AfricaFrance foundation to offer professional training
One initiative, LeaD Campus, will deliver management training in Africa and will involve French and African higher education institutions.
AfricaFrance brings together governments, companies, local authorities, non-profit organisations and education and research institutions, which will work together in clusters comprising African and French organisations, says the chair of the foundation’s set-up committee Lionel Zinsou, on its website.
The foundation was ratified by French and African heads of state at the Elysée Summit for Peace and Security in Africa, held in December 2013 and co-organised by the French Minister for the Economy and Finance and MEDEF International.
Its first initiatives were unveiled at a Franco-African forum for inclusive growth held in Paris on 6 February and attended by leaders from Senegal, Gabon, Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria.
Senegal’s President Macky Sall welcomed the foundation and said that fostering young talent was “a priority in Africa”.
The AfricaFrance website lists among Africa’s challenges its expected population growth from 1.1 billion people in 2013 to two billion people in 2050, more than half of whom will live cities. Currently, 368 million Africans live in poverty, on less than US$1.25 a day.
As a major colonial power, France has a long history with the continent and there are more than 240,000 French people on the continent, according to AfricaFrance. In 2010, 45% of French net bilateral aid went to Sub-Saharan Africa – €2.6 billion or US$3 billion.
Foundation programmes and activities will have four main objectives – providing information, especially to the French public about social realities in Africa; to advocate the potential of the African economy for France; to develop and support human capital promotion initiatives by improving training; and to promote exchanges and investments among stakeholders through ‘clusters’.
The urgent need in Africa for better skilled and employable young people is a major focus of AfricaFrance activities. For example, in 2011 in Egypt and South Africa respectively there were around 1.5 million and three million jobless youths, according to the International Labour Organization, while companies were trying to fill 600,000 and 800,000 vacant positions respectively.
Thus, the AfricaFrance foundation will be geared towards providing skills training for young Africans to fill the gap between university qualifications on offer and those sought by employers, as well as educating young Africans for the jobs of the future.
One of the foundation programmes is HR-Excellence in Africa, which will work to generate employment and upgrade training centres.
A pilot phase was launched last October with the French Council of Investors in Africa, and 19 training facilities in nine African countries and more than 30 enterprises have joined. In April an operator will be selected to implement certification processes and upgrade facilities, and the programme will be submitted to potential funders.
The LeaD Campus project, initiated by Danone, will provide talented young Africans, working in the private, public or civil society sectors, with management training on an African campus, with the support of the Centre for Financial, Economic and Banking Studies, Corporate University of AFD and French and African higher education institutions.
There will be annual training sessions for 50 young African leaders starting in September 2015, supported by €3 million provided by the French Ministry for Finance and Public Accounts.
Also benefiting from the ministry grant is the Young Leaders initiative, which will bring together some 20 African and 10 French leaders each year “to forge closer personal ties between them and provide a forum for discussion”, according to the AfricaFrance website.
Another of the foundation's missions is to set up thematic discussion groups between French and African businesses and institutions. Ten ‘clusters’ have been launched in strategic sectors like digital and e-learning, agriculture, and social entrepreneurial innovation.
To deliver professional training to Africa's future business leaders, the foundation says it will forge a partnership with a ‘sister’ organisation in every African country.
Magdi Tawfik Abdelhamid, a professor at Cairo's National Research Centre, said efforts to improve skills among young Africans would benefit both individuals and economies.
“The new foundation should build relationships with Africa's university career centres to help students understand both the needs of potential employers and their own capabilities, equipping themselves over the course of their degree with the necessary skills to succeed in their chosen field.”