Africa Fellowships: bridging the skill gap in Africa

Australia Awards scholars graduating from the 2014 Public Private Partnership (PPP) Africa Fellowship course left no doubt that Africa’s future holds great promise and that they will be part of shaping this future.

A total of 22 Awardees from seven African countries joined officials from the University of Pretoria and the University of Queensland-International Development, delivery partners of the course and officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in a closing ceremony to mark their graduation. The event was held in Pretoria, South Africa, on 14 November 2014.

“I make a commitment to ensuring that we become examples of positive change in our various countries,” said Tumaini Venance Mrema, an official from Tanzania’s Prime Minister’s Office and scholar on the PPP course.

If the drive and enthusiasm seen in the room during the closing ceremony are any indication of the prospects for positive change and the calibre of the human resources available on the continent, then Africa is in good hands.

“The challenges that we face on our dear continent are far from being overcome. I am, however, proud to say that the training and exposure we have received over the last few weeks will inch our continent closer to lasting and enduring solutions. […] Let us articulate what we have learned and implement it in our countries,” added Tumaini in a clear call for action.

Speaking at the ceremony, Andrew Edge, Counsellor for Development Cooperation at the DFAT, congratulated the graduates for successfully completing their award and welcomed them to the prestigious Australia Awards Alumni family.

Awardees graduated from their five-week long course in PPP that had both an in-Africa and in-Australia leg, thus bringing theory into practice in the context of both continents. The course builds important skills to assess, plan, develop and implement large-scale projects that bring together the public and private sectors. In both parts of the course, Awardees were exposed to ongoing PPP projects. In Australia, site visits included the Southbank Institute of Technology and Brisbane Airport. In South Africa, it included the Gautrain and Aurecon. During these visits, scholars had a chance to learn from these projects’ successes and failures. These experiences provide a unique opportunity for learning from practical examples.

Through Australia Awards Africa Fellowships, the Australian Government is helping to bridge the skill gap in a number of key sectors for Africa’s development, namely Agriculture, Health, Education and Governance. Since its inception in 2011, over 1,200 Fellowships have been offered, benefitting 50 countries on the continent.

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