Souleymane Bahari, a teacher who runs the mechanical engineering workshop at the Kalmaharo technical centre in Niamey, Niger’s capital, marvels at how much training standards have risen over the past decade.

From 2010 to 2019, the number of students at the centre more than tripled to 1,031 as aspiring engineers poured into classrooms reorganised and refitted with new equipment. The centre has since acquired nationwide acclaim.

According to Bahari, textbook and theory classes have been complemented with hands-on learning using modern engineering tools. Nowadays, students “learn about the technology used by big companies in the area,” he said.

The African Development Bank financed these improvements in a bid to lift education standards, support mining and other industries, create jobs, grow economies and raise the quality of life across Africa, all of which are strategic Bank objectives.

The Bank’s 2021 Annual Development Effectiveness Review assesses Niger’s vocational and technical education project and others schemes. The report, released on 23 November 2021, is a flagship study that evaluates the institution’s contribution to Africa’s development. It also assesses the Bank’s success in achieving its High 5 strategic priorities, which focus on access to power and electricity, industrialization cross-border and cross-continental integration, agricultural productivity and raising living standards in Africa.

The Annual Development Effectiveness Review found that the Covid-19 pandemic reversed hard-won gains in living standards achieved over recent decades across Africa. The pandemic has adversely affected livelihoods across the continent.               

The African Development Bank  established that in 2020, Covid-19 pushed an estimated 30.4 million Africans into extreme poverty, with many people living on less than $1.90 a day. It forecasts that they could be joined by another 39 million by the end of 2021.

As part of its emergency response, the Bank provided 31 African governments with budget support and other financing to help countries mitigate the soccio-economic impact of the pandemic, for instance by expanding conduct Covid-19 testing and deliver health and social programs, altogether benefiting 12.3 million vulnerable households.

The challenge of creating jobs for Africa’s youth predates the pandemic. Africa’s population is surging. Every year 18 million young Africans join the job market but many lack the education and skills employers need.

The African Development Bank supports technical and vocational training hubs across Africa designed to help young Africans learn trades, including computer coding, that will enable them to secure well-paying jobs.

The Bank-backed Uganda Higher Education Science and Technology programme led to a doubling of enrolment in science and technical courses at six public Ugandan universities from 2012 to 2018. About 45 percent of those enrolled were women. Overall, 118,000 Africans benefited from Bank-backed training schemes in 2020.

The Annual Development Effectiveness Review notes that the Bank  will support creation of 3 million jobs from public and private operations approved in 2019. This included 1.3 million posts for women and an added $17.2 billion to Africa’s economy.

In an October 2021 address to African diplomats in Washington D.C., Bank President Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina stressed the importance of large-scale schemes to create jobs and lift living standards across the continent. “Africa must dream big,” he said. “It is not about managing poverty on the continent. It is making sure the continent thrives and becomes a developed continent with pride,” he emphasized.

Click here to read the Annual Development Effectiveness Review.
Source African Development Bank Group

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