Here comes the age of the African farmer. The African Union (AU) has put in place a programme to encourage more young people to study agriculture.
This will be part of Africa’s skills revolution, said the outgoing AU Commission chairperson, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma – soon to be contesting for President Jacob Zuma’s top job.
She said at the State of the Continent Address in Durban more young people should be in institutions of higher education (despite #feesmustfall) because it will translate into a workforce that will grow and modernise Africa’s economy.
Calling for a ‘skills revolution’ – including more and more young people investing in agricultural knowledge, she said this “skills revolution means that our young people should be educated and skilled in science, technology engineering and maths… Today’s economy needs these skills. We should not deny education to any child at any level because of poverty”.
Dlamini Zuma chose not to seek a second term as chair of the AU for the past four years, which means AU member states have to choose her replacement when they sit for their January summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Dlamini Zuma said the skills revolution will only succeed through investment in education targeting these scarce skills. She singled out Ethiopia as one of the countries on the continent that is increasing its tertiary education investment by focusing 70% of its efforts on science, mathematics and engineering.
She called on other countries on the continent to follow the Ethiopian example of investing in education to reverse the trend of poor access to higher education.
She said taking charge of agriculture would help address the disparity between rich and poor Africans and will make countries self-reliant.