Kigali will, beginning today, host the high-profile African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) 20th anniversary summit. At the two-day event, delegates are expected to take stock of the continent’s achievements in developing local capacity, over the past two decades, and lay strategies that will help deliver future development programmes.
This summit cannot come at a better time – taking place with in less than five years to the 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targets, that are designed to improve the living standards in developing countries.
Different countries have since come up with various strategies and targets aimed at improving the welfare of their people. In Rwanda, for instance, Vision 2020 spells out the country’s development aspirations, implemented through mid-term development strategies, such as the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS).
Yet, the actual implementation of such noble and well-designed strategies remains an uphill task. One of the most fundamental challenges is that the continent largely lacks a critical mass of skilled personnel to translate development policies and strategies into reality.
Although the ACBF has played a central role in developing indigenous capacity across Africa – contributing nearly $9 million in Rwanda over the last 11 years – most of its support has come in form of sponsorships for advanced education programmes, mainly Masters and PhDs. Whereas, such efforts could, in the long-run, reduce nations’ dependence on expatriates, they, generally, fall short of empowering the real base of national economy.
ACBF and other stakeholders need to urgently absorb the backbone of our workforce – those who never had the opportunity to attend university or other institutes of learning – in their interventions by empowering them with entrepreneurial capacity and other hands-on skills to be able to make a meaningful contribution towards national development.