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The regional consultation on the African Development Bank’s Human Capital Development Strategy took place in Ouagadougou from July 30 to 31, 2012. Public and private sector actors, non-governmental and civil society organizations as well as youth associations operating in the social sectors in West Africa participated in the consultation. In all, 82 participants from 13 West African countries, including the Liberian and Burkina Faso Ministers of Education, the Burkina Faso Minister of Women’s Enhancement and the Commissioner in Charge of Social Affairs at the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) Commission, were involved in the consultation.
Mr. Etienne Porgo, representing the AfDB Director of the Human Development Department, delivered the opening address and Ms. Ginette Nzau-Muteta, AfDB Resident Representative in Burkina Faso, presented the draft strategy to the gathering.
Deliberations continued with the presentation of the strategy’s three priority areas by the Bank’s Resident Representatives in Liberia, Togo and Sierra Leone, followed by discussions on the strategic areas of intervention as set forth in the draft strategy document. Each of the three commissions involved in deliberations made relevant proposals to the Bank, with a view to improving its human capital development vision.
Generally, discussions were structured around questions relating to human capital development in Africa, such as: “What are the main human capital development challenges that Africa will face in the coming 5 to 10 years?” “In what areas do you think the African Development Bank’s assistance is most needed in building human capital in Africa?” “How can the AfDB strengthen institutions in the region to enable them to provide better and more inclusive social services?” “Does the draft strategy adequately address the needs and priorities of low-income countries, middle-income countries and fragile States?” and “Do you have other suggestions on how the African Development Bank can improve its human capital development interventions?”
The main challenges identified by participants with regard to the strategy included issues such as international competitiveness in the area of employment and skills; increasing urbanization; good governance; strategic planning; the use and development of local expertise; equitable redistribution of resources; social inclusion and cohesion; and managing climate change.
Participants outlined ways in which the strategy addressed social problems, including interventions to improve youth employment, improved delivery of public services, and the inclusion of women and youth in future initiatives. The following areas for increased Bank intervention were outlined as well: an emphasis on education, and technical and vocational training, including innovation incubators; national and regional knowledge centres; an increase in public-private partnerships to improve the delivery of social services; greater investment in social welfare; the promotion of social inclusion and cohesion through training and funding of initiatives for rural youth; and increased investment in the informal sector for greater economic diversification.
Participants considered the draft strategy to be in line with the needs of various categories of countries, but were of the view that in the delivery of public services in fragile States, special emphasis should be laid on Governance.
In all, participants appreciated the Bank’s initiative to consult various stakeholders at this stage of the strategy’s formulation. They also commended the Bank for placing people at the centre of development in this strategy. However, they called on the Bank to, among other things: support the Health Sector through sharing or pooling of knowledge and skills among Regional Member Countries; promote a holistic approach to education with special attention paid to basic education; invest in the creation of green jobs; develop local economies and decentralization; disseminate and develop research results; improve job market data collection and analysis; promote and support women’s entrepreneurship with a specific fund; promote civic duty, civic responsibility and respect of public affairs.
In her closing statement, Ms. Nzau-Muteta welcomed the strong support of all countries and reassured various participants that their recommendations would be taken into account in the final strategy document.
A press conference hosted by Ms. Nzau-Muteta, Messrs. Porgo, Bréhima Tounkara (WAEMU) and Francis Semporé (Fondation 2iE) ended the consultation.