Role of Education in Africa’s Growth
According to published data by the United Nations Organization, the world’s 10 youngest populations are all in Africa. The top three African countries with the youngest population, (average age 14.8 to 16), are Niger, Uganda and Chad, followed by Angola, Mali, Somalia, the Gambia, Zambia, DRC and Burkina Faso.
Africa’s youthful population is regarded as a major advantage for the economic development of the continent. Young citizens making up a large working force is one of the main factors attracting investors and multinationals to set up businesses in Africa. According to World Bank estimates, the youthful population of African countries could lead to an 11-15% GDP growth by the year 2030.
What is needed for this to take place, is a universal access to quality education. A large and young work force must have the necessary education and the professional specialisation to be able to drive the economy.On the other hand, without the prerequisite of education to secure jobs for the millions of young people on the continent, the ensuing widespread unemployment could lead to an increase in social unrest, criminal activity and uncontrolled migration. This risk was mentioned in a 2014 UN report stating: “Lack of meaningful work among young people is playing into frustration, that has in some instances contributed to social unrest or unmanaged migration.”
Along the same lines, a report by the African Development Bank Group states, “The overriding objective of development is to improve the quality of life for all people. Populations are, therefore, at the core of development. Over the coming decades, demographic trends are projected to lead to high levels of economic growth in some African countries, if the right policies are put in place. Demographic trends are thus likely to provide an opportunity to reduce poverty and yield a demographic dividend that will lead to economic success as it did in the Asian emerging markets: as much as one-third of East Asia’s economic “miracle” is attributed to demographic change (Bloom and Canning, 2011). On the other hand, in countries with sparse resources and inadequate policies, population growth could lead to economic decline and social misery. This “demographic dividend” could significantly contribute to developing human resources and employment creation with the appropriate policies.”
Africa’s youthful populations can be a precious advantage or a serious challenge for their countries. The deciding factor is quality education. With the ongoing, rapid growth in the demand for university places and the supply lagging far behind, (unable to keep up, unless hundreds of new universities are established in Africa every year), online education is the only solution available today. By studying online, African students can earn degrees from established universities in the West, improving their employability by local and foreign corporations operating on the continent. They can acquire cutting edge knowledge, become trained into modern and innovative ways of thinking and acting, and network with academics, industry professionals and fellow students from around the world. At the same time, online education offers young Africans the possibility to ‘earn as they learn’, that is to keep their jobs and salary while they study for their degree. Doing an online degree is also a good way for people with family commitments to obtain academic qualifications. UNICAF offers all Africans the opportunity to earn internationally recognized qualifications from respected universities in Europe and in Africa, by studying online and paying only a fraction of the cost; the UNICAF Scholarship Programme is one of the most generous in the world today and can provide up to 80% coverage of tuition fees, depending on a candidate’s financial situation. The easy to navigate UNICAF state of the art Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) enables students to access study material 24/7, to interact with tutors and fellow students and to network with professionals from around the world. Application and enrollment are quite easy to do – go to ww.unicaf.org to view the wide range of online degree programmes available through UNICAF and apply for a scholarship.
The African continent is at a crossroads right now. The World Economic Forum on Africa states.“… it is Africans themselves who have the power to shape their continent’s transformation…. We are at the dawn of a technological revolution that will change almost every part of our lives – jobs, relationships, economies, industries and entire regions. It promises to be, as Professor Klaus Schwab has written, “a transformation, unlike anything humankind, has experienced before”.In no place is that more true than Africa, a continent that has yet to see all the benefits of previous industrial revolutions.”