Gabon: CFAF 71.5 Billion for Higher Education and Vocational Training

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Tunis, Tunisia, 20 July 2009 – Gabon’s efforts to enhance technical skills in potential growth sectors received the support of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group on Wednesday in Tunis, where the institution’s Board of Directors approved a loan of CFAF 71.5 billion, equivalent to 99.30 million Units of Account (US$154 million) to finance a Public Services Higher Education and Vocational Training Support Project.

The project, to be implemented over a five-year period, aims at the training of middle and senior-level personnel through reform of the training system, increase Schools’ admission capacity countrywide, improve the quality and relevance of programmes and, consequently, the effectiveness of public resources allocated to the education sector, as well as gradual reduction of expenditures on scholarships for studies abroad. The envisaged institutional reforms and skills development activities will involve 11 higher education institutions (comprising the 3 existing universities, 5 higher professional schools, and 3 research institutes) and 21 technical and vocational education institutions.

The project is in keeping with the Bank’s strategic orientation in governance, particularly in terms of assisting member countries to better rationalize spending and enhance the effectiveness of sector operations. Moreover, the Bank’s strategic orientations focus on public sector governance and recognize the importance not only of private sector development, but also the efficient use of public resources to reduce poverty.

The project is also consistent with the National Poverty Reduction and Growth Strategy Paper (PRGSP), notably the pillar on the “Enhancement of Governance”. It supports the implementation of structural reforms  and capacity building for national institutions so as to improve the availability and quality of relevant technical skills for effective implementation of the other two pillars of the national strategy, namely : “Promotion of Strong and Pro-poor Growth”; and “Improvement of Access to Basic Social Services”.

The project is also in line with the Bank’s Higher Education, Science and Technology Strategy, whose most relevant pillars include: strengthening national and regional centres of excellence in the priority areas; establishing and rehabilitating scientific and technological infrastructure, and establishing links between higher education, science and technology on the one hand, and the productive sector, on the other.

The project will cover the country’s provinces. The direct beneficiaries will be students of the country’s three Universities, namely the University of Health Sciences (USS) and the Omar Bongo University (UOB) in Libreville, and the Masuku University of Sciences and Technology (USTM) in Franceville; students of higher professional schools and institutes, students of industrial and rural technical and vocational education where female students will be offered training possibilities in much more diversified areas. The project will benefit 1,000 higher education students each year, and 4,000 technical education students. The skills of teachers, supervisory staff and heads of institutions (numbering 468) will be developed and strengthened. The administrative and financial management skills of 134 technical officers of the supervisory Ministry and training institutions will be strengthened, thereby helping to enhance governance in the sector.

The project is estimated at UA 110.02 million, about CFAF 81.4 billion. The AfDB loan will finance 90% of the expenses while the government will provide the remaining UA 10.72 million or 10% of the total cost.

* 1 UA Units of Account) = 1.58223 US$ = 720.385 CFAF on 20/07/2009

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