Enhancing Capacity to Build ICT-sector Skills in Africa
Growth in the Information Technology and Business Process Outsourcing sector (IT-BPO) can transform a country’s economy and improve the lives of its citizens. No country is a better example than India, which has achieved phenomenal growth in this sector. As of 2010, India could boast of a 64 percent share of globally off-shored IT services and a 37 percent share in IT-enabled services (ITES)1. Skills development has been a key driver of that growth. Many African countries want to invest in Information Technology (IT) and IT Enabled Services (ITES) to boost employment and economic growth. African leaders recognize that India has a great deal of knowledge to share to help guide policies and investment in skills development.
Complementing the World Bank’s New Economy Skills for Africa Program: Information and Communication Technologies (NESAP-ICT), the South-South Facility funded a knowledge exchange for 54 policymakers and stakeholders from Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Madagascar, Ghana, Rwanda and Senegal to visit India.“Our Mission is to engineer an ICT-led socioeconomic development process to transform Ghana into a middle-income, information-rich knowledge-based and technology-driven economy,” said Nana Osei Bonsu, head of ITES HR & Skill Development with Ghana’s Ministry of Commerce.
This exchange raised awareness of IT/ITES approaches and policies leading to implementation of specific strategies for strengthening the IT/ITES sector. During the exchange, each participating country developed an Action Plan, which has led to concrete steps to support ongoing skills development initiatives and ICT institutions in nearly all countries.
"All countries wanted to learn about the IT industry and its impact on the economy. However, an attitudinal shift and different mindset was necessary to nurture this industry," said Anubha Verma, World Bank Operations Officer.
Beneficiaries / Participants
Growth in ICT investments in Africa has generated economy-wide demand for ICT skills. However, this has not always created corresponding supply, despite the fact that many countries seek to participate in the estimated US$500 billion,2 and growing, annual global Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) market.
African countries are trying to build capacity in the private sector, policymaking, and educational leadership to develop their ICT sectors. All of the countries involved in this exchange are improving or starting up education and training institutions to increase ICT skills. The following represent only a few of these initiatives: the Ghana Education Project; Mozambique’s Higher Education (HEP) and Vocational Education and Training Project; Nigeria’s Science and Technology Education and Post-basic (STEPB) project; and Tanzania’s new tertiary education, science, and technology project.
At the request of the countries participating in this knowledge exchange, the World Bank organized a study tour for 54 public and private sector officials from eight African nations to visit India—a recognized world leader in IT and IT-enabled skills building—to help African ICT sector leaders overcome policy, technical, and institutional hurdles to skills development. Specifically, the exchange aimed to increase the capacity of public agencies, industry associations, higher education institutions, and businesspersons in the eight African nations to formulate and implement policies and direct investments to support IT/ITES training.
In the long term, the exchange will generate growth in the IT/ITES industry by creating jobs and revenues.
The World Bank’s Africa Action plan emphasizes the need for more and better-trained ICT workers to compete in the global economy. Launched in 2008, the World Bank’s New Economy Skills for Africa Program: Information and Communication Technologies (NESAP-ICT) aims to help Sub-Sahara African countries build workforce skills in IT and IT-enabled services (ITES).
In combination with the broader NESAP-ICT Initiative, the African participants in the knowledge exchange planned to nurture ICT talent and strengthen educational organizations, associations, and other institutions to encourage foreign and domestic investment in the IT and ITES sectors. Improving ICT skills and training capacity in Africa will increase returns on ICT investment, promote e-enabled business, and improve government services. It is also hoped that the exchange will help African countries gain a greater share of the estimated US$500 billion annual global Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) market—an important driver of growth in many countries.