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Home arrow News and Events arrow President's Speeches arrow President's Speech-At Copenhagen University, Denmark 1st March 2007
President's Speech-At Copenhagen University, Denmark 1st March 2007 Print E-mail




1 March 2007                                   


Professor Holger Hansen, Chairman of DANIDA Board,

Members of the Academic Staff and Students,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen:


                      I thank you very much for the rare opportunity and privilege to speak at this prestigious Danish University and in front of such a distinguished audience.  I thank you also for the kind words you said about me and my country.  We will try our best to live up to your expectations.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is a source of immense pleasure for me to be able to share with you my humble thoughts about what I see as challenges of building human capacity for development in Africa.  Indeed, these are challenges that the successive generations of African leadership have had to contend with.  They are challenges which the people of Africa and friends of Africa have generously participated in the search for redress.   

When one takes an overview of the situation in Africa, one sees a Continent beset by a multitude of challenges. But, the one challenge that persistently glares at humanity’s collective conscience is that of eradication of poverty, backwardness, and underdevelopment in Africa.  Africa is the poorest of world’s continents, a situation which has to change.  Indeed, in humanity’s titanic enterprise for development, Africa remains the last frontier in the fight against poverty and backwardness.   Daunting as this challenge may seem, I don’t believe it is insurmountable.  In a world so wealthy and so advanced in science and technology continent African poverty is an aberration.  I believe, with strong political will on the part of rich nations coupled with the right policies and measures African nations can also change for the better as the others have done elsewhere.  The majority of poorest in the world can live a decent life. 

Ladies and Gentlemen;

Nearly one in two Africans live on less than 1$ a day. This is more than 300 million people.  This proportion is twice as high as the world average. The number of poor people in Africa has doubled since 1970. The Continent accounts for about 14 percent of the world’s population, but 30 percent of the world’s poor. What is more disconcerting is the fact that the poverty situation in Africa deteriorated at the time when it was improving in the rest of the developing world.  Sadly, now, particularly because of progress in other Continent, poverty appears to be more or less predominantly an African scourge.

Fighting poverty and backwardness, therefore, has been and remains the overriding challenge for the successive generations of Africa leaders.  African leaders, present and future, have to rise to this momentous undertaking by putting in place policies and measures that, when implemented, will foster faster poverty reduction for the nations and peoples of Africa. Indeed, this is the challenge for all of us in the human family.   We have to promote economic growth and development in African nations to successfully stem poverty in the Continent.

Ladies and Gentlemen:  

                      Critical in this undertaking in Africa is the building of human resource capacity as an effective means to deal with the problems of poverty and underdevelopment.  I consider the task of building human capacity as that vital in poverty reduction endeavours in the Continent because man is both the goal of as well as the means for development. 

                      The Founding President of Tanzania, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere, once aptly underscored this fact when he said, “the purpose of development is man”.  He was right then, and he still is today.  In essence, development is about improving the living condition of the human person. But more importantly, development is brought about by man himself, and it is for his sake.  In other words, it is for man and by man.

Defining Capacity Building

Ladies and Gentlemen:

For us in Africa, human capacity building means, first and foremost, educating our young boys and girls and providing our young men and women with the necessary and appropriate skills and professional training.  It also entails availing our people with technology, tools and other resources to gainfully apply their education, skills and professional training.  This way people acquire the requisite knowledge about their society and the environment they live in as well as afford them the capacity to use their knowledge and skills to transform their social and physical environment for growth and self-actualization. 

Ladies and Gentlemen: 

Africa faces a daunting challenge of educating and training its people and availing them with the tools (technology, finance and other resources) necessary for them to undertake the improvement of their living conditions.  In the contemporary world we live in, the challenge is compounded by Africa’s poverty levels as well as the need and necessity to catch up and close the gap with the developed nations or even other developing nations in Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America. 




Ladies and Gentlemen:

                      Education is the cornerstone of human capacity building. But, the challenge that Africa faces in scaling up education is massive.

                      For instance, Sub-Saharan Africa, with a population of about 750 million people, accounted for only 3.3 million students in institutions of higher learning out of over 132 million worldwide in 2004. This is only 2.5 percent, for a region with about 11 percent of the world’s population.                        Europe and the USA together accounting for less than 20 percent of the worlds population had 32.8 million students, which is almost 25 percent. Of the 3.3 million students in Sub-Saharan Africa, Tanzania had only about 43,000 students in a country of close to 37 million people.  Total Tanzanian university population is about the size of a number of universities in Europe, UA and Asia.  University of Florida in the United States for example has more than 50,000 students and I understand that here at the University of Copenhagen more than 37,000 students are enrolled.

Ladies and Gentlemen;

                      With regards to teaching staff, of the 8.5 million worldwide, Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for only 140,000 of them which is equivalent to only 1.6 percent.  The student population as well as the size of teaching staff in Sub-Sahara Africa are unacceptably too low for a part of the world with the greatest demand.  Something needs to be done the soonest possible to redress this situation.

                      There are glaring disparities also in secondary school enrollment. While there are more than 500 million secondary school students worldwide, Africa has only 30.5 million, or 6 percent.   Comparatively, South-East Asia and Pacific has more than 160 million students, equivalent to 32 percent of the world’s total.  The situation with regards to vocational and professional training does not depict a better picture either.

Ladies and Gentlemen:  

    I bring up these statistics to illustrate the magnitude of the challenge in human capacity development that Africa has to contend with. In view of the poverty levels in Africa, I pitch for the imperative of partnership between Africa and the developed nations and particularly for more innovative ways in addressing this serious problem.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

The Commission for Africa, constituted by British Prime Minister Tony Blair of the United Kingdom in 2004, underscored the need for partnership between Africa and the outside world when it considered the challenge of human resource capacity in Africa and the whole question of assisting Africa in its development endeavours. 

The Commission made two key recommendations regarding investing in capacity building that call for partnership between African governments and their development partners.

·         First, that African governments should draw up comprehensive capacity-building strategies.  Donors should invest in these, making sure that their efforts are fully aligned with these strategies rather than with their own competing priorities and procedures;  and


·         Second, that the international community should commit in 2005 to provide US$500 million a year, over 10 years, to revitalize Africa’s institutions of higher education and up to US$3 billion over 10 years to develop centers of excellence in science and technology, including African institutes of technology.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am here to reiterate the same message and, I hope that you will echo and support it. The catalogue of promises to deliver on this problem has indeed been long and impressive. Africa is still waiting for action on the part of the developed nations.  African peoples are patient but for how long should they wait while the rest of the world is moving ahead fast?  Indeed, Africa deserves to be assisted to overcome the barriers to sustainable development.  With regard to human capacity building, Africa should be supported through more investment in education and training of professionals and technicians.        

                      If this is not done, Africa will not be able to build own capacity, therefore and will continue to rely on technical assistance from the developed nations.  Yes, Africa needs technical assistance but that assistance should not be at the expense of developing local capacities.  In other words, technical assistance to Africa should not take a disproportionate share of capacity building resources, as it has been the case over the years. 

Ladies and Gentlemen;

                      According to the International Organization for Migration, 35 per cent of total Official Development Assistance to Africa is spent on expatriate professionals.  Consequently, Africa employs more than 100,000 such professionals, costing about US$4 billion a year!  This is half of all the resources that the Commission for Africa is proposing to be made available for ten years to revitalise higher education in Africa. 

Taken together with other administrative overheads, the cost of expatriates takes up a huge chunk of Official Development Assistance. What is disheartening also is the fact that a good number of the expatriate personnel sent to Africa often lack the necessary and needed knowledge and experience of the local environments to respond adequately to local problems.  Therefore, for sustainability of human capacity in the African continent, investment in building local expertise remains the best option.



Ladies and Gentlemen:  

                      While we plead for partnership in education and training, I would like to assure you that we in the continent have been doing our part.  We realize that it would be irresponsible for us in the continent to leave the whole matter to donors to do something.  We have indeed, achieved comparatively a lot since independence. For instance, in the 1990s the percentage of eligible students enrolled in primary schools in Africa was 78 percent compared to 44 percent in 1960. Also, in secondary school enrolment, the percentage rose from 5 percent in 1960 to 31 percent in 1995.   In a decade from 1990 to 2000, we put into schools over 20 million more school-age children. 

                      We in Tanzania, take pride in the landmark achievements we have made in the education sector although much more needs to be done.  We have good progress primary education by attaining 96 percent in primary school enrolment.  We are confident that we will reach the MDG number 2 target of attaining 100 percent Universal Primary Education by 2015.  I believe we will attain that even much earlier.

                       We have also been scaling up secondary school education with considerable success.  Secondary education enrolment has increased by 120 percent between 1995 and 2004 and by 45 percent between 2005 and 2006. More importantly also we have increased per child expenditure in education from $2 in 1995 to more than $10 per child last year. This is still too small compared to the requirement but it is a trend we are proud of, and intend to keep on improving on it.

We are also expanding on higher education, as well as vocational training.  Professional training is a matter we are taking seriously.  We have opened a number of vocational training schools and professional training institutes in the country and we intend to do more of that.  We are also keen on using such institutions elsewhere to send our people for skills training.  There are many technical professional areas where we have not yet, in Africa, developed adequate capacities or there are no appropriate institutions to train our people.  Therefore, Africa will continue to seek the support of the international community particularly the developed nations and the multilateral institutions. 

The private sector also has a big role to play in this regard.  We welcome them to come and play their part in this endeavour.  We need to create permissive conditions which we are fortunately doing.  Tanzania todate, has 17 Universities of which only 4 are state owned.  Towards the end of the year a fourth state university will be opened to meet increased demand for higher education in the country. 

Impact of HIV/AIDS on Human Capacity:

Ladies and Gentlemen:

                      The question of building human capacity also encompasses the engendering of a healthy population capable of fully participating in productive and service activities. Africa loses a lot of human capital including many professionals and educated personnel from diseases.  HIV/AIDS has become the single biggest menace to building human capacity in the continent. It is responsible for the deaths of many people, including many highly trained personnel and professionals.  Dealing with HIV/AIDS is another big challenge for African leaders.

                      Human capacity development in Africa has to take into account the fight against the disease.  In the continent, at the moment, more than five young people acquire HIV infection every minute; which means over 7,000 each day and more than 2.6 million each year. In fact, nearly 70 percent of people living with HIV/AIDS live in sub-Saharan Africa, and over 80 percent of AIDS deaths have occurred there. In Tanzania, for instance, because of HIV/AIDS, life expectancy is projected to fall to 47 years by 2010 from the anticipated 56 years. Here in Denmark, you will be aware that life expectancy stands at 77.3. 

Brain Drain

Ladies and Gentlemen:

While diseases pose a big threat to Africa’s workforce, at the same time, Africa is rapidly losing the much needed professionals, particularly in the health sector, to the developed world.                       Surveys conducted by the WHO in seven developed countries showed, for example, that one in four doctors and one in twenty nurses were trained in Africa.  It is also estimated that there are more than 21,000 Nigerian doctors practicing in the United Sates.  According to the Washington Post article of March 6th, 2005, there are more Ethiopian doctors in Washington D.C. than there are in the whole of Ethiopia. 

While this is happening, Africa is faced with the most acute shortage of medical staff to manage its health services.  For instance, last year’s WHO report shows that there is a universal shortage of 4.3 million healthcare workers.  The shortage is particularly severe in Africa which has 11 per cent of the world’s population and accounts for 24 per cent of the global disease burden but, has only 3 per cent of the world’s health workers.  In comparison, the WHO Region of the Americas, with only 10 per cent of the global burden of disease has 37 per cent of the world’s health workers.

                      In Tanzania, for instance, the UNDP estimates that between 1990 and 2004, there have been as few as 2 doctors for every 100,000 people. Here in Denmark the ratio is estimated to be 365 doctors per 100,000. At the moment, Tanzania has a shortfall of 35,000 health workers. To fill this gap by 2015 would require annual generation of 3500 physicians, nurses and midwives.  Currently only about 90 physicians and 550 nurses and midwives graduate every year.

Under such circumstances, Tanzania and Africa as a whole cannot afford to lose a single doctor, a nurse, a midwife.  But, while that is the ideal and desire, the situation is different. Africa loses many medical personnel and other professionals to the developed countries.  It is not uncommon, to find recruitment centers in many African nations to poach medical workers and others professionals to work in developed nations. It is a result of this situation, for example, that in 2001, the South African government took an unprecedented step of appealing to the Canadian government to help stop the recruitment of South African nurses and physicians.   

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I understand that in a free and globalizing world, labour mobility is supposed to be an integral part of the activities.  But, to Africa, this is a one-way traffic, it is therefore, brain drain which has grave consequences for Africa’s capacity to foster growth and fight poverty, backwardness and underdevelopment.  We know there are push factors which induce people to emigrate to the so called greener pastures.  Reducing the push factors and improving on or increasing the pull factors therefore are among the big challenges for the African leadership.  There is no option other than try as much as we can to encourage as many of our professionals as possible to stay home.  Failure in this regard is disastrous. 

Difficult as this task may appear, African leaders have no choice but find ways to address the challenges.  But, for African leaders to succeed in this regard, the understanding and cooperation of their counterparts in the developed nations is essential.  Developed nations should appreciate the damage to African economies caused by the brain drain and discourage it.  It is indeed, a valid question to ask whether it is morally right to take away doctors from where they are needed the most.  There is need to muster political will to find amicable solution to this problem.  A good example of political will is the dialogue between the South African government and the Canadian government and British authorities on a healthcare workers exchange program based on specific objectives.  

Financing Human Capacity Building in Africa

Ladies and Gentlemen:

At the beginning of my speech and in many instances I underscored the importance of assisting African nations in the human capacity building endeavours.  This brings me to the point of financing human capacity building in Africa.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We cannot overemphasize the critical role of investment in educational and technological development.  Indeed, it is widely acknowledged that one of the causes of the disparities in the level of growth and development between South-East Asia and Africa is very much a function of difference in investment in education and in science and technology development. 

The spectacular transformation of a country like the Republic of Korea can, to a large extent, be explained by high levels of investment made in higher education and training as well as in development of science and technology.  This is the path that Africa needs to take.  It is therefore, a major challenge for African leaders.  It is heartwarming indeed, to note that there is realization of the importance of doing something concrete about this. In fact, this is what is being done though to a limited extent due to inadequate resources. 

Ladies and Gentlemen;

Africa needs and deserves to be assisted in this important undertaking.  Today, we laud the Asia-Pacific countries for advancement in human capacity building and in science and technology.  But we know that they were assisted through the famous Colombo Plan for Cooperative Economic Development in Asia and the Pacific. 

Under the Colombo Plan, special countries have offered scholarships and fellowships to countries from this region since 1951. The Colombo Plan was instrumental in supporting the development of technological and scientific expertise in Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. 


Ladies and Gentlemen;

I am therefore in complete accord with the call made by Task Force 10 of the Millennium Project under Professor Jeffrey Sachs, for a second Colombo Plan specifically dedicated for Africa. For sure, such a Plan can effectively support the needy African countries to create the requisite technological and scientific base for social and economic transformation of their societies. 

Indeed, it is high time that a special conference is convened the soonest possible with the view to considering the possibility of establishing the kind of a Colombo Plan for Sub-Saharan Africa. I believe nothing short of massive investment in education and training and in development of science and technologies will effectively address the challenge of human capacity and the development question as a whole.

Closing the Digital Divide

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The information and communication technology (ICT) is an important aspect in enhancing productivity and efficiency of human capital.  Unfortunately, Africa lags far behind in this area.  African leaders have to do whatever it takes to close the digital divide. 

The continent’s future economic growth may very much depend on the extent to which Africa has become part and parcel of the information highway.  In this regard, the growth of information technology and communication (ICT) poses both a challenge and an opportunity for us in Africa.

The good news is that, there is increased interest and awareness in the continent.  There is evidence of positive movement.  More and more governments are embracing ICT in their operations.  Some have gone to the extent of moving towards e-government.  Today, every African country has internet connectivity although too low by world standards. For instance, in 2004, 3 out of every 100 Africans used internet services. Here in Denmark 70% of households are connected.

The use of mobile phones in Africa is rapidly expanding, including in some remote communities throughout the continent. Again in 2004, 9 out of every 100 inhabitants in Africa subscribed to mobile phone services. In that year alone, the African continent added almost 15 million new mobile cellular subscribers to its subscriber base, a figure equivalent to the total number of (fixed and mobile) telephone subscribers on the continent in 1996, just eight years earlier.

These are all signs of an African continent being ushered to the knowledge-based modern economy.  But in order to effectively participate in the global knowledge economy, a critical mass of our population must be empowered with the necessary skills to procure and utilize ICT.  This is another dimension of human capacity challenge facing African leaders for which Africa needs to be assisted. 


Ladies and Gentlemen:

                      Tanzania has done relatively well as a country to be where it is today: at peace with itself and its neighbours and confidently pursuing the development agenda. As a new leader of my dear country, I intend to stay the course and intensify the fight against poverty. But one of my main challenges, as anecdotes and statistics throughout my remarks illustrated, will be to address the question of the capacity of Tanzanians, and of Tanzanian institutions, to deliver on sustainable growth and prosperity.

                      Kindly allow me, Ladies and Gentlemen to conclude my remarks by reemphasizing what I have attempted to say today:

1.      Strategic human resource development is an essential factor in Africa’s ability to achieve sustained economic growth and reduced dependence on foreign aid. 


2.      The ever-increasing levels of knowledge and technological competencies required to effectively compete in today’s global economy mean that it is essential that African countries improve worker’s technical skills and focus on training in and acquiring sciences and technology.


3.      The outside world as well as African countries, stand to derive mutual benefits from major investments in Africa’s human capital.


4.       Investing in human resource capacity in Africa is a matter of crisis proportions. But it is a straight forward undertaking where global cooperation and exchange can be effected, for mutual gain, without political misunderstandings. And;


5.      In the current era of globalization, people move and jobs move. Talent will flee to where it can find gainful use. Expanding opportunities for gainful and well remunerated engagement is part of a lasting solution to the brain drain problem in Africa.  However, rich nations need to be judicious in recruiting skilled personnel from Africa lest the Continent’s development is impaired.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

                      These are Africa’s challenges, they are humanity’s challenge which requires us all to assume responsibility and take action.  The need for partnership therefore cannot be overstated.  Allow me end by simply emphasizing partnership in human capacity building for our mutual benefit. 

Professor Hansen, Members of Teaching Staff, Students, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:


I thank you for your kind attention.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 20 May 2008 )
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