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World Bank pledges to invest $15bn in African human capital projects

By Joseph Inokotong, Abuja

The World Bank has unveiled new plan to invest $15 billion to strengthen human capital projects in African countries by the year 2023.

World Bank Vice President for Africa, Hafez Ghanem, said this in a statement issued in Nairobi.

According to him, “the projects are part of World Bank’s new plan to help promote skills development for African youth and enhance their competitiveness in a digitising global economy”.

He said the World Bank’s Africa Human Capital Plan aims at reducing child mortality to save 4 million lives and avert stunting among 11 million children.

Others are increasing learning outcomes for girls and boys in school by 20 per cent by 2023.

By doing so, it will increase African workers’ productivity by 13 per cent.

Ghanem said: “Preventing a child from fulfilling his or her potential is not only fundamentally unjust, but it also limits the growth 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”.

According to the World Bank, Sub-Saharan African region scores the lowest on the World Bank’s Human Capital Index which gauges whether countries have adequately invested in the next generation of workers.

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-three times as high as in South Asia. This not only damaging for girls and their children, but it also hurts economic growth,” noted Ghanem.

He said the World Bank will increase its investments in human capital in Africa by 50% in the next funding cycle.

This, according to him, includes “new World Bank grants and concessional finance for human capital projects in Africa totaling $15 billion in fiscal years 2021-2023”.

The World Bank will invest these funds strategically to unblock structural constraints to human capital development, and also target game changing interventions that leverage technology and innovation and that prevent and reverse damage to human capital in fragile and conflict-affected settings.

 The World Bank is already supporting countries to come up with new strategies to invest more and better in their people.

Twenty-three African countries, covering over 60% of the region’s population, have joined a coalition of nearly 60 countries to join the Human Capital Project, committing to a set of accelerated investments in their human capital.

World Bank Vice President for Human Development, Annette Dixon said: “Human Capital Project countries are breaking away from traditional paradigms to make investment in their people a priority and are working in a more coordinated way across government to ensure that households have the right enabling environment to support human capital formation”.