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Malawi’s future-ready youth need unconventional skills training

Wrixon Mpanang’ombe's picture

Malawi is not spared from the disruption caused by the digital economy. Automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence will soon disrupt the way we work, whether in the bustling Limbe Market, in Kanengo’s factories or in Ntchisi Boma’s government offices.

Cities for the people

Abhas Jha's picture
Singapore Chinatown - Lois Goh / World Bank

Overcrowded, dirty, and disorderly cities undermine residents’ health as much as their happiness. With urbanization occurring at an unprecedented rate, there is an urgent need for careful planning, collaboration, communication, and consensus.

SINGAPORE – Dante’s Divine Comedy describes one level of hell (the City of Dis) as“Satan’s wretched city … full of distress and torment terrible.” He could well have been describing many modern-day metropolises.

The world, especially Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, is experiencing a massive wave of urbanization. And yet it is occurring largely in the absence of urban planning, with even those municipalities that attempt to create plans often failing to enforce them effectively or account properly for the needs of the majority. The result is overcrowded, dirty, and disorderly cities that undermine residents’ health and happiness.

Working together to create Africa 2.0

Livio Totzafy's picture

In nearly 20 years, the majority children entering in primary school around the world today will likely work as adults in jobs that do not exist yet. If Africa fails to prepare our youth, we will undoubtedly find ourselves unable to enhance their digital skills and therefore become even more disadvantaged in the future.

The dos and don’ts of boosting Pakistan’s human capital

Tazeen Fasih's picture
Photo: World Bank

This blog is part of a series that discusses findings from the [email protected]: Shaping the Future report, which identifies the changes necessary for Pakistan to become a strong upper middle-income country by the time it turns 100 years old in 2047. 

My parents’ gardener has six children – all aged 8 or younger. While his wife is busy taking care of the youngest ones, barely 15 months and 2 months old, he brings the other kids along with him so they don’t wander in the streets.

As I look at the supposedly 8-year-old girl with a dupatta wrapped around her head, looking tiny, probably stunted, suddenly I realize how pervasive all the statistics Yoon and I have been working are – right there, staring at us in our face.

The 38 percent stunting rate for the population, the fertility rate of 3.6 births per woman, the 22.6 million children out of school, the dismal learning outcomes for students, these are all here manifested in this family and its future.

What kind of future is awaiting these children? Will they be able to reach their full productive potential? According to the World Bank’s Human Capital Project, Pakistan’s children born today can achieve only 39 percent of their full potential – productivity they could have achieved if they were able to enjoy complete education and full health.

With over 60 percent of Pakistan’s national wealth (measured as the sum of produced capital such as factories and infrastructure; 19 types of natural capital such as oil, minerals, land, and forests; human capital; and net foreign assets) estimated to be coming from Human Capital Wealth, a failure to nurture and utilize this wealth to its full potential can be fatal.

Nonetheless, successive governments have failed to address the human capital challenge. A careful review of policies in Pakistan on human development reveals a myriad of policies over the 70 years of the country – many strategies appearing sound and well-intentioned, some, of course, appearing to be prompted by geopolitical situations of specific eras of the country.

In this context, we highlight some principles in human capital policies.

Why does people-centric design matter for sustainable cities?

Gerald Ollivier's picture

By 2050, urbanization – combined with the overall growth of the world’s population – could add another 2.5 billion people to urban areas by 2050. Close to 90% of this increase will take place in Asia and Africa. While this bodes well for economic agglomerations, many cities are constrained by livability.  Pressure on land resources and urban space is immense in Asia and Africa, with high population densities, leading to congestion, low-quality urban environment, pollution, and low safety.

The core long-term solution to such challenges requires land use and physical planning at different scales, from the national level to the metropolitan, city, neighborhood, and all the way down to the street level. Such an approach can ensure a functioning labor market where a maximum number of jobs can be reached by all citizens, while creating inclusive, livable, and vibrant urban areas.

Two approaches to building sustainable cities

Preparing Lesotho’s youth for the Fourth Industrial Revolution through skills development, boosted by parental support

Khothatso Everestus Kolobe's picture

What it will take, for Basotho youth to learn digital skills? First, there must be a change of attitude toward smart phones and the internet.

Just a few months ago, I sat in at the Selibeng Forum to learn that a high school teacher had a problem assisting his students through WhatsApp as the students’ parents would not allow it. This is not unusual; many parents in Africa still have a negative attitude toward technology. We have people buying leading smartphone brands as a status symbol, but who are not fully participating in the digital economy, let alone the creation of work. One way to change this negative perception among older generations could be through massive PR campaigns by governments and pertinent authorities. Such massive steps have to be taken by authorities because parents tend to pay attention to what authorities state rather than listening to their children. Regardless of how sound their argument may be.  Unless parents understand the significance of the digital economy and the future of work enough to support the youth through the process, it will be almost impossible to enhance the required skills. We are already among leading smartphone consumers, we just have to start using them for even more of our benefit.

Creating space for digital learning in Africa

Jackton Oduor Badia's picture

Digital economy refers to an economy that runs entirely on digital computing technologies. To be prepared for the digital economy, youth should understand their strengths, skills, and talents. At the same time, the involvement of various stakeholders in training youth—both in and out of school) with job-ready, transferable digital skills is needed. , Civil space, public space, physical space, and digital space can be implemented to develop young people’s digital skills and curb youth unemployment in the digital economy.

Local expert opinion on prices is a good substitute for a full-fledged market price survey – since local prices are often missing this is great news

Jed Friedman's picture

The comparison of poverty rates across two countries, or across regions within a country, is a common occurrence in analysis produced at the World Bank and other development agencies, as well as in published academic papers. For any poverty comparison to have meaning, however, the analyst needs to norm the various observed states of the world to a known standard of living. In other words, any poverty comparison is meaningful only if it can be said to achieve welfare consistency.

Welfare consistent comparison across space requires local price data so that levels of living measured in dollars earned, or dollars consumed, do not get confounded with the differences in price levels across localities. After all, a poor area may be only nominally poor due to a low cost of living, but not any poorer in real terms. How would we know the difference without the right prices?

Rethinking the education system to prepare the young people of Africa for the jobs of tomorrow

Mohamed Alimou Diallo's picture

In my view, the way to provide tomorrow’s skills for young Africans in Guinea is to bypass the traditional forms of education.

For example, each sub-prefecture could capitalize on the installation of fiber optic cables that significantly improve internet connection speed and create a data center for youth under the age of twenty. Young learners could be introduced in these centers to the skills of tomorrow, in a two-year program that could run parallel to their regular schooling. The centers could provide classes on subjects such as the basics of programming and the use of different kinds of software. All you need is a building and about 10 good quality computers in each sub-prefecture for the project to take shape.

Resilience in water – Of Tanzania, groundwater, and gingersnaps

Jacqueline Tront's picture

Co-authored with Mik Schulte

Teachers standing by a water pump outside a school in rural Tanzania. 

I recently spent some time traveling around rural Tanzania, trying to better understand the way the communities, cities, and regions manage their water. As we departed from the last village, we handed out cookies to the children who had gathered to watch from a distance while we toured the farms.  I can still picture the smallest boy when I gave him the last cookie; his eyes lit-up, convinced he was the luckiest of boys. 
In this northern part of Tanzania, near the foothills of the famous Mount Kilimanjaro, the land is fertile and farming is productive and lucrative. However, water-related conflicts color the landscape, both among farmers and between sectors. Climate change is increasing aridity, which reduces the amount of water available for drinking, farming, and eventually, hydropower production. Rainfall is becoming ever more erratic and variable which forces farmers to make riskier planting decisions, and often decimates crops with unpredicted and unmanaged flood or drought. Farmers from other, more arid, regions are pressing in to farm the fertile northern plains. Water is already over-subscribed and farmers, their communities, and the cities and businesses on whom they depend are looking for ways to survive and thrive in this new reality.