions will be engaged in this initiative, and as for public institutions we have a fleet of training institutions under the Vocational Education and Training Authority (VETA) and also some Folk Development Colleges (FDCs) across the country. These Colleges have been earmarked for this venture to equip youths with the relevant skills.

We need and must equip our youths with the right skills that can transform their lives. Apart from training programmes in relevant technical skills, as a country we will strive to advocate changes in attitudes among our youths.

The individuals’ perception of world outlook must be crucial in one’s desire and destiny. Looking around to identify the differences and the similarities, and making corrections as we move forward. We will have to teach our youths to maintain issues of integrity and responsibility, the love for work the will to be productive as well as issues of punctuality.

Recognition of Prior Learning is now given its due respect in order to formalise the skills acquired informally, and thus to add value to skills that our youths have. This initiative will increase opportunities for our youths.

At all times, however, quality assurance aspects will always be strictly adhered to.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The New Skills Agenda for Africa and our partners from India, Brazil, South Africa and South Korea seeks to respond to new and pressing challenges in our societies and economies. And as we come together to address this agenda on SKILLS, it is prudent to acknowledge the fundamental features of the African continent.

As we are speaking here today, many people in Africa are considered to be unemployed, and those who are employed, are mostly in activities with low productivity.

In our rural areas, employment is confined to farming, which is, on average five times less productive than in China. In Cities, our people tend to run small businesses which are more about survival than about ‘true’ entrepreneurship with job creation potential.

With the increasing proportion of job seekers entering the labour market each year, the continent must transform itself from a labour force of unproductive jobs to one of the more productive industries.

The growing population of youths should be accommodated into productive jobs, but for this to happen the economy will also have to grow faster over the next few years. It is only through this that the labour force would move from unproductive sectors to more productive sectors. Therefore, it is my expectation that the main outcome of this meeting would be on “How we engage ourselves to address these challenges and its related aspects”.

It is therefore my expectation that, we, delegates from Africa will learn from our friends from India and try as much as possible to think of the best ways in which the Indian experience can be applied in the African context.

I thank you for your kind attention.