WORLD BANK WOULD SPEND $15 billion dollars to support Nigeria and other African countries grow human capital in the fiscal years 2021 to 2023. The plan will enable Africa’s young people grow up in ideal health and equipped with right skills to compete in the digitising global economy.
Hafez Ghanem, World Bank Vice President for Africa, revealed this at the launch of Africa Human Capital Plan at the World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings, Thursday. Sub-Saharan Africa scored lowest of the world’s regions on World Bank’s Human Capital Index. The index measures how healthy countries invest in next generation workers.
The ratings explained high mortality and stunting rates in the region, in addition to inadequate student learning outcomes, with direct negative effects on economic productivity. Ghanem said World Bank will increase its investments in human capital in Africa by 50 per cent in the next funding cycle to tackle the problem.
Fiscal years 2021 to 2023, World Bank would give new grants and concessional finance for human capital projects in Africa totalling $15 billion dollars. Ghanem said World Bank would invest the funds strategically to unblock structural constraints to human capital development.
He said World Bank would target game changing interventions that leverage technology and innovation, that also prevent and reverse damage to human capital in fragile and conflict-affected countries.
“Preventing a child from fulfilling his or her potential is not only fundamentally unjust, but it also limits the growth potential of economies whose future workers are held back. GDP per worker in Sub-Saharan Africa could be 2.5 times higher if everyone were healthy and enjoyed a good education from pre-school to secondary school”, Ghanem said.
And added: “The plan also aims at empowering women to prevent early marriage and pregnancy for adolescent girls. The adolescent fertility rate in Sub-Saharan Africa is 102 births per 1,000 girls which is three times as high as in South Asia. This not only damaging for girls and their children, but it also hurts economic growth”.
World Bank’s Human Capital Index indicated that a child born in Nigeria today will be 34 per cent as productive when she grows up as she could be if she enjoyed complete education and full health.
It also stated that students in Nigeria score 325 on a scale where 625 represents advanced attainment and 300 represents minimum attainment. Factoring in what children actually learn in school, expected years of school is only 4.2 years after spending 8.2 years.