GHANAIAN President Nana Akufo-Addo’s appeal to African countries is timely. Africa must invest in human capital value addition by
creating an education system that shapes a well-skilled workforce which can compete favourably in the global economy.
The message by Akufo-Addo is particularly apt for Zambia as the country embarks on economic diversification and industrialisation.
Zambia intends to shift her focus from dependence on copper exports.
Instead, Government intends to prioritise manufacturing, tourism, agriculture and construction, besides mining.
Within agriculture, sugar, coffee and cotton have been identified as having potential for the exports markets.
Government’s quest to walk the talk ties in well with President Akufo-Addo’s call for industrialisation of African economies by promoting value addition to raw materials to attain prosperity.
This is the challenge Government faces to actualise the diversification of our economy from pronouncements to realisation.
And education plays a critical role in attaining this dream.
Therefore, President Akufo- Addo is spot-on when he urges African countries to invest in human capital value addition by creating an education system.
The education system should shape a well-skilled workforce which should not only compete favourably in the global economy but play a part in economic revolution of their countries.
A well-skilled workforce is what Zambia needs like yesterday to help Government actualise the diversification of the economy.
The country has all the fundamentals to diversify the economy but lacks the appropriate skills to implement Government’s vision.
We have favourable weather and fertile soils to grow crops which are on demand in the world such as Arabica coffee we grow sugarcane and we also grow cotton.
But these should not only be exported in their raw form but they ought to have value added to them.
We also have a wide array of tree species such as the now famous mukula tree and we have plenty of tourist resorts to support tourism.
What we are lacking are the appropriate skills to turn this potential into income that will help move this country’s economy forward.
Training institutions should move with time by offering skills which will make our students adapt to changing times and seasons.
We expect our colleges and universities to appreciate that Zambia’s future development will depend on diversification of the economy by developing new areas of production and export.
Every school-leaver should be told by careers masters that the best prospects for diversification of our economy lie in sectors beyond mining.
In the agriculture sector, Zambians ought to also know that there is need to diversify from maize growing to alternative cash crops such as coffee, cotton and even sugar cane.
Zambia has huge tracts of bare and arable land, which gives us the leverage-expanding the range of crops to be cultivated.
It is time our training institutions, while being local, started thinking global if the country is to start producing competitive students.