Saturday, December 9, 2023

AERC to hold High Level Seminar on Human Capital Development in Africa

The African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) is set to host its 25th Senior Policy Seminar (SPS), focusing on human capital development as a social and economic growth driver, commencing this Wednesday.

The two-day conference, to be held at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya, will explore the role of human capital development as an ingredient for inclusive growth and shared prosperity in Africa.

Speaking when he confirmed the hosting of the 25th SPS,  AERC Acting Executive Director Prof. Théophile Azomahou, said the hybrid conference (to be held physically and virtually) will feature local and international economic and public policymakers with eminent researchers presenting research papers on the subject of human capital development.

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At the opening session on Wednesday, Ministry of Information Communications & Digital Economy, Cabinet Secretary Hon. Eliud Owalo will be the Chief Guest at the opening of a Plenary session to be chaired by National Treasury & Economic Planning, Cabinet Secretary Hon. Prof. Njuguna Ndung’u while Hon. Prof. Mthuli Ncube, Minister for Finance & Economic Development, Zimbabwe, will deliver the Keynote Address.

“We all know that low investments in human capital impinge on growth rates of income. Such interrelations consequently imply a vicious circle of development. Poor countries have considerable discretion over how much to invest in education and health. Since independence, Africa has achieved rapid growth of some aspects of human capital – particularly in the expansion of education – despite starting from a low-income level,”

 Prof. Azomahou said. He added,

“A commensurate rise has not matched the expansion of the human capital stock in physical capital. The result has been low growth of incomes and low returns to the educational investment.”

Leading researchers will also share their ideas with distinguished senior policymakers, including Prof. Lant Pritchett, Harvard University, USA, titled “A Lifecyle, Economy-Wide Framework for Human Capital in Africa.” Prof. Jere R. Behrman, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, USA will present a paper on “Human Capital Investments and Economic Growth in Africa”. Prof. Germano Mwabu, Department of Economics, University of Nairobi, Kenya will focus on “Human Capital Accumulation in Africa: Drivers, Consequences, and Way forward”. The last paper will be on “Education in Africa: Career Progressions, Gaps in Learning Outcomes and Responding to the Learning Crisis” by Prof. Adrienne Lucas & Dr. Gerald Ipapa, Lerner College of Business & Economics, University of Delaware, USA.

Human capital is critical for inclusive growth and shared prosperity in Africa. Investment in human beings for improved social and economic outcomes in future – through education and training, learning and experience, or health interventions – is vital in shaping future income and productivity. Therefore, developing human capital in Africa requires a massive and coordinated effort to strengthen the quantity, efficiency, and impact of investments in people. There is a need to facilitate regional and country-owned policy reforms, action plans and cross-country learning in four key areas namely: expanding effective government investment in social services; introducing reforms and innovation to improve service delivery; committing to equity and inclusiveness and addressing fertility and gender issues to harness a demographic dividend.

AERC senior policy seminars are forums designed specifically to bring together senior policymakers from sub-Saharan African countries to exchange experiences and deliberate on topical issues pertaining to the sustainable development of their economies. Participants in these seminars are drawn from the highest levels of government, including the presidency, ministers, governors of central banks, heads of civil services, permanent secretaries and heads of government agencies and parastatals.

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