Tony Elumelu published an article on Reuters on January 3, 2014 click here to read.
Mr. Elumelu discussed three critical components for a “Marshal Plan” for Africa.
- policy reform and a commitment to the rule of law
- investment in infrastructure
- commitment to developing Africa’s manufacturing and processing industries
While I definitely agree with his three pillars, I believe that there’s opportunity to integrate other facets of society in developing a holistic plan for Africa’s development. To get a better perspective, lets take a dive into the technical assistance portion of the actual Marshall Plan.
As part of the Marshall Plan, the United States appropriated funds for technical assistance to Europe. The United States sent hundreds of technical advisers to Europe and funded over 24,000 European engineers, politicians and business officials to visit the United States and learn best practices to implement in their respective countries. The institutional exchange of knowledge ensured that Europe could sustain accelerated growth.
In order to truly sustain and capitalize on an African “Marshall plan”, a fourth pillar focused on human capital should be added. We need to train and develop the continents young adults for 21st century jobs. While manufacturing and processing industries will continue to grow to sustain Africa’s consumer needs, its important to look past industries that will become heavily automated in the next 10-20 years.
So what form does human capital development take in the grand scheme? Well, a couple of ideas
- Education overhaul: Focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math)
- Develop research centers (public-private partnership)
- Accelerating reverse brain drain
- Offering tax incentives for continuous workforce development
These are just a few examples that will help support the other three that Mr. Elumelu discussed. By adding human capacity building to the mix, you build on Africa’s most beneficial asset; its people.