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Strengthening Skills and Knowledge in Africa through an Understanding of the Asian Experience: the Third South-South Study Visit to Singapore

Press Release No:2009/426/AFR

Related Documents:
Welcome Address by Dr. Balaji Sadasivan 


In Washington: Rachel McColgan-Arnold

(202) 458-5299


Washington, June 22, 2009 - The World Bank Human Development Department for the Africa  Region (AFTHD) in partnership with the Government of Singapore is organizing the Third South-South Study visit to Singapore, on skills and knowledge development for growth in Africa, on June 21-27, 2009.  More than 35 practitioners and Ministers representing different sectors from Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda and Tanzania, together with World Bank staff, will be taking part in this week-long event.  


The study visit is part of the Singapore-World Bank Third Country Training Programme (TCTP), and is co-funded by the World Bank and the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Singapore Cooperation Programme (SCP).  It is the third such exchange to be conducted under the framework of the Singapore-World Bank Memorandum of Understanding on Third Country Training Programme, which provides joint technical assistance programmes to advance development in Africa. (See factsheet at Annex for more details.)


The training builds on the premise that the key to economic success in a globalized world lies increasingly in how effectively a country can assimilate the available knowledge and build a comparative advantage in selected areas with good growth prospects. Increasing the relevance of skills and knowledge in Sub-Saharan Africa will enable the Region to increase its comparative advantage by pushing the frontiers of technology through innovation and encourage the diversification of products and services.


Asia’s development experience emphasizes human capital as a driver of growth, and reveals how countries in the region have managed the short term demands for skilled labor—matching existing talent to market demand and taking a skills portfolio and value chain approach in thinking about skills gaps—and to pursue in parallel a long-term strategy to strengthen the talent pool and pipeline for future needs.  A key factor behind Singapore’s success is the country’s capacity for learning, adaptation and evolution, which enables it to stay relevant and competitive in an increasingly volatile and uncertain global economy.


The purpose of this initiative is to create a platform for policy dialogue and exchange between African leaders and their counterparts from Singapore and other Asian countries, on the challenge of enhancing human capital to support skills- and knowledge-based development strategies in Africa.  The visit will complement the previous two visits by shifting the agenda’s focus from the perspective of the supply-side (i.e., the education and training system), to the demand for skills emanating from industry and the private sector   The study visit will also foster interactions and experience sharing amongst African countries and Asian counterparts for potential post-study visit collaboration in areas of mutual interest and benefit. 


Ultimately, this event will provide African policy makers with the opportunity to gain a better understanding and appreciation of the holistic nature of successful skills- and knowledge-based development strategies, with examples drawn from Singapore and other Asian countries. It will also be an opportunity to recognize the importance of governance arrangements and strategic decision-making for effective policy development, policy execution, policy coordination and policy re-evaluation for continued economic competitiveness.


The week-long study visit will start with an opening ceremony officiated by Dr Balaji Sadasivan, Senior Minister of State (Foreign Affairs), Singapore, and Mr Yaw Ansu, Sector Director, Human Development Africa Region, World Bank. It will include discussion sessions and roundtables and site visits to Singapore government agencies, institutes and companies (including the Port of Singapore Authority, CrimsonLogic and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, as well as presentations by leading policy experts from across Asia Country presentations and action plans are also envisaged as key outputs for the visit.


In Singapore, the programme partners are the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Enterprise Singapore and Civil Service College.   


More details are available on the Singapore Cooperation Programme Website at

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