Her Excellency Ameenah Gurib-Fakin, President, Mauritus, gave the keynote speech at the plenary session 'National Goals and tertiary education approaches: ‘Made in Africa’ solutions' at Going Global, the world’s largest highest education conference for leaders, organised by the British Council and taking place in Africa for the first time.
“Africa’s greatest resource is her people”, she stated before discussing the challenges of “sustaining the Africa rising narrative” in a region where “only three percent of the population have constant access to electricity and six percent of roads are paved.” Closing this infrastructure gap, inter-country collaboration and improving the flow of the movement of ideas between countries are the keys to sustainable development and growth both in higher education and the continent more widely. The challenge is to implement policies that are effective and inclusive.
President Gurib-Fakin continued: “Africa’s “youth bulge” must be harnessed through greater public investments in basic education, tertiary education, in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, vocational skills and innovation…[in order to]…build a valuable base of human capital that will serve as the engine for the economic transformation of our Continent.”
Empowering women, President Gurib-Fakin argued, is also key: “I know that most of the women in Africa cannot afford not to work. But when they do, they are mostly employed in informal activities. We all know what this means: low productivity, low incomes, low prospects. We also know the constraints: access to education, credit, and markets”, she said. “The gains to be made by overcoming these constraints are immense—particularly through girls’ education. By some estimates, the economic loss in developing countries from the education gap between girls and boys could be as high as 90 billion USD a year—almost as much as the infrastructure gap for the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa!”
Gurib-Fakin concluded with the African adage: “If you educate a boy, you train a man. If you educate a girl, you train a village.”