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Talent mobility is strategic to Africa’s economic transformation - Dr. K. Marah

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Friday, 29 May 2015 15:50
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The Partnership Program for Talent Mobility was one of the High Level events of the 2015 Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank (AfDB) concluded at the Sofitel Abidjan Hotel Ivoire in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire, May 25 – 29, 2015. Addressing a multi-national audience of Ministers, Diplomats, and representatives from the World Bank, AfDB, and the Private Sector, Dr. Marah highlighted the opportunity that Africa has to utilize its human resources to boost competitiveness and foster development cooperation. “Talent Mobility is strategic to Africa’s transformation, and nurturing talents remain a central and key business strategy for economic growth on the continent,” he said

Dr. Marah noted that international labour mobility is an important lever in regional integration driven by unemployment, underemployment and structural labour market needs, and that it is likely to become more significant in the coming years in Africa. But, as the AfDB puts it, “the idea of an integrated and prosperous Africa would remain a pipe dream if African countries fail to open their borders to free movement of people, goods and services”.

The Minister’s remarks formed a major talking point for the Knowledge Sharing Forum and Working Group sessions organized in the wings of the AfDB meetings by the Regional Multidisciplinary Centre of Excellence based in Mauritius. The Forum was attended by National Working Groups from Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Mauritius, Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, and African Centre for Economic Transformation and the World Bank. The meeting discussed obstacles, legal and operational, to the mobility of skills among partner countries, and concluded on the need to operationalize a mechanism within which skills can move freely and can take up employment in any member state as a way of gradually removing restrictions on movement of skilled labour.

Branded as reform-minded, Sierra Leone joined a West Africa Talent Mobility Partnership (WATMP) in pilot with Benin, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana in May 2014. As anchor of the Sierra Leone National Working Group, Dr. Marah endorses the WATMP practice in the belief that fostering a skilled indigenous workforce and competing for the best skills in the region will help align the mismatch in our local labor market over time. The vision is that the WATMP can be leveraged as a resource to broaden the focus on people development beyond jobs to include opportunities for career development in specialist skills required to support implementation of the country’s Agenda for Prosperity.

The benefits from a Talent Mobility Programme are numerous. An effective membership of the WATMP has the potential to help rejuvenate the economy by addressing issues such as employment training, upskilling the workforce and career development. The partnership is invaluable for disseminating labor market information and easing mobility on the organizational and regional levels. This grappling with the talent market in our sub-regional neighborhood requires tact and collaboration. The engagement entails alignment of incentives for participation and action as is obtaining the data on which to base the practice.

As 2015 strolls away to full recovery from the Ebola crisis, the WATMP will seek to secure political will in a framework MOU to implement the programme in participating countries. The MOU will focus on key policy and regulatory issues that potentially constrain investment, growth and competitiveness in the sub-region. Suffice to say that it is in the mutual interest of our economies, businesses and citizens to foster talent mobility, and ensure that the talents we nurture are able to fill unfilled vacancies locally, in the region and beyond.

Alongside sustained growth in Foreign Direct Investment, in trade and in the internationalization of research and development, mobility of human resources in science and technology has become a central aspect of globalization. Migration of talent now plays an important role in shaping skilled labour forces in many OECD countries and East Africa.

The Knowledge Forum recognized that despite the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone, there are opportunities for the country to rebound and overcome challenges for addressing skills gaps and talent mobility. Post-Ebola, and even before the EVD succumbs, there is a yearning desire to raise our national talent profile, reengage our workforce, source, recruit and compete for the best talents with our regional and sub-regional alliances. As our commitment to the TMP deepens, the country could potentially lead the network of TMP countries in the 2016 programme year, taking over from Cote D’Ivoire. What an interesting prospect!

For a continent challenged by lowly human development indices, the pressing concern for top notch skills to revive its economies will look to a talent mobility engagement scheme within and across sectors, and also across national boundaries. Indeed, Africa’s greatest asset remains its human resources.


The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development is a Key arm of the Government of Sierra Leone mandated to to formulate and implement sound economic policies and public financial management

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