Large, Young, Dynamic — Unskilled

Recruitment Challenges in Africa

“The competition to hire the best will increase in the years ahead…” Bill Gates

There is an alarming shortage of skilled employees in Africa, which has led to fierce competition for talent; particularly within the Digital Economy. Reasons for this shortage of skills are numerous: the negligible level of investment in the infrastructure of educational institutions, a lack of attention to educational content, frequent strikes resulting in months-long closures of higher education facilities, and a lack of financial aid for students, to name a few.

One other reason that particularly stands out to me was explained by Mbwana Alliy, founder and managing partner of Savannah Fund. He explains that talent within Africa is based on what the different countries export and how diversified their economies are.

In countries that are dependent on a few select exports (undiversified economies), skilled talent outside of the export product or service industry is hard to find. Take for example Angola, where about 95% of their exports are petroleum products. One does not expect to and indeed does not find skilled talent outside of this industry. Governments of such countries provide educational resources (although some may argue not enough) to ensure their population is skilled primarily in the export product or service with little attention to other industries — leading to a skill gap.

Examples of some of the more diversified economies can be found in Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Mauritius, Morocco, Namibia, South Africa and Tunisia. On the flip side, some of the least diversified economies, where we witness the widest skill gaps are in Angola, Algeria, Chad, Congo Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria and Libya.

Within these less diversified economies, it might be easier and more efficient to hire for character and train the talent to develop the skills needed on the job. Once this is done, the next challenge is how to retain your newly-trained and now skilled employee.