Africa Day: Is Africa the new global talent pool?


Cebile Xulu, people lead at Mondelēz International, speaks about nurturing talent on the continent.

Figures from the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Human Capital Index indicate that Africa has the youngest population in the world, with 60% of sub-Saharan Africa under the age of 30. According to the figures, the region currently captures only 55% of its human capital potential, compared to a global average of 65%

Having such a youthful population, said the WEF in a statement, provides the continent with opportunity for growth – not just locally, but also for the global market.

“Such a high number of young people is an opportunity for the continent’s growth – but only if these new generations are fully empowered to realise their best potential.”

It’s a sentiment that Cebile Xulu, people lead at Mondelēz International, agrees with. Cebile says the continent has the potential to be a global talent pool only if countries work together to develop the skills needed.

“Africa’s demographic dividend places it at an advantage. With a massive pool of diverse and talented young people, businesses are spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting and developing the leaders of tomorrow. Young talent in Africa exists. It just needs opportunities and investment to flourish,” she says.

In addition, Africa’s diversity affords it a competitive edge in respect of the global economy, she says, “Not only is the continent developing pockets of technological excellence and innovation, but its agricultural capital has the potential to help address food insecurity worldwide.”

Cebile adds that it is up to corporations, governments and educational institutions to work collaboratively to develop the skills needed to take the continent forward. “Only through strategic partnerships with governments, multinationals and local businesses can we come up with viable solutions to upskill young talent, expose them to the world of work, and retain them on our amazing continent.”

She concludes that young people on the continent want to be acknowledged and heard: “Their career trajectories are made up of shorter tenures than traditional roles. They also want to make meaningful contributions to their workplaces. Leaders need to embrace their differences and adjust their leadership styles to make the most of this young workforce’s desire to do good.”


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