The huge gap between the academia and the private sector is responsible for the lack of adequate industrialisation in the East African Community (EAC), officials have said.
Andrew Luuze, the Executive Director of the East African Business Council (EABC), told reporters in Kampala over the weekend that the academic institutions continue to produce graduates who are inappropriate for the labour market leading to low industrialisation.
“Our governments should know that in some countries, investments in innovation and research is two per cent of the GDP of their countries. What are they doing in this direction if we are to have more industries?” the EABC boss said.
The Executive Secretary of the Inter University Council for East Africa (IUCEA), Prof. Mayunga Nkunya, said lack of special attention to bridging the existing gap is responsible for the low number of locally owned industries and the large number of multinationals operating in East Africa.
To address the unemployment challenge, Luuze said that EABC and the East African Development Bank (EADB), in partnership with IUCEA, are organising the second academia-private sector forum scheduled for October in Nairobi, Kenya.
“We shall bring all these key players like universities and the private sector together so that they discuss why their graduates aren’t being employed,” Nkunya said.
He added that there is need for change of mindset so that the demand side (private sector) influences the curricula.
EADB Director General Vivienne Yeda said the forum heralds a new phase for the East African region with members stepping forward to tackle rising unemployment, slow economic growth and regional integration issues.
“As a region, we must urgently tackle the skills gap and slow economic growth which have led to high unemployment levels in the region,” Yeda said.
The discussions at the forum will be guided by a survey conducted by IUCEA and EABC to establish the current status of academia-industry linkages in the EAC partner states, the key variables influencing them, value creation and institutional capacity.