The founder of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, Mohamed Ibrahim, has said that Botswana’s youth unemployment challenges require a recast of education strategy to align it with future market demands.
Ibrahim was speaking at a seminar on good governance and leadership organized by the Masire Foundation over the weekend at the University of Botswana Library auditorium.
“Many of our courses are out of touch with what the business industry needs,” he said, adding that compared to Europe and Asia, Africa has the disadvantage of uneven demographic distribution in that the population is made up of young people.
He said that while the challenges of unemployment are daunting, they also pose an opportunity for Botswana to prepare for the future.
“If we train our kids to meet the requirements of the 21st century, we will have a formidable workforce,” he added.
The Senegalese-born entrepreneur suggested agriculture as an option for creating jobs.
“What are the future jobs going to be in 20 to 30 years? That is where our focus should be,” he stated, telling the thronged hall that food production and processing could create the next source of employment for young people if they focused on Agriculture.
He said it was time to change our perceptions that the educated people should ordinarily join the civil service and get jobs from government and urged young people to create jobs for themselves.
“Food will always be in demand….production is low….we need to forgo this notion that a University degree is a ticket into the public service,” adding that University graduates often look for government to create jobs when in actual fact they (graduates) have the power to create jobs by establishing small businesses.
“Government is not good at creating jobs, private sector is the one that generates jobs through small scale enterprises.”
Ebrahim has also praised Botswana’s leadership as exemplary in good governance practices and demonstrating quality leadership by leading Botswana from least developed country at Independence to a middle income economy.
The chairperson of the foundation has praised Botswana as an example of exemplary leadership because past Presidents never extended their term of office beyond their tenure in office.
He commended Botswana’s past Presidents, Sir Ketumile Masire and Festus Mogae, whom he said unlike other African leaders elsewhere freely handed power in succession without extending their tenure of office.
Among the dignitaries were former Presidents Masire and Mogae as well as long time Presidential aide and now Bank of Botswana spokesperson Andrew Sesinyi.