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Where does Sub-Saharan Africa stand today in terms of education and vocational training? Does it have the capacity to help its future generations move toward employment? What strengths and tools does it have? Four experts from the Education Division provide us with insight.
In Africa, two-thirds of the population is under 24. This youth is the continent’s greatest hope, but also poses a huge challenge for Africa’s development as 20% of young people are unemployed.
Basic education, but also vocational training
To address these challenges, over the past ten years AFD has invested over €1bn in the education/training sector, 2/3 of which in Africa. Over the next three years, its financing for education is expected to exceed €500m, again mainly in Africa. (Summary of the interview with Virginie Bleitracht).
School enrollment has risen by 31% in ten years
Over the past ten years or so, huge strides have been made in terms of access to primary school. Sub-Saharan Africa has had the highest results over the past ten years: school enrollment has risen by 31% (i.e. 58 million additional pupils).Vocational training finally becoming a priority for public policies.
On average, only 5% of the National Education budget is allocated to vocational training, which is by no means enough. Vocational training is a rapidly developing sector in most Sub-Saharan African countries. Most African leaders have made vocational training and youth integration one of their priorities. That being said, we have come a very long way, as many countries have training systems that are undersized, with outdated facilities and trainers who have not benefited from continuous refresher training for a very long time.
Match supply and demand on the labor market
AFD is increasingly helping to build partnerships between training centers and companies (public-private partnerships) in order to better match training to business needs. (Summary of the interview with Christian Fusillier)
NICTs, a solution to improve access to education and training and its quality?
The OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) shows the strong link between the use of digital tools and student performance. Generally speaking, the problems identified are the need to improve both access to education and its quality. Digital tools are ideally suited to meet these challenges. Many obstacles have now been removed. The digital market is reaching maturity and mobile phone penetration rates have seen a substantial increase over the past ten years. In the early 2000s, the geographical coverage rate stood at 10% in Sub-Saharan Africa. Today, it has reached 80%. This also represents 30% of the population.
(Summary of the interview with Jean-Christophe Maurin)
Video interview: Paris, Ouagadougou, the same combat?
In this interview, which takes us through the streets of Paris, the urban planner Guillaume Josse uses some urban objects from our everyday lives to give us keys to understanding the challenges facing cities in both the “South” and “North” alike.
First and foremost conceive cities as networks
Each city, however modern it is, is like a grid, a layering of networks, most of which are visible in the urban landscape. Be it for electricity, gas, telecoms, wastewater or stormwater drainage networks: all these functions are directed towards the same goal: guarantee the safety and well-being of city dwellers and make their city a better place to live in.
The first feature of a city in the South: weak public management
The most common aspects of a city in the “North”, which we take for granted – as they have been part of the daily lives of its residents for a very long time – either still do not exist or are extremely rare in cities in the “South”. Ordinary urban objects come to mind, for example, street signs, drain covers, street lights, paved roads, which respectively contribute to addressing and identifying places and their residents, preserving hygiene and public health, and the movement of persons and consumer goods. These are all missions for which local authorities are responsible.
Southern cities generally stand out for the lack of such networks, which are developed and operate efficiently. At best, you can see some points in common, such as phone networks, roads, streets, but with no asphalt, no paving stones and they are flood-prone because the pipe systems are not functional or are saturated; neighborhoods and dwellings have no signs, there is a lack of street lighting, etc.
Land registers and signage: prerequisites for urban management
In Paris, we take the street signs for granted. However, they do not exist in most cities and capitals in developing countries. Yet without such signage, it is impossible to send mail or for tax statements to be sent, taxes to be collected properly, for which there is ultimately no system to make people pay. This situation is one of the symptoms of the lack of fully operational land registration systems in these countries, for example, to manage land units and the history of land plots.
In such conditions, it is difficult or even impossible to know exactly who is living in such and such a place, or how many households, children, elderly or disabled people live there. It is equally impossible to determine who is the owner or tenant of the place in question and therefore, for example, to be able to collect sales taxes.
Achieve an effective combination of policy, administration and technical aspects
While addressing is important, it is not enough to paint a number on a door, as we see in many African countries, hoping it will be sufficient to solve the problem. The process to organize the life of the city, its management and its development is much more complex and takes much longer to implement. The entire management in public administration needs to be organized and overhauled, as this is the instrument which allows the State to take stock, know what is happening in real time, and manage the city in the long term. Street signs are a sort of symbol of urban management, which covers most of the services that city dwellers benefit from in their daily lives.
The main challenge for these countries and development aid institutions, including AFD, is to know how to create all these essential urban networks, set them up, finance both the investment in this infrastructure and implement adequate services to maintain them.
For example, without sanitation networks, in Southern cities all the wastewater is discharged into the street, parks and natural waterways. The challenge may not be to achieve a result as close as possible to Paris, which is a very modern city, but at the minimum to have essential services to prevent waste and wastewater from staying in houses or polluting rivers, keep streets passable and allow city dwellers to have access to drinking water.
The Chalon neighborhood: an example of successful urbanization
The transformation of this Parisian neighborhood, which was for a long time left to its poverty, shows how there is no predefined technique or model able to create a modern, pleasant and well-managed city. You have to think simultaneously of the equipment, housing, the networks I mentioned before, the type of activities that you want to develop there (offices, a business center, or a green space for example) and, especially, connect all this up with the transport links. All these projects require comprehensive political thinking in the sense of “city management”, which must lead to public policies that need to be coherent and complementary within a given area. The other aspect is the way in which these operations are conducted, first by taking the duration into account: indeed, we are talking about projects for which the financing and works are spread over 20 or 25 years. In this respect, you need to ensure that you will stay the course thanks to institutions that are politically, technically and financially strong enough to lead major projects.
“The city finances the city”, as the operation is financed gradually by the gains made by the local authority when it sells the land that it bought cheaply in the poor neighborhoods after having developed them. These gains finance the equipment and, at the end of the day, urban operations are self-financed over a period of 20 years or more. This principle of development generally does not exist in the countries where AFD operates. This is a real shortcoming, which goes well beyond the financial constraint proper – because a small cash advance would be sufficient to buy land. What is even more fundamental is the issue of how local authorities operate and their ability to lead these projects and, from a technical perspective, to have sufficient human resources to design and implement a development policy like in the Chalon neighborhood.
How to proceed, following the “City finances the city” principle
What happens in practice? The public authority starts by taking possession of the rundown neighborhoods via expropriations, compulsory purchase or simply by acquisition. Once the public authority has taken ownership of the land, it can demolish, rebuild, develop and redevelop as it sees fit in order to create new neighborhoods, which will continue to develop in a more or less positive way depending on the choices that have been made.
Although cities everywhere are made up of the same things, they do not operate in the same way.
The reason partly relates to financing. The Mayor of Paris has €4,000 per year and per resident to maintain and invest. The Mayor of Ouagadougou (municipality with 1,300,000 residents) has €20 per year and per resident. By way of comparison, the budget of this city, the capital of Burkina Faso, is half the budget of the town of Rodez, which has 25,000 residents. The Mayor of Lomé will have €8 to €10 per year and per resident, the mayor of a small town in Benin will have half a euro per year and per resident…...
The challenge therefore obviously lies in increasing financing and the capacity for a local authority to have sufficient financing available to invest in the area under its jurisdiction and maintain it. There is a colossal gap today between cities in the North and cities in the South and our challenge is to manage to bridge it.
Strong economic growth, a demographic explosion unprecedented in its history… Yves Boudot, Director of AFD’s Sub-Saharan Africa Department, tells us how Sub-Saharan Africa has become a focus of attention and is facing daunting challenges.
Yves Boudot spent 27 years of his career in about ten African countries. He was appointed Director of AFD’s Sub-Saharan Africa Department a few weeks ago.
Is it right to say that Africa is the priority continent for AFD?
Africa is the main priority for France’s cooperation policy.* AFD is in charge of implementing this vision. This priority given to financing development in Sub-Saharan Africa aims to provide solutions to the major issues and challenges posed by the emergence of the continent. This priority is also the result of the very history of France’s official development assistance and of our Institution. It is in Sub-Saharan Africa that AFD’s operational, financial and emotional roots are implanted. This is what makes AFD stand out in the landscape of donors and also constitutes its main area of expertise and its core value. Sub-Saharan Africa concentrates nearly 40% of AFD’s total activity and 60% of the State budgetary effort.
How should we view the situation in Africa today?
We should try to avoid the tendency we have to generalize as soon as we talk about this continent. For far too long now, generalities about the situation in Africa and its future have made us vacillate unequivocally between a pessimistic or fatalistic vision and a blind optimism. Sub-Saharan Africa is diverse and complex with widely varying situations. However, one thing that is sure today is that Sub-Saharan Africa is at the forefront of the global issues and challenges both today and for the coming decades. This is perhaps how the situation actually stands in Africa today. The unprecedented population dynamics, the strong and resilient economic growth in recent years, the natural resources potential that we are constantly talking about, but which has so far been developed very little, and the continued progress towards peace and democracy have definitely made us change the way we look at the continent. South Africa is a striking example. Who could have foreseen, back in 1990 when Nelson Mandela came out of prison, that twenty years later this country would be the economic power that it is on the way to becoming?
What are the main challenges that Sub-Saharan African countries need to face?
There are major challenges. Africa will need to feed almost a billion more people by 2050. Its population growth rate is estimated at some 15 million more people a year. Its agriculture will need to feed cities that will continue to grow at a fast pace and also to provide rural areas with a livelihood. By 2050, two billion Africans will need access to water, energy, education or health, whereas today’s production and distribution capacities cannot meet demand. Finally, economic growth in Africa, which is well above the current growth of our economies, will first and foremost need to be synonymous with large-scale job creation for the continent’s youth and with tax resources for States. The emergence of a formal private sector is one of the major challenges for Sub-Saharan Africa.
What are AFD’s main strategic directions in Sub-Saharan Africa?
Once again, they depend on the economic and social situation of the countries we support. They consequently first depend on the demand and needs of the beneficiaries of our financing, but also on States’ capacity to borrow in order to finance their investments. AFD’s activity in Sub-Saharan Africa is today guided by three main areas defined by the French Government: financing major infrastructure, developing more productive agriculture and supporting more inclusive growth. The first therefore involves supporting the development of major infrastructure and providing communities in cities and rural areas with access to essential services. They concern access to energy, transport, water, irrigation, education and health. A recent World Bank study highlighted the lack of this infrastructure, the high cost of access to it and the substantial additional amounts required to remedy the current situation over the next ten years. Energy and transport are objectively speaking the two main priorities. These two sectors require heavy investments. They must be implemented by coordinating the efforts of donors, private partners and States. For example, there is considerable hydropower potential and projects, which are necessarily regional, are implemented over the long term. We must now focus our efforts on this sector. Since the end of the 1970s, rail transport has been abandoned for roads and yet on the main trade corridors and to transport raw materials from the mining industry it is the means of transport that best meets needs. The second priority area for the coming years is to develop subsistence farming and agri-food industries. The sector accounts for 13% of GDP in Sub-Saharan Africa and concerns almost 70% of the working population. It helps create value, stabilize communities in rural areas and combat desertification. Africa’s agriculture needs to be more productive in order to guarantee food security for cities and rural areas and create export surplus. These challenges are core to the way movements take place between Africa’s growing cities and rural areas. Finally, everyone is aware that for nearly ten years now, the continent’s economic growth rates have been well above those of our own economies. This steady growth is largely driven by the upward trend for commodity prices, notably mining and oil products. It is, moreover, often unequal from one country to another. It is essential to promote the development of more inclusive growth led by a formal private sector in high employment generating sectors. AFD is consequently pursuing its efforts to promote the development of a banking and financial system oriented towards the development of this private sector.
Do we have geographical priorities?
In terms of the distribution of the French State’s budgetary effort, the 14 priority countries for French cooperation** are a strong focus for AFD’s activity. However, AFD now works in all Sub-Saharan African countries where it adapts its action and tailors its tools to the needs expressed and to our ability to meet them. The real priority would be to come up with a different geographical approach to Sub-Saharan Africa. We must first look at things from a regional perspective, particularly for major infrastructure projects, while pursuing national actions in other sectors. The scale of the challenges that we have just mentioned and the critical size of the economic blocs are such that a regional approach is inevitably essential. This is true when it comes to financing major energy or transport infrastructure projects, but also for the development of coherent and integrated economic areas that create dynamism and emulation, in synergy with the regional Unions that are gradually emerging.
* This priority is set out in the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs’ Framework Document for Cooperation for 2011.
** The 14 priority countries in Sub-Saharan Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Guinea Conakry, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Togo.
Why is the water sector core to development? What are AFD’s main partners and tools? This year’s World Water Day is focusing on urban issues, what is AFD’s position in this sector?
This year’s World Water Day focuses on urban issues. What can you tell us about AFD’s action in this sector?
AFD’s Water and Sanitation strategy focuses on four priorities. Two of these are based on urban populations. These choices have been made in a context of fast-paced demographic growth, rising insecurity and the lack of facilities. This lack is particularly marked in the field of wastewater and excreta collection and treatment.
The first area involves providing sustainable access to water for all. Access to basic services constitutes a major health, social and land issue in this area. The lack of it constitutes a factor of economic and social exclusion for certain categories of disadvantaged populations. AFD’s financing helps to scale up both access to water for all, as well as water connections for public facilities, such as schools, health centers or markets .
The second priority is to speed up the process to develop sanitation in urban areas and guarantee a healthier urban environment. There are two major issues: public health, due to housing densification and the lack of supply, and an environmental issue, particularly the groundwater pollution caused by wastewater, excreta and sludge.
Action must be taken at several levels: by reinforcing infrastructure, but also by supporting hygiene promotion programs. Mobilizing “social marketing” techniques gives extremely good results.
Which actors does AFD mainly work with in this sector?
Our main partners in developing countries are States, public or private companies or regional authorities, particularly in the French Overseas Communities.
Whenever possible, AFD cofinances projects with other bilateral (national) or multilateral donors (World Bank, EIB, ADB, etc.). It also builds technical and financial partnerships with decentralized cooperation (French local authorities), whose operations are highly complementary to those of AFD. We have also signed agreements with numerous NGOs in the sector.
What tools does it use?
AFD implements its strategy for the water and sanitation sector at three levels:
- by participating in financing infrastructure, of course, via a range of financial tools comprising sovereign loans (allocated to a State or a public entity that benefits from a State guarantee) and non-sovereign loans customized to finance drinking water facilities when sectoral policies have made sufficient headway. We can also use the system of guarantees, dedicated credit lines, etc. and, of course, grants mainly earmarked for the most vulnerable and the sanitation sector where in developing countries it is difficult to finance the investment via tariffs;
- by contributing to capacity building , which is necessary to support investment programs in order to ensure they are sustainable;
- by contributing to sectoral research in partnership with experts and researchers from both the North and South .
Which emblematic projects can you tell us about?
The drinking water and sanitation project in the outlying neighborhoods of Ouagadougou is of specific interest because it has been implemented by the City Hall of Ouagadougou and the National Office for Water and Sanitation (ONEA). It follows on from two major water supply projects for the capital via the ZIGA dam and for collective sanitation for the city center and industrial wastewater.
The 6th World Water Forum will be held in France in 2012. What does this involve for AFD?
The World Water Forum is the main event on water in the world. It is held in a different country every three years. This week-long event is the highpoint of a global decentralized preparatory process which lasts over 2 years.
It will be held in Marseille from 12 to 17 March 2012. This candidature highlighted the will to establish a participative approach open to all water sector stakeholders, in the spirit of the “Grenelle” process for the environment, as well as to come up with concrete solutions.
AFD is a member of the Board of Directors of the Forum’s International Committee. It holds the Vice Presidency of the “Regional Process”, which aims to mobilize the participation of all stakeholders in the 4 major regions of the world (Africa, the Americas, Asia-Pacific and Europe).
AFD also provides input for research on topics selected for this event, particularly the topic of “financing access to water for all”.