Fresh move to bridge skills gaps across East Africa region

Skills gap adversely affects 77 percent of productivity, 42 percent efficiency and eight percent competitiveness of businesses in East Africa. Statistics, according to a recent study, also show that 65 percent of African chief executive officers (CEOs) believe that skills shortages prevent organisations from innovating effectively.

This emerged here yesterday where the East African Business Council (EABC) and the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology (NM-AIST) agreed to partner in bridging skills gaps.

Under the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), the two institutions will also work collaboratively to upscale digital transformation in the East African Community (EAC) bloc.

Speakers at the event concurred with the East African Qualifications Framework (EAQFHE) Survey, 2014, which indicated how skills gaps have impacted company performances.

EABC executive director John Bosco Kalisa said the MoU comes at a time when there is a great need to bridge skills gaps and address mismatches in digital transformation.

EABC will offer practical industrial placement in order to reduce skills mismatches, and boost innovation towards a digital economy,” he said during the signing ceremony.

Mr Kalisa added that digital and other technologies underpin cross-border business resilience and recovery amid Covid-19.

The technological changes happening fast in the global economy, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and industries in general have adopted digital tools.

These are the likes of e-commerce to access the EAC market and reinforce supply chains due to the disruption of Covid-19 pandemic.

He added that commencement of trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) offers room for the creation of new technological innovations to support industries.

These, according to him, would consolidate EAC exports, and integrate SMEs into the regional value chains – thus boosting regional competitiveness.

The agreement outlines ways to improve collaboration in evidence research-based advocacy on agribusiness, health and industrial development, as well as rolling out professional, scientific and technical symposiums across the EAC bloc to commercialise innovations and research.

NM-AIST vice chancellor Emmanuel Luoga said the partnership was built on shared values to solve societal problems, promote innovation and aspirations of Africa growth: the AU Agenda 2063.

The partnership also reinforces what he described as “ theoretical approaches with practical tactics” that would enhance industrialisation as a key factor in the EAC integration agenda.

The Arusha regional commissioner, Mr John Mongella, said the Tanzania government was committed to support the aspirations and implementation of the MoU between EABC and NM-AIST, “since the East African people are the real beneficiaries of this remarkable partnership”.

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