Danger Of Africa's Mega Projects Freezing Out Local Talent

With the current drive by governments in Africa to develop and rejuvenate their infrastructure we are seeing a relentless rise in the number of foreign investment backed mega projects all over the continent from construction of new airports, to new seaports, to railway expansion and in many cases entirely new cities like Eko Atlantic City and Centenary City in Nigeria, Petronia City in Ghana and many others.

This has brought about an influx of professionals from China , Brazil, Korea, Australia, United Kingdom, United states and every imaginable corner of the world coming to work in these mega projects.

So what role are local professionals playing in all this?

Amid all these great developments it seems that local professionals are being excluded from some of the continents major projects. We saw a situation recently in Nigeria where architects and engineers were complaining of being excluded from work in some of the foreign funded mega projects and are calling on the Buhari administration to enforce regulation that will govern their inclusion.

This is worrying because African Countries have a serious deficit of professional talent and really need to seize every opportunity to develop and empower local professionals. These mega - projects can be very valuable not only in providing employment but also can contribute hugely to addressing the continents need to build the critical mass of skilled professionals it needs to compete globally.
How bad is the deficit?

To compare of number of engineers produced a year, China which has almost the same population as Africa produces more than 700,000 engineers a year, in the EU they produce over 200,000 a year compared to just over 20,000 for the whole of Africa.

Universities alone cannot fill the gap.

One obvious solution will be to build more universities. But in today's world we do not need to rely solely on building physical universities for production of the skilled professionals, rather we need to explore other innovative options and ensure we maximize the potential of each option.

For example at SAPIS we are founded on the principle that we can skill people in huge numbers with the use of virtual technology, but if you train an engineer in virtual space it is possible it can work theoretically but to be successful you will still need practical experience from a physical project.

So if Africa is going to get to prosperity it needs leadership in business, government and Academia to do their bit. Leadership that thinks African, leadership that believes that young Africans can be the best, leadership that can say " this year we are going to produce 100,000 engineers and therefore invest heavily on the young people.

Young people are the greatest resource that Africa possesses, and at SAPIS we strongly believe that that the greatest investment that can be made in Africa is in its youth.

If we skill our young people in Africa they will figure out what to do.


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