ADDIS ABABA, May 10 – Former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan said Thursday that African governments should commit to educating the continent’s bourgeoning youth population to sustain economic growth.
Over 60 percent of Africa’s population is under 30.
“We have a young bulge that is going to need lots of work, lots of jobs and governments should focus on that,” Annan said.
“We consider trade schools, preparing them or giving them skills that could employ them when they are out of school or allow them to get their own companies and work.”
Annan noted that Africa has shown “remarkable” progress in recent years, in part by attracting increased foreign investment.
Seven of the world’s fastest growing economies are in Africa, and investment in agriculture, infrastructure and mineral resources has blossomed in the past decade.
China is the continent’s largest trading partner and has major investments in infrastructure and minerals across Africa.
Gao Xinqing, president of the China Investment Corporation, said Africa was a strategic partner for the Asian powerhouse.
“From China, we look at Africa really not only as a target of investment but as a potential coveted partner in many ways: culturally, historically, economically (and) politically,” said Gao, who is co-chairing this year’s WEF conference.
Eight African leaders and former British prime minister Gordon Brown are among the more than 700 participants expected at the three-day Addis Ababa meeting that wraps up Friday.
The conference is focusing on boosting public-private investment and fostering economic diversity to kick start development across Africa.