SIFA lauch of proposals with Mrs. Annett Günther, German Ambassador in Kenya, Mrs. Fati N’zi-Hassane, Head, Skills and Employment for Youth Programme (AUDA-NEPAD), Dr. Meshack Opwora, Director TVET
SIFA - Skills Initiative for Africa launches a program designed to address skills development and youth employment in Kenya.
Mrs. Fati N’zi-Hassane, Head, Skills and Employment for Youth Programme (AUDA-NEPAD) said in her keynote speech:
"A study conducted by NEPAD in 2015 found that by the year 2030, nearly 440 million young people will find themselves on the African labor market. These young people will then be between 15 and 35 years old, which means that they are already born. They are here with us. This is not a potential or possible scenario. It is a reality that we must tackle today. If they are educated, prepared and given the right opportunities, these young people have the potential not only to contribute to achieving the Africa we want, but also to place our continent at the center of the global economic system. But if nothing or too little is done for these young people ... we are sitting on a ticking time bomb that in many countries may cancel all the efforts and achievements so far accomplished.
We know today that technical and vocational education and training (TVET) is a powerful vehicle for equipping young people with employment and entrepreneurship skills. The Agenda 2063 that I mentioned earlier calls for a paradigm shift towards transformative education and training systems to develop the knowledge, skills, research, innovation and creativity needed to secure the future of our young people and Africa as a whole.
To unleash the potential of TVET, the African Union has developed a "Continental TVET Strategy" which provides a comprehensive framework for skills development and youth employment. Nevertheless, a shortage of qualified teachers, scholarships and adequate infrastructure, as well as the lack of practical vocational training programs and technical and didactic equipment, still constitute significant obstacles to the proper implementation of this Strategy.
It is in the light of these challenges that the African Union and the German Government have come together to launch and promote the Skills Initiative for Africa (SIFA). As part of the SIFA project, a funding mechanism for skills development has been put in place. The facility is implemented by the African Union Development Agency, AUDA / NEPAD, with funding from Germany through KfW. The funding mechanism is designed to respond coherently to the common challenges of skills development in Africa by developing and disseminating local best practices and supporting innovative and sustainable approaches, thereby promoting employment and the spirit of entrepreneurship among young people, women and other vulnerable populations. For the moment, the countries benefiting from the SIFA financing mechanism are South Africa, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Togo and Tunisia, and of course, Kenya.
The expectations are particularly high for SIFA in Kenya because of the particular interest and political will in promoting TVET. We see powerful signals in the adoption of a TVET act in 2013, as well as in the central role given to TVET in the Kenya Vision 2030. We also take note of the strategic goals set by the Government of Kenya “to develop an effectively co-ordinated and harmonized TVET system, capable of producing quality skilled human resource with the right attitudes and values required for growth and prosperity of the various sectors of the economy”."
Dr. Klaus Liebig, Director KFW Office – Nairobi emphasised in his speech:
"Africa is currently facing a continental challenge on youth and employment: We see a growing level of youth unemployment: average age in Africa 19 years, 41% under 15 years old, who will soon try to find a job. At the same time, industries need well-educated workers for sustained growth, which is a huge potential!
The African Union and Germany have therefore intensified cooperation in the field of education and employment, by establishing the Skills Initiative for Africa (SIFA). Germany has made available 74 million EUR for the Project, complemented by funds from the Member States of the African Union.
As part of the Skills Initiative, the African Union Development Agency (AUDA) and KfW have set up a Financing Facility. It honors improved, innovative TVET approaches across the continent with grant funding.
The Financing Facility is implemented by AUDA with funding from Germany through KfW. We would like to take this occasion to thank AUDA for our excellent cooperation in this Project.
We are particularly proud to be one of your major cooperation partners in this eventful period, where the African Union has officially confirmed the establishment of the AUDA as the African Union Commission (AUC) implementing agency of the African Union.
Today, AUDA and the Government of Kenya open the second call for proposals under this Facility. Grants will be provided on a competitive basis for the best
approaches. So please feel encouraged to apply, if your company or agency wants to implement a TVET project that
- combines the knowhow from employers and training institutes, from the public as well as from the private sector
- harnesses local know-how as well as international best practices by cooperating with local and with international actors,
- strengthens your sustainable business model, creates more and better employment perspectives particularly for women and girls,
It is worth the effort: the winner will be granted up to 3 million EUR for infrastructure, equipment and further needs of your training facility.
Congratulations to Kenya for having been selected as one of the eight pilot countries for the Skills Initiatives."
Mrs. Annett Günther, German Ambassador in Kenya:
"During the past years, many African countries have shown an above-average economic growth. In order to sustain and increase this growth, well-educated workers will be a core prerequisite. In contrast to the industrialised countries of Europe and Asia, which have to cope with demographic change, Africa has a great potential of young workers. Every year more than 20 million people finish school and start to look for a job. But the growing level of youth unemployment also becomes a fundamental challenge to many countries. In fact, 60 % of all unemployed people in Africa are nowadays under the age of 25.
Hence, both developments – the growing number of unemployed young people and the need of growing African economies for well educated and trained work force – must be matched in a sensible way. The African Union (AU) and the German Government have therefore identified the improvement of youth education – particularly Technical Vocational Education and Training (“TVET”) – as a key concern at a continental level. Despite their individual motivation, young peoples’ skills too often do not meet the needs of a modern labour market. Here, the involvement of the private sector is essential in order to ensure that the emerging workforce meets the employers’ needs. In turn, the private sector may contribute in technical and financial terms to an education that meets its demand.
The Skills Initiative for Africa, launched today in Nairobi, specifically wants to address these challenges. It was initiated by the African Union Development Agency and with support from the German Government. The Initiative’s objective is to increase social and economic perspectives for young women and men in Africa. It follows a competitive, innovative and private sector oriented approach by which public and private institutions propose their projects to a special funding facility. The winning proposals receive grant funding. Furthermore, an online platform (www.nepad.org/skillsportalforyouth) serves as a knowledge repository to share and replicate promising approaches in skills development throughout the continent.
There are in fact already a number of positive examples: South Africa, for instance, has already put in place a comprehensive set of policies and gained broad experiences in TVET. And we should also congratulate Kenya on being selected as a pilot country alongside South Africa, Tunisia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Ethiopia and Togo. Germany is firmly committed to the implementation of the Skills Initiative for Africa and has made available 65 million Euros for the financing facility and its projects as well as 9 million EUR for technical assistance. The European Union will soon join this promising initiative by providing additional funding.
Here in Kenya, a good example for enhancing Technical and Vocational Training is the German bottling company Krones with its training programme in Thika. The curriculum development was supported by funds from the German Government. The company takes on board around 10 apprentices every year and trains them in their own laboratories. After two years, some of them continue to work for Krones in the region, others make their fortune with different companies. So far every graduate was in fact able to obtain an employment.
Within our bilateral development cooperation we want to build on such examples. This is why TVET and Youth Employment, besides Agriculture, are going to be our focus areas over the next years. German funding shall help to upgrade three existing Technical Institutes in Nairobi, Kiambu and Thika. And we are also working together with more than 20 companies in the area – Kenyan, German and International - which have declared their willingness to take on board apprentices. Furthermore, the Kenyan and German Governments are holding talks on the foundation of a joint Institute for Applied Sciences. Once established, it would provide another opportunity to young people from the region to study technical courses according to German curricula and to connect their studies with practical research in companies.
All these current initiatives correspond to the main objective of the Skills Initiative launched today, that is to bring the public and private sector together for the benefit of African youth. So let me encourage everyone reading this text to also apply for funding from the Skills Initiative Facility for their own, new innovative TVET Project!
Dr. Meshack C. Opwora, PHD Director, TVET, State Department of Vocational and Technical Training, Ministry of Education:
"The Skills Initiative for Africa (SIFA) is an initiative of the African Union and supported by the German Government to strengthen occupational prospects of young people. Under SIFA, a Financing Facility for Skills Development has been established, and it is being implemented by the AU’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA - NEPAD), with financing from the German Government through KfW Development Bank.
Indeed, in the area of technical and vocational education and training, Germany continues to inspire Kenya’s efforts at mainstreaming the TVET in National Development. On the wider, continental front, Germany is playing a leading role in skills development through its partnership with AUDA-NEPAD by providing funding on a competitive basis for the implementation of innovative and sustainable skills. This partnership will chalk important success in ensuring that young Africans are tooled with the requisite skills set in TVET.
Over the past few decades, technical and vocational education & training (TVET), technology and skills training have catapulted Far East countries into industrial giants, leaving their African counterparts behind. They have relied almost entirely on the knowledge industry to transform the fortunes of their people. Indeed, for countries like Kenya and other African countries that abound in unlimited and a diversity of natural resources, we have run out of excuses to explain our continued economic stagnation and stunted growth. Africa has the youngest population among all continents. Half of the region’s population is under 25 years of age, but Sub-Saharan Africa is home to the world’s poorest population and high unemployment levels.
This dilemma should challenge us to discover and activate the missing link in our value chain: namely the content of education and training; and more specifically the lip service we have paid to technical and vocational education all these years.
It is for this reason that the government is heavily investing in TVET to ensure that the country produces a critical mass of artisans, technicians and technologists who will see the transformation of this country into middleincome industrializing economy as envisaged in Vision 2030. This is in line with the Global UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the current Government ‘Big Four’ development agenda of ensuring the country is food secure, provides affordable decent housing, affordable universal health care and supports the manufacturing sector to produce jobs in order to reduce poverty and unemployment.
The Government is currently implementing competency based education and training (CBET) curriculum for training in technical education. This curriculum ensures that learners are assessed on acquired competencies as opposed to the knowledge based training.
There is an urgent need to establish a pool of high-quality TVET institutions in Kenya with greater links to industry and aligned to labor markets. This is with a view to improve the skills profile, employability and entrepreneurship of especially youth and women, and closing the skills gap across the country.
The long-term challenges and possibility to grow and prosper in a rapidly evolving world requires skills that prepare young people for decent jobs, so that they can thrive and participate fully in society.
Africa is supporting the youth to acquire employable skills through TVET programmes. It is within this framework that the African Union Commission has developed a continental strategy to revitalize TVET in Africa. The Strategy is grounded on an approach based on skills for creating jobs through promotion of TVET programmes.
The growing youth unemployment poses a fundamental challenge for the country. In total, around 60 percent of unemployed people are under the age of 25 and young women are the majority. Even though access to quality education and appropriate job opportunities are essential for the reduction of poverty, educational programmes with a practical orientation are also hard to come by. In the same vein, there is a high demand for market oriented skills from both the public and private sector."